A few months ago I asked some questions about the Foster Legend and its performance compared to several other boats that I consider to fall in the same niche of a fast, easily edged and maneuverable rough water boat—a tough bill to fill. Well I ended up finding one used and have paddled it a bit and now have answered my own question. As always, I like the share the answer to the question that I originally asked.
If you have followed my posts over the years you will know about my endless obsession over boats. I have owned many and have always been searching for something different. Although I have changed boats frequently, I have tested all of my acquisitions very thoroughly and have learned a lot in the process about boats and about my own preferences. I also like to share my findings and hope that others can find them useful.
My candidates for filling this niche were the Nordkapp, the NDK Greenlander Pro and a P&H Bahiya. I paddled all of them fairly extensively (the Bahiya the least though). I ruled out the Bahiya fairly quickly. While I enjoyed paddling it a lot I found that it weather cocked a good bit in the wind and was fairly skeg dependent. I paddled both the GP and the Nordkapp extensively for months, back to back. I really liked both boats and was debating over which one to keep. It was a tough decision but I decided that ultimately neither one of them was right for me for different reasons that I won’t go into.
Then I picked up a Legend. I had been considering this boat for a long time—years actually. When I first began my quest for the right boat the Legend was first on my list. When I first paddled it several years ago I did not like it, but I think that my skills were not up to the level where I could fully appreciate the boat, but now I am quite smitten with the boat.
I have been accused of “hyperbole” in the past, especially when it comes to boats and I admit that is a fair accusation; however, I will try to share my thoughts on the Legend accurately and impartially.
I have to say that I am more than impressed with the Legend. I have paddled it many times now on the James River on both calm and windy days up to about 20-25 knots. I have not yet gotten to paddle it in surf though.
Perhaps its most impressive attribute is its ability to surf even the smallest wave or wake. It surfs like no other boat I have paddled. The Legend is fast and can easily catch small waves, additionally and perhaps more importantly is that it is easy to control on a wave. I think that the flattish rounded bottom and hard chines are a winning combination that makes this boat such a good surfer. You can carve back and forth fairly easily with edging and a little paddle input. It is really amazing how the boat reacts when you engage the hard chines. The bow also does a good job of resisting purling, and will resurface pretty quickly if you lean back when it does start to purl. The controllability of the Legend resulted in very few times where I carved off the wave and was not able to bring the boat back on line. I can’t say the same for many other boats that seem to get a mind of their own at times in following seas on a windy day. The boat is an absolute blast to paddle downwind and that is something I love to do.
I find the boat’s handling to be great in the wind regardless of the direction in which it is being paddled. The bow rides up and over oncoming waves smoothly in a satisfying manner and without losing its forward momentum. This makes a big difference for boat speed in choppy conditions. It also throws very little spray in your face. It is not without splashing and spray, but it is directed away from the paddler. It is easy to turn in any direction and to maintain just about any course in the wind. It weathercocks slightly, but I find its maneuverability helps to bring it back on line quickly when necessary. It feels good paddling in beam seas as well.
The boat is highly maneuverable both on flat and choppy water. When you engage the chine and break the stern loose the boat will whip around very quickly and easily. I also find that you can actually get the boat to “spin” fairly well if you time a strong sweep when atop of a wave. In chop it almost seems to be easier to turn than in flat water and turns sharply with some edging and a good sweep.
It is also very capable and confidence inspiring in bigger conditions. I had it out one day on the James with the winds gusting to 25 knots with a fair amount of fetch and in the opposite direction of the current. This created some fairly good sized, steep and confused wind waves when combined with the wake of some large passing boats. The boat felt as stable as could be in these conditions. I even grabbed my Explorer and paddled it for a while that day for comparison’s sake. I was fairly shocked to see that I found the Legend to be more confidence comfortable to paddle in these conditions than the Explorer. It was not quite as neutral in the wind, but was easier to maneuver and felt more stable to me in these conditions. The surfing was also far easier, faster, and more controllable. This is the first boat that I have ever paddled that could “best” the Explorer in such conditions. Frankly I thought that could not be done.
Speed—the boat is fast. It is definitely the fastest touring boat I have paddled, even without taking into account the speed added by its surfing abilities. I have paddled it a couple of times with my GPS to confirm this. It took very little to convince me of this.
Cargo space—it has a ton of it. More space than the Explorer or Nordkapp and with large oval hatches to boot.
The last thing I will mention about this boat, which is one thing I was really looking for, is that it responds extremely well to small nuances of paddler input. Subtle changes in edging and shifting of your weight or body position has a dramatic effect on the boat’s behavior. I found this was true with the Nordkapp as well, but it is much more the case with the Legend. I find that this boat has lots of potential to be unlocked as you learn its attributes better.
Things I don’t like—there are a couple. I don’t like the seat. It is very narrow for me and I am working on replacing it. I really wish it were a bit wider. I find it hard to get good rotation as a result. I also am not sure about the build on this boat. Mine is made by Seaward (or so I think). It is nice and light and balances well on the shoulder, but it may not be the most durable layup and the gel coat is super thin. My boat is several years old and has been used a good bit. There are several places where the boat has been scratched through the gel coat and it is surprising thin.
In all the Legend is really an incredible boat and I am very happy with it. I think I will be keeping this boat for a good while. It is a fun and capable boat that seems to have a good balance of qualities that usually are mutually exclusive—speed, maneuverability, performance in the wind and in rough conditions, cargo space and liveliness. If a used Cetus MV pops up I may give it a try, but I think it would be hard to out-perform the Legend. I am not sure why so many people just don’t care for the Nigel Foster boats.
I think that the Legend as a touring boat makes a great pair with my P&H Aires which is now my surf and play boat and am very happy with the pair.
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|Messages in this Topic|
Nigel F likes to surf|
Posted by: Celia on May-29-13 7:06 PM (EST)
His boats do what he likes.
Posted by: kblackyak on May-29-13 9:54 PM (EST)
I'm personally pleased that you are so obsessed with boats and do such great reviews. Legend was not for me because of the thigh support placement. But the Whisky, now that's another issue. Great boat for what is is supposed to do in surf and conditions and it is by no means slow if you have a halfway decent forward stroke. All of Nigel's boats seem to have secondary stability that is like leaning your boat on a rock while paddling. And you can certainly carve like crazy off those chines. I flipped my Whisky and a Delphin over side by side at an event and was amazed at how similar they were, except that Nigel's boat had less volume going on behind the cockpit, which makes for a faster and smoother paddling boat, in my experience. OK Matt, now you gotta find a Whisky somewhere on the East Coast to paddle--good luck. Cheers------------Kevin
Sounds like a nice kayak|
Posted by: dc9mm on May-29-13 11:52 PM (EST)
I never paddle any Foster kayaks wish I could but no dealers close by for me. I own a NDK Greenlander Pro. It seems to catch the smallest waves also like you describe which makes it go really fast. So far best kayak I have ever paddled for catching even small waves.
Posted by: bowler1 on May-30-13 3:44 AM (EST)
I have always loved the Greenlander Pro and have paddled one off and on for years. The Legend and the GP are similar in many ways. I will try to give a good comparison here between the two boats.
Legend - not for whimps|
Posted by: Jaybabina on May-30-13 7:17 AM (EST)
Bowler - you're probably a pretty good paddler. I used to swap with a friend who had one and it has many nice traits but it's not a boat that demands no skills. If you ever get a chance to see Nigel doing a skills demo, do it because he is unbelievable and he can make the Legend do anything. Actually make any boat do anything with total ease and grace.
Posted by: RavenWing on May-30-13 11:47 AM (EST)
I'm Silhouette-size and loved that kayak even though I was pretty new when I paddled it. It was not mine, and now that I think back I should've bought it when the owner decided to get a Tiderace.
I loved that boat|
Posted by: slushpaddler on May-30-13 1:48 PM (EST)
A bit tricky for me at first in conditions, but when I demoed it I was in love.
Posted by: dc9mm on May-30-13 11:26 AM (EST)
Thank you for the comparison. I hope some day I would get a chance to try out the Legend. Sounds like a great kayak.
the magic combination|
Posted by: CapeFear on May-30-13 11:44 AM (EST)
Any time you can achieve good speed and efficiency without a large sacrifice to maneuverability, it's a great thing.
Really good review|
Posted by: Bill_Stevenson on May-30-13 12:24 PM (EST)
Thanks for the nice write-up. I used to paddle with a friend who had a Legend and he could really make that boat sing. He was a very talented and experienced paddler, much better than me. I have a Kajaksport Millenium and we both swapped boats from time to time. Although similar in overall performance, I found mine easier for me to handle, and he found mine a bit too big for him. No matter, good boats are an absolute joy to paddle. Take care.
Posted by: bowler1 on May-30-13 1:37 PM (EST)
I enjoy sharing my thoughts on boats and I hope that it can be helpful to others. I personally enjoy reading others' reviews as well. Of course boats are personal and I would never suggest that someone "hang their hat" strictly on another's review, but I think that reviews can aid in one's decision about a boat or help to clarify and reinforce behaviors they may have noticed in a boat but were unable to put their finger on exactly what was going on.
Posted by: Bill_Stevenson on May-30-13 4:39 PM (EST)
"I am not trying to be in the slightest bit immodest by my words above and my claims that I can differentiate a noticeable performance difference between the Explorer and Legend. I hope that it does not come across that way"
Posted by: bowler1 on May-30-13 8:47 PM (EST)
Posted by: magooch on May-30-13 2:01 PM (EST)
I know you said you would not mention what it was about the Nordkapp that you didn't like, but still I am curious whether it was something about the boat's handling, or something about its build.
Posted by: bowler1 on May-30-13 8:58 PM (EST)
Well the Nordkapp is a great boat. The only reason I did not go into my thoughts about the Nordkapp above is that my post was already getting pretty long.
Posted by: suiram on May-31-13 3:40 PM (EST)
Matt, when are you go get a "properly fast" boat - that is something with nice plumb bow, all waterline, no rocker - basically a surf ski, or a sink with analog hull?
Posted by: bowler1 on May-31-13 5:02 PM (EST)
That's a reasonable question. I assume you mean something like an epic--a true racing kayak. Personally for me I am not interested in that type of boat or anything with a rudder. I like to turn and zig zag across the water more than just just going fast and straight and really enjoy rolling. I don't want to move out of the touring and expedition class of boats as I value other aspects of the sport other than just speed. Of course many may argue with me about that point but that's how I feel about it personally.
Downwinders = Surfski|
Posted by: Kocho on May-31-13 5:42 PM (EST)
Once you try a ski on a proper downwind, "lesser" (and rudderless) kayaks just fall short (pun intended) -;)
until you try to turn|
Posted by: slushpaddler on May-31-13 6:01 PM (EST)
...or you have to surf land.
Posted by: bowler1 on May-31-13 7:05 PM (EST)
I imagine they're fun but half the fun of surfing for me is the challenge of cis the challenge of staying on the wave is doing it with only edging and paddle strokes.
Didn't you once have..............|
Posted by: blackboat on May-31-13 8:23 PM (EST)
...............an Inuk ???
Posted by: bowler1 on May-31-13 9:46 PM (EST)
I did have one several years ago for a short while...one without a rudder. I didn't keep it for long. I went through a phase where I wanted to paddle fast boats but it was short lived. My preferences have changed over the years.