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Flathead Paddlefest I - Brief Boat Reviews

I had the opportunity this weekend to demo 5 different high performance commercial kayaks. There usually aren't all that many neat boats around here, but the local Fish, Wildlife, and Parks department sponsored a Paddlefest at Flathead Lake and 5 local vendors showed up, and several of them brought factory demo boats.

The average local paddler is more likely to buy a Pungo, Sandpiper, or Loon than a real sea kayak, so I had to take advantage of this deal!

At 6'-6", most off-the-shelf kayaks don't fit me; even my woodstrip boat had some minor design changes to accommodate my long legs and huge feet. Still, I squeezed into some great boats and had a lot of fun. All the people paddling around in rec. boats probably thought I was crazy, but oh well!

The first boat I tried was the CD Caribou 'S'. It has nice hard chines, but it actually didn't carve as well as I expected it to. It wasn't bad, but just didn't crank like I thought it would. I didn't try the skeg, but I've used skegs before, and they pretty much all work the same with minor differences in the actuating mechanism. Besides, I wasn't paddling a set course in wind and waves.

Wilderness Systems Sealution: Nice boat! I have been suitably unimpressed with most of WS's boats, but I have mostly only seen their rec line. It carved nice turns, and was really low volume and low windage, but I fit it fairly well.

Necky Arluk III--I liked this boat, but it has too much tracking for my tastes. Rolled well.

Necky Looksha IV--I really liked this boat!! I tried the plastic model about a year ago and didn't like it. Necky should rename the plastic version, since their paddling characteristics are not all that similar. It carved turns like my Guillemot, and had a decent cockpit fit. I'd chop off the rudder if I owned one, though, and seriously consider building a longer cockpit.

Two boats I unfortunately didn't get around to paddling were the Boreal Designs Ellesmere and the Wilderness Systems Cape Horn. There were some Perception Shadows and Eclipses, but I still have a mental block against Perception's boats, so I didn't try them either.

Shawn

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Flathead Paddlefest I - Brief Boat Reviews
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