Picked up my new Barracuda SOT this morning from the Sydney Kayak Warehouse (thanks for all your assistance Peter - excellent service). Drove back home to the Gong and launched her into Wollongong Harbour. Paddled across to the other side, done some adjustments to the pedals and seat and took it for a spin out into the deep blue for an hour or so.
Observations and Comments
1. First thing... this boat is LIGHT. So easy to get off the roof racks.
The well positioned carrying straps and recess on the gunnel make carrying it down to the launching point a breeze.
2. The finish on this boat is excellent
. Looks more like fibreglass than plastic. Build quality is very good and feels extremely solid. No doubt due to the separate sealed bulkheads.
3. The all important beach launch was a piece of p..s with only a small 1/4 metre shore break. Now as I am 5'10 and 112kg, jumping into the seat is always a strain on any poor yak!
No problems at all... very stable and minimal rocking if any on entry.
4. The rudder on the Barra is a fairy substantial piece of engineering, very robust indeed and super responsive to pedal input. Weighs in at 2kg and with a boat that weighs 18kg that rudder contributes over 10% of the boat's weight.
5. The sea conditions outside of the breakwater was a 1 to 1.5 metre ESE swell with a 10 knot Easterly wind. Tracking through the swell head-on or on either beam was very, very impressive, once I got the feel for the rudder. Catching 1 metre runners towards the surf zone off North Wollongong Beach was very enjoyable. Picked them up with no effort at all.
6. The shape of the bow and the position of the scuppers ensured that there was minimal water if any, in the boat. In hindsight, I cannot recall taking any water in over the bow at all!
7. Speed... now this is what really blew my socks off. The one thing I do have is very strong upper body strength. On my Australis Lynxx in single paddler mode I can get the big heavy beasty up to a fair speed... and I know I am working hard from a muscular and cardiovascular perspective. The Barracuda... much less effort and I am skimming over the waves. Less effort in that I will probably get a larger bladed paddle to give a bit more bite and maybe a bit of extra speed again. Too easy!
Of course this maiden voyage was done bare bones. No fishing gear, etc, just me, my paddle and my pfd... very basic.
Interestingly when I was back at my car on my return to shore, I did tell you how light this boat is didn't I?
, a young fellow came in on his Hobie fresh from a session of tossing some lures off Flagstaff Point. Got to talking (as you do) and went and lifted my Yak over my head and plonked it on the roof racks. Young bloke's jaw nearly dropped to the dirt!
He looked at me in amazement so I took it off the racks and put it back on the grass. Told him how light it was and showed him some of the features, to say he was green with envy was an understatement and said he should have done some more research before he bought his existing boat (which was very nicely set up and well rigged by the way). Happy days.
Anyway... that's my review after the Barracuda's maiden voyage.
Verdict?... you bloody ripper!!!