Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Dec 2007
I am 5’4”, 140 lbs with an 8 or 8.5 women’s shoe size. I paddle a WaveSport Siren, and I love it. I bought it new the year they came out immediately after demoing. The only non-factory outfitting I have added is a small piece of closed cell foam on the bulkhead for each foot heel to arch area.
That being said, I would also say that I don’t think the Siren is the right boat for all paddlers of our shared weight and height. Therefore I’ll list some of my kayaking characteristics beyond height and weight. I am an experienced kayaker who rolls well. My preferred paddling style is play (waves and friendly holes) in class II and class III. Besides play, I also enjoy doing a bit of for fun slalom racing in my Siren because it handles just so well for me. I prefer a boat that feels like an extension of myself, and I am fine with paddling a boat which will mete out punishment (or allow the river to do so) for poor posture, poor technique, or inadequate attention.
Since the Siren may not handle in a fashion that you like, I’ll give you some of my impressions of other boats I’ve paddled that you might be considering.
Wave Sport EZG 42 – I’ve demoed one on the Nantahala (NC). I consider it very similar to the Siren for rolling, for holding on edge, for river running and surfing handling, and for stern squirting, bow stalls, and cartwheels.
Wave Sport EZ – I’ve paddled one on a couple rivers, and I found it way too darn big, especially for throwing down and also for comfortable holding on edge.
Wave Sport T2 Transformer – Short demo because it was way too wide and very slow.
Necky Chronic – I own one and have paddled it on various rivers and features (theoretically it is my husband’s playboat, but he is not that into kayaking and prefers running to any playing). I find the Chronic friendly but it feels too big, especially in terms of boat width, which makes it much more work to hold on edge.
Vision 44 – I’ve paddled one on several rivers and features, and it simply didn’t speak to me in terms of handling in the way that the Siren does. Though I don’t have a deck height measurement on either the Chronic or the Vision 44, both certainly felt like more to reach around for rolling.
Liquid Logic Skip - I found it OK to hold on edge, but not as easy feeling to roll. I also didn’t find either the Skip or the Vision 44 to be as easy to stern squirt in flat water, and I found both to be slower than the Siren (which means more work to paddle if you have significant stretches of flat water with which to deal).
Dagger Kingpin 6.2 - I’ve done quite a bit of pool paddling in a Dagger Kingpin 6.2 (club boat) and have a slightly taller female paddling friend who paddled a Kingpin for several years. For myself, I don’t happen to like the volume distribution of the Kingpin (too much volume in front relative to the small amount of boat behind the cockpit). I also don’t find the Kingpin outfitting (factory, not customized) nearly as comfortable as that of my Siren (also essentially factory as mentioned earlier).
Dagger Dynamo – I owned one before the Siren and also mess about in one in the pool occasionally. Of course, it was designed as a kids runner; so it is not surprising that I don’t find it great as a playboat. What I do find surprising about the Dynamo, is that it doesn’t roll up as easily as I would expect from its specs.
Dagger RPM – A classic and yes, I still own one. I consider it the easiest boat to roll up. For river running and for play, I think the newer designs have various advantages.
Wave Sport Diesel 65 – I don’t consider it as easy to roll as the RPM, but I consider it a better river runner (especially for those who experience troubles with eddylines). It is my husband’s runner boat, and I’ll use it as a teaching boat sometimes because I can put a bunch of stuff in it without adversely affecting its handling. As to its handling, I find it too big, especially that additional inch of width (25 inches wide) – it is a lot more work to hold on edge than is the Siren (24 inches wide). As a swimmer rescue boat (people who fall out of the raft, flat water triathlon swimmers who get tired), the Siren has inadequate buoyancy for most swimmers’ mental comfort (the RPM and the Diesel are both better choices for boat based swimmer assistance).
As you look at boat specs and pictures, consider the paddler weight ranges a rather sketchy guide. If you want to be able to take a boat vertical (bow stalls, cartwheels), boat volume is going to matter a lot (especially for learning to throw down). Bow and stern volume distribution is also going to matter. I happen to prefer a more symmetrical distribution such as the Siren and the EZG 42 for bow stall learning. For loop learning, the additional bow volume for pop obviously has an impact, but if you want to do flat water moves and you can’t get into a stall, the pop is immaterial. Boat width has an impact on how easily you can hold the boat balanced on edge (with your body weight still centered over the boat’s center of buoyancy and not hanging out to the side to hold the boat up). Going from 24 inches wide to 25 inches wide really matters.
If intentionally going vertical is not of high interest, staying with a minimal volume boat is also not as relevant. For just plain front and back surfing and spinning, even river runners like the Diesel work nicely. The same sharp edges on boats that give them some of the handling characteristics that I really like can readily contribute to more flipping experiences for some paddlers; thus, the description of river runners as more friendly and forgiving. Precisely where any sharp boat edges are relative to the water line, especially sharp stern edges, will matter a lot when you are in the boat on the water. If, for example, you do switch from your EZG 50 to a Siren or an EZG 42 (all boats with strong design similarities), you will have sharp edges that are much more accessible to the river currents. This can readily result in a very different river running experience.
Related to the raised seat question earlier in this thread, think about the axis around which one rolls the kayak (the long axis of the boat). The more weight is below that axis (upright boat, weight closer to bottom of the boat), the happier the boat will be in an upright position (cockpit up, paddler out of the water). The more weight is above that axis (upright boat, weight closer to the top deck of the boat or even above the top deck of the boat), the happier the boat will be upside down (cockpit down, paddler under the water). If the boat is on its side, more weight closer to the bottom of the boat is helpful toward rolling the boat upright whereas more weight in a position that will be above the long axis of the boat is the opposite of helpful for rolling the boat upright.
I’ve included the specs on the boats I’ve paddled and also on a few others.
Wave Sport Project 45 45gal, 24.5” wide, 5’11” long, 80-140lb, deck height 11.5”
Wave Sport EZG 42 42gal, 24” wide, 6’6” long, 80-140lb, deck height 12”
Wave Sport EZG 50 50gal, 25” wide, 6’7” long, 130-190lb, deck height 12.5”
Wave Sport Siren 40gal, 24” wide, 7’ long, 80-140lb, deck height 12”
Wave Sport Ace 4.7 47gal, 25” wide, 7’1” long, 88-165lb
Wave Sport Diesel 65 65gal, 25” wide, 7’6” long, 100-200lb
Liquid Logic Vision 44 44gal, 24.4” wide, 6’1” long, 110-170lb
Liquid Logic Skip 39gal, 23.6” wide, 6’4” long
Liquid Logic Remix 47 47gal, 20.9” wide, 7’4” long, 40-121lb
Liquid Logic Trigger 53gal, 24”wide, 7’4” long, 80-150lb
Jackson Kayak 2Fun 44gal, 24” wide, 6’2” long, 79-130lb
Jackson Kayak 2Fun 2007 47gal, 24” wide, 6’2” long, 99-165lb
Jackson Kayak Star 44gal, 24” wide, 5’8” long, 110-165lb
Jackson Kayak Star 2007 44gal, 24”wide, 5’9” long, 110-165lb
Dagger Dynamo 45gal, 20.9” wide, 7’4” long, 64-134lb
Dagger RPM 60gal, 24” wide, 8’11” long, 110-229lb
Dagger Kingpin 6.2 50gal, 24.8” wide, 6’2” long, 99-179lb
Necky Chronic 47gal, 24.4” wide, 6’6” long, 141-190lb
In terms of boat comfort for all day paddling in a snug fitting playboat, keeping your boat inside and sitting in it a lot is helpful (to watch TV, to eat meals, to do laptop work – turns out my laptop fits nicely across the front of my Siren’s cockpit).