I understand that a performance IK like an AIRE Force gets one "sort of close" to the performance of a plastic whitewater kayak. I am wondering if there are also performance hardshell sit-on-tops that come close to the performance IK's?
I wouldn't want to be in one in class III, but I wouldn't be on a boogy board, a tube, or a surfboard either. People seem to enjoy those. I think you can find SOTs that have good enough straps to roll, but I'd make sure you are damned good at it first. Is there a reason you don't want your legs inside the boat? Seems like a much safer place to me.
I have a 14 foot touring kayak with spary skirt that I don't mind having my legs inside of even though I don't know how to roll. I'm fine with that probably because I've never flipped it -- never had to wet exit -- typically lakes and some fairly easy class I/II river.
Lately I have been exposed to IK in class II/III -- tons of fun. So, I now have an AIRE Lynx, and I added thigh straps. It really is fine for now, so I am thinking more into the future -- thinking that I MIGHT someday want something that has more performance (like AIRE Force XL for example) -- and I have no idea what hardshell SOT boats are out there, just have not researched -- didn't want to miss a whole product category in my researching/fantasizing. Are there such SOT's -- designed for whitewater? I was once on a SOT in sheltered ocean -- seemed very stable.
For now, I am resisting putting in the time and effort of learning to roll -- partly because I am having a ton of fun w/o it, and a "wet exit" in an IK (self-bailing) seems easier than a wet exit in a closed kayak. I have not tipped an IK yet either -- but I'm sure that day is coming! -- the IK's i've been in are on the stable side -- not narrow with smaller tube diameter.
Hey, novice is in my name, so if any of my thinking seems off-base, I'm certainly open to hearing about it.
I have a IK (tributary tandem) and the thing is a blast. I spend most of my time on class III and III+ water. In high water there were a few ass kickings delivered but as the water went down it is plenty of boat for virtually any class three section of river. I highly recommend an IK as a great way to enter white water sports. No matter how good your thigh straps are I believe rolling is impossible, so flips can be a real pain in the butt. In fact one day on the poudre I spent about two hours chasing my upside down boat down river trying to find a good place to retrieve it. I honestly believe a good sit inside hardshell kayak is the safest mode of transportation on the river even if that seems counter intuitive at first.
Again IK's are a great way to get on the water for the first time and learn how to read white water. Other than that they are ideal for lower flows and less technical stretches of river. As far as hardshelll sit on tops go, they seem a little more versitile but fairly similar. For instance surfing is much easier on a hard shell sit on top, but I still think it is nearly impossible to roll, especially in the middle of a hole/rapid.
Oh, one more thing. I would not say my IK performs anything like a hardhsell whitewater kayak. From my experience the IK performs like a mini raft. They are hard to surf, flips are bad, and MUCH less manuverable. In my hardshell I can get across the river much quicker and "read and run" is much easier. I will not use my IK on a class III river that I am not extremely familiar with.
I would not hesitate to run my Ocean Kayaks Yahoo (a whitewater SOT) down class III. On the water the Yahoo is closer to a big old school decked boat than a standard IK like the Hyside. It responds well to good paddle strokes and is fine for relaxed river running. It does swamp and drains slowly (the Force probably drains much more quickly). The Yahoo will front surf but any other play moves soon become comical and will result in a swim. I like mine as a third boat and there are still some out there. I think the idea was basically unsucessful because they don't do anything great and are not as forgiving as a typical IK.
Thanks for those thoughts. I understand from researching that a "performance" IK (such as AIRE Force) will perform differently from a less performance-oriented tandem IK -- closer to but not exactly like a hardshell, closed, whitewater kayak. (It does make sense to me that a closed whitewater kayak would be very safe -- provided you know how to roll -- otherwise I can see myself wet exiting in turbulent water quite a bit.)
So, sticking at least temporarily with my crystal balling that I might someday be interested in a somewhat more performance-oriented, open, whitewater kayak, of the hardshell or inflatible variety: Does anyone have an example or suggestion of such a boat of the hardshell SOT variety?? Again, I'm just trying to be sure that I am aware of the possibilities. Or perhaps you folks think that there is nothing comparable to the AIRE Force (inflatible) in the hardshell SOT class?? Are there hardshell SOT's that are designed for classII+/III? -- I know some are designed for touring, ocean surfing, and fishing. Maybe I should just stick with the IK type?
We used Plastic Sit on Tops back in PA on the Lehigh River for guides who didn't have their own Kayak, and we rented them to customers as well. The bulk of the fleet we had were Yahoos, and those thing straight up sucked if you ask me. Big, bulky, hard to maneuver and really uncomfortable. A few people picked up Perception Alohas if they weren't comfortable in a kayak. They paddled OK, a lot lighter and more agile then the Yahoo, but the plastic is pretty much crap as they are really meant to be in the ocean. I think with the rock out here you'd shred one to pieces in no time. There was also a few people kicking around in one called a Twister. The manufacturer escapes me, but I'd have to say it is the closest thing I've seen to a white water kayak. I don't think they are made anymore, but it had similar lines to the old RPMs and river runners of that era. It was pretty narrow, and the people I knew with them dialed rolls when needed. The only other sit on top I know of is the Perception Torrent. Sort of the same size as the yahoo, but a little better on the performance end. Still big and bulky though, but the plastic is pretty bomber, and I think they still make em.
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