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Submitted: 07-21-2009 by mcmccoy007

I rate this boat a 9 as a matter of principle. I don't give 10's. Something may come up. You never know. Having said that, after 30 years of paddling everything that would float from strip built cedar to early glass to the first roto-molded boats and to Kevlar and carbon, I am suddenly feeling like a kid with a new toy again.

The feeling first overcame me surfing 3 foot rollers in 25mph winds down the Carquinez Straits of the SF Bay Area. I just wanted to shout "Yahoo." I had just sold my Epic 18X Ultra after 20 months of a love-hate relationship and it was so nice to just have an uncomplicated "love." It wasn't that the Epic wasn't a good boat. It just never fit me right and so I never paddled it right. At 145 pounds I just never got enough of it in the water. I often felt like a cork on the sea when the wind and waves rose. No more. Not with the Nemo.

I also had some problems with the 18X Ultra. It delaminated badly between the Kevlar and Nomex core 11 months into my ownership. Epic was great about this. My dealer, California Canoe and Kayak, contacted Greg Barton one day and he approved an out of stock immediate replacement the next day. I couldn't have asked for better service. But then I've had a problem with the Nemo too. The rudder spindle shaft threads stripped off the rudder housing block. Well, same story there. I sent Gray Bourne an email one day and the next he shipped a replacement upgraded to his 2009 standards.

The moral of the story is that all kayaks have problems. No two come off the line the same. What you really want is a dealer and manufacturer who will work with you. I'm sure there is the occasional "horror" story for anyone in the retail industry. I found both companies to be very reasonable in standing behind their products. I never got used to the seat in the Epic. I replaced it with a K-1 seat which was easy to retrofit with a standard carbon platform mounted to the Epic seat rail with some added shims. I liked it so much I thought I would do the same when I got the Nemo but I didn't need to as a I can rotate to my hearts content in the Nemo's stock seat.

The accessories (like deck lines, handles and such) are not as nice on my early 2008 vintage Epic boat as those on the Nemo. The Epic gear is easily replaced but it would be nice if newer models had better materials to begin with. Maybe they now do.

Speed? They both have it. At any given heart rate over the same flat course I would race myself to a dead heat. I'd win in the Nemo if the conditions were rough. Again, I believe this because of my size and the better fit the Nemo offers me.

How fast? In a race with dozens of kayaks and skis last weekend I was the first kayak in and just behind the second to the winning pod of skis. It was really fun to dog the skis in a sea kayak even if I couldn't beat the very best of them because I could turn right around and load the Nemo with a week's worth of gear and head up the coast. They couldn't...

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