Submitted: 09-27-2010 by Victor Copeland
I first demo’ed the Bahiya as the prototype when it was known only as "Project X". I had been looking for a fast, yet nimble sea kayak which I could turn 30 degrees in a single sweep at speed just by lean. Nothing met the bill. Then I seen Project X.
It was love at first outing, and I went home with one of the 12 prototypes. I have paddled it ever since 1997. P&H where originally going to abandon Project X in favour of Y (latterly known as the Capella), believing X (the Bahiya) had a limited market. I was one of those who persuaded P&H to rethink and market.
The Bahiya has a fast effortless cruise that will see off most contemporaries. However, unlike most fast kayaks, when edged over hard, it will out turn just about any kayak of its length, simply by lifting one’s knee. No other sea kayak has this compromise of speed and agility. The slight compromise is that when sitting still, it does twitch slightly, but not enough to stop me taking photos and fishing from it. Once moving, the Bahiya is playful and rewards with confident feedback so that the kayak can be leaned into a turn until water is beyond the deck lines and cockpit coaming.
The Bahiya turns best in flat conditions at an all up weight of 105kg. As weight is added, it becomes more stable and directional to 200kg. In a following sea, it is truly awesome, and will pick-up the wave and be gone leaving many so called fast kayaks standing. The ability to edge turn allows the swell to be acquired, a direction set and to speed across the wave on the chine.
This agility and speed makes the Bahiya perfect for trip leading, allowing one the ability to nip around the group for communication and improves safety by allowing one to turn quickly and get to the incident. I rarely use the skeg, but it is easy to use and effective in heavy quartering seas. I have used the Bahiya on lightly loaded evening paddles to multi-day expeditions. I found the 3 compartments with large dry hatches perfect for allowing quick packing and unpacking. I put tent inner and fly sheet either side of the skeg box and can use the whole kayak. The deep V allows for easy packing at the front.
The lack of upturned ends reduces weather-cocking. The upside down tear drop cross-section of the bow is perfect as it slices smoothly through small waves, but rides dry over larger waves.
After 13 years paddling, my only two very minor issues are a) seat replaced as the mount point broke after a lot of hard turns. I replaced the coaming for £200, b) Steep V bow takes some wear at the foot, easily remedied by a sacrificial keel strip.
My trademark move made possible by this kayak is to turn 180 degrees in a J turn from full reverse to going forward, by use of a single sculling sweep with the kayak put right over on its side with the body on the waters surface. This is only possible via the tremendous secondary stability that the Bahiya offers.
Yes, I thoroughly recommend this kayak, and too many of my friends regret ever selling theirs on for a newer model.