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I've been paddling SOTs for 8 years and consider myself intermediate. I got in the kayak and it was VERY tippy (low initial stability)... and I had flipped it within 30 seconds of paddling it. It wasn't my wife. I didn't even want my step-daughter to try it.
There seems to be a great disparity in the reviews of this kayak, some say it's very stable, some say it is extremely unstable. The old "Tastes Great, Less Filling" debate.. It makes me wonder if they have some quality variance of what Emotion is producing for this model. I did notice that when I moved and sat on the flat in front of the seat, the stability leveled out quite a bit.
My advice... paddle one before you buy it. I would like to take it to the ocean to see how it handles there and give it some more time, but this doesn't seem to be a beginner boat.
The whole family loves it, and so far it's given hours of fun at the beach. Also the size and weight are about the upper limit of what I would be wanting to lift off the car and carry across the sand. For the money (about $700 AUD) I think it's great and am very happy with my purchase.
Other than that, it is OK. It isn't a dog in the water and there is very little hull slap, which is nice. It tracks pretty well. But, don't consider it a beginner's boat. A Islander or one of the short Ocean Kayaks would be better and more forgiving.
For boarding in deep water, it's actually pretty good. Primary stability is great and secondary is OK. For surf, you do need to shift your weight forward and back quite a bit but since it's so short, it responds quickly to minor changes in loading. For what it is, it's great. For what it isn't, it isn't bad.
I'm 5'10" at 180 so I give it a pretty low cg. I guess that works to my advantage. The folks complaining of tippiness seem to be pretty tall. When you've got a boat this small, leverage plays a big part.
I fit in the yak just fine and I'm slightly larger than the average bear @ 6'2" and just a chocolate bar below 200lbs.
Definitely a good beginner boat. Not the fastest boat, but I don't plan on racing anybody, but I DO plan on surfing it in a few weeks down the OBX. We'll see how that turns out..
My advice to you is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.. Learn your "leaning limitations."
Only one problem I have seen -the shape of the hull is not great when in shallow water rivers with shoals and ledges and submerged trees (often found in the rivers of the southeast-you can get caught easily and if the submerged tree is pointing downstream and you are right on it-takes some balance to avoid tipping.
I would feel very comfortable in this boat in class II ww as long as there are not shallow shoals. It handles well.
Have to say, this boat is not all that tippy to one who has been paddling for a while except in the condition I listed above. And for the price-beats the more popular ocean kayak venus of similar size and weight though different hull shape.
I do most of my paddling near a major sea lane, and there is also a lot of smaller craft carving up the sea around me. In the Sundance and the Carolina, this got to be slightly unnerving once the primary stability was used up and I had to struggle to stay on an even keel. Not so the Charger, with a lot more secondary stability to its hull shape, it handles the surf and the waves with perfect agility. In fact, you only want more of it.
For a boat this size, tracking is great, and despite some sideways motion, you can put as much power into your strokes as you wish.
I have also tried the Emotion Edge, and while I liked it, there was no doubt that for me the Charger was the better choice. Although the Charger is wider, because you sit higher, your paddling position is better - a wide sit-inside kayak requires you to keep your arms and shoulders higher, which is tiring, the Chargers affords a very efficient paddling technique.
Finally, being only 282 cm long, the Charger fits inside my station wagon, an added boon when you want to shed your office rags for tank top and shorts and get on the water as quickly as possible.
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