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The cockpit is tight on entry and exit but just right while on the water. I find it very responsive and turns well with the rudder down and tracks well with the rudder up on calm water. I bought it because the lake that I live on gets windy producing whitecaps often and my shorter plastic kayaks were not doing well in rough water. I use them in the river where I often slide over rocks in shallow water not wanting to be concerned about damaging my expensive Kevlar Solstice.
The Solstice is fast and easy to paddle and quickly became my favorite when paddling alone. When paddling with friends I take my Jackson Journey 14 so that I do not run off and leave them behind complaining all day.
I rated it a 9 because the seat back could be more comfortable on long trips. I adjusted it constantly for the first few months and find that the lowest position works best for me but my back starts complaining about the two hour mark. The fit and finish is excellent, a work of art. The compartments stay dry. I have not experienced any leaks, even in high waves my gear stays dry.
I am a woman of 5'6" and a 175#. With a short torso and long legs it can be a real challenge to find a boat that truly fits me. My previous touring boat, a Necky Eliza, was just too short in the cockpit for my legs and I had to replace it. I paddle once or more a week, windy choppy water of the Potomac, Patuxent, and the Chesapeake Bay. My husband and I travel specifically for kayaking, this year Cobscook Bay and Eastport in Maine, as well as Hatteras Island. I also like to take "exercise runs" on a nearby reservoir known for its calm water.
the fit and finish on this boat are second to none. After 6 months constant paddling I can find not one flaw, not one bad thing to be said for the way the boat was made, finished, or the way it fits my body. It is stable, tracks straight, does not get pushed around by the wind, nor turn when getting hit by chop fore or aft. The boat is stiff, doesn't flex under chop like a plastic boat can. It is the speediest boat I have ever paddled. It truly does cut through the water with so little resistance I find myself slowly speeding up with out thought. Should I want to speed up the boat responds, allowing me to catch up with little effort.
this boat requires use of the rudder to turn with any speed. This is something to keep in mind. I believe it is due to a combination of the extremely soft chine, V shape, and the overall length of the boat. When I edge this boat, it only barely begins a turn. With just edging and sweeping alone it would take a handful or more strokes to complete a 180 turn, and room as well. The rudder makes this all so much easier. I almost never paddle without dropping the rudder in the water.
Over all, I prefer this boat over my others, if I plan to paddle any distance, or am out with a fast paddling crowd. I also prefer it when we are out in big water, where wind, chop, and currents come into play big time. Overall, the nicest boat I have ever owned. It is beautiful, well made, and stock fits me like a glove. It really is a case of me getting what I paid for. And that's a nice feeling. Worth every penny.
(I almost never rate anything a 10, but almost gave in here)
Despite the narrower hull, this is a very stable boat. Tracks well, but I nearly always use the rudder to improve on speed. From my GPS runs this boat is 0.2 to 0.3 miles per hour faster than my Wilderness Systems Cape Horn Pro. I paddled this for a while with a Werner Ikelos paddle- liked it, but switched to an Epic wing and now I LOVE it!
Playing in the surf is a lot of fun with this boat, although turning it quickly (without the rudder) in between on-coming waves is a little unnerving. Which has motivated me to aggressively practice edging and stroke techniques. I knew this was going to be my trade off. So that has worked out in a positive way. What keeps this kayak from being a 10 is the leaky hatches. The seem on the rubber seal (on both hatches) are not aligned.
As far as over all performance and comfort, I'm pretty happy with this boat. I was talking to another kayaker and shared, at the end of the day, when I'm tired from playing or cruising and I'm heading back to the launch,with several miles to go, hands down I would much rather be paddling my GTS than a boat more suitable to surf. This kayak is a sweet, smooth, fast performer that takes little effort to cover long distances. Would I recommend this kayak to a best friend? Yes. Happy Kayaking
The boat fit me well, it was snug, but that's good. The cockpit was a tight entry and snug on the hips with a little padding. The construction was top notch, the glassing was clean without nicks or rough spots in and out, the rigging was good and nothing felt cheap, beautiful boat to look at.
the good---- The boat tracks well, point it in a direction and it will go. the rudder is easy to deploy, and the foot pedals work well with the setup. There is a TON of space in the front and back hatches for equipment. It is very stable this is good and bad, the primary and secondary stability both felt solid to me.
The bad--- This boat is very hard to turn. The length and the shape of the stern are working against you, This boat design needs a rudder, period. I had trouble turning the boat even with as sweep stroke and it leaned to the coaming. I could make it maneuver without a rudder but it's a wrestling match.
I had trouble with it leecocking in 10-15 kt wind, it may be the combination of my weight, height, and the boat..... I also had trouble with CD's new pedal clip system, they replaced the squeeze adjustment with a paddle-tension adjustment. The paddles would flip up and release tension during a roll, blowing out the pedal (and my roll...). My boat had a very leaky front hatch, after a rough day the front bow would be full of water. I think this may have contributed to my lee cocking problems. Still, no fun.
The boat will Pearl in surf easily, there is more buoyancy in the large back compartment compared to the front, so you need to lean waaaay back on a wave.
OK overall, the boat is fine if you need a stable craft to go straight, and your rudder never breaks. Trade out the tension paddle foot braces, and check your hatches. I should say this is only my experience and opinion. Many, many people love this boat, it depends on preferences, needs, skills, etc. For me it just wasn't a good boat. I gave it a seven for the little annoyances and a design that more or less requires a rudder for proper operation. I would suggest a lengthy test paddle before purchase.
My first trial experience with the GTS (standard volume) was in the Florida Keys in 15 to 20+ winds; what a great handling boat! Despite the wind and conditions the GTS tracked like an arrow with great dead-ahead speed wherever it was pointed (does not weather-cock). A quick turn requires edging combined with sweep strokes w/o the rudder. Primary stability is great for its 22" beam; secondary stability was excellent - very comforting on edge. The hatches stayed dry and amazingly so did I; with its beautifully unique peaked deck design the boat shed water and deflected spray extremely well. I ultimately found the GTS to be the speed champ and the best tracking boat of its group.
With regard to construction and workmanship, Current Designs' Solstice GTS is second to none in my book – it’s a beautifully designed and crafted boat – it really is an eye-catcher. Current Designs' quality control appears outstanding – the Kevlar GTS I ultimately purchased was flawless! For reference purposes I’m 5’-8” and weigh 160 lbs., the standard volume version of the GTS was a perfect fit for me – I found the cockpit to be comfortably snug yet easy to get in and out of. The padded thigh braces are awesome and the pedals and rudder is a cinch to adjust and operate. Volume/storage space for extended trips appears more than ample! I also personally really like the cam lever strap design to hold down the molded fiberglass hatch covers – keeps compartments bone-dry!
The Solstice GTS is my first tour boat, as my experience and love for kayaking grew over the past year (I quickly outgrew my rec-boat) I wanted to graduate to and invest in a top-notch boat that I would not outgrow for sometime; a touring kayak that would suit my all-around needs in South Florida (and elsewhere) from day to multi-day trips in lakes and inlets, shores and bays.
I’ve had my GTS now for a few weeks and it has definitely fit my wish for a dream kayak – paddles like a dream!
Very nice initial stability, for a beginner like myself, very comfortable in other words. It would be fine for photography or bird watching or having lunch. Secondary stability seems to be even better with a good bit of lean and knee lift in order to get the boat over on its side. Comfortable on its side I have the feeling I could paddle it that way without capsize. If you are looking for a boat that leans just by thinking about it, this boat ain't it!
Seat is comfortable, like I said I have to play with the backrest to get it in a comfortable position for myself. Foot peddles firm with the rudder up, just a small bit of looseness. In some gnarly boat wakes (some boats move a lot of water!) the boat felt, as one reviewer mentioned, glued to the water, the wake moving under the boat while I paddled which was enough brace to get through it.
Speed is satisfying- I know there are slower and faster boats but the engine has alot to do with this. Anyway, it is efficient and has nice glide.
Turning requires lean for a fast turn, combined with sweep strokes. A minor course correction is accomplished with just a lean and normal paddling. This boat goes straight and will continue straight until you want to turn. I have been in yaks that will turn on a dime but require more attention to going straight and are more effected by the wind than the GTS. It’s a compromise for sure, but one I like in this case.
The only thing I would change is the cockpit size - bigger would be better- but like I said I fit fine and if it was bigger I would need to outfit it to get more support. In this case a little bigger would be nice to get in butt first when needed.
Overall I like the compromises this boat represents. It is comfortable for me and my paddling at this point. I would do it all over again and buy a GTS-HV if faced with the same buying decision.
I'm 6'3" 215 pounds and find this size comfortable for short day trips but I would consider my size at the very upper limit for this boat.
I bought my Solstice GTS after paddling a plastic 16' Old Towne Millennium for the better part of two seasons. I have nothing but praise for the Millennium, but I felt I was ready to move up to a glass boat. Naturally, I tried as many different kayaks as possible, and I feel very happy with my choice.
What attracted me first to the Current Designs Solstice was the workmanship and the beautiful lines of the boat. I really liked the flush front hatch covers. I initially tried the Solstice GT (24" beam), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I fit more comfortably into the narrower GTS (22" beam). I was even more surprised to find how stable the GTS felt in the water, both initial and secondary stability. In fact the GTS seems to have a very low center of gravity, almost giving one the impression of having a weighted ballast to keep you steady. The bottom of the boat seems glued to the water, really wanting to keep you upright.
The GTS tracks better than any boat I have ever paddled. On windy days, I have been out with people in different kayaks who have complained about weather-cocking, yet this is virtually not a problem with the GTS, even with the rudder up. In fact I do most of my paddling with the rudder up, since the stern of the GTS somewhat resembles a permanent skeg! This of course leads to the one major drawback of the GTS...quick, sharp turns require more edging than most boats.
The front deck of the GTS has a very unique tent-shaped design which not only looks attractive, but is also very effective at shedding water and keeping you dry. After paddling with friends in 3 to 4 foot waves on Lake Michigan, they were amazed at how much dryer I was than they were.
At this point it is hard for me to imagine ever wanting a different kayak than the Solstice GTS, but who knows...something better may come along some day.
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