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Most reviews I've read have commented on the "twitchy" initial feeling which is somewhat true but doesn't last long with some practice. I got this boat to challenge my ability to become a better paddler which I think it has. This boat will pretty much perform whatever you want it too if you have the confidence to challenge yourself.
I also like to push my distance paddling and this boat will eat up miles. It has a skeg but truthfully, I've never used it. It tracks great and I'd prefer to use whatever skills I've developed to negotiate changes in weather. Finally, yes, it's a small paddler's fit but it has the most comfortable seat of any boat I've had. I've been in this boat for up to 4 hours without having to get out.
It is not a beginners boat and is designed for expedition use. I do paddle it on day excursions and for surfing, but it is best loaded (like a Nordkapp). I think it is fairly stable for it's configuration. Although I don't like a deep-V hull because it's harder to do seal-launches, it tracks beautifully with or without rudder control.
The fit and finish are very good...my only negative comment is on extra light carbon, kevlar layups...especially clear hull versions. I don't think they hold-up like most people expect them to...not the fault of P&H, it's just what ultra-light lay-ups will give you. This choice is not a good one for an expedition boat (but hey, the customers think they want them....until they actually own one and smack into a rock...we are victims of marketing and our own limited understanding of design/function).
Why not a 10? Well, no kayak is perfect...but this one (in a reasonable lay-up) is darn close and will deliver what it promises if you have the knowledge and skill to use it. Overall an outstanding piece of equipment.
That said I loved the surfing ability and especially the glide of this boat. The miles went by effortlessly, and I felt the boat handled some less than ideal conditions quite well, especially given my inexperience. I have since moved to a larger boat that fits me better, and my wife and I have moved to Alaska but my wife still paddles and loves the Sirius, which now sports a shiny new paint job. We wouldn't trade it for anything.
Even after 3 years the Sirius continues to make me hone my edging and stroke skills. The cockpit was so tight that I decided to lower the seatpan all the way to the floor and add an adjustable backband. Wet re-entries are now much easier. Quality is, of course, excellent. No day hatch, but the other 2 are perfectly tight after replacing the covers with new VCP's. I thought the deck rigging wasn't correct behind the cockpit, so I changed the lines around a bit to work for me. Love those recessed line hold-downs. No problem with the skeg, but it doesn't help with directional stability in a stiff tailwind.
This is my first composite boat. It's definitely more fragile than a plastic boat but has excellent rigidity. In the end, I think this boat was a good choice for me. I just gotta find more time to use it.....
First, I need to make a disclaimer: Each boat has a designed purpose, and without talking over features with the designer, I can not criticize them. I will try to express my displeasure with certain aspects without imposing paddling preferences; my rating is based on subtracting single point for the dislikes.
Boat loves going straight. It is quite narrow, provides enough deck height for reasonably efficient torso rotation. It edges quite easily, and paddler needs to edge it to unlock both bow and stern. This latest feature becomes liability when paddling heavily loaded boat in conditions requiring constant directional correction - tandem/contact tow in following seas being one example.
Surfs smallest swells, easy to correct direction with edging/rudders, etc.
Very maneuverable on flat water, a lot of edging is required. On heavier seas situation is trickier but quite similar.
Stability - you have to get used to it, I seal launched it off 1 ft. height PWC docks without much aggravation.
Now, my biggest peeve is the hatches. They are all different - bow round KayakSport, day round PH, stern - oval VCP. In my boat, the bow was dryish, the others leaked. VCP hatch is double sealed on VCP boats, not on this copy. As someone mentioned, you need to acquire specialized packing skills for longer trips
Cockpit was 1-2 inches too short - as an instructor or guide I want to be able to get in and out quickly and easily.
If you want to cover distance and don't care about playfulness, this might be a boat for you.
Now the boat: The finish is as impeccable as every P&H I’ve ever seen has been, excepting their newer line of rotomolds (’04 on). The seat pan, cockpit and thigh braces are very appropriate for smaller paddlers and contact where they’re supposed to. In fact, of all the kayaks I’ve ever been in, the Sirius is the most comfortable especially over long hauls. For reference, other kayaks that I felt had comparable fits are the P&H Vela, Impex Outer Island, and the Impex Force Cat3. What the Sirius has though that the others lack for me is foot room. I’ve got to be barefoot in all the others, but in the Sirius, I can wear anything from water socks to stiff, thick soled mukluks comfortably, and that’s saying something. This could be a real boon on a rocky surf landing. Storage is actually quite ample for being a low volume boat at 305 litres. I think this is due to the increased “usable” space created by the deep V hull. Many other kayaks lose usable volume because of their lower deck height and fine, needle ends. The Sirius manages to maintain enough cargo room for a week or two’s worth of supplies without becoming a barge or losing efficiency (great glide too). Back to that deep V hull feature, along with the low rocker, this makes for a very hard tracking kayak…harder than the Outer Island which is longer and notoriously stiff. It must be edged or it will not turn, period. Edging is not a big effort though as it really wants to be on its side; secondary stability is really good. This also makes for a “twitchy” ride if not up to speed. Once up to speed though, the low initial stability firms right up. A little ballast weight will also help with this. Also, even though the boat is officially 14” deep, it does not have a high deck relative to the paddler; it is deeper than most kayaks below the seat pan due once again to the V hull. For the hatches, I have two complaints: The 9.5” fore hatch is way too small for “expedition” paddling. Can you camp out of it? Definitely. You can buy a bunch of smaller drybags or put the drybags in and load them through the hatch, reversing this process to unload. The question is would you want to do this every day for weeks? Not me. The other hatch complaint is that the day hatch seems too far back. Compounded by the low initial stability when not moving, and it becomes a bit precarious fishing around in there for any amount of time. Having a Greenland paddle helps as I can just outrigger it like a paddle float, but it takes extra time and attention.
After reading all of this, one may think that I don’t actually like the Sirius, but I actually believe this may be the best compromise craft I’ve paddled. It’s hard to find a small person’s boat made to accept bigger feet as well. I’m sure I could learn to adapt to the hatch issues that I’d have for the 1-1˝ weeks a year that I’d be camping out of it. As for the rest of the year? Good fit yet ample room for winter wear here in Michigan, hard tracking, fair turning, fast, efficient…I still want to try a Foster Silhouette, but the Sirius remains at the top of a very short list for me.
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