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When I was researching this kayak, I found many reviews by folks who were in the light weight category of paddlers. 120-150 lbs. I am 6'1", 195 lbs and have plenty of room and paddle it with both "Valley" hull logos out of the water. I realized later that the reviews were from some of our British friends who had the peculiar habit of always paddling the kayak with 40 lbs of gear, even if only going out for some play time.
This kayak is definitely not for beginners or those looking for a ultra solid cruiser to take on the pond on calm sunny days. This is an ocean play boat. It takes some skill to paddle and it loves the rough stuff. It turns on a dime with a sweep stroke and some edge. It rolls like it genuinely dislikes being upside down. It surfs amazingly, but asks for the driver to know what they are doing. Valley no longer makes this as a production boat (too bad), but will still make one if ordered. This is a tried and true design and deserves a place in todays paddling community.
Is this one of the best "all around" kayaks.....No. Does it succeed in achieving what it was designed for.....ABSOLUTELY! For those of you who get excited about paddling when the waves kick up, for those who like to surf sea kayaks and those who use the coastal surf as a playground, the Pintail is an elite player among some very strong competition.
I've never been in a boat that inspires such confidence in rough seas. Lots of forgiveness, a very loose hull (with the ability to trim it a bit using the skeg and balancing the load), lots of rocker. Feels fast in rough water; I like to say this is where it catches up to the other boats. I've never had problems keeping up with other craft in rough water. Padded out to fit me like a pair of tight jeans, it's easily trimmed and controlled with the hips. The gel oat is very nice, the layup is light but solid. I found it possible to cram a week's worth of gear inside.
The factory backband in my '96 was inferior, I replaced it with an IR right away.
The gel coat finish is nice but I've some cracking at the bulkheads. The skeg arrangement needs work for this boat as a rock gardener and rough water boat. I'm looking for options here as I've kinked two cables already.
In flatwater with wind, the boat is a dog. And if you paddle harder you just get a larger bow wake to fight.
It needs a large oval front hatch, the tiny round hatch is insufficient.
The hatch screws are capped inside the hull with cap nuts - which come off the first time you try to cram gear inside. IMO these should be glassed over.
All in all, having heard the previous cautions regarding speed, I've no reservations using this as a week-long tripping boat in rough seas.
It is not the fastest boat out there, but on a day trip with a couple of friends in faster boats, I was able to keep up and even get ahead when the wind and waves picked up. Fun boat to surf waves with!! And finally, it's a really pretty boat and ya' gotta love the compliments other people have when they see it on the water.
If you have a newer Pintail, beware of pushing the skep cable if the skeg is pinned in. The cable kinks and it must be re-wired (a small job for a skilled kayak technician). Happened to me, but the local Valley shop had it figured out. ( Yes, we have one!)
I'll never need another kayak unless I take to long camping expeditions, or need something under 40 pounds (mine is 48 lbs).
This composite boat has a 17'2"length, 22" beam, and 12" depth. The hull has a generous amount of rocker and has a retractable skeg to aid in tracking.
It has a decent amount of primary stability though it is not my first choice for a photography platform. The secondary stability is excellent. This has saved me when I have made some poor braces on occasion. What does this mean? Well, it is sometimes harder to relax in the boat, but this boat handles rough water beautifully.
Because of the rocker, you may yaw a bit when catching swells but you will not broach. Despite the boat's 17-foot length, I find the boat to be extremely maneuverable due in no small part to the rocker. However, the skeg is mandatory when trying to hold a straight line in rough water.
The interior finish is exemplary with no sharp edges from the deck hardware.
My only complaint is the small round VCP hatches. It is very difficult to fit anything through them. The large rear oval VCP hatch is fine though the skeg box takes up some room.
If you have any questions about this boat, e-mail me.
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