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During our nine-day trip, I watched the other two very closely because I wanted to see which was the better boat (I have a single as well as a two-man Indian-type canoes and had not had previous experience with kayaks). During the 400km long trip I capsized twice in rapids and the guy in the glass fibre kayak capsized once. The guy in the Maximum Velocity did not capsize at all. My second capsize was in a rushing torrent with waves from all sides bashing away at us and all the chap in the Velocity did was to cruise next to me as I hung onto my upside-down kayak, racing through whirlpools, dodging driftwood and logs as I rushed headlong for about 1.5 kilometres, before washing up onto a sandbank in the middle of the river. The guy in the Velocity then rushed off ahead to see if he could assist the other chap who was ahead of us. Well, that gave me great respect for the Maximum Velocity, also because this guy had very little kayaking experience and, except for his rudder that broke off when he hit a rock, he seemed to come off best out of us three.
The rudder design is not good on this boat (it seems old - it sure is battered, but sturdy) and I don't know if this has been resolved on the newer versions. The drop-down rudder peg protrudes below the boat and makes an ideal snag for anything in the water and any downward bang on a rock will smash the rudder (again). I'm working on a modification that will solve this problem.
So, all in all, I think that this is a great boat that I've used only once so far myself, but in rough windy conditions on a lake close to my home here in Cape Town, South Africa. It is a far cry from what I've been used to up to this point and it has proved itself in rookie hands, to be all that I would require for the future river touring, with all its packing space and stability.
I've paddled mostly down the Fraser River, stopping on sandbars to fish salmon. The Velocity paddles nicer with a pair of heavy salmon for cargo :-)
I paddled Ross Lake, from Canada down to the North Cross highway in Washington, State, and had plenty of room for all the camping gear plus room for more. I did that trip in an afternoon and morning, and never dropped the rudder. For me, the boat tracks like a dream and I have rarely used the rudder. In river eddylines I expected the fluted hull to give me fits to turn, but the boat is quick and almost ignores the grabbing cross currents while obeying my paddle directives. At the lower end of Ross Lake I carried boat and gear up the trail to the highway, a harder task than I want to do again, unless I build some sort of carrying yoke for the boat. I'd guess it is 3/4 mile total carry and up nearly 1000 vertical feet, with most of the elevation gain in a steep switchback section. However, this shows what can be done with a lightweight boat.
The boat tracks pretty good without the skeg as long as your paddling technique is sound. (If your technique stinks you might end up paddling in circles, as another reviewer did.) Deploy the skeg and the boat runs straight as an arrow. The light weight of the boat translates into decent speed, though you probably won't be able to keep up with your paddling buddies in the 17' full-on touring boats. The Max Velocity has enormous cargo capacity for a 13' boat, and I like that the rear hatch is big enough to easily swallow sleeping bags and other large items.
Though I think the design of the boat is great, there are a few areas that could use improvement. The cockpit outfitting and seat are so-so, and I'd prefer traditional molded thighbraces to the "integrated" brace design in the Sun/Riot boats. The seat has no real fore/aft adjustability. The coaming could be more pronounced to allow better mating with nylon/bungee touring skirts. I'd like to see a neoprene cover for the rear hatch. And the skeg mount is slightly off center, though that has no discernable effect on tracking when the skeg is down.
Bottom line: a great boat for someone who just wants ONE boat to handle everything from coastal paddling to easy class III. If the shortcomings mentioned above were addressed by Sun, I'd rate this boat a 10.
Problems with the purchased items??? Yes there were/are a few minor ones. Her Max Flight was tracking to the left with the skeg in the down position. Either the mount is a little crooked or there is a slight misalignment in the stern moulding. Solution - a 1/4" flat washer inserted as a shim under the port side mounting half. Straightened out the tracking error in a flash. Of course, she does find that it tracks quite well with the skeg up so she wasn't too worried. For me, there is a thigh pad that could be a little better anchored but that looks like 5 minutes with some contact cement. Also there are some drips coming down on my feet around/through the top rivets. This looks as if it will need some clear silicone - Now "THAT" sounds like a big job. All in all, we are very pleased with them. No, they aren't comparable to a Mariner or something from Current Designs but then we aren't paddling to the High Arctic and we only paid $900 each ... in Canadian dollars too!
In light of a few small adjustments we had to make, I give them both a 9 out of 10. They do a great job of what they were designed for.
The back hatch cover leaked. Had to cut the rubber seal and add silicone. Worst of all: Both bulkheads leak severely; this is a safety hazard. The Rep told me it was impossible (as both compartments filled up with water); they told me to seal it with Lexel. After four tubes of this, it still leaks, just not as badly. I had it pointed out to me by other paddlers that Sun used cheap foam instead of closed cell foam. So, for all the shoddy workmanship and problems I give the boat a 1.
For the diversity of the boat, I agree with the other reviews to date. It has enough room to camp from over night, it turns nicely, skeg keeps it tracking well, a good all around boat , but not a fast boat at 13'. The higher cockpit area can be a plus when the water is colder. An all-around boat that I would rate a 10. So I compromised and rated it a 5 for total score.
My biggest disappointment was no acknowledgement from the reps.. No call backs from my phone calls and no answer to my letters of complaint, and no response on my commentary regarding their warranty, which touted their product's double bulkheads as being waterproof. They're like guilty rodents with their heads stuck in the sand. Because they do not stand behind their products/warranty, I do not recommend anyone buy any of their products. I let my salesman know, and he said he would no longer be dealing with Sun (NY). When I called dealerships in NJ carrying Sun products, they said they would not carry the Max Velocity because of known bulkhead problems (Summer of 2000).
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