I've had my Freedom for several years now and thought it was time to finally submit a review.
What can I say...I love this boat. It has nice speed and stability but is also very easy to edge (without thigh braces) and turns rather well. I'm a bit heavy for this boat (225 lbs.) but that does not seem to matter. I've had it in a variety of settings from open water crossings to extremely tight and twisting rivers and it adapts quite well to any situation.
Complaints - few, really. It does weigh a lot but the plastic is thick and has held up very well, especially considering I'm not too gentle with it (oyster beds, boat ramps, logs, etc). Just eat your Wheaties, and you'll be fine.
WS no longer makes the Freedom, but if you can find a used one at a good price, I highly recommend it. I will soon have the opportunity to paddle a Tarpon 160 and I'll try to contrast/compare in the not too distant future.Have owned mine 1 year, bought originally as a dive platform for freediving/spearfishing. This is my 3rd SOT. Good to great boat depending on what plans for usage are. The Freedom is great as a paddling SOT, in that it is relatively fast, has good stability, and handles and turns well (mine has rudder). The boat has incredible lines. Mine is a yellow to red sunburst color and is the best looking SOT I've ever seen.
As a diving or fishing platform however it does not fare as well. Speed is great, but the boat is just not laid out for diving and/or fishing. I currently still use it for both, but there are much better platforms available, although none as fast. It is also very heavy. Poly SOT's are already heavy, but the difference between 50 lbs and 60 lbs is huge (Freedom weighs 60 lbs). W.S. needs to lop about 10 lbs off the weight. If you're looking for a great diving or fishing platform, better off picking a boat that was designed with those purposes in mind. However, if you want a fast, good looking, great handling boat for general use paddling (or touring), this is one of the best ones available.Bought my Freedom a couple of months ago and have paddled it on the ocean, surf, and rivers. Hereís what Iíve observed to date:
1) It tracks great, even in the wind and Iíve been out in 15-20 mph winds with no rudder.
2) Turning with thigh brace straps is outstanding. Without the straps, turning is fine for open areas but can be a challenge in tight confines.
3) As noted by others, this is definitely a heavy boat. I go out solo a lot and have to load/unload/portage this boat Ė Iím looking at getting a dolly.
4) The plastic is thick (hence the high weight) and as far as I am concerned that is a good thing. I looked at some other manufacturers and the plastic was paper-thin. I operate in an environment that has oyster bars, hidden logs, pilings, and other potential puncture devices. Iíll pay the price in weight for the added thickness and structural security.
5) The 5" day hatch is great for storing a camera, wallet, and keys. I have yet to load it up for an overnight expedition but Iíve been preparing and I can say that the bow and stern hatches have large openings but their depth is rather shallow (7-9"). In addition, there is no deck rigging at all on this craft.
6) This is a wide boat and Iíve not had any problem with stability. I managed to get in and out of the boat standing up at a dock. I do a lot of leaning turns and have not tipped yet.
7) I own a WS Ride as well and thereís no doubt that the Freedom wins hands down in terms of speed. Beyond that, I donít have any fair comparisons.
When I initially started looking at and trying out various kayaks, I was not even considering a sit-on-top. But, I went to a local demo day and tried the WS Ride and decided a SOT was the way to go. Overall, I feel that the Freedom is an excellent boat and plan on covering many more miles in mine.