Length: 17' 0" - Width: 22.00" - Starting at: $3299.00See More Details about this Kayak
I've been paddling my Kevlar Ellesmere with clear coat hull for 5 weeks now but I've had it out for 8 trips, some of them in fairly rough water and strong winds. I don't think that you can separate the boats characteristics from the paddler in its cockpit. I'm 170 lbs, at least an intermediate skilled paddler of 7 years experience and a septuagenarian.
The Elle is light 44 lbs. and fast. It is also a most aggressive turning boat in all conditions. Many times in a strong beam sea when we try to correct the boats course we limit the amount of edge due to caution in a rough sea. Not so with the Elle. The hard chines dig in providing a feeling of security. The Elle is an active boat, perhaps too active for some tastes. It is not a relaxing feeling in rough water but fun and playful. The primary is tender and the secondary quite strong. Unless you're heading directly into the wind, the Elle wants a bit of skeg. I use 20% almost all the time and it still turns strongly on edge with 20% down. Following seas are thrilling and while I haven't yet surfed with her I suspect she's quick and unforgiving. Just a little angle off the vertical and you may be in trouble. This is clearly a boat for the skilled paddler or one who wants to build those skills.
Seat and back band are fine and perhaps a matter of personal taste. The cockpit needed to be seriously foamed out for my slim hips and thighs. The Elle looks svelte and dynamic but has actually more volume than an Explorer. Should be a great camping kayak. Full disclosure: I also own a Romany which is my rocks and surf boat. I love the Elle as a second more exciting boat but would be uncomfortable if it was my only boat.
One last thing: The seat is positioned a little too far back which allows the lower back to contact the rear coming during layback rolls. Also the boat needs to be weighted a little in the bow to compensate and provide better performance. Build quality is excellent but a little light for the Maine coast with its rocky put-ins and beaches.
The boat handles very well in all weather conditions and is excellent for touring because of its predictability, high speed, and high volume hatches that accommodate a lot of gear. It has good primary and secondary stability, and the unique reversed chine design allows for easy edging. At 51 lbs and 17' long it maintains good balance between weight, length, and speed. The low back deck minimizes weathercocking.
There are a couple of downsides. It doesn't track well without the skeg, which is easily fixed by keeping the skeg slightly dropped. The front hatch is recessed but doesn't have channels to let the water drain. This is not a problem with the rear hatches, because the whole back deck is flush, therefore there is no place for the water to gather.
Overall a great boat that I would highly recommend.
The boat does feel a bit tippy standing still but it's very easy to get comfortable within minutes. I am able to get in and out seat first and then feet right from the water, no part of the boat touching the beach. So it must be stable enough. The secondary stability is just amazing, the boat is so easy to control with just leans from one side to the other. I find it weathercocks a bit. The skeg does correct this with some drag I suppose. However, the boat still maneuvers well will leans even with the skeg down all the way. I was out on confused seas yesterday. It handles that very well. Not too bouncy. I like the way the bow takes the waves. Not completely out but not completely in as well. Just right, feels secure but not a totally dry ride.
All in all a great boat. I prefer it over the Impex Currituck and QCC 700. I have owned both. I give it a 9 because a boat is always some kind of compromise and its weathercocking is a proof of that.
Unfortunately, my boat was damaged in an accident a couple of seasons ago, and has been in storage since. I've replaced it with an Azul "Sultan" (mistake as Azul is one of the worst companies I've ever dealt with!!!!) Luckily, I never got rid of the boat.
Last week I decided to stick it back together with duct tape and get into a pool for the evening to see what it was like. Glad I did. It still turns on a dime, carves wonderfully, and has the most amazing secondary stability I've ever experienced in a kayak! This is a boat I'd heartily recommend to anyone wishing to be an intermediate level or better paddler.
It rolls easily, and while a bit big for real Greenland skills, it's still easily worked. If you need a great looking kayak that is small enough for day tripping, and can handle tripping as well; you'd be hard pressed to choose a better boat.
An 8, since there's still nothing perfect.
The bad thing about this kayak is the skeg system. Launching and landing in 3-6 foot surf is the norm here in So Cal, and in the surf, sand is driven into the skeg box, which causes the skeg to jam frequently. To make matters worse, the hull has a sudden amount of rocker from the skeg box to the stern, which makes the kayak skeg dependent for good tracking and to avoid weather cocking. As a result, I threw the skeg away, cut out the skeg box, and modified the hull with fiberglass and epoxy to get rid of the excessive rocker in the aft few feet and follow the natural keel line. Now the kayak tracks well and doesn't weathercock without the skeg.
The seat was pretty good, but that bulge in the front and center of the seat was more than I cared for , so I threw the seat away and made a custom foam one that is more comfortable for me.
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