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The Telkwa is extremely maneuverable and as a result, I seldom use my rudder. This sleek boat has taken me on overnight excursions, into large ocean swells and headfirst into 25mph winds - it is fast, stable and a head turner. Each year I marine wax the boat and its condition remains near pristine. The only downside is the minor chips to the gel coat on the hull as a result of paddles to rock gardens and landings on rocky shores.
Often overlooked in favor of more familiar kayak brands, Nimbus is in a class of its own - the Telkwa Sport rocks!
I had pretty much settled into a Current Designs Solstice GTS HV. It fit me like a glove and I loved those thigh braces for a greater feeling of control. I loved the boats tracking but you could hear me grumbling when I wanted to bring it around quickly. With my 6'2", 206 lb. body the "Extreme" was a bit too snug for me, but I liked its manuverability better than the Solstice. My next favorite boat was the Looksha IV I liked the fit and I loved the manuverability. It was a blast to practice the moves I learned in Derek Hutchinson's "Beyond the Cockpit' class. Its only negative for me was its tracking. If I was into playing in rock gardens and caves that would have been the boat. I like more the Zen peacefulness of settling into a pace and getting away from all of it. I was starting to feel like Goldilocks.
A fellow student in the Hutchinson class had an older Telkwa Sport and he loved it. It was definitely an eye catcher. After that I demo'ed the Telkwa (Kevlar), the Telkwa HV (Kevlar), and the Telkwa Sport (glass). Of course I had to drive as far south in California as Dana Point to try 2 of the 3 and as far north as Sacramento to try the 3rd. Next dealer was Alder Creek Kayaks in Oregon (Very helpful folks over the phone!).
I'm amused by everyone saying the Telkwa Sport is for smaller paddlers. It has a smaller cockpit opening than the others but still I can do a "Cowboy" rentry with my long legs. Something I could never do with a Solstice. I also prefer the smaller cockpit because it gives me a deck edge for my thigh when I eskimo roll. The rounded bottom of the hull makes rolling a breeze. However, I would have liked another half inch depth for my toes which occasionally rub against the inside map shelf (a very useful little feature).
Handling? Goldilocks found just the right boat. Tracks well, responds happily to a leaned edge. Its the only Swedeform design I've paddled and it probably gives the boat along with its rocker the manuverability. Unlike a multi-chined hull that settles easily and stays in a particular lean this rounded hull moves to edge nicely but doesn't stick the same. I don't think I've been out in winds more than a 10 to 15 knot range yet, but in those winds I don't believe it was affected much. Another pleasant surprise with this hull was how easy I could roll it. I was concerned with its 18'+ length but it was no problem.
The fittings are superb, and the glass is job gorgeous inside and out. Due to its long length and 23.5 inch beam there is plenty of storage.
The seat is very comfortable even after 4 hours. The mounting of the seat can be moved either fore or aft and the hip pads are adjustable in thickness for a customized fit. I should mention here that I was very lucky and found a 2 year old fiberglass Telkwa Sport to buy and I know that the seat back has been changed so that you now can lower it to a 2nd positon.
The foot pegs are on sliding tracks attached to an adjustable strap like the Necky boats. Great for adjusting to any length but still spongy like most unfixed rails. I haven't made much use of the rudder but then I haven't been out in rough enough conditions to warrant it.
The folks at Nimbus have been great to deal with and have always quickly returned any emails I've sent them. Recently, due to a freak car accident some glass repair work was needed and Steve the designer/builder was glad to talk to the shop that was doing the repair.
My only regret which isn't one really... had I not found the used fiberglass boat I would have bought the Kevlar version. The glass is a heavier boat - especially when you need to get it on and off a high SUV, by yourself. Carrying it on your shoulder more than a couple of hundred yards gets old so I use a device with wheels.
Bottom line, this boat was worth the time and distance I went to find it. After re-reading this review I fear I haven't shed any more light for a potential buyer than if they had read Sea Kayaker's review.
I'd also like to commend the Nimbus line on its exceptional finish - the inside of the boat is as smooth as the outside, thanks to their vacuum-bagging techniques in molding the fibreglass. I can stuff my tent, wet sacks etc into the storage spaces without any fear of a fibreglass snag ripping anything.
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