Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alex Matthews, Adventure Kayak Magazine Reviews the Maelstrom Vital 166

Timing is everything!

I was at an outdoor store buying some new waterproof Merrell hiking boots (please don't ask me the model, I go by look and feel) and likely to be late for my next appointment where I'd have to sit and read something for a long time.

Yes, the totally vain Baffin Paddler was off to the salon to get highlights. I dread that stuff! So I grabbed my new boots and the Adventure Kayak mag that was staring at me from the rack across the room without looking at the cover or the (very brief) stories inside.

A few minutes later, covered in foil and smelly highlight stuff, I glanced at the cover of the magazine I'd just bought on impulse. Hmmm, Alex Matthews on the cover. I'm a fan. I like his articles, reviews and book on Sea Kayaking Rough Waters­.

Great, in the Adventure Kayak 2010 summer/fall issue, he reviewed the new Maelstrom Vital 166. Hey, that's my new boat!

I got a little nervous. I just posted my reaction to how the Maelstrom Vital 166 handled heading out into bigger wind and waves, and I was wondering how a man would find it. Maybe I'm too light. I was especially interested to find out what Alex Matthews thought about it. I was disappointed in the way the Maelstrom Vital headed into the waves. I thought I spent too much time rising up on the waves and crashing down on them, making headway difficult.

His take, ''When we were out in conditions reported as 30 knots gusting to 42, we found the Vital to be a wet ride, and it had a tendency to throw its bow high when riding over waves. This results in the bow deflecting and being blown off course. Speed seems average for a sea kayak of this length and design - a good compromise between speed demon and not damnably slow.''

There is more in Alex Matthew's review of the Maelstrom Vital 166 in Adventure Kayak. But they are pretty brief in their articles. I find I need more.

I'm a fan of Sea Kayaker Magazine. I hope they also review the new Maelstrom sea kayaks. If they do, or have already done so, please let me know.

Happy paddling and finding your perfect paddle mate(s)!
The Baffin Paddler

1 comment:

  1. Alex is a good reviewer but like all us kayak nuts, he isn't flawless. Having said that, I'd tend to agree that the Vital isn't flawless either. The Vaag has so much more length and rocker with much of that stemming back from the cockpit to the stern making for good paddle-ability tracking and speed wise, yet leaned over, a truly fast turned. The Vital lacks all that.

    While I have tried the Vaag, I could not fit the Vital (currently 230, 5' 6""). I'm not sure why Alex was getting some poor performance characteristics showing up but, I do know that weight of paddler can really come into play.

    The Vaag is on my short list. I love Valley boats (I paddle Nordkapps) but the cockpit ergonomics suck, the back decks are too high, the hatch cover fit on the RM series is awful, and I'm looking for a kayak with a bit more "bum" to it. I'd like to buy Canadian if I can.

    The new P&H Delphine is making the rounds now on the west coast, but I'm not convinced it's capable across the spectrum I'd want for the value spent.

    For a dedicated playboat, the Tiderace Extreme is really the one to get. For weekend trips with surf, races, and rockplay, the Vaag may be my option.

    The Sterling series are gaining a following, including Reg Lake's Reflection. Many new boats show up all the time and I'm not sure which ones are fads.

    Hopefully SK Mag will get a review someday. In the meantime, enjoy the Vital, I'm sure it does a lot of thing right!

    Doug Lloyd
    Victoria BC

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