Saturday, October 16, 2010

Maelstrom Vital in Wind and Waves

I finally got my new Maelstrom Vital 166 out in some wind and waves to test it in something other than calm lake water and compare it with my Boreal Baffin.

This pic is from the launch in a protected bay. I couldn't really take a shot in the bigger waves and wind. I forgot to attach the float to my waterproof Olympus Stylus Tough camera (they sink without it), and the boat turns sideways too quickly on windy days before I can grab a pic. And I still can't roll yet. A head cam or a cam mounted on the boat would be great! I'm checking them out.

When there are whitecaps and lots of kite surfers out moving at speed on a big stretch of water, it's a good sign for boat play. And when you have a shallow protected bay without too many rocks to launch from on a sunny fall day, it's just perfect!

To be honest, I was disappointed in how the Maelstrom Vital headed into the bigger waves. It's one of those boats that jumps up and crashes down on the waves. It's annoying and doesn't let you make much headway against a strong wind.

I quickly found myself thinking about my Boreal Baffin. It cuts through the waves nicely and doesn't waste your time bashing and crashing on waves that you shouldn't have to bash and crash on. The next time the wind and waves kick up, I'm bringin' out the Baffin, I thought.

Another thing I noticed was, that when I wanted to turn into the wind with the Malestrom Vital 166, I had to work harder. The Boreal Baffin will turn into the slightest puff of wind, almost without effort. But try to convince the Baffin to turn away from a strong wind, and you may have an argument!

Once I turned the Maelstrom Vital into the wind, it was true. No problem. It does well in a cross wind, whereas, the Boreal Baffin weather cocks at an annoying level and almost always needs the skeg. Could we get these two boats to breed and make the perfect boat to play with!?

Turning the Malestrom Vital away from the wind was quite easy. It seems to like to surf. "This is what I'm made for!" OK, I get it. But you aren't much fun heading into the waves, and I REALLY LIKE THAT IN MY BAFFIN!

The Malestrom Vital will take you far and away quickly in wind and following waves and it stayed pretty true without much effort or skeg in 20 km wind. The Boreal Baffin will usually twist me sideways much faster.

All in all, I find both boats very stable and fun paddle mates. And it begs the question, "Who do you choose to paddle with on any given day?"

The next time the water gets bumpy, I'd love to haul the Malestrom Vital 166, Boreal Baffin, and find a Valley Avocet to play with in the same water and compare.

It looks like I'm still looking for "my" boat!

Happy paddling and finding your perfect paddle partner(s)
The BaffinPaddler


  1. Hi BaffinPaddler! I stumbled across your blog from a URL link in another paddling blog! Funny how that works out sometimes? I have only one sea kayaking adventure under my belt: ... and I don't roll either! But, since 98% of what I paddle is flat waters... I figure as long as I can extract myself from the spray skirt... the shore is never too far away! BTW... I like your blog and have added myself as a follower! Keep paddling and blogging... and remember to take life one stroke at a time! - Mike (Durhamblogger)

  2. Thanks for the good advice Mike!

    The BaffinPaddler

  3. Hi Baffin Paddler. I tried out a Vital 166 the other day (no waves around) and felt it performed very nicely. I'm quite curious to get it out on the waves next time I demo it to experience what you describe - I'm seriously considering buying it!

  4. The Maelstrom Vital 166 is a sweet boat. I'm still a fan!

  5. Maelstrom Vital 166

    I went to Sea Kayak Carolina ( in Charleston, South Carolina, United States to demo the much talked about Vital 166. The kayak is 16'6" with a 21" beam. First, I took the kayak out to the protected water to play with the edging, turning and rolling (it was quite good!). The next day, I took it in the open water and surf and it surpassed my expectations.

    I found no inherent issues with the hatches - all components were secure. The kayak surfed beautifully. It held to expectations of consistent turning ability and was responsive whenever demanded.

    About me - I've been kayaking for about 15 years, and am an ACA certified Instructor. I've owned a Valley Anas Acuta and P&H Sirius S. I presently own an NDK Pilgrim. I also have a Riot playboat for surfing - I didn't think I was looking for another kayak - but, the Vital changed my mind.

    As a matter of fact, I fell in love and put in an order for one... perhaps it will arrive in time for my birthday. If you see a paddler in a kayak that looks like an Orca, it will be me.

    This kayak proves that a kayak does not have to be short (14-15') to be suited to the smaller paddler, and provide outstanding all-around performance. Bravo Maelstrom! I will be posting an article with more detail on our website in the coming months - check in with us at soon.