Joined: June 2005
||Posted: Dec. 31 2007,10:32
Earlier this year I decided to replace my Prowler 13 (P-13) with another yak, primarily due to the weight of the P-13. The P-13 54-pounder (+ a couple of pounds for stuff attached) was more than I wanted to van-top. And were it not for the weight, I probably would not have replaced it.
After selling the P-13, I seriously began to look for another yak. My goal was to get one under 40 pounds with a 45 pound max. After eliminating SIK’s that satisfied the criterion (Current Designs, QCC, Enlightened, and Swift), there were few choices remaining. The SOT choices, available in light weight versions included the Kestrel 140, Cobra, Native Watercraft 12 and 14.5, Kaskazi Marlin and Dorado, and the Epic GP Sport. I chose the Kestrel (39 pounds) after eliminating the Native (awful performance), Cobra (too beamy), Kaskazi (couldn’t get until next March), and Epic (wet foot wells at 200 pounds). I tested the Kestrel 140 SOT (39 pounds) and bought it.
After several months of owning the Kestrel, I’ve come to the conclusion that the yaks are indeed different, and for the type of fishing and yaking I now do, preferable to the P-13.
• SPEED – The Kestrel is simply faster. It glides farther and gets to speed faster. This is undoubtedly due to less wetted surface, a smoother hull (Kevlar + gel coat) than the P-13 (HDPE), and a form that produces observable smaller bow and stern waves. The bow wave of the Kestrel is miniscule compared to the P-13, which means it slices through the water more efficiently. As confirmation, bow hull slap is non-existent on the Kestrel, but was common on the P-13, which reflects a much more efficient hull shape in the Kestrel. (Last week, I took a leisurely 8˝ mile paddle in about two hours, which is something I would not have even attempted in the P-13).
• TRACKING – The tracking of the Kestrel is significantly better than the P-13. In cross-winds the Kestrel has significantly less weather helm than the P-13. I’ve been in cross winds in the P-13 where it was difficult to turn the P-13 downwind, even though I used a sweeping stroke on the upwind side and a vertical stroke on the downwind side, and the paddle length was longer on the upwind side. No such problem on the Kestrel where only minor adjustments are necessary to keep the Kestrel on a straight course.
• MANUEVERABILTY – The Kestrel is more maneuverable than the P-13, but probably not as maneuverable as the Disco, or Pro classic, which Jimbo claims can be turned 180 degrees in fewer strokes than I can turn the Kestrel. The likely reason is that the Kestrel has a very sharp stern, which I believe behaves as a pseudo skeg. I guess you can’t have superior tracking and great maneuverability, but Kestrel got it right with a design emphasis on tracking. I have even trolled backwards with the Kestrel.
• STABILITY – The P-13 with a 28 inch beam hull is more stable than the Kestrel with a 26 inch beam. The primary stability of the Kestrel is significantly less than the P-13. I used to be able to virtually flip my legs over the side of the P-13 when I wanted to fish with my feet dangling over the side. In the Kestrel I have to carefully place my butt over the center of the Kestrel and then turn to get my feet wet. I can still fish, but more carefully.
The P-13 has significantly more secondary stability built into the hull than the Kestrel (Go to the ‘Seakayaker’ website and compare the stability curves of the Kestrel 140 with the Hobie Quest as a proxy for the P-13, and you’ll be amazed at the difference in static weight, secondary stability). The P-13 is like a bicycle with training wheels keeping you upright, whereas the Kestrel is like a bicycle without training wheels. The Kestrel responds to the paddler shifting his weight (center of gravity) to keep paddler and the yak upright.
The seating position of the Kestrel is lower than the that of the P-13, which means that the center of gravity is lower, thus increasing the stability. Thus, the resulting stability of the Kestrel in seas that I’m likely to go out in is likely to be the same as the P-13, given my experience as a paddler.
• FISHABILITY – When I first fished the P-13, I was using three rods (2 spinners, one level wind), had a cooler in back for keeping fish, used live bait, and took along assorted tackle. You can’t do that in the Kestrel. As described above, the P-13 is a better fishing platform due to its greater innate stability.
Since then, I returned to fly fishing and now take along one fly rod and one spinner (in case the wind becomes too strong). I use barbless hooks and keep no fish, unless there is 2+ pounder flounder that makes a life-threatening mistake.
• COMFORT – The seating positions of the P-13 and the Kestrel are different. The P-13 is typical for a SOT with a seat well above the waterline and foot wells which are wet (at 200 pounds), whereas the Kestrel has a seat below the waterline, as in a SIK, and foot well above the waterline (the Kaskazi’s are similar). Comfort is personal, but in the P-13 I used to get a numb butt, even after I bought a replacement seat for the one provided by the manufacturer. The Kestrel came with a seat and backrest with virtually no padding, but I have yet to get a numb butt, which probably due to the thigh support provided by the Kestrel, but unavailable with the P-13.
In summary, the P-13 and Kestrel SOT are different yaks. The P-13 is a typical, wide, stable fishing platform, which suffers in performance due to its relatively large wetted surface and wide beam. The Kestrel has more of a performance hull, narrower beam, and low wetted surface. It and the Kazkazi Marlin and Dorado, Disco, and Classic Pro are samples of the 24 to 26 beam hull that perform better than the fat ones, but are still suitable for fishing. They are also fun to paddle and I am glad I found the P-13 too heavy to conveniently transport on land.
(Capn's Note: this is what reviews are all about! Thank you, wonderful!)