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Topic: RTM Disco! C'e Manufique!, the long awaited Pro Killer?  Oh no!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Capn Jimbo Offline
The Godfisher




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Posted: Aug. 15 2008,16:55

Stan and Amhirch, some terrific observations.  Having been in both craft and having lived with the Disco, here's a few observations of my own and of a well known retailer and advanced paddler who sells and has tested both.

Speed:  

This is always deceptive and often hard to compare at best.  I'm going to stick my neck out just a tad and say that the Disco has less wetted surface; it surely has more rocker.  The Kestral has less rocker, a bit more wetted surface and a longer water line. So what?  Here goes...

The Disco will reach and maintain the easy cruise range (3 to 3.5mph) with a bit less effort.  I think the crossover of the two curves is likely around 4.0 mph or a bit more, where both craft are exhibiting similar effort.  From 4.5 up the Kestral will show a slight edge at the same effort. And the Kestral seems to have established a higher top speed.  Let's say 1/2 mph or so.  But there's a caveat...

In calm water.

The rougher the water the better the Disco will perform, based on both it's agressive hull design, narrow entry and excellent rocker.  

Tracking and Turning:

I agree with most of Stan's observations save one.  I would agree the Kestral tracks well.  But so does the Disco.  The Disco has been my regular ride, 3 to 5 times a week, for over a year in all kinds of weather, winds up to maybe 30 plus.  Tracking is absolutely super.  Windage is practically neutral.  Any minor weather helm (tendency to turn into the wind), common to almost all kayaks, is minor and requires on minor correction while maintaining a standard forward stroke.

OTOH the Disco turns like champ in comparision.  It does require a modest lean, but its aggressive vee hull, along with its reasonable rocker means turning is simple.  Don't lean - it tracks - lean and turn to your heart's content.

Seating Position:

Big difference.  The Kestral puts your butt below your feet, the Disco slightly above.  An important difference.  Most power and racing paddlers much prefer the latter, butt higher.  Don't ask me why but it allows a better power transfer.  For example, many serious racing surfskiers actually pad the seat to maximize power transfer.  For ordinary drivers, it means you have to work less hard and it is more comfortable to paddle.  A good thing.

Drainage:

Advantage Disco.  The Kestral holds significantly more water in a pooped cockpit and has a relatively inadequate single drain.  The Disco holds less water and has two semi-venturi assisted drains.  The Disco's tankwell is of the smooth curved-sided, instant draining variety and is quite safe.

Storage:  

Advantage Kestral.  The Disco's narrow entry/exit and tankwell restrict storage.  No camping with the Disco.  Kestral is significantly more roomy.  Both kayaks can be altered to create additional hatch access (center and otherwise), but most Kestral owners will be reluctant to cut holes and modify its kevlar hull.  

Weight:

Our Discos weigh 51 and 53 lbs., which is just fine for plastic.  I'm not sure how you lift yours Stan, but I often do a suitcase carry for short distances, for which the side handles are perfectly placed at the balance point and work fine.  For longer distances I have developed two transporting techniques that allow an easy shoulder carry and transfer to the roof rack.

Those who have manipulate long ladders for a living know one, and the other was taught to me by Bruce Gipson.  Contact me privately and I'll be glad to share em.  The rounded sides of the Disco make the shoulder carry quite comfortable.  These are so easy that deciding to go for a quick kayak is easy.  I wish I had known how years ago.

This all comes to mind right now.  I had a great conversation with our mystery reviewer and we both agreed that the Disco really shines as the weather gets worse.  At $590 it is an amazing design that does so much, so well, I personally can't imagine driving anything else, and lord knows I have 10 other kayaks collecting dust.   If I were offered both for free (which will never happen) it would be a tough decision, but I'd stick with the Disco.

Barely.  But definitely.


:capn:


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Capn Jimbo

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stant01 Offline
Cuda




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Posted: Aug. 19 2008,16:11

Jimbo,

Good comments all.  Thank goodness there are lots of choices in kayaks, for lots of differences in paddler tastes and, more importantly, in paddling environments.  I know yours are south Florida bay and coast fishing; mine are central Texas lakes (about 80% of the time), rivers (10%) and Texas coastal bays and flats (about 10% of the time).  For my use, the Disco was my previous favorite boat; it has now been edged out by the Kestrel, for these reasons;

1.  Weight.  RTM claims 50 lbs for the Disco, but mine weighed 54 off the truck, and now is 56.5-57 with center hatch, rod holders, water bottle holder, tiny GPS mount, and minicell foam back pad glued in.
The Kestrel claimed 39 lbs but mine weighed 38.5 on the same scales as the Disco.  Light enough to toss on the car top and head out at 5 pm for a few hours before dark.  Good grab handles make it seem even lighter than it is.  With rod holders, mini gps mount, water bottle cage, and small minicell side bolsters it weighs 40.5.  The seat is separate snap-on, so not included in the weight.
This criterion really overshadowed all the others, as my back made a trip in the Disco a dangerous move; the Kestrel is a snap to load.

2. Speed.  Unless your dealer/tester has tested both boats with a gps, his comments are suspect.  The Disco is indeed a sweet paddle, but the Kestrel is deceptive.  Whether it is the VERY sharp bow entry, much sharper than the Disco, or the absence of underwater obstructions (4 scuppers plus longitudinal channels on the Disco) or the mirror smooth finish, or whatever, it is sneaky fast.  When I first got it, I too felt it was slower than the Disco except at top speed.  But when I put the GPS in it, I was surprised.  The sharp bow entry (about the thickness of the edge of a paddle blade on my kevlar model) means there is no discernible bow wave at low speeds.  It feels like you aren't moving.  But ghosting along with very easy paddle strokes shows 3-3.5 on the gps.  At top end, it seems to be a solid 0.7-1.0 mph faster than the Disco (6.0 mph top, 5.0-5.5 at a brisk workout speed).  My Town Lake launch-to-dam workout (2 miles each way) takes about 1 hour in the Disco, 45-50 minutes in the Kestrel.  These are 2-way times on a couple of windy afternoons. Moderate dam releases both times.

3.  Seating comfort.  I don't know how you measured the seat versus floor height of the two boats; I never found a reliable way to do that.  True, the Disco's footwell is wet and the Kestrel's is dry, but I believe that difference is due to the hull shapes.  The Kestrel's bottom is a very shallow vee, and the BWL is very nearly the full 26 inches.  The Disco's vee is much sharper (to my eye, about twice the deadrise of the Kestrel), and there is a lot of flare topsides.  BWL is probably 1.5 inches less than the Kestrel.  As a result, the Disco sits lower in the water for the same displacement.; it seems to draw about 2 inches more water.  Good for slower drift in a breeze, bad for Texas shallow flats on a low tide.  But I think that explains the wet versus dry footwells, and absent any other evidence, I won't concede which seat is higher relative to the footwells.  Note that the Kestrel's factory seat provides 1/2 inch seat lift above the gelcoat.
Seat comfort is okay in the Disco, but even with my glued-in back pad and  Padz bottom pad, I was never able to get comfortable in it for more than a couple of hours.  The seat bowl slants in at the sides, squeezing my hips.  I always get out of the boat with aching hip muscles after a couple of hours.  The Kestrel's bowl is wider by several inches, and flat across the bottom (side-to-side).  I had to glue in side bolsters to get full hip control, but I now have a boat that I can paddle or sit or fish for several hours with no pain of any kind.
 
4.  Maneuverability.  No contest, the Disco is much more agile.  But in my use, that agility has little real value.  I can turn the Kestrel pretty quickly, now that I have the hip bolsters in place and can roll it up on one chine without "rattling around" in the seat.

5.  Drainage.  Yes the Disco's two scuppers drain the cockpit faster than the Kestrel's one, IF they are open.  The Disco is wet enough that I usually keep them plugged unless I am headed in harm's way.  And the Disco's low sides mean that I get splash in the cockpit far more often in it than in the Kestrel, even in wind chop on Town Lake.  Moving aft, even the Disco's shallow tankwell would drain slower if pooped than the Kestrel's convex rear deck.  I think I'd call that a Kestrel win for my application, maybe a draw for yours (?)

Just like at the Olympics, different rules produce different winners.  Those are my criteria for my application.

So the Kestrel is my new fave boat.  But the Disco at about 40% of the cost is still a marvel.  And as I said, I probably would never have made the jump were it not for a couple of herniated discs. :cool:
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Capn Jimbo Offline
The Godfisher




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Posted: Aug. 19 2008,19:21

Stan, thanks.  An excellent comparison.  If we had flatter, calmer water here, I might feel quite differently about the Kestral.  All things considered, these are two terrific kayaks.  

One thing I forgot...  the mystery reviewer and myself are both avid yak surfers.  And the more I have driven the Disco, the more surfing I do.  It's easy to both catch and hold a wake or wave, play in them, use them to your advantage.  Example:  Often times I am forced to fight an oncoming tidal current (up to 2 or 3 mph, sometimes worse) with an opposing wind setting up waves into the current.  By surfing I can come close to negating the current.  And of course we are always looking for handy boat wakes to speed our journeys.  The Disco's rocker means no  pearling and more control (without a rudder).

Being used to surfskis, the Skua and Scupper Pro, I prefer rounded bottom seating - flat seats don't give me the snugness I prefer and are simply less comfortable to me.  I do a lot of rotation and for some reason tend to wear out the left rear bottom quadrant of some expensive fishing shirts.  At least I know I'm rotating, lol...

How do find the Kestral v Disco for surfing?  I had insufficient opportuntity to surf the Kestral, but suspect that it's relative lack of rocker might be an issue...



:capn:


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Capn Jimbo

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stant01 Offline
Cuda




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Posted: Aug. 19 2008,20:41

Hi Jimbo,

Sorry, I haven't had the chance to surf either boat.  Because of the bad back, I haven't taken a trip to the coast since my injury in January.  Most of my paddling lately has been Town Lake.  It can be windy, but because of short fetch the waves are very short unless the wind happens to exactly line up with the lake, er river, er...  Town Lake is a 5-mile long dammed stretch of the Texas Colorado River, and is only a few hundred yards across for most of its length.

The Kestrel holds course in those short waves, even in an angled following "sea", but until the wavelength gets to about the length of the boat or longer, that isn't a real test.

As soon as it cools down a bit here (45 days above 100 degrees!), we'll head down to the coast and fish the bays for trout and reds; or I'll get up on Lake Travis or Buchanan.  In any of those settings I'll hit bigger waves.  Now that I have the Kestrel pretty near finished fitting me, I'll be getting farther afield.  
The hip pads helped a lot; I may make them a bit bigger for a more positive fit.  And I just cut a slab of 2 inch ethafoam to fit across the foot braces; one pair is too close, and the next is too long. Two inch foam made the length pretty close to right, though it has more flex than I'd prefer.  Once I have the length dialed in, I may fabricate something more rigid.  I'd like to get more foot "push" back into my stroke.  

I was fortunate that one set of foot braces in the Disco was exactly the right length for hard paddling if I wore my Chacos; then if I took them off, I could straighten my legs and relax while fishing.
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