The boat accelerates quickly and is very easy to maintain at hull speed. It is responsive and turns beautifully.
A lovely boat, highly recommended.
Bad news...this boat still is wickedly unstable with any kind of broadside swell or chop. In calm water it is a pleasure to paddle. However I do all of my paddling in Pensacola bay, and in any chop/swell at all on the beam of the Elaho, it's a struggle to keep the boat upright....as in my first Elaho I installed the very thin "hot seat" to lower the cg as much as possible....it's better, but still no fun. I'm told now that Necky has discontinued this model...I think I know why. If anyone who reads this has a recommendation on a more stable, but still moderately high performance boat, please email me. I'm 6'2" and 205 lbs.
I love the Elaho in calm conditions, but feel like I'm fighting for my life when I turn crosswind. At least I didn't have to pay Necky anything for this second boat.....
I sent pictures of the defect to Appomotax River Company and they dealt with Necky. Bottom line, I just took receipt of a brand new replacement boat yesterday, totally @ Necky's expense!!! Thank you Tom @ Appomatox, and thank you Necky!!!Report to follow on this new boat. It's also significant that the initial stability improved significantly after I replaced the stock seat with a very thin "hot seat". This lowered the cg and made a huge difference, especially headed into or directly with the swell/waves. It is still very tippy when exposed to any significant broadside wave action. However, I am an intermediate paddler at best so I'm hoping this instability will get better with more time in the new boat.
As far as QA on the first boat....it was obviously badly warped when I got it....Is there someone sober at Necky QA'ing these boats? Also, the backpad ratcheting device (I hate it) broke about the 4th time I took the boat out, and the cable stay popped off on the right rudder cable. Again QA ain't what it should be. I'll be submitting a report on the replacement boat after I take it out 3-4 times.
This kayak has poor initial stability, and at first, worried me a little. That quickly went away, when I realized how good the secondary stability was. Now I enjoy the fact that I can really doing some leaning with it, and feel stable. Another great thing is the amount of storage capacity it has. I'm a hiker by nature, and can fit about 3 times as much in the hatches then in a backpack. Plus, the day hatch is nice for accessing things while on the water.
Love this boat, and I certainly recommend it for bigger paddlers.
I am a good kayaker, and this one should not be a problem for me. By way of comparison, for those who are interested, the Looksha V is a totally different boat. Very stable, very slow, sits much higher out of the water and wind cocks very easily. I called Necky when I ordered these two and the man said that the Looksha V was similar to but an improved version of the Elaho HV, with better stability. He was totally wrong, the hulls are designed very differently. There is nothing similar about these two kayaks.
I'm not sure that this really lets Necky off the hook though, since they deliberately shipped us a boat they knew to be defective while charging us the regular price (hull serial # was noted with "blem"). After discovering this I went through all 12 of our new Necky boats from 2004 and discovered two Eskias with no serial # at all (!) and both were also defective although less seriously so than the Elaho HV. The Elaho was very crooked and had significant reverse rocker in the stern, which is what made it ride so low and turn so poorly. I also talked to another local guide here who also was sold a defective Necky boat in 2004.
Necky did replace the defective hulls but charged me shipping on the new boats. The customer service I got was pretty haphazard and took several calls and emails over the course of several weeks to get the job done. And that is how they treat an outfitter with 38 of their boats! So if you buy a Necky boat, look closely at it and its serial #, especially if it is from 2004. The replacement hulls we got look good, so maybe Necky is turning the corner on their Very Bad Year. Still, buyer beware!
If you’re considering a purchase then don't let its initial stability bother you, it comes quickly. The secondary was great when trying hard turns. I found that if I evenly distributed the weight in the front and back hatch then the turning wasn't changed a bit and the tracking got a little better. Hardly enough to notice though. (yes I brought gear and what not with me to demo boats, and I suggest you do to if you know what you will be doing most often).
I found the seat bottom comfortable but the back had to be readjusted every time I got into it. Took about 20 seconds and afterwards it is quite comfortable. Using a GPS I was able to get it to nearly 8 mph with a coasting speed of between 4 and 5 mph. It covered a lot of ground...er..water pretty quickly.
All around I found it to be a smooth ride. Test drive anything before you buy it and consider using a local shop. The only thing I don't like about my eHV is that on its maiden voyage one of the rudder cables came undone, after a quick ride to the boat shop and 5 minutes it was fixed and ready to go. The store owner also let me borrow his rack system off his truck for my pickup truck for a few weeks while I was waiting for mine to come in. If you’re in the Georgia area I would recommend "Go with the Flow" those guys are great.
The carbon composite lay-up was very light. I really liked that. I first got into it on land, to adjust the foot pedals, and heard the gelcoat "creaking" as I got in. Is the layup too weak for my weight? (don't know?) The cockpit opening seemed plenty wide enough at the back of it, but the front of the cockpit opening was really narrow for me. On top of that, the seat back band adjusters were right where my knees hit getting in and out. I have had two composite kayaks over the years, and I have never had to adjust the back band more than the initial time I set up the boat. I think this is just a gimick, and waste of money. When I got down in the cockpit, there was plenty of room for me, my thighs, and feet. When I got into the boat on the water, the layup "creaked" again. I wonder how long this kayak would last before something started cracking if I bought one? The seat itself fit me OK, so no complaints on it.
Out on the lake I noticed this boat has one wickedly low initial stability. I got used to it after about 15 minutes, but I think I would always be afraid to take my camera along in this boat.
Secondary stability was really solid. The Kayak has hard chines, and I could lean the boat to the one side, to where the chine on the other side of the boat almost came out of the water, and I never felt like I was going to spill. I was impressed with how solid it felt "on its side/edge".
Speed was pretty good. I settle into about a 4 mph pace (using my GPS) in my "Nanook", but with the same pace and effort, I was doing 4.5 to almost 5 mph with a little extra effort. The hull seemed to get up to speed easily, and covered a lot of water with ease.
I was happy with the way the boat tracked. I never did get to try the rudder, the lake was calm, and so I just paddled and leaned the boat when I wanted to turn. The hard chines grab the water when you lean, and it will carve a really nice turn just by leaning. I was enjoying just paddling, then I'd stop paddling, and lean to one side and then the other. It turned as well as if I was using a rudder on "my" boat. The Elaho HV also tracked very well in a straight line too. I paddled up to speed, and held the kayak level, stopped paddling, and it continued in the same straight line as I was going. I liked that a lot.
I am not sure if I like the hatch covers. First there is a Neoprene stretch cover to seal the hatch opening. I understand this is to keep the water out. On top of that is a hard cover to make the deck flush. Having the flush deck is a great idea, as this helps keep spray off of the face when waves break over the bow. But I think this double hatch cover set up would be a "pain" to deal with if you access the compartments a lot. You would have to decide that for yourself.
Fit and finish seemed nicely done. I believe Necky makes a quality boat. Will I buy one?? I don't know yet. I test paddled this twice that day, with testing a different boat between times. I did enjoy paddling it. I am considering this and two other boats the local shops sell (Impex "Asseteague" & CD Solstice GT "Titan"). I like buying local, as then there is close-by help if I need it. I believe this kayak is a "Performance kayak" that will handle the bigger paddler. I am just concerned over the initial stability, as I do like to take a camera along to photograph wildlife. If what I have written above interests you, by all means test paddle one. I think for the right person, this would be a fun boat.
For some reason, the newer Necky seats don't suit me either. They all seem too narrow and the shape is just wrong for me, and the back band usually digs into my back in an uncomfortable manner. The regular Elaho does this too. After lunch, I switched the dry bag to the front and removed the sidepads from the seat. The boat rode more level that way, but was still not all that responsive, and the seat still hurt, although less so. The next day, I went back to the old Looksha with the hard molded seats. If you like Necky's seats, you could probably like the Elaho HV.
I do like the handling of the regular Elaho, but was pretty surprised how poorly the HV carried a little weight. It seemed to be less able to handle it than the regular Elaho. At any rate, I do really like the regular Elaho's hull shape, but not the outfitting, and the HV didn't really do anything for me at all. This week, I bought a used Wilderness Tempest 170 instead.