Third time out in it was today. Destroyed my sea kayak PRs set in my Current Designs Extreme, though it would be difficult to compare the two kayaks as they have very different characteristics and are both in a class of their own.
Rudder dependent? Absolutely. Only way to race though. And this rudder along with a bit of lean will turn this 20' kayak on a dime at speed. If you're willing, this kayak would really benefit from one of the newer rudder setups with toe controls, the nylon adjustment straps are tough to adjust exactly right. Note that the footpeg holes are set at 20" so conversion kits would have to be customized.
Build quality is excellent. Not a rough spot on this inside or out, and Necky uses a quality gelcoat. This is the most comfortable kayak to portage – fits right on the shoulder and is perfectly balanced, very light for its size. It is a bit snug for me (6'1" with size 12 shoes and a very lean 200 lbs). I'm probably at the upper end of being able to fit in the cockpit, though it does fit me very comfortably. Finding one in pristine condition is difficult though, I looked for a while before I found one without major damage. Not a lot of them produced, and the light weight, length, and stereotypical user seems to make them more susceptible to be damaged.
For a beginner I would recommend the Current Designs Extreme over this. Much more stable, wider range of fit, excellent rough water performance, straight tracking.
For an experienced fitness paddler, hands down the Looksha 3 – faster (about 3%) and provides much sharper turns. Of course, both is always better!
The reason I bought the Looksha is to make a trip from Key Largo to Marco Island on the west coast of Florida. roughly a 120 mile trip around the everglades. After I purchased the Looksha I came across a "Northwest Discover". Same length kayak but 22" wide, what a difference. Nowhere near the speed but the cargo capacity and stability is amazing. Now I have to choose which one to take, Hmmm...
I used this kayak in rolling class and succeeded in uprighting it, sometimes going having to do a second roll because I went too far! The kayak pro recognized this kayak from a distance and asked if I paddled it without the rudder. I told him "I can't" and he laughed. He told me the kayak is "rudder-dependent" and can't be paddled without it. It would really suck if the rudder broke on a trip!
The hard plastic seat has been removed in favor of an Immersion Research "Loungeband" and It's a very simple modification as you can see in the video. The backband is very comfortable and I will be installing the Black Dog seat base soon. The original seat is a good seat too but at 6' and 235 my legs would eventually get cramps.
Here is a YouTube video of this kayak:
First of all it is not as heavy as one would think for the length of the boat. Stability I would rate a 7 out of 10 with 10 being the most stable. You should feel comfortable within the first 30mins to an hour in this boat.
Using the GPS the top max speed I could get with my paddling ability was 7.9mph but I could not hold it there for very long. Cruising speed I would say is between 5.5 to 6.5 mph depending on the person paddling. This is without much effort.
I give it an 8 out of 10 for the reason of having to use the rudder to hold a straight line. With a 19ft boat this is understandable. Overall I am a happy owner of the Looksha III.