I canoed and now kayak with some elderly people. They all have 17 kevlar racing canoes 30 lbs or less. and with my 90 lb. fiberglass canoe, on a 3 mile oval, i started 1/4 mile ahead turned around 1/4 before they did. and they would beat me by 1/4 mile. But with this 14' fiberglass Isere, I start when and where the slower ones do and I finish before the slower ones do... but the faster canoers still beat me.
The main problem I had was it was very unstable. I put a v on the bottom down each side. with drywall corner bead. I can it keep upright so far. I am sure i lost some speed and tracking. but it is my favorite kayak now. It is 2x easier to paddle then my 10' polyethylene kayak and it goes alot faster. It is about 12-15 min faster on the 3 mile course.
Have taken this boat through everything from: flock of Brant in an Adirondack Lake days after ice out; streams flat to mild whitewater; ponds; tidal marshes; surfing wakes of oil barges and the Rodney Dangerfield style yacht on the Hudson River; to the ocean.
This boat is a workout machine that makes you want to push yourself faster and further just because you can. Have no desire to find another. You must modify the seat or be willing to blame your sore back on lifting something that you shouldn't have.
My needs could be unique as I am 6’ 2” and quite top-heavy. The Isere is fast for its length but beyond this it is more pleasurable than other fast kayaks because it gets up to speed so fast due to the light weight. The 14ft waterline is about optimal with low surface area drag bringing you well past hull speed. The bottom stays smooth because the thin hull gives rather than focusing weight and scratching. Nylon and fiberglass doesn’t sound high performance but the result is more capable than many Kevlar hulls I have seen.
It is a sturdy boat, as I expected, as I also own a 20 year old Vagabond 2 person boat made by Phoenix. I treat the poor things badly and drag them around with no regard for cosmetic damage. I do try and avoid the big rocks on the way down the river, but I don’t always succeed. I haven’t put a hole in either one yet, and the Vagabond went down the river in very low water (2002 drought) banging on a lot of rocks, still no holes.
The Isere is a good do-all boat that will pack a lot for a trip, yet works well as an exercise rig in big water. It maneuvers well in the reeds with the rudder up and is reasonably fast with the rudder down. I had good luck with the factory shipping, my friend did not, although they did take the first one back with no questions when subcutaneous damage was suspected by my friend.