I have the regular-volume rudder version of the boat, the K1-R. My wife likes the way the rudder works. I've never used the rudder. I haven't found a reason to yet, it doesn't seem to need one for paddling even in some wind. I think a skeg would really suffice on this boat, and there is a skeg version available (K1-S). I want the rudder because I plan to add a sail. I think the hull of this boat represents a bright set of compromises. It is basically a rounded hull with some keel towards the ends and a flared bow.
- The boat glides very well. I'm surprised by how fast it is for its length and given the fact that it has some rocker. Four m.p.h. is an easy cruising pace, quicker cruising paces are available. Lovely. To me, speed in a boat is also a safety factor. If I do see black weather coming, I can at least try to get to shore relatively quickly. Speed and glide are significant strong points of the boat. For comparison, I think she is quicker than a composite Capella.
- My wife said, "it feels like it knows how to handle the waves", and I agree. It is quite seaworthy. The rounded hull has no strong opinion about which side of the hull should face the water. So, in sharp choppy water, the chop just wraps around the boat and passes on, leaving me like Buddha. Sweet. There is a moderate rocker which helps too.
- The cockpit is comfortable, and seat first entry works fine.
- It turns well with a lean and handling it is a pleasure. For comparisons, I like the turning better than a composite P&H Capella. (It does not turn as well as a P&H Quest, which is amazingly responsive). For a lot of people, I think the skeg version of the K1 (called K1-S) would be excellent.
- It tracks well, another surprise to me because the hull is rounded with only a hint of a keel line. There is no yaw when paddling, and the tendency to weathercock is moderate. Bravo. She tracks much better than a composite P&H Capella (with the Capella's skeg up).
- The boat is solid and well made. The fittings, bulkheads, and hatches are of good quality (an exception is noted below). To be clear, I've never found a boat from any manufacturer where the hatches are completely dry after a few hours of Rolling/Rescue/GeneralThrashingAbout. These are good. If you *do* find a boat with completely dry hatches in hard use, please drop me a note so I at least know about it. Are the VCP hatch covers dryer than the KajakSports? I don't know. Anyway, you want dry bags for gear, and some back up flotation for your life.
- It has enough primary stability for us. We're no experts, but I'm not looking for a flat-bottomed sow, anyway. Heck, it feels a lot more secure than my Prijon Beluga, which can be a tricky boat at times, especially in windy chop.
- Nice weight on this boat. It is almost a pleasure to car-top.
- The rudder up-down rigging is nice.
- Price. Yep. Spend it on better paddles and gear.
- The K1 is handsome.
- At least on the rudder version of the K1, the footbraces can and have come loose during rolling/rescue practice and general thrashing about. Lame. I think the footbraces are "Keepers" brand, I could be wrong. Reportedly, the K1-R footbraces are the same that are used in Wilderness Systems and many other boats. The skeg version might even have the same problem, I don't know. I'm going to replace the footbraces.
- The cockpit near my thighs has a pretty good shape, but comes without any padding. This is common. Many manufacturers could learn a thing or two from Prijon's thigh grips.
- Before I depend heavily on the rudder line, I'll probably replace it with stainless steel cable. It seems fine for moderate use, though.
- The exterior finish on the boat is not as pristine as, say, a P&H boat which you could hang on your living room wall as piece of art. Then again, who cares? You can pay alot for a showroom finish, which would not last the way I handle it. The finish is plenty good enough.
- Our fourteen-year-old boy is 6 feet 3-1/2 inches, with legs longer than usual for his height, and size 15 (U.S.) feet. He claims that the cockpit is too small for him.
So, I think I'm going to rate her an 8-1/2. I like her *much* more than a plastic Capella, which I rated a 9 back when I was (even) more naive than I am now.
The kayak is very fast and a straight tracker. Even with a strong wind on the stern, I've only dropped the rudder to be lazy. It turns nicely when leaned, and should roll easily when the water warms up enough to try! The cockpit is plenty roomy for my 6' 0" 190 pounds, with more fidgeting space than many wider boats. I'm replacing the seat, but only because it's just a wee bit too narrow for my marathon skater's backside. I'll use the fiberglass original as the mold for a new one; it's a comfy shape.
Initial stability is low, comparable to a Necky Looksha IV or Sport. However, after the first hour in the boat I've been right at home with it, although I use more caution now looking straight up at the stars! Secondary is moderate, and I'll be working on my bracing before venturing into big waves.
This is my second boat, and I don't see a third one coming anytime soon. If you can find a dealer selling them, there's no point in plastic anymore. For the record, my old boat was a Dagger Edisto, which wouldn't turn on a lean, and wouldn't go straight in the lightest breeze. I've paddled several good expedition kayaks, and the K1 VR rates up there with the best of them.