After spending a couple of…
The pilot not only fit like a dream, it is the most responsive boat I've paddled! It's like a great sports car, you just think about what you want to do and it's happening! I thought that I preferred the drop skeg to a rudder. The Pilot has a pretty neat "Seal Line" rudder system where the pedals for the rudder control are actually separate from and a little above the foot pegs- so you can brace yourself without effecting the rudder and then use your toes for rudder control. However, so far I've found that I'm not using the rudder often. It may help it track a little better in totally calm conditions, and keep it from "weather cocking" in stronger winds- but the boat is so easily paddled and corrected that I've not found it a necessity.
The boat is also one of the fastest I've paddled! It is about 8 lbs. lighter and 2 ft. shorter than the Tempest- (it's 14.5 ft., 48 lbs.) but I think it's just as fast, and is more responsive! The knee braces are not as smooth as those in the Tempest- but they are fine! I may add some light padding.
Now, I do love the phase 3 seat of the Tempest. The seat of my Pilot does have a suspended back like the phase 3. The bottom of the seat is not suspended but is nicely padded and so far I'm finding it to be just as comfortable.
After all the comparisons the clincher for me at the time was the price. Since I had decided to go for the roto-mold version so that I could "play" without worrying so much about damaging my boat- the Tempest was about $1300, and the Pilot was $720! End of contest!
My son who has more experience than I, has spent weeks on ocean trips in various boats- paddled it and said that, at 5'8",the foot pegs were too close for him- however, he loved the boat and deemed it the "perfect boat for you mom!" Good advice from a trusted source!
He did some research into repositioning the seat to fit his leg length but was afraid that it would throw the balance off. He is looking at the Necky Elaho LV right now, as a possibility for his next boat. I've paddled it and it's a well fitting, fast and responsive boat with a really nice lean due to its "multi chine diamond hull". I would consider it as a favorite now too, along with the Tempest!
But, I LOVE my Pilot! I'm surprised to see that there aren't more Pilot paddlers giving reviews here! I'm thinking that it may be due to the size limitations. I'd think that with such a great boat the manufacturers would offer larger sized versions.
I know that when I'm not paddling mine I'm wishing I were!