It's a perfect ten not because it's a perfect boat, but because it ideally suits my needs. Three months ago I was looking for several things in a boat. First of all, fitness. I wanted to be able to get out several times a week to paddle 10 miles or more in 3 to 4 hours. I wanted to be able to paddle at least 8 months a year on Long Island Sound mixing it up with the big boys, tugs, container ship, etc. Second I needed to be able to keep up with my friends who are paddling 17 to 19 foot glass and kevlar boats. Third, I expect to be paddling this boat into my 70s, and I needed something light weight and easy to hand carry. Fourth, I wanted a boat that would allow me to greatly improve my paddling skills. And being newly retired with money tight, I wanted to come in well under $2K for the works. The Trooper has more than met all my needs.
Let me tell you a little bit about the boat. Check out the specs at their website, www.sidekickkayaks.com. Basically, it's a 38 lb, glass Swedeform design, much like a QCC or Epic. It carries the waterline for the full length of the boat and has a long fine entry with the maximum beam aft of the cockpit, optimizing the speed for the length. It is made in Argentina. All boats are imported with rudders and they are beautifully finished. Juan Munster, a young athletic Argentine, imports only 30 boats a year. His major retail outlet is The Small Boat Shop in S. Norwalk, CT, a fantastic place where they let me demo the boat even though I told them I'd likely buy it on line. The boat tracks beautifully and handles well. The rudder is great when there is a stiff breeze or strong currents although the boat turns better without the rudder. The bulkheads are beautifully done and the hatches are absolutely water tight with great stowage. Both the neoprene covers and the glass hatch covers are attached to the boat.
This boat is light, fast, responsive and an absolute blast. I love to see whitecaps with a three to four foot chop coming from all directions. With thighs locked in the braces, I can easily roll right or left. Lean forward or back to lower or raise the bow. Dig hard and the boat accelerates beautifully. Plant a low brace and she is as steady as a rock. The boat feels like an extension of myself and not a separate entity.
So what's not to like. This boat is very wet, to me an asset except when the temps drop into the 30s. It is less stable than any other boat I have ever paddled. In rough water, it demands absolute attention and considerable skill. It would never never make a good fishing or photographic platform and it would be very tiring on an expedition although I've done up to 18 miles. The boat does not edge well, probably because the low cockpit and long waterline do not allow for much of a change in the underwater profile when leaning into a turn. The rudder pedals are small. My paddling boots are a 40.5, 7 to 7 1/2, and I sometimes catch my toes on the rudder cable. At The Small Boat Shop, they suggested changing the pedals. The boat fits me like a glove but I'm not a big guy at nearly 5'10" and 175 lbs. There is room for much longer legs, but no room for heavier thighs or a bigger butt. When in doubt, try it out.
In all, this boat is perfect for me and I love it which explains my score.