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Name: jaws

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I bought a used Valley Skerray XL based on the fact that it was unbelievably cheap and in pristine shape. It was built in 1994 and the quality was excellent. The fiberglass layup was great and there was no flex in the hull or deck. But you would expect this when composite kayak weighs 76lbs. Yes, I weighed it and that is what the scale registered.

The seat was one of the best I have sat on. Nice support for the legs and shaped just right for myself. The thigh braces were also good. It was equipped with a rudder which was controlled by a tiller bar that was mounted on flanges glassed to the hull. This was a clean design as no holes were needed in the hull for bolts to hold foot brace tracking. But this also created a problem as the bar was held with bolts which you needed to remove to move the tiller bar forward and back. You cannot adjust the bar while on the water so when your legs cramp you are out of luck.

The Skerray XL is for big paddlers which I am not being 5'9" and 190lbs. Even though the cockpit fit fairly well and I had good contact. The handling of the Skerray was very confident inspiring, which it should be at 24" wide. I have paddled many kayaks and this one made big water (lake Michigan, Superior during high winds) seem boring. Secondary stability was outstanding.

This is not a stiff tracking kayak and did weathercock quite a bit and this is where the rudder helped. You could put it on edge to hold course but at 24" wide this took effort. As far as speed is concerned this is a VERY slow kayak. I no longer own the Skerray as I could paddle longer distances, using less energy while carry more in a QCC 500.

I paddled the Merlin XT cabonlite that my neighbor bought. It was a paddle of about 9 miles at the local lake. The first thing to impress me was the fact that it tracked very well. The second was edged turns. It is very responsive to edging. After getting all excited about how well it handled I was ready to cover some water and see if it had any real flaws. Well within a few miles all the excitement was gone as this kayak just does not glide through the water. I had brought my gps along to see if it was reasonably fast. It is not. As far as stability is concerned it is a little light but no more than many other kayaks. I never felt uneasy in the Merlin. I so wanted to like this boat but I need a kayak with some glide and the Merlin suffers in this area. It might be different for a lighter paddler but for me at 190lbs. this boat returned to little forward motion for the effort applied.

I owned a Looksha II for a couple of years. I felt the initial stability was light and secondary was just a little better. It has good speed. In my opinion it was very rudder dependent. The workmanship was good. It was very light for a 20ft. x 20in. kayak. But then I sold it for a QCC 700. I miss it at times because it was a very fun kayak to paddle. But for the paddling I do the QCC is better.

I have owned a Ultima for 3yrs. and enjoy paddling it. The initial stability is moderate and secondary is good. It is deceptively fast. Turns very well with edging. Rudder is a little overdone with the amount of moving parts. But I must say that the rudder goes deep enough that it stays in the water on big swells. Quality is as good or better than anyones and I have owned many kayaks. Hatches are huge. Right up there with QCC's. I have bought and sold many kayaks but the Ultima and my QCC's will always be a part of my fleet.

I owned a Sirocco for 4yrs. and paddled it quite a bit. It handles rough water very well. Might broach a little easier than I would like. Turning and secondary stability are definitely its best features. But here the praise ends as it is outclassed by other kayaks. Before I sold the Sirocco I paddled many hours in it always reaching the launch thinking that it's a good kayak but not as good as the others I own. I have yet to find myself out paddling wishing I were in the Sirocco.

I only paddled a Specter for 3hrs. on a small lake. I am 5ft.9in. 195lbs. and the cockpit is HUGE. I have never paddled a kayak with such a high deck. This thing pushes a lot of water. In other words it's not fast. I was also surprised that riding as high as it does in the water it is a very wet ride. Even in mild waves. After reaching the launch I could not think of a single reason to own this boat. This is proof that you should always test paddle.

Have owned a polarity now for almost a year. This is a tandem kayak. Poly 16ft. 6in. long 26in. width. This is the most fun tandem you will ever paddle. With my 4yr. old grand daughter in the front cockpit my son in a sirocco can't keep up. It handles like a single. Put on edge and it will turn inside most singles. But the main thing is its just plain fun to paddle.Will put a smile on your face every time you take it out. Try one!

Being a newbie. Paddling for less than a year. My suggestion would be to skip the carolina and jump right to a Avatar. It feels stable enough that you can learn in but won't grow old once you start to learn skills. Like a corolina will. Seriously this thing is all that and more. Handles, has speed, and for the right people fits like a glove. The skeg could use a little help with fine tuning but this boat is worth it. If any boat deserves a ten your reading about it. A solid 10!

14.5 carolina exolar. I have had my carolinba for about 6 months. It is a very stable kayak. Not perticularly fast. For a 5 foot 10 inch person the seat is very comfotable. Now for the bad news! As I am new to kayaking I had no clue that brand new kayaks can possibly not be straight. After explaining to fellow paddlers that my kayak constantly steers to the right I was given several explainations. Most said I was paddling strong on the left as compared to the right. Others said I was sitting with more weight on my left cheek as compared to the right. But now I have found the real culprit. My kayak is not straight. After going for a paddle I laid the kayak in my yard upside down. I could"nt help but notice that the last foot and a half curved off to one side. After looking at it I realized the curve would cause the kayak to steer to the right. SO all this time I was doing sweep strokes and leaning to my left so I could go straight was not my lack of experience. Just to prove my idea I bought a new kayak and found I can paddle it perfectly straight! Now I have a 6 month old carolina that I don"t paddle unless I want to be frustrated. I am tempted to take it back to the dealer to see if they can do something but after this long I assume they will not be of help. So as a final word of caution I would hope any new paddler who assumes their new kayak will be free of defects should be wary. If you suspect anything wrong with the way your kayak tracts take a long hard look at the bottom. If it appears crooked it probably is.