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Name: mscantlebury

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The Option is a sweet, tough whitewater playboat. But, it is slow. It's a lot like an Esquif L'edge that way. A stroke will accelerate it quickly enough, but there is no glide. Of course what do you expect with an 8'8" canoe? You are supposed to use this boat on whitewater runs with lots of current. There it shines. With its short length, it's easy to fit into small eddies. What's more, designed by an open boat freestyle champ, the Option is a great canoe for surfing. It handles quite a range of waves and with its short length, if you start to carve off a wave, it's easy to bring the boat back around.

The Option's plastic is thick and sturdy. This seems like a boat that will last. I had some cracking trouble with Esquif Preludes (another canoe I love that has more speed), which is why I decided to try an Option. For rocky, creeky, class 3+/4 runs, the Option is the boat. It's even fun on the class 2 runs as long as there isn't too many flat sections.

The boat has great primary stability. This is a feature I'm growing to like. The Prelude has zip primary, which makes it a fun, responsive canoe. The advantage of the Option's primary stability is you don't have to be so much on your toes when you hit some big boils at the end of a rapid. The Option also has excellent secondary. If you like a stable boat, you'll like this canoe. Truth in advertising: I'm a 5'11", 160-pound guy. A heavier person may have a different opinion.

All in all, I'm very happy with this boat and have been paddling it for about half a year now.

I've now been paddling the Prelude for four years and am increasing my rating of it to a 10. I now like the bulkhead system better than any other seating system I've had in a canoe. It's comfortable, secure, and yet very easy and fast to get in and out of.

The Prelude's chines actually soften over time as the bottom of the boat begins to round a little. This actually makes it even easier to surf--you can recover more easily from a dropped edge. The boat has held up well from 50+ days of paddling a year. The hull has lots of scratches and nicks, but is sound. There is some oil canning under the seat, but it doesn't seem to hurt performance.

I'm so sold on the boat, I already have a spare tucked up in the rafters of my garage in case I crack the hull at some point.

I have a Kevlar Loon 16 that I bought used. Truly beautiful canoe--a friend says it's like paddling fine cabinetry. The canoe is excellent in a variety of moving water conditions, including swells and wind chop on a big river. The hull is reasonably fast for a 16-foot canoe, but slow compared to 17 and 18 foot canoes. I particularly like its lightness for carrying to and from the river and portages. Having come from owning Royalex trippers, I find it a little fussy to have to baby the canoe to minimize scratches, but I'm learning to take the little bit of extra care.

The Prelude is a great boat. Very responsive — it leans very quick to either side and has excellent secondary. It accelerates fast for a canoe its size. The boat's narrowness (26" at the top of the gunwhales) makes for good vertical forward strokes. Hard chines enable precise carving for eddy catching and peel outs. On waves, it's a surf machine. It's reasonably stable when full of water.

This boat is rotomolded and made of polyethylene, the same plastic they use for whitewater kayaks. This makes it tougher than Royalex boats and allows it to slide more easily on rocks. It comes with an already installed foam bulkhead saddle. The seat is 10" high, too high for such a short, narrow canoe. I carved the seat down to less than 8" high.

I'd give the boat a 10 if they could find some way to offer it with adjustable thigh straps instead of the foam bulkhead. Overall, I'm very happy with the Prelude.

I've now had my Solito for over a year and recently made an interesting discovery. The canoe has always seemed in my opinion a little too wide in the center, interfering with a good forward stroke along the path of the boat. I moved both thwarts in 5 inches towards the center of the boat, narrowing it the boat's center width at the top of the gunnels from 27.5" to 26.5". It made a dramatic improvement. If you have a Solito, you might want to try this. Because you can do this by just moving the thwarts in, it's entirely reversible.

This is my favorite whitewater solo canoe--and I've tried many. It's short, nimble, quick, and a great surf boat. I think to truly appreciate the boat, you also need to be relatively modest in size. I wouldn't recommend this boat to someone over 190 pounds. The chine is not as hard as an Ocoee's, so you don't quite have the same precision, but drop the side of the boat to nearly the gunwale and the Phantom turns on a dime. I moved from the Ovation to this boat and instantly bonded with the Phantom. Since then, I've bought both a Bell Ocoee and Evergreen Solito, but still my favorite boat is the Phantom. They're not making them anymore, but I've managed to find and buy several. Good luck finding yours. Mad River, if you're listening, consider getting the Dagger mold for the Phantom and for the Dimension, just like you have for the Caption. The Phantom and Dimension (the best whitewater tripping canoe ever made) are well worth putting back on the market.

The Solito is a welcome addition to the ever-diminishing solo whitewater canoe choices out there. It's very much like a commercial version of the chopped Dagger Ocoees that reigned at rodeos a while back. The boat has a very flat bottom and hard chine. It's very responsive, enabling you to tilt easily to engage that chine and has great secondary. It has very decent acceleration for a boat this length--much faster for instance than the Esquif Detonator. It's a bit wider than my favorite boat, the Dagger Phantom, and consequently not as nimble. But if you're a fan of Ocoees, this is definitely a boat to check out. It's a great surf machine--just be sure to set the seat far enough back to make it a little bow light. The only reason I'm giving it a "8" is the layup seems a bit light to me. Otherwise it would be a "10". Its layup is a lot like the Bell Ocoee--lighter than the original Dagger version and more prone to dent. I've heard that Evergreen is looking into a thicker Royalex sheet and I hope that's true. The boat also doesn't come with grab thwarts. I made my own--both for having a handle for pulling it up on shore and because I think it helps the overall rigidity of the boat (no scientific basis for that impression). That said, I really like the boat. I'd buy it over a Bell Ocoee (which I also have). Does it best the Dagger Phantom? Not quite, in my opinion. It's important to note that size-wise I'm 5'11" and 170 lbs. A heavier and taller person might find the Solito (as well as the Ocoee and Phantom) a bit squirrelly.

This is a great beginner/intermediate whitewater canoe. Good initial and secondary stability. The canoe is very responsive, though no great shakes in the acceleration department--which is what you'd expect from a playboat. I find it great for surfing and its blunted bow makes it a dry boat. Too bad they're not making them anymore.

Truly one of the greatest tandem tripping boats ever made. Stable and forgiving, yet plenty responsive. Other 16+' canoes may claim to be tandem whitewater boats, but they don't handle like this. It's a shame they stopped making them. Check out the Esquif Canyon though.

This is the definitive tandem playboat. And probably a great solo tripping boat for big water--but I haven't tried that yet. The Blast is so responsive. It whips into eddies, turns on a dime for catching waves on the fly or executing a ferry, and has great secondary stability. Another great advantage is you sit so close to your partner, they can hear every instruction, direction, comment and insult you give them. Can't recommend this boat enough for fun on Class III water for two.