Most Recent Reviews
I bought the Forti as a counterpoint to my Valley Pintail and P&H Delphin, both of which have a different place in kayaking for me. I wanted better tracking, speed and load carrying capacity and the ability to handle big water when touring. I decided on the Nordkapp Forti and love the boat more every time I paddle it. For starters, this is not a beginners' kayak. The 21.5" width is a little misleading. The sides of the kayak are not squared off like a Tiderace or NDK (both great boats by the way). The Nordkapp sides taper in slightly from top to bottom making the effective waterline width noticeably narrower. It feels very lively, but very predictable and sneaky fast. Effortless to cruise along at 4.5 knots. The bow and stern are somewhat "fuller" than previous models, a throwback to the original model that the legend was built on. They are less pinched and seem lower and less exaggerated than past versions. In all, a very sleek and elegant design.
The build quality is stellar (typical for Valley) and finish is perfect. I like the recessed coaming which makes doing scramble solo reentries much easier. The seat is pre-drilled with three different positions to alter trim if needed as well.
This kayak is not meant for playboating and certainly does not turn on a dime even when edged with the coaming in the water. It wasn't designed for that and if that is what you are looking for, there are numerous kayaks that can fill that need......like the aforementioned Delphin. The tracking is excellent though and it rolls like a dream. Probably the only knock I have is the backband is mediocre. I took it out and replaced it with an Immersion Research band which fit perfectly. I also have one of these in my Pintail.
All in all, this is a great Intermediate to Advanced kayak that embodies a classic elegance. I feel alive and a part of the waves when I paddle this boat. We are going to have many great adventures together.
This is a play boat that has crossed whitewater with sea kayak attributes to make a very unique kayak. It is not a "do everything" boat, but is exceptional in the rough stuff. It is a bit slow in flat water, but hey, that's not what it's made for. The primary is such that a beginner can paddle this comfortably. The high end designs also allow for the skilled paddler to do things that may not be possible in more traditional kayaks.
Take one for a test paddle, in rough conditions. If you can't paddle this in rough water, you should stay out of rough water because this kayak is the best I have ever paddled in conditions. I say this having paddled the Romany, Pintail, Chatham, Zephyr and a host of other rough water boats.
Try the Delphin.....you won't be disappointed.
When I was researching this kayak, I found many reviews by folks who were in the light weight category of paddlers. 120-150 lbs. I am 6'1", 195 lbs and have plenty of room and paddle it with both "Valley" hull logos out of the water. I realized later that the reviews were from some of our British friends who had the peculiar habit of always paddling the kayak with 40 lbs of gear, even if only going out for some play time.
This kayak is definitely not for beginners or those looking for a ultra solid cruiser to take on the pond on calm sunny days. This is an ocean play boat. It takes some skill to paddle and it loves the rough stuff. It turns on a dime with a sweep stroke and some edge. It rolls like it genuinely dislikes being upside down. It surfs amazingly, but asks for the driver to know what they are doing. Valley no longer makes this as a production boat (too bad), but will still make one if ordered. This is a tried and true design and deserves a place in todays paddling community.
Is this one of the best "all around" kayaks.....No. Does it succeed in achieving what it was designed for.....ABSOLUTELY! For those of you who get excited about paddling when the waves kick up, for those who like to surf sea kayaks and those who use the coastal surf as a playground, the Pintail is an elite player among some very strong competition.
I ordered this boat through Pelee Wings, which is near Leamington Ontario, and when they ordered my custom color, Impex said that it was not in stock on the Cat 4. They adjusted their schedule, built the boat and I had my new kayak two weeks after it was ordered. Actually, I was not looking at the Cat 4 when I finished my research and started test paddling new fiberglass kayaks. I was interested in the Impex Currituck and Assateague (wasn't quite sure which would fit better), Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 and the Current Designs Gulfstream. The Currituck was too small for me and didn't handle all that well with my physical build. I carry my weight more in my chest and shoulders (swimmers build) and I found the Currituck a bit twitchy. The Assateague is much larger and felt too big (sorry if this is sounding like a three little bears story).
According to the Impex website there is a significant crossover for paddler size between these two models but I felt that there is a size gap that I fell right in the middle of. The Tempest is a great design, but I saw four different boats from three different retailers and well....there is no nice way to put this....the build quality was lousy. The bulkheads were sloppy and looked like they were put in by a kid, I could see fiberglass fabric pattern showing through various areas of the hulls and it turned out to be the most expensive boat I was looking at ($3500 Cdn). The design is good and the boat handles very well but the company just needs to put more effort into quality control.
I own a CD Sirocco, which I love, and looked at the Gulfstream since it is the fiberglass version with only a few minor size/shape differences. This is a classic design, but it appears that CD has put great emphasis on weight reduction and has it down to about 50 lbs in fiberglass. It felt like I was paddling a big eggshell and I have concerns about its durability.
When I paddled the Cat 4 it immediately caught my attention with great primary stability and easy maneuvering on edge. This I didn't expect, due to the narrow beam and flat rocker on this 18 foot cruiser. It edges easily and holds on the very solid secondary stability. I have had it out in 3-4' waves on Lake Erie and Lake Huron, finding it is a very good rough water boat. It rides following seas like it's on rails and surfing this boat is quite easy, with a little edge and stern rudder. I had heard that it was only average when it came to rolling. Actually, I found it quite easy to roll and my Sirocco is only slightly better (and it practically rolls itself). The VCP hatch covers keep the compartments bone dry and I have never found a drop of water in the hatches even after rolling practice in waves and surf.
I am a solid intermediate paddler and have found that this boat is has more potential than I currently have abilities. My skills improve each time I paddle it and I am looking forward to growing with my new Cat 4 for many years to come.
I have read that some find it a bit tippy at first. For beginners it may feel that way, but once you have some time in any kayak, you come to realize that this boat is just very responsive. It is easy to edge and can spin on a dime, in the surf, when put even slightly on edge. Speaking of surf, this is where this boat shines. I paddle the Great Lakes and regularly take it out in 3-4 foot waves. This boat is totally at home in rough water and is very easy to surf (for a sea kayak). The hatches are all secure and dry with no implosion problems.
The poly that CD uses seems to be a bit more abrasion resistant than many other manufacturers and this boat really stands up to rough landings (voluntary or involuntary). This is a great boat for a competent beginner or an intermediate looking to take their skills to the next level. I feel that rudders degrade paddling ability and the skeg on this boat functions smoothly and reliably. It will allow you to increase your paddling skill and has helped me become a better kayaker.
Why did I rate it a "9"? The thigh braces are dated. CD should join the new era and add the adjustable outfitting like Wilderness Systems, Perception and Necky. I have had to foam out the thigh brace and hip area, a little bit. If they put in something similar to WS phase 3, this boat would be head and shoulders about anything in its class. Take one for a test paddle. It may not be for everyone, but for those that it fits.....what a ride!!