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I am sad to hear of the end of the Pintail and Aquanaut. For me the Pintail epitomizes the Valley feel and look. Even the Aquanaut feels more fluid in the water than many newer 'friendlier' boats. The Pintail is the most fluid feeling boat I've ever paddled. It seems one with the water. Both the Avocet and Aquanaut derive from the Pintail hull section. As Nate notes, Valley boats tended to have lower primary stability than the newer boats.
Thankfully Valley is keeping many of the Nordkapp models. The Nordkapp LV is more demanding than most manufacturers would market these days. I find mine the greatest fun when I am up for it.
My Aquanaut is my go to, do everything boat. I've been paddling it for years and prefer it to any other 17'+ touring boat I've paddled.
I haven't paddled an Etain, but it seems that Valley is moving away from the distinctive Valley feel that earned the praise "There's nothing like a Valley."
I've seen a few Tiderace boats and sat in one. I did however see a BRAND NEW tide race last month that was sent to a shop for a repair from damage inn shipping, nothing major. What was clearly visible was that the hull had indents at every bulkhead. In speaking to the owner of the shop, who also builds boats, his opinion was the indents came from the bulkheads being too big. When they insert the bulkheads and the hull shrinks in curing, it indents on either side of the slightly too large bulkheads. Not what I would call great workmanship whether Cobra is using the specs from Tiderace or their own construction methods, apparently this could be prevented by reducing the size of the bulkhead slightly.
I've owned two Cetus MVs in the past 2 years. Both were reasonably well built, one was a lightweight layup and one is an expedition layup. Both have excellent fabric layup and paint, but neither was flawless by any stretch of the imagination. I've found enough blemishes and rough spots on both boats and have had plenty of small little issues such as the tab holding the rear hatch cover leash coming off (tab goes around skeg "rope" housing so it wasn't lost but it needs to be repaired for the skeg to work best and stay straight. Thankfully I rarely need it.
In my experience, the overall finish of valley boats has been pretty good inside and out, I'd say as good or better than my Cetus.
No flames, just a few observations of a few boats.
Yup, many ppl have made excellent comments along the same lines.
My favorite boat is an Aquanaut lv compostite(not to
be confused with the plastic version) and really feels
responsive, quite maneuverable on edge which surprised
me where the standard aquanaut is stiffer tracking.
Also laying on the back deck there was nothing in the
way, the cockpit combing is recessed quite low and rolls so easy. The cockpit also fit a bit tighter
then a cetus lv or TD Xplore s. Really feels like it's between a
Std aquanaut and an avocet but fits tighter. Liked this boat so much
sold my xplore s and bought one. Also another thing
I didn't like about tiderace boats was the cockpit
combing really dug into my back when doing laybacks,
even with the tiderace xcite s I had the same problem.