Considering a number of kayaks to purchase and narrowed my choices to Impex Force series, P&H LV Quest or Cetus, Aquanaut by Valley, and today I was asked to consider the Aura which I understand was the Sultan by Azul. Riot carries this kayak. Reminds me of the Tempest 170. The latest reviews on the “product review” page did not sound promising. Would like to hear from owners who have this type of kayak to see what they think of it.
Sultan is a fast sea kayak with many similarities to the Foster Legend.
The Sultan responds well to bracing strokes and paddles backwards better than any other boat I’ve tried.
It is not as reassuring as an Aquanaut which has about the best manners in snotty seas of any boat (IMHO).
Boat seems pretty fast, but as mentioned seat
is back to far in cockpit and rear deck seems
abit high. Theres a dealer not far from me
that has one cheap and often tempted to buy.
I believe that any of the boats in your list is capable of functioning as an all round boat in many conditions.
Of the boats you list which I’ve paddled in big water, I would say the Cetus and the Aquanaut are very confidence inspiring and the difference between them is personal preference/comfort as much as anything. I haven’t paddled a Force boat other than on flat water, but my sense is that it is comparable to an Aquanaut. Though a fine boat, I did not find the Quest LV as fluid in chop and quartering seas as a Cetus or Aquanaut. I found the Sultan took more of my attention in lumpy water than a Quest LV, Cetus, or Aquanaut.
I’ve demoed one
I paddle a Greenlander OC and at the time was looking for a close match. But for some reason it didn’t seem to fit me as well, felt a bit roomier and perhaps even slower when powered by my motor. The rear deck did seem a bit higher also. Could be I’m just dialed in to my Greenlander but I preferred it over the Aura.
Price vs quality
Unfortunately I don’t have the opportunity to paddle an Aquanaut and the only dealer who would bring it in would want to be assured I’d purchase the boat. Pricer but from paddling my Valley Skerray, I think I’d be pleased with the quality. Believe it or not but the dealer I am working with said he would not be able to bring in a LV Quest until fall so that’s off the radar unless I wanted to pay more and get one at MEC. Cetus is also difficult to bring in to try. The Aura is sounding a little better from everyone’s feedback. Speed I like, but the rocker is lower than I would prefer…which is stearing me away from the Force 4 kayak. Decisions, decisions.
Don’t worry about the lack of rocker on the Force4 ; when edged over it turns well.
I,ve paddled an Aura and found it tracked harder than the Force. Aura would also get a slight edge in speed to the Force. I also found Force had better primary and the Aura had a better locked in secondary stability.
The high rear deck and seat placement would keep me from buying a Sultan (Aura) unless it was very cheap. Paddle one if you can to see how it strikes you.
As you are in the Maritines you will be paddling serious seas. I think it maybe important to be in a boat in which you are comfortable.
As for me, I own 4 sea kayaks (Romany, Elaho DS, Aquanaut, Nordkapp LV). when I take only one boat for the greatest range of use, I take my Aquanaut.
The Force 4 and Aquanaut has moved up on the list as they both appear to have a good all around use. I may have the chance to try a poly aquanaut…do you think that would give me a good idea of how a glass aquanaut feels and performs? If it came down to value, the Force 4 is a few thousand cheaper…and I understand good quality. Like many of us paddler, I want a boat that can do everything but there always has to be a compromise. I do some kayak camping so I’m not sure if the Aura would suit that activity…and yes we have some active water at times…so your suggestions around the aquanaut helps. One of you mentioned if the price was right on the Aura…well, I believe I would be getting a deal but no sense if I don’t like the kayak. Hard choosing when you can’t jump into the kayak and try them all. At least my choices have narrowed down.
Aquanauts and Force boats
An RM Aquanaut might give you some sense of the feel of a standard composite 'naut. However, the poly Aquanaut LV is wider and shorter than the standard composite 'naut and the poly HV is the same length but is also wider and deeper than the standard composite Aquanaut. The cockpits of Valley poly boats are also quite different in fit from their composite kin.
The Force boats are very nice boats. Mark Schoon did the Maine Island Trail solo in a Force 4 and is currently using a Force 5 on a major Scandinavian expedition with Jeff Allen.
Though I am a big Valley fan, I cannot support someone ordering a new boat of a model they've never paddled. If you can test paddle a Force boat, do so. If it feels good to you, it is good.
As far as quality: Valley makes very fine boats and stands behind them (I received a new custom Nordlow because of issues with the one I had). However, Impex boats ARE Canadian made and Canadian quality is often the benchmark for all others ;-)
Years ago I was in florida and tried this boat. If not mistaken
is was designed by Scott Williams. At the time he called it
the paradigm (?). Scott let me try his boat. I do not know if
Azul (Riot) have done any modifications on the design Scott
had come up with. You might want to do a search under its
original name and see what you come up with. At the time
Scott was one of the first BCU paddlers in the country and
his boat was ahead of the market. He was also one of the
original owners of Sweetwater in Florida.
It sounds like the Aura’s volume may be more limited than the Force 4 and the Aquanaut. I don’t wont to find myself in the same situation as I am in with my LV Skerray. I’ll have to check out the specs related to deck height and cargo load. I’m at 185-190 lbs so I think I’m at the optimal level for the Aura…then add some gear and I’m maxing out the capacity. Once again thanks everyone, very insightful comments.