Fast SOT? Oxymoron?

I know very little about sit-on-tops. I’ve paddled a few, but never really liked them. My wife currently has a Necky Dolphin SOT but has complained that she dosen’t have a chance of keeping up with me in my SINK. She sometimes wants to take her SOT when we go paddling, but dosen’t like being left behind, so she feels obligated to take her SINK. I have no desire to own a slow boat so she has decided to sell the Dolphin for a faster SOT. The problem is, I know basically zero about SOTs. The Wife is 5’8" and weighs about 130#. She is a fair-weather paddler and dosen’t care to go out in more than 2-3’ chop. She would like a fairly stable platform for swimming and goofing-off. I know there will be some trader-off for stability when it comes to speed, but she is a decent paddler so her idea of “stable” won’t mean 30" wide. She prefers rudders. Must be plastic (she won’t own a composite.) All help is appreciated! Paddle well…

Tarpon 160i
plastic, fast SOT


Heritage Shearwater

– Last Updated: Oct-13-05 12:26 PM EST –

Not made anymore, but if you could find a used one, they're pretty darned fast from I'v seen. The beam gets narrow above the waterline, and they're over 18' long. The one I saw was a kevlar model, but I thought they made a plastic version.


– Last Updated: Oct-13-05 12:31 PM EST –

a couple come to mind and I am sure others will chime in.
My wife is looking for an sot as she does not like sinks (yet) I feel that if we are going to have an sot in the fleet it has to be the sleekest fastest sumbich sot out there as I can't stand plugging along either.

If it has to be plastic:

Heritage Kayaks Seadart (either 14 or 17 ft). fast stable, responsive with a greenland style hull. It is a reasonably heavy boat but we had one borrowed for about three weeks and it tracks as if it is on rails due to a very pronounced keel but with a good lean it is easy to turn.
There are angler versions for these types also but in my opinion they are an afterthought as there are a myriad of boats out there that are better platforms for fishing.

Ocean Kayaks Scupper pro. Great all around boat, 15 ft long, good hull design, stable and pretty fast.

Hurricane Phoenix. New age plastic (very lightweight) nice nice boat, tracks really well with minimal weathercocking. (this is the boat that my back is telling me to buy)

wilderness Systems Tarpon 16 ft. I have to be fair and say that I tested this boat right after the very lightweight Phoenix and my opinion has to be biased towards the lighter boat. That said, I understand this is a very fast boat.

There. that is the extent of my knowledge of SOT's that I really like.

If it is speed that you are looking for you need to look at the Heritage Seadarts at 17 and then 14 feet. They are FAST.


Cobra Expedition - fast but heavy
I have a Cobra Expedition - plastic and 18 feet long. I bought it used due to my budget. I am going on an 8-day trip over 160 miles and have been training with others who will be in our group.

One person has a really neat carbon-fiber 18 foot Epic? kayak that weighs around 35 lbs. They were very impressed at how well I kept up - as was I.

The 2 things I dislike (not that serious but something to consider) about the kayak is how heavy it is because I go solo a lot and have a difficult time loading (I think it weighs betwen 70 and 80 lbs with rudder kit) especially after a 4-hour paddle and it is difficult to turn compared to my Scupper Pros, but then again, it is 18 feet long. The giant plus to Cobra is the support from Cobra. I had a few problems (due to the kayak being 3 years old and my lack of knowledge) and needed advice and a repair kit. They were very responsive and there when I needed them.

Another good source for kayak reviews is the Product reviews on this site - very helpful. Good luck.


Plastic + not wide = hard to find

– Last Updated: Oct-13-05 12:58 PM EST –

(Assuming you do not want a surf ski...Futura makes or made a plastic one that might be worth looking at.)

The narrowest non-specialty plastic SOT I can think of is the Ocean Kayak Scupper. 26" beam. Lots of fun to paddle and very stable.

Tarpon 160 is a good choice, too. Even though it's wider (28" beam), it is also longer. I felt it was slower to get going, but once it got up to speed it wasn't hard to keep there. (It should be stated that I am 5'2" and under 110 lbs; a poster named Swedge who owns the 160 has stated he can maintain 6 mph in it, but he is a much larger and more muscular person. What holds true for your wife will probably lie somewhere in between.)

Both the above are still slower than similar-size SINKs.

I can think of two specialty plastic SOTs with narrow beams. I have a 25" or 26" beam Prijon Twister SOT, a discontinued model. Even if you can find one, I don't recommend this kayak as a touring boat. It doesn't like to go straight.

The other specialty model is an Ocean Kayak Kea, which is 24" beam and less than 9' long. It's a child's kayak. Probably too short to keep up with a regular-length SINK.

also Heritage Sea Dart
Check out reviews here and at

Have you considered slowing down? It might be a cheaper solution? I tend to think the motor has a lot to do with the speed of the boat, not sure a faster kayak is the answer.

Cobra Expedition
pretty darn quick. Works for me.

necky dolphin
I keep getting told that I should look at this boat too. What is the issue with it? I know it is discontinued but I wanted to find one to try out before making a final decision because so many people were talking about this being a great boat.


Kestrel 140 SOT
Current Designs has a Kestrel 140 SOT coming soon.

14ft., 26" wide, less than 40lbs. Made from their TCS thermoformed plastic rather than roto-molded poly. Should be fast. $pendy too.

MUST Be Plastic

– Last Updated: Oct-13-05 1:27 PM EST –

He did say it MUST be plastic, right?

And he did NOT say it had to be light....

He obvisouly wants it to be significantly faster than the necky Dolphin....

That pretty much narrows it down to the Tarpon 16, Cobra Expedition and Eliminator, or Hertiage SeaDart 17

If you wanted to consider composite, that would open up an entirely different can of worms....

current design kestrel
For some reason I thought that was a fiberglass layup so I did not mention it even though it was very high on the list for an SOT if I could afford it.

Probably be a fortune though.


Had an Aquaterra Prism
at 14ft that was pretty fast. The boat is made under a Perception name now. Why not consider composite? I had a Futura 15ft surfski that was fast, stable and had a rudder. Jun has a Seda Revenge that used to have a rudder. The Tarpon 16 is pretty fast too.

About $1,500, But Not Available Yet
The new CD Kestral SOT will be about $1,500, but last I heard will not be available in shops until late November.

If it really weighs just 36# I might buy one, but not until I heft it for myself. Been burned on manufacturer’s specs before…

I don’t know it it can really be considered “plastic” It will probably need to handled carefully

I am the happy owner of a “Hooter Orange” Tarpon 160. It is the best of all worlds…it is fast, stable, and just plain fun!

Have also paddled several of the newer Hobie SOT’s and was impressed with their speed and agility but wished that they had a longer model available. Hobie has a new SOT due out any time that is around 16’ long that should be a rocket. It not only paddles but will also have their unique peddle drive unit plus mounts for a sail mast and leeboards. Can’t wait to give it a try but I wll still keep my T-160!

Nothing beats the Tarpon but you might want to give the Hobie a look over. I think that the yak is shown on their website.

Thanks all!
Thank you for the great info so far! As always, this forum provides great info and support.

Hey Paul, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with the Necky Dolphin, but when you compare it to a 17’ SINK, it just can’t keep up. Not that I expect any SOT to do so other than a suf ski. It’s a darn tough boat with a lot of great features, and it’s very forgiving.

TsunamiChuck, the wife dislikes compostite boats, rational or not. I’ve tried to convince her over the years with no success. If she says she only wants plastic–she gets plastic. After all, I am a typical house-broken husband! I don’t believe she would like any surf ski because of the stability issues. Remember, she is not a very agressive paddler and never wants to be.

Thanks for the help, I’ll begin researching.

Paddle well…

I still have a dolphin in my fleet.
Actually, two. Haven’t used them in a couple of years, but both my wife and I don’t want to sell them.

The Dolphin is relatively fast for an SOT. It’s about the same as the Scupper Pro. In fact, that was my other choice when we bought the Dolphins. My wife liked the look of the Dolphin and since it had taken a while to convince her we needed more boats in the fleet, I didn’t want to argue.

The Dolphin has a rather dry ride. Since that means you are sitting higher, the boat is tippier than a lot of other SOT’s.

It surfs pretty well, and is basically a good all around SOT. I rank it equally with the OK Scupper Pro.

Hope this helps.

Stand corrected…
…I went through the CD catalogue I got in the mail a few days ago and it shows the 140 SOT to be of “composite hybrid”. I also went through the website and found a couple of errors on the kayak page (1). Click on "Kestrel 140 SOT and Kestrel 170T. Also, a price list (August '05) listed the composite Kestrel 120 to be $159, with the roto 120 for $649.

The BIC Scapa might be another possibility. About the same dimensions as the K140SOT and at 50lbs. or so, it’s gotta be made of plastic.

I’ll 3rd or 4th the Tarpon. Heavy out
of the water, fast in it.Lots of neat features.

My hunny and I both have perception Illusions “sot” and as far as our limited experience goes we find them to be fairly quick boats that are stable, and a pleasure to paddle.

She has stomped folks in various local races using canoes, other recreational kayaks etc…

for what ever it is worth.