Fast SOT? Oxymoron?

Another vote for the cobra expedition…
I had one briefly and plan on getting another. Its fast and light. I don’t know how the other guy thought it was heavy. Weighs in at just 48 lbs, rudder will add a few pounds, but between 70 and 80? I highly doubt it.

I own a Cobra Tourer as well, its more stable but weighs close to 60 lbs with rudder and all the hatches. The Expedition was like a feather in comparison for loading and unloading. Superlight for a plastic 18 footer.

Cobra Ex…
I found it a wet ride that didn’t appreciate chop and turned like an aircraft carrier even with rudder. Made my Tarpon 160 seem nimble (I had no rudder), able to tackle anything, and far more stable doing it.

Just an opinion - but one that echos a lot of others descriptions I’ve heard and read too.

Hurricane Phoenix
We went out to the paddlefest at Adventure Times Kayaks in West Palm Beach and had a chance to try out a bunch of boats. the current Designs Kestrel sito on top was there, along with Ocean Scupper Pro, and the Hurricane Phoenix.

I have to say that my wife’s favorite was the Hurricane Phoenixand looking at all the features, including price, the Phoenix 14 footer is one sweet boat.



– Last Updated: Oct-16-05 11:34 PM EST –


SOTs are among, if not THE, fastest paddlecraft around. The specialized variety known as skis –surf skis, not wave skis (which –given your handle –I’d think you were familiar with) are the stiletto flyers of the kayaking world.

Your wife’s complaint is the plaintive cry of many an SOTer…They want to go fast enough to keep up in mixed company, but many know, or feel, they can’t, with their present rides...

So they look for, as our good friend redneck_paddler would say, the ‘Wholly Grayle’:

They want a boat that is “still stable” but goes fast enough to keep up in mixed company. They want a boat they can view wildlife, skin dive, and photograph from, and still keep up in mixed company. They want a boat they can beat up on, and beat upon, and still keep up in mixed company…

Sorry, yaksurfer, but for the most part –the MOST part , not ALL parts –the tradeoffs don’t work. If your wife paddles a classic SINK, she obviously DOESN’T mean, or need, 30” wide. That’s VERY good, because 30” of beam will slow ANYBODY down.

There are some roto boats out there that good paddlers can use to successfully keep up in mixed company, when the mixed company is cruising easy. And there a few roto boats thet REALLY good paddlers can use to successfully keep up in mixed company on “serious” cruises.

But for the MOST part? Not really…

Brasilbrazil had a pretty good rundown on the traditional leading ‘tupperware’ contenders, but there’s more, depending on your wife’s definition of, and tolerance of, “composite” boats…

Now IF she doesn’t mind fiberglass, the original “composite" (but not a space-age new materials amalgam that I’d say most of us now conceive of as “composite”) she can open her eyes upon a whole NEW world of SOTs. They’re the South African models now being imported by a few dealers:

The Seda Revenge: California, fiberglass, 16’6” X 25”, 68#, ~$2240

The Kaskazi Pelican: fiberglass, 15’6” X 23-1/2”, 52#, gas-pedal ruddered, ~$1500?

The Kaskazi Dorado: fiberglass, 15’-8” X 25”, 60#, gas-pedal ruddered, ~$1800??

The Kaskazi Skua: fiberglass, 17’3” X 22-1/2”, 55#, gas-pedal ruddered, ~$2000??


– Last Updated: Oct-18-05 7:49 PM EST –

The original post first didn't take, and then got truncated, so here's part II:

Here are some pics and reviews of some of these lesser-known fast(er) SOTs…

The Kaskazis (and a MacSki Kingfisher)

The Knysna Isthmus, 17' X 21", ~50#, gas-pedal rudder, ~$1600

No URLS for pics of the I could be added here...

So cut & paste and add a w to the front end of this one to see a half-fast ride on the I:'s%20Kayaks/Frank_in_the_Isthmus_4.jpg;photo_width=-1;photo_height=-1

And do the same to see a much more cempetent one...!'s%20Kayaks/DigiPix2004_0214_160010AA2_S.JPG;photo_width=-1;photo_height=-1

These are all faster SOTs –the Skua and Isthmus are the fastest, and I believe the Isthmus will take a Skua. All will keep up in mixed company MUCH better than 99 44/100ths % of the commonly available plastic roto SOTs out there.

I’m not sure, and Wollyworld notes it’s scarcity, but the Shearwater was a sleek, handsome, fast SOT. In composite. And MAYBE was also produced in glass, but alas. ‘Tis indeed produced no more.

There are a few others out there as well, but I’m not familiar with them I have seen a Pelican, and paddled both the Skua and the Isthmus (we own an “I”). The Isthmus is a tricky, twitchy boat that goes REAL fast –it’ll keep up with and pass longer SINKs because it’s plumb-bow/plumb-stern design gives a LWL of almost 17’ as well a LOA. But it ALSO goes VERY fast, AROUND… …around its longitudinal axis. Greyak & I both swam paddling the I, while Sally did just fine (see the pics, above). The Skua is a fast SOT, and it’s quite stable, MUCH moreso than the Isthmus.

OK., so these boats are fiberglass, and not plastic rotos. And they cost close to every bit as much as their SINK equivalents with hoods and trunk lids.

Of the others –the plastic rotos –here are the ones generally rated fastest:

OK Scupper Pro/TW –14’9” X 26”, ~55-58#, rudder available ~~$650?

OK Prowler 15 – 15’’4-1/2” X 28-1/2”, ~56-60#, rudder available ~~$750?

WS Tarpon 160i –16’ X 28”, 65#, rudder available ~~$850?

Hop-On-Top/Heritage Expedition –Out of production – 17’-4” X 26”, 68# (some available used) $$$???

Heritage Nomad – Out of production – 16’ X 28”, ???# (some available used) $$$???

Heritage Seadart 17 – 17’4” X 26”, 73#, rudder N/A (?) -$850?

Cobra Eliminator – 16’6” X 23”, 42#, semi-gas-pedal rudder available $850?

Cobra Expedition – 18’ X 23-1/2”, 48# (bare), semi-gas-pedal rudder available $1500?

Perception Illusion – 14’3” X 27”, 61# (bare), ~~$850 ?

And finally, the Hobies –which are foot-pushed, not upper body propelled… and if your wife’s got the quads, she sure can keep up in one of these…!

And a few new contenders –the CD Kestrel SOT in hardshell plastic, and the Hurricane Phoenix 14, same material I believe, have recently joined the fray. And the Kestrel is still “:joining”, as it’s now in a public demo limited release stage.

CD Kestrel - 14’ X 26”, 36# -rudder availability & cost unknown

Hurricane Aquasports Phoenix 14 - 14’ X 28“, 52#, rudder available, cost unknown

I run an OK S-Pro TW, and I can keep up with SINKs for a 5-10 mile paddle if they’re moderately cruising, and ONLY moderately. When they speed up, I fall behind. This is the oldest design of the group, and it’s fishform, HV prow and hull design make it exceptionally seaworthy. Overall, it’s probably the slowest of THIS group of SOTs.

The Prowler is marginally faster, but a WHOLE lot more stable. I know folks who fly-fish standing up in these things…

The T-160 is a fast mainline SOT. Greyak did the Bogey, a 13-mile race, in a T-160 and finished mid-pack; talk about keeping up! It, too, is a stable, stand-up fly fisher.

The Heritage Exped, like the Shearwater, is one of those almost legendary sleek fast SOTs that came before their time, and didn’t make enough of a commercial go of it to endure. The Shearwater is not as stable as any of the previous boats.

The Nomad, OTOH, is still around in its Seadart guise, and it’s a pretty quick boat that sort of mimics a SINK in design with its rising sides and swoopy shear.

The Cobra Eliminator is a near-flat yak, fairly extreme in its Swedeform aft-of-cockpit max beam point, akin to a downriver racer; it looks like itr ought to be fast.

The Cobra Exped is the biggest of the bunch, and on nice, smooth, flat, flatwater, is fast. But as Greyak noted above, it NEEDS its rudder, and even with it, still turns like a battleship. And I can also attest to it’s somewhat unstable feeling as well. And it loses something when the water gets choppy –it just isn’t nearly as good a boat. And I wonder about the weight -while listed at 48#, I’m sure it’s a bare hull –with the 4 toggle hatched and the rudder system, I believe there’s another 10 pounds there.

The Illusion is a surprisingly fast boat, and pretty stable at 27”, but heavy at over 60#.

The prototype CD Kestrel SOT in that hardshell plastic is a pretty fast SOT, very light & nimble, easy acceleration. But it’s seat pan is very wide, and an aftermarket SOT-style seat is definitely called for by any but the “broadest of beam” of paddlers, because the rest of us will float in the seat area, LOL!. I don’t think anyone much over 6-2 or 6-3 will fit (your wife is 5-8 so she’ll be OK) because of the foot brace ridges limited range. But it might be worthwhile to check out.

The Hurricane Phoenix 14, the big brother of the 12, same material I believe as the Kestrel but under a different proprietary name, is also a relatively recent model. And the Kestrel. The Phoenix paddles quite easily and quickly, comes with a bow hatch and a shallow, long & wide cross-bungeed stern TW, adjustable foot pegs, and a very nice glass-like look.

The Hobies are the red-headed stepchildren of the SOT world –they’re big, heavy boats, with a tad of tippiness, but they can be pedaled fast! And they also tend to be more expensive than their equivalent paddling machines… about $13-1500?

Once again, the bottom line is that ephemeral cross between “stability” and speed –how fast is fast, and how stable is stable, -at least for your wife?

And will glass be OK if “composites” aren’t? A friend of ours, DonBel, ran an Impex Serenity Sport glass boat for years, doesn’t baby it, and used it for camping and fishing South Florida, where unusually sharp and abrasive coral rock abounds. It was fine (until it got stolen off the roof of his truck!), as is his QCC700. He doesn’t deliberately crash his glass boats into obstacles, but he just takes moderate care, nothing ‘special’, so maybe glass will fit the bill after all….

Sally went through the same thing on a club moonlight paddle last year. After paddling some 4 magical moonlit miles on amazingly smooth and mirror-finished mangrove-lined waterways in Key Largo, we traversed an open fetch on Largo Sound, and crossed the island on the Adams Waterway (just a fancy name for a man-made cut). We then turned for home, and slogged the final mile into an in-your face wind of 15-20, and a 1-1/2 to 2’ chop. We were racking the boats when two women walked by –an older woman (we’re in our mid-50s) and a much younger one, both of whom appeared to not be in as good a shape, or anywhere near as strong as Sally. And the younger one said –‘you know, that wasn’t bad at all…”, and the older replied “Yeah, it was EASY!”

Sally then finally, viscerally, proprioceptively, and not just “intellectually”, KNEW that hulls and boat shapes, and not ONLY paddlers, made a BIIIIG difference.

She runs away from me when she’s on the Isthmus and I’m on the S-Pro, and she’s not even trying. But because she’s not fully comfortable on it, and on it while SHE’S on the waters we have around here, with critters in it, she didn’t want it for her primary ride.

So she now paddles a Hurricane Tracer SINK I surprised her with this past Christmas.

We still use the SOTs from time-to-time, for slower, more leisurely paddles, and for fishing & skin diving.

But in MIXED company? Under THOSE circumstances, we now use our SINKs instead of our SOTs to


-Frank in Miami

I had a
SOT a few years back. I have to second Tsunami Chucks opinion on the Perception Prism. That was the first yak I’d ever owned and it really kicked some butt. I still remember out-paddling a few Princess Cruise Line ships and my fair share of bulk carriers coming into L.A. Harbor in SoCal. Wish I’d kept that beautiful purple yak that memorized me in some of the most awesome swells during swim calls in the Pacific Ocean.

Hurricane Phoenix 140
I, too was at the West Palm kayak event, and my wife and I took the intro class.

I paddled the Phoenix 140, and really thought it was pretty nice!

I found it to be the fastest thing I’ve ever tried to paddle BACKWARDS! :slight_smile:

My biggest gripes with it were the side carry handles, and the padeyes for the seat back support straps which are mounted too far outboard, and tend to get whacked a lot when paddling.

BTW, we ended up buying two Impex boats!


Thanks ScupperFrank
I appreciate all of the info, and I’ll take it to the wife. I remember when you surprised your wife with that Tracer…hope she is still enjoying it!

Sally’s enjoying her “T” more than ever, now that it’s gotten a skeg (what I bought her was the original version -apparently more rockered than present prodcution, and it was non-ruddered & non-skegged (skegs are now standard), and was such a “playful” hull that it went left with a right stroke & vice-versa…

And I’m very impressed with the new hardshell platic stuff that it and others like it are made of. It looks very nice, tar (which we get her along our shorelines becasue the shipping lanes are so close) washes off with rod tar removal rags really easily, and it shines up with 303 real well. I suspect the other proprietray ones will, too.

As will fiberglass.

And speaking of fiberglass, do point out Don Belzowski’s experience with his glass boats being OK here in Florida and the Everglades for fishing & camping -if glass is good with her, it will REALLY open the door to the best combination of speed and stability available in SOTs, IMHO, in the South African models.

I hope your wife finds a nice SOT that fits HER, AND her needs, so she can much more casually yet speedily cruise and 'keep up, when, in mixed company, she decides to


-Frank in Miami

WS Tarpon Series
I own a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 and have been very happy with it. I mostly paddle on lakes and small rivers/large creeks where I sometimes have to dodge powerboat and jetski traffic. It will definitely get moving when it has to! I’ve demoed the 120 as well and it handles similarly, is a bit lighter and, of course, a bit cheaper. I’ve never demoed a 160 myself but have heard good things about it from several acquaintances that own them. They say it handles and moves well, especially in the Gulf where they use it as a saltwater fishing platform.

Is it the boat? or the paddeler?

– Last Updated: Oct-18-05 8:37 PM EST –

If you switched boats with your wife (you paddling the SOT) would you still smoker her without breaking a sweat? Or would you be the one struggling to keep up?
Does she have any trouble keeping up with you when she is in her sink?

What type of SIS is she trying to keep up with the Dolphin?

It's not the fact of Sink against SOT, it's about a long narrow kayak VS a shorter wider boat. Take a 19" wide 19' Surf Ski and paddle it agaist a short wide Sink and the results will be reversed.
The seat height is the only disadvantage in having a narrow SOT...and that is not a disadvantage to someone who can handle the instability as it affords a better paddling position.


I have a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 w/o a rudder and have no problem keeping up with groups in SINKs. Have her give it a try and use it yourself.

I owned a Dolphin, but sold it and got the T-160 years ago… Its better in EVERY category. the Dolphin is tipper then my QCC 700… the dolphin doesn’t drain its water out of its 6 scupper holes. Its heavy and its SLOW… BTW the T-160 doesnt need a rudder… mine has one and I have used it ONCE… I didn’t even use it while surfing waves recently… as far as SOTS go the Dolphin LOOKS way better then it performs…

Frank Went There
If you consider composite, it is another story!

A couple notes:

The Nomad is speced at 48# but feels slightly heavier

The Shearwater is available in Fiberglass, Pam had one. It is 44# in kevlar and about 50# in FG.

The price for either one is whatever the seller will take for it…

I second Swedges statement
I also had a Dolphin, before my Tarpons. It just felt like a pig paddling. I thought it was me at the time(6’3" 230lbs), but then girlfriend said same thing (5’7" 110lbs)…picked up a T160i at the beginning of summer, and a T160o(original) a few weeks ago…no wonder Necky has dumped their open top line up…no comparison to the Tarpons. (MY opinion of course !)


Malibu 4.4?

I have heard several say that it is both slow and tippy, but it is a “sportier” type boat in rough conditions than most SOTs.

Malibu 4.4

– Last Updated: Oct-20-05 2:41 PM EST –

I was looking at that for a beach boat. I really like the looks. I was about to buy one, but Tsunamichuck had one and said it pearls like a submarine in even medidum sized waves. A deal breaker for my intended uses.

Besides, at 14"6" I doubt it would be much faster than a Dolphin.

I am now looking at the Cobra Re-Vision for a beach boat, but at 13'3" with a flat hull it is going to be painfully slow on flatwater and track like a snake.

But then I have an 18'4" Kevlar Shearwater SOT if I want fast on flatwater, and a 16' Fiberglass Nomad SOT for ocean tripping, so I can afford to have a specialized boat in the fleet.

Fast SOT
I paddled my Ocean Kayak Scrambler XT in the 6 mile Bogey & Bacall Classic sponsored by Florida Bay Outfitters, Key Largo, FL in Feb. 2005.

Did the 6 mile Bacall in very windy conditions, 3 miles with the wind at my back and 3 miles directly into a 15 knot wind.

Completed the race in 1 hour and 31 minutes, took 2nd in the Grand Masters (age 60+) SOT 16 foot and under class.

I was the only person in a 12 foot kayak, and finished ahead of about 50% of the field.

I guess you can go fast in a SOT.

Good Point
The boat is the smaller part of the eqation. With two strong paddlers, the one with the faster boat goes faster.

But a faster boat will not allow a weaker paddler to keep up with a stronger one, unless they can get the speed out of it.