I’ve been testing a WS Focus 150 and despite what reviews/Manufacturers information says about tracking I’m finding it particularly hard to track in a straight line without the rudder. Has anyone tested the boat? Thoughts? Is it just me/my skills or is it the boat?
The 155 is on my short list of kayaks to try out but have only sat in it so far.
I would be interested in hearing your overall thoughts about the kayak. Everything I have read about this kayak made it sound like it should be a great straight line kayak.
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Well, let’s see impressions:
- Tracking in NO wind is pretty good,
- Tracking in any kind of cross wind is terrible (again not sure if it’s my paddling style)
- Rudder deployed is pretty good but we get into the rudder discussion
- Great fit, edges VERY nicely, very responsive and very good sharp turns.
- Speed is pretty good.
- Initial stability is not good, but not bad at all (again this is expected)
- Secondary stability is very good.
All in all it’s pretty nice but i’m very frustrated at the tracking, given everywhere it says it should be amazingly good at tracking!
I hope we get some more replies here!
soft chines, maybe?
I don’t see any perceptible rocker on the 150 so I doubt that’s the issue. Having owned/used a number of 15 footers of similar design, my instinct would be that it’s that it has soft “rounded” chines rather than hard chines. I most often paddle a Venture Easky which is very close to the same specs and design but it has hard chines and tracks like an arrow even without skeg or rudder. I had an old Perception Scimitar, on the other hand, also a narrow low-decked, vee hulled 15’ boat, but with soft chines, and even with the rudder down the thing wanted to wander, even in no wind. Same with my first kayak, a 14’ 9" FC Kahuna folder (which, due to the inflatable sponsons, had a rounded profile).
There are more technically competent folks on here who will probably offer more scientific evaluation, so this is just my anecdotal experience. There have been discussions on here about chines, like this one:
But often the threads relate only to speed and “twitchiness”. Yes, my hard chined kayaks are twitchy (primary stability feels shakey until you get used to it). Yes, they do turn well when you lean them because the line of the chine ridge is curved along the tapered hull of the boat. But if you’re upright in the boat, you are not loading that chine, the force of weight is on the keel which would tend to keep it straight. Consider that most whitewater and slalom kayaks have rounded hull x-section which helps them to be turned quickly. Some general information sites will cite hard chines as improving tracking, though. As on REI’s “how to choose a kayak” page, excerpted below:
Soft chine: Its smooth, rounded shape provides good secondary stability and easier bracing and rolling. The rounded shape also enhances your speed. “Multi-chines” are a type of soft chine.
Hard chine: Its sharper, more pronounced shape enhances tracking and initial stability. A hard chine can also help when hitting a wave and making a turn.
I’m not convinced
Chined boats generally want to lean one way or the other. And if you’ve paddled an Anas Acuta you know that chines alone isn’t it. IMO with a straight keel and no rocker one can track quite well.
Should track well then
With all this, I would expect it to track well as it says, but it’s almost a free wanderer out there. I hope to find someone else who has tested it and not the manufacturers review. I’m shocked at how different my perception was from the initial reviews.
Was pretty much the same with a 155. I left the rudder tied off since I wanted to see how it handled without it after reading about the boat’s strong tracking. The cockpit felt good, the deck was disappointingly high. I had high hopes for this boat. The tracking killed it for me though. I found it to be all over the place. I was paddling in a very small amount of current but have paddled other boats there without issue.
The Kayak Dave review mentioned early models have straight line issues due to the manufacturing process. Maybe I had a bad one or maybe I just sucked? It left me with the same questions you have. I wish I would have taken out the 150 they had as well to see if that one tracked straight. I will rent another one next spring and try again.
I think it’s the whole line. I tried the 145 and the 150 and the exact same thing.
The one I have now was built in April 2014, so I would expect this one to be the “corrected” model already bit it seems like the reviews are not very accurate. I’m really leaning towards giving it back.
Maybe it’s just a poorly balanced design, with the cockpit too far forward or the volume distributed badly. I used to have to put one of those 2 gallon floppy water bags in the stern hatch of the Scimitar to dampen some of the wandering, but I figured that was just because I was light for the boat.
just noticed somebody has posted a long report on similar problems with another Focus model on here. Just read it and it seems they used the stern weighting technique with some success.
see the post on “balance” below
Tracking is determined by more than one characteristic.
I offered my perspective on the Focus 145 in a separate post. I believe it’s not you, or me, or my daughters, or my students, it’s the kayak.
Excellent summation of my 10,000 word essay! OK, I write too much.
Great detailed review Bryan
I was wondering this morning what your opinion was on this model remembering you ordered one for your daughter a while back. Thanks for posting.
Well thank’s a lot for all your great feedback on the subject, All in all I think opinions from everyone who has had some experience with this boat are pretty similar, it’s rudder dependent and the placement is not the most appropriate.
In my case I’m just going to give it back and opt for another one instead of having to find alternate solutions to possibly a flawed design.
With that in mind, any suggestions? Anyone tried the Zephyr? 15.5?
I’ve paddled it a bit but I’m too big for it and don’t yet feel qualified to offer an opinion. I have a student that has the Zephyr 155 pro and loves it. She tested a lot of kayaks and took a fair bit of time (years of paddling) before purchasing that one. She’s a shorter, smaller stature woman.
has a good piece on tracking on their website.
Schade: Tracking and Maneuverability
I take it that this is the article referred to? http://www.guillemot-kayaks.com/guillemot/information/kayak_design/tracking_and_maneuverability
'dat’s the one
It starts at the beginning by defining tracking and what are perceived as tracking problems.
Great Article! thanks!