Foster Legend vs CD Extreme/Solstice GTS

-- Last Updated: Jun-27-12 5:28 PM EST --

Hello everyone.

I've been kayaking for about two years now and I'm wanting to get into more serious kayaking. I have a Current Designs Whistler and I mostly kayak on pretty calm lakes.

Recently I found a 2000 Nigel Foster Legend for sale for $1,000. I wondering if I should go for it or not. Previously I was looking at other Current Design boats such as an Extreme/Nomad or Solstice GTS. I was wondering if anyone can speak on how these three boats would compare speed wise? I go kayaking with a large group of people every week with long sleek kayaks and I want to keep up and be speedy as I can.


I bought it. I really like it. It wasn't as unstable as I was expecting and getting into it wasn't all that bad although it was a little tilty when trying to get my legs into the cockpit after I had sat down. The initial stability is definitely lacking and a little turn of the hips with the hard chime likes to take me a little off course. That's something I suspect will fade and it will begin tracking better once I get more paddle time in it. The secondary stability is very nice. I edged it quite a bit during the test paddle to test it out and I felt very secure and didn't fear flipping. Overall I like it and I'm pretty happy with it. Maybe one of these days I'll switch it up with one of the other mentioned boats, but for now I think I'm pretty well set.

How much do you want to turn?

– Last Updated: Jun-26-12 8:10 AM EST –

One maybe two of the mentioned boats, the Extreme and the Legend, take some serious commitment on your edge to turn if you are out in wind or waves. I think the Solstice is ruddered. All are fast enough, but they are a very different issue getting turned around than your present 14'6" transitional CD Whistler.

You are essentially talking about moving from a more general transition boat to at least a couple of quite long boats that are really tuned for go fast straight, with extremely different feeling sin terms of primary stability. This may be a good match for you, but it is hard to tell from your post.

The Nomad/Extreme
I’ve had the Extreme for a season. It is a long and high volume though relatively narrow kayak. You will very likely experience quite a bit of instability in it initially. For calm water that will dissapear over a few weeks. Fast it is, so if you put some effort it will move faster than most anything else sea kayak out there. No problem keeping-up if all are going quick.

However, if you are going slow, it might actually be easier to paddle the shorter kayaks as they generally have lower wetted surface underwater and thus offer less resistance at low speeds. The cut-off point will be around 4.5 or so mph, above which, the sleeker longer kayaks become easier to paddle compared to shorter ones.

One quirk with the Extreme/Nomad is that you need to check the hatches: on some models CD used nylon webbing, which stretched when wet and water got in the hatches. CD will replace them for you (ship you the straps, you replace - easy). That happenned on mine and the new straps solved the problem.

The Extreme comes with a rudder, so turns are easy. It is also quite responsive to edging for such a long boat. Granted, will not turn on a dime, but I did not find it exceedingly hard tracking. It behaved well in winds and waves too. Was not the easiest to roll, with lots of over the water volume.

As for the other kayaks on your list - I have not paddled them enough to say. All will be quick enough, but see which is the best fit ergonomically for you. and get that, I’d say.

apples, oranges, watermelons
If you aren’t pushing it already with your Whistler you aren’t likely to go faster with those fast boats. Kayaks go faster if you put out more power with better technique. If you don’t do that the fast boats will go the same speed. Re. paddling in groups, the group goes as fast as the slowest person not the slowest boat. That said I’d get the Legend. Can’t beat the price and it’ll force you to learn how to roll if you aren’t a light person. If you’re serious about plunking down $3200+ for a new kayak I’d demo, demo, demo.

I figured with a narrower beam and longer waterline they would be much faster than my Whistler considering they would be more efficient. I have a pretty good technique I think. When I first started my arms would be tired towards the end, but my technique has improved and I can paddle for a long time now with no problems.

Thanks for advice on the Nomad/Extreme, it seems like a really great boat, but I have no idea how the fit is since I have yet to find one locally. If I come across one locally and it fits right I’ll definitely look into that problem you mentioned with the hatches.

Turning is important, but I’d put speed as a more important quality. I’m mostly kayaking in flat lakes so not too much maneuvering is needed. From reading the reviews on here turning didn’t seem to be too difficult for the Legend or the Extreme (surprising for its length) a lot of the Solstice GTS reviews mentioned it was difficult to turn though. I have no experience with edging given I’ve only really paddled the Whistler, but I’m taking the Legend on a long test paddle so I’ll be able to see what I think about it then.

Thanks on the update for the Extreme
I failed to check whether it had a rudder - given the era of origination I should of would of noticed that.

Arms less tired?

– Last Updated: Jun-26-12 3:19 PM EST –

Not sure what you are saying in this post. It could mean either that you have improved your technique so that you are using your arms (oops!) less, or that you have gotten stronger about using your arms. What should be tired first in a hard paddle is your midriff or core, and maybe some lower leg if you were doing a lot of pedaling.

The Legend is a nice boat, it’s fast and can hold a lot of gear. I own a Shadow (its bigger brother). They’re both a bit twitchy without some gear in them.

I would definitely demo it before you buy it. I know a lot of people who love it and some who (ahem, cough cough) like it a lot less than that.

I own all three.

– Last Updated: Jun-26-12 2:34 PM EST –

Just got back last night from 4 great days of paddling the northern outer banks of NC. Yesterday we circumnavigated most of Pea Island, paddling out of Oregon Inlet (some locals referred to it as "Hells Gate") and back into Pamlico Sound through New Inlet, which we were told opened back up during Irene last summer. I paddled the Extreme on this trip. The other two on the trip paddled a QCC 700 and a Chatham 18. A great time had by all.
The Solstice GTS is the most stable. The Extreme some less, and the Legend has the least primary stability. I think the initial primary stability of the Legend is the only stability issue that might turn someone off. But it has solid secondary stability, so once you pick up on keeping your hips loose, it shouldn't be an issue.
Tracking, strongest to least, again Soltice GTS, Extreme, Legend.
Easiest to maneuver quickly to hardest, Legend, Extreme, Soltice GTS.
They're all quite respectable in terms of speed. My friend in the QCC a few days ago must have decided he really wanted to move at the end of the day. He set the pace and said we averaged 6.1 mph for around the last 4 miles, and that was with loaded boats in a no current situation.
The Soltice GTS has super directional stability. My girlfriend would tell you that when the wind is really howling and I want to go somewhere, I'm often taking the Soltice GTS. The Soltice will hold a line with little fuss in following seas and chop, and weathercocking is unnoticed by me. You can do wide turns easily enough, but for tight maneuvering, you'll need to apply some skills and strength. That's not such a bad thing to me, but you have to make your own decision about that.
The Extreme is also quite neutral in winds. I'll notice a bit of weathercocking, but it's still on the very easy to manage end of things. It maneuvers surprisingly well for its length I think. That in combination with a little less initial stability makes it feel a little sportier to me. It's bow stays to the surface a bit better than the Soltice riding in surf. Something I've noted among kayaks about the V'd deck at the front of the bow (Extreme & old design Soltice have this)is that they slip through the water easier when submerged. It feels a lot less like slamming the front brake only on your bike than the flatter bows at the front of the deck when they submerge. Just don't confuse this feature with a highly rockered kayak that can take a bit steeper wave without pearling in the first place. But also keep in mind that a sea kayak is a sea kayak, they all will bury the bow in front of a steep wave, and even a board surfer has to pick up a wave at the sweet spot. If you drop in too late, you get pummeled. So don't make too big a deal out of this, especially if you're not planning a lot of time in waves.
The Extreme improves upon the top speed and maneuverability of the Soltice GTS. It's still a kayak where you will want to learn how to apply some force to your maneuvering strokes to turn quickly. But gradual turns don't take much.
I consider the Legend about middle of the road among sea kayaks for maneuvering. In other words, I don't think it presents any special difficulty for maneuvering. It's not on the easy end like a Gulfstream,Romany, Capella. It's not on the difficult end like a Solstice GTS. It's quite fast, and it's easy enough to maneuver. It's hard chined, but it has a very rounded bottom across the length of the boat. I think that's where it gets its characteristic of low initial stability, but solid secondary. I think this design is what allows it better top speed than my Carribou or Bahiya. The Legend I would and have chosen for play paddling on rougher days. It doesn't give that smooth riding feeling like an old Cadillac like the Extreme gives. You feel the grab of the chines in rough water some. But this is a good thing when trying to make subtle adjustments riding in front of a wave. If you're into your speed, but still want respectable playtime performance in waves, the Legend I think is pretty sweet. But I think many always feel uncomfortably twitchy in it, so I think it's a boat for those committed to controling the edges with loose hips. This is ideal for all kayaks, but the Legend could be a bit less forgiving should you tense up in big open water. The chines can take you on rides in unintended directions if you don't relax and control them. Once you do relax, you'll appreciate them.
They all roll like a sea kayak. I've never had an issue there with any of them.
If you're not a terrifically skilled sea kayaker and don't necessarily find becoming one to be a priority, and your biggest concern is keeping up with group paddlers on a lake without fancy maneuvering, the comfort in the stability and ease of directional control of the Soltice GTS, provided a good fit, is what I would bet you would make the best time in. But it takes some skill to make that kayak appear maneuverable. So always be aware of the compromises.

Don’t underrate the Solstice
The Ultimate Florida Challenge

In 2006, Warren Richey, a 50-year-old father, recently divorced, entered what he called a “crazy and grueling race” around Florida in a sea kayak. The Plantation resident, who covers legal affairs for the Christian Science Monitor, was one of 10 participants in the inaugural UFC.

Richey, who paddled a 17-foot Current Designs Solstice sea kayak with a 1-meter downwind sail, not only survived the 1,200-mile ordeal, winning the race in 19 days, 6 hours, 48 minutes, but he also came away with a new perspective on “life and love.”

Core vs Arms
Well I’m doing a lot more core rotation than I used to that’s for sure. My arms might be a little stronger now too though. lol I could probably get some lessons to help with my technique which would probably be ideal.

I just found out it was made by Sweet Water Kayaks and not Seaward. I heard from Seaward that the quality of the Sweet Water kayaks isn’t that great. Do you know anything about the difference? Anything I should look for in particular when looking this boat over? From what I can tell the quality of the boat looks really great, but this is the first fiberglass kayak I’ve really looked at so my eyes might miss something.

Solstice GTS and Legend manufacturer
Thanks for the very thorough response I really appreciate it. I’m kind of interested in a Solstice GTS, but I’m not sure. They are definitely a little more pricey. What kind of price range would you say is a good deal on one in good shape? I sat in a Solstice GTS at a local kayak shop and it felt great.

When you mention the tracking. While in the comparison of the three the Legend tracks the least well, but in general for kayaks would you say it tracks pretty well?

I’m test paddling it tomorrow morning so I’ll get to see what I think of it. Hopefully I’m able to control it since I’m used to being in a 24" beam boat. Do you know about the different manufacturer for the Legend? Seaward says the previous builders, Sweet Water Kayaks, made poor quality Legends and the one I’m looking at is a Sweet Water build.

Thanks again!

I also own a shadow
And have paddled a legend. Great gear haulers, but not quite on par with a big west coast design like a solstice. The chines on the Legend will definitely require you to pay attention and keep your hips loose, but will also make you a very competent paddler if you learn how to use them. Like others have said, a very light initial stability, but rock solid secondary stability. The foster boats surf extremely well, so heading down wind/wave you can really cruise, provided you can control the boat. It’s really an incredible design, but requires some skill and commitment from the paddler to really appreciate the boat.

The Legend tracks just fine
Among kayaks in general, I think the Legend tracks fine. Plus you always have the option of deploying the skeg. I’ve just never used it. I took it out into the intracoastal waterway when tropical storm Hannah had kicked up sustained 45 knot winds a few years ago, and found I could hold a course in any direction. It was a bear to do anything but blow downwind, but it was good to know I could manage it.

Mine is a Seaward. It’s a very solid build. It’s also the heaviest of the 3. I’ve had no structural issues with any of them.

But I don’t know anything about non-Seaward builds.

Sounds good
Arms and shoulders will beef up soem too probably, but that sounds good.

excellent review

demo more
it sounds like the Legend price is driving your choosing given the huge range of kayaks you’re considering. Pick the kayak you’ll want to paddle all the time. Solstice kayaks are go straight designs, the Extreme/Nomad is good but awkward to carry and the cockpit is smaller than most. If you don’t know how to roll you better learn now with the Legend.

If you HAVE to get a kayak now get the Legend but if you’re looking for a kayak with a friendly handling envelope for a range of conditions there are many others.