Looksha 14 Rudder vs. Manitou 14 Select

Hi All,

I a relatively new to the sport. I have mainly paddled smaller rec craft 9’6" and some 12’. I have been doing some research and have the opportunity to purchase my first kayak. I am able to get a good buy on Necky product so I have been focusing mainly on them.

After doing a ton of reading (reviews, sales lit., etc.) I think I have narrowed it down to the Looksha 14 Rudder and the Manitou Select. I will mainly be paddling off the North Shore of Mass. There are some nice spots to put in that are semi protected but still allow easy open water access. I will also be heading up to Maine for some Ocean and lake paddling as well.

I am 6’2", 215 lbs with 11 1/2 shoe. I have heard good things about both cockpit sizes suiting larger frames but I also don’t want it to be too large.

My main question is skeg vs. rudder. I just joined here and have not found a thread regarding this but I have not looked much yet. I understand the basic concepts but with these two examples what are the pros and cons of each. Any advice is much appreciated.

Check the archives

– Last Updated: Sep-01-08 11:54 PM EST –

Skeg v rudder is much, much argued. And while I doubt anything you read here is going to help much (you'll see), you may as well find out for yourself.

But I really don't agree with letting the rudder or skeg thing control which boat you get, at least for your stated purposes. Have you paddled these two boats to find out if one seems to work better for you, handle better, be more comfortable etc? I'd suggest that you focus on that part, things like whether either has other features you may want and go with whatever control device it has.

One thing between the two - the Manitou has a high seat back that is likely to get in the way of a back deck roll, the Looksha has a nice low backband but a rudder that may complicate some over-the-boat type re-entries. It may be better yet if you take a few lessons before you buy, while the water is still warm, to find out if you have a personal preference around this.

Also, if you want to paddle in Maine you may want to consider a boat that has the recess in the deck to install a compass. You'll need it in the inevitable pea soup fog.

My wife has a looksha 14
so does her friend. I have paddled it alot and like it very much. HOWEVER, I do not know if it is the safest boat for an open coast line. They do not have forward bulkheads, at least these two don’t. If you should capsize the bow will fill with water and will sink while the stern will remain floating. The stern will be sticking up and the bow pointing to the sea (lake) bottom. Very hard if not imposible to save your self.

Great boats for rivers and lakes if you stay near the shore.


This will probably turn into a argument
and I won’t get into that, but if in the future if you ever think of getting into a race, a rudder is a absolute must.

I wouldn’t have a sea kayak without a rudder.

I can and do go all day long with it up and not in use, but there have been times with strong quartering winds and or strong tides and currents where it has saved me doing correction strokes all day long.

Others don’t but I consider it a safety device !



Thanks for the replies and the great info. I was not really focusing on the rudder vs. skeg as far as my decision, I was just curious what the thoughts were. I have not paddled either boat and have not paddled a boat with a skeg or rudder. I also probably will not have the opportunity to paddle one of them prior (at least that I have found yet). I do have concerns about the reentry issues with the seat and the rudder. I have been looking closer at the Looksha with the back band.

Thanks again and I will post my purchase when it happens.

Oops - bulkheads!!
I assumed that you were looking at the version of each of these boats that has a bulkhead fore and aft. For possible coastal use especially Maine, don’t even think about it if it doesn’t have that.

Some thoughts

– Last Updated: Sep-02-08 2:33 PM EST –

As a very happy owner of the previous incarnation of the Looksha 14, the Looksha Sport, and a recent inductee to skeg boats, I can perhaps offer some insight.

First, of the two kayaks you mention, I would definitely argue in favor of the Looksha, as the Manitou may not offer a forward bulkhead (conflicting onfo on website). For venturing out on big water, a rudder or skeg will offer much-needed control in wind and waves, while a forward waterproof bulkhead is a must for safety.

At your stature, and with your intention of doing some ocean paddling, you may want to consider a slightly longer boat capable of handling bigger water. In the Necky family, the Eskia would be a good candidate, being two feet longer than the Looksha and still offering a rudder. The next step up might be the Chatham 16 or 17, which are narrower and faster, and likely more seaworthy. The Chatham is equipped with a skeg.

As for the highly contentious topic of rudder vs. skeg (frankly, I'd rather debate religion), I can say that a hull is usually designed to make the most advantage of either one or the other. Generally speaking, a rudder is used on a shorter, more heavily rockered hull, while a narrower kayak with less rocker often uses a skeg. This is evident in the Necky line, though you will *certainly* find ample exceptions to this 'rule'.

I paddled my Looksha Sport around several corners of Lake Superior over the past few years, in a variety of conditions, and recently purchased a longer, low-rockered skeg boat (Impex Force 4). In favor of the skeg, I will say that I truly appreciate the fixed footrests, which give the paddler a very firm connection to his boat, unlike the rudder pedals which are constantly sliding forward and back. This allows one to really 'lock in' to the boat, and employ the legs as a driving force, for a better, more efficient stroke, good for covering miles. I also like that I can occasionally get my feet off the pedals and stretch my legs forward in easy water, and the skeg stays put; a rudder requires constant attention and will soon begin to flop around and alter your course if left unattended. I also believe that a skeg offers less hydrodynamic drag than a rudder.

With a short, rockered boat with a tendency to weathercock (like the Looksha), there is nothing better than a rudder. Unlike a skeg, there is something very confidence-inspiring about simply stomping a pedal and actually going where you want. It will come at a cost of speed, but sometimes that is less important than controlling the direction of your boat. Although perhaps more mechanically complex, a rudder is probably less susceptible to shore damage when landing; a bent rudder can often be bent straight again, while a kinked skeg cable must often be replaced.

Regardless your final choice, be sure to spend lots of time in a variety of conditions WITHOUT using the rudder/skeg. Try to do 90% of your paddling without them, learning corrective strokes, leans, fore/aft weight shifting, and other techniques to make your new kayak go where you want it to go. After you think you've learned all there is to know about boat handling (good luck with that :-) ), then by all means use the rudder/skeg; but you don't want to learn to be dependent on them.

Hope this helps!


I don’t know what some of you people are basing your information on, but the Necky web site very clearly states that both the Looksha 14 and the Manitou 14 have front and rear hatches with bulkheads. Go to their web site and read for yourself if you don’t trust me:


If you click on the Features tab for either kayak, it lists the specifications.

Thanks Tarwheel
That’s the info I used - but there are multiple models of each listed and Necky may have put out some without that.

Ahem …

– Last Updated: Sep-02-08 1:51 PM EST –

The Necky website offers conflicting information:

While the illustrated photo of the Looksha calls out both forward and aft bulkheads, the similar photo of the Manitou calls out only an aft bulkhead. No forward bulkhead is depicted.

But as tarwheel points out, the *listed* specs state the Manitous feature "Bow and stern hatches with bulkheads".


I suggest anyone buying these boats confirm beforehand whether they indeed include this feature or not. Such a boat without a forward sealed bulkhead should not be taken on big water without the addition of aftermarket inflatable flotation bags.


came with bulkhead
I bought a manitou 14 select this past spring and it came equiped with front and rear bulkheads.It’s the second yak i’ve owned and am super impressed the way it rides in big waves.Also,:I’m not a racer, but I finished a 7mile race in 1 hour 3 min. so ya, it can move for a small boat.The only thing I don’t care for ;and am going to change; is the high backrest of the seat.For me,it was the right choice.

Thanks again and sorry
to cause such a heated debate. I did find all of the information very informative. The Necky site is a bit confusing with regards to the specific model configurations. As far as the rudder vs. skeg thing, I am going to take a look at each of the overall boat characteristics and base my decision on that rather than the influence of weather one has a rudder or skeg.

I will also take a look at the longer boats considering I want to concentrate my paddling in the coastal regions.

Thanks again to all who posted and I will keep you posted.

necky website
I think some people are confusing photos on the Necky website with their listed specifications. Apparently their website designers mistakenly posted a photo of a Manitou 13 or Sport (neither of which have front hatches or bulkheads) on the Manitou 14 page. However, if you read the specs you will see that the Manitou 14 and Looksha 14 both have front and rear hatches and bulkheads. It is also very apparent on the overhead illustrations of both kayaks. Finally, to put this matter to rest, I have personally inspected a Manitou 14 at my local paddling shop and it does have a front bulkhead and hatch. Period.

I suppose it is possible that older models of the Looksha or Manitou 14 did not have front bulkheads or hatches – but the new ones very clearly do have them. However, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Necky to market a Manitou 14 without the front hatch/bulkhead because that is the main feature that distinguishes it from the Manitou 13.

No need to apologize!
If you’re relatively new here, I’m sure you had no intention of wandering into the hornet’s nest of contention which the rudder/skeg debate can often be. Heck, I didn’t even intend to PARTICIPATE in such a debate! :slight_smile:

Your plan to consider overall boat characteristics is a good one, and if you can squeeze in a few test paddles, you’re sure to find something to like in the Necky family. And you can be confident that each model will have been designed to make best use of whatever steering device is spec’ed on it.

I will also encourage you to consider a boat which at first may seem a bit too tippy. Generally speaking, these boats are sleeker, faster, and perhaps more seaworthy than others. After a dozen outings in such a boat, you’ll become comfortable in it, and will soon enough be glad you bought a boat that can grow with you and your developing skills.

All this is relative to you, to your purposes, and to your intended paddling destinations, so have fun. Shop around, ask questions, and take everything we say here with a large grain of salt.

Good Luck!



Where was the heated rudder debate?

– Last Updated: Sep-03-08 3:06 PM EST –

Email me off-line and I'll give you all the scoop you could ever want on these boats, the design process, testing, shapers etc.

This intended for Broms. And for future reference contact manufacturers directly and speak directly with designers! They are more accessible than one might think and you'll get real information first hand.

Heated rudder debate?!? Do these
rudders ice up so badly that they have to be heated?!!?