Narrow, maneuverable SOT

Greetings. I am looking for a narrow, maneuverable SOT for my 13-year old daughter (she’s about 5’ 2", 100lbs). Here are the issues:

  1. she’s currently a beginner paddler (but has some experience). She is quite confident in the water (so primary stability isn’t especially important).

  2. SOT will primarily be used in a bay (touring around for a few hours), but occasionally (in the future) may want to take it in the ocean (but close to shore). We live near Newport beach.

  3. want a narrow, very maneuverable, fast boat. She tried a tarpon 160i (supposedly fast, but too hard to turn, too wide, not fun to paddle, not maneuverable), a tarpon 140 (only slightly better, but still wide and still not so fun to paddle, not so easy to turn quickly), and a perception search 15’ (not any better than the tarpon 140).

  4. cost: around $1,000 or less

  5. (I don’t think surf kayaks will fit the bill, since she won’t be surfing. Mostly just going out for a few hours on the bay. So paddling a surf kayak around the bay may get to be a chore.)

    Is there some SOT akin to a tarpon 140, but noticeably narrower and easier to maneuver (possibly 12-13’ long)?


Royak = 14’ long, 22 in. wide (ski)

RTM Disco = 14’ long, 26 in. wide (touring)

DAG Midway = 14’4" long, 25.5 in. wide (touring)

Malibu 3.4 = 11’6" long, 26 in. wide (surf)

Renegade = 11’1 long, 26 in. wide (play)

Fandango = 11.1 long, 26 in. wide (play)

WS Kaos = 10’4" long, 27 in. wide (WW/surf)

Cobra Strike = 9’7" long, 27 in. wide (surf)

RTM Piccolo = 8’10" long, 25.5 in. wide (play)

From searching at:

The shorter SOTs are mostly made for surfing or whitewater and tend to be 28 inches wide or more. Even at 14 feet, finding a narrow SOT generally means you’re looking at a surf ski and of course those aren’t designed for turning at all.

The boats in the 11 to 14 foor range might work for her, but they may still feel a little on the big side.


Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro
now discontinued but at 15 ft 9 inches seems to fit the bill. My daughter is 12 next month and has commandeered mine.

RTM bought the mold I believe so whatever name they are giving it woudl be a good choice.


necky spike, 12’8" x 27 1/2"
its a discontinued model but you may be able to find one. the hull shape has considerable flare so the waterline beam is around 24". my girlfriend loves hers. she owns two!


BIC Scapa
The BIC Scapa is very fast, relatively lightweight for its size, and is within your budget:

RTM disco, Royak, OK Scupper pro
does anyone have any personal experience with these? Is one more maneuverable than the other?

Don’t know if it’s the right boat for you but it might be worth looking at a surfski. They actually turn very well with their rudder systems. Even the heaviest ski’s at around 40 lbs will be lighter than the lightest plastic SOT’s. Youngsters tend to have excellent balance also, it wouldn’t surprise me if your daughter did very well in a ski stability wise. I think you might be able to find a good used ski in your area to check out within your budget. It will certainly handle the conditions your are looking to paddle in the best out of all the boats mentioned.

Hunt Johnson Wave Witch

or one of his smaller models. They are a bit above your price range, but Hunt lives in Encinitas, contact him and he may know of a used boat or a demo that you could buy.

Don’t be so sure she won’t be interested in surfing once she gets out on the coast.

Current Designs Kestrel SOT
I have one of these and find it easy to turn and fast. It is also light weight at 38 lbs. I have had friends of many sizes use it and generally most folks love it. You can probably find them used at $1000 or less.

wave witches, kestrel sots, and surfskis
all sound like they could fit the bill, but they are above my price range to buy them new (and hunting around for used ones isn’t feasible to me).

Any other suggestions for an sot that is narrower and much more maneuverable than a Tarpon 160i or 140?

Eliminator is narrow and fast, but uses rudder.

Re-Vision looks like a possibility, but is not especially narrow(27").

You wanna play you gotta pay.
Most of us that have lots of boats hunt around quite a bit on places like Craigslist. If you are cheap, you have to hunt up the bargains. The kind of boat you are looking for is not mass produced for the current market so you are not going to find one new at a cheap price.

malibu 4.4
In addition to my ski’s I also have a Malibu 4.4. It’s a great boat for what it is but I wouldn’t consider it narrow or fast. It’s a fine rec boat to play around on though. As someone said earlier. To find a narrow, fast boat it’s gonna cost you if you buy new. Taking the time to research and look for a used boat is a great way to get into a nice boat for a good price. Check with some of your local kayak shops to see what they have laying around, you never know. With all that said, try before you buy if you can. All the reviews or suggestions in the world will take a backseat to a test paddle.

How would you compare the overall
maneuverability of the malibu 4.4 with, say, a Tarpon 140, for example?

Not a lot of choices
I have a 15’ x 24" Futura surfski that would fit your bill except it has a leakage problem. I am going to see if I can find an Orange County glass shop to repair it and check the repair price. If it is more than $150-200 I will likely just let the the boat go cheaply.

In all honesty, you would have an easier time finding the qualities you want in a sit in kayak. A couple to consider are a Wilderness System Tsunami sp ( small person) or Tsunami 135. Take a trip down to Aqua Advebntures in San Diego Southwind in Irvine is ok but you will not get the customer service you would get from AA and trying out boats at Southwind is a bit bothersome. AA has boats on the water ready to demo.

Your daughter and you are welcome to try out my ski to see if it is something she likes. They show up used fairly often down here.

Craigslist $100 fiberglass kayak
Someone is selling their roommates “Fiberglass” kayak for $100 dollars. The young lady does not know what it is or what it is worth but she is selling it to collect a $100 debt.

Too bad I just bought a $100 longboard today or I would be checking it out.

listed by prior posters, and most -probably all -could be bought new for under, in some cases well under, $1,000.

You cite a narrow beam, maneuverability, and cost as your 3 criteria, with an aside that primary isn’t all that big a deal for your daughter. FWIW, most non-ski SOTs will have far more than an abundance of primary…

The T-160 will be too large for her, as noted. So will the Hurricane Phoenix 160, and probably 140, both near identical copies of the WS Tarpons of the same length. These, however, are made of a plastic, Trylon, that looks like glass (fiberglass) but is tough and light, and may -in the 140 -be light enough for your girl to maneuver OK. The Phoenix 120 might even better fit the bill, at 12’ long X 28" beam, and even better, at around 40 pounds. I can vouch for Trylon; my wife has their Tracer and we paddle the Keys with corals and her boat holds up very well indeed.

The Current Designs Kestral was noted, but from what I see, the SOT version come only in a composite, and costs around $1600 new. You might be able to score one used for perhaps half, but I’m not sure.

But also noted -by Brazilbrasil, who knows his boats, and kids -are the OK Scuppers, their direct descendant, the RTM Tempo, and it’s sibling, the Disco. These are not generally narrow boats at around 26" beam, but are really on the lower side of the range of SOT beams. These are all tried & true designs, and whether needed or not, are seaworthy, especially the Scupper Pro and Tempo. We have had a Scupper Classic and Scupper Pro, both for about 8 years, both bought used for around $450, and I’ve had my S-Pro out in some pretty messy conditions and it’s done just fine. They take a beating -we paddled them for years before getting SINKs, and I still use mine for yakangling -and hold up well. We use them as our boats for the beginning paddlers we know, and it seems to work out famously well with them, and they come in all sizes.

And as Brazilbrasil (wrongly) notes, his daughter has placed dibs on theirs. Wrongly noted, because , actually, it’s his wife’s boat, not his -or was…

Finally, as another poster noted, some of the smaller, entry-level skis might be a choice for you to consider as well, as some of them are in the 24" beam range (that’s really wide for skis) and might be able to be handled by your fearless, water-loving daughter once she gets the hang of it. These, too, can be found used, tho’ a little less frequently, and often at surprisingly good prices.

Hope this helps, and I hope you get one so your daughter can get out there soon this summer and


-Frank n Miami

4.4 and Tarpon
I haven’t paddled the Tarpon although I’ve paddled similar boats. I would say that they will paddle similarly. The Tarpon will be a little drier in chop as the 4.4 is pretty low on the side. Not necessarily bad though. Both will be very stable, sluggish but very durable. To be honest the 3.4 is probably better for someone your daughters size and would be a much easier boat for her to handle. None of them will burn up the water speedwise though.They are all of good quality. If your looking for a boat that she’ll be able to keep up with you in then you might want something faster. What kind of speed are you needing out of the boat?

Thanks for your advice and good