Since I brought this up in recent posts and since some have asked whether I ended up getting one and what my thoughts were I wanted to post a quick review.
I ended up getting a Romany S and absolutely love it.
Here is a quick review. Please note that my statments about it origin are my understanding based upon what research I have done, but may not be completely accurate due to the fact that there is little information out there about this model.
WHAT IS THE ROMANY S? :
As I understand it the Romany S is the Romany HV with a modified cockpit. The Romany HV was previously called the Poseidon.
How is it different from the Romany?: The Poseidon and Romany HV were designed to be a higher volume version of the Romany to accommodate a larger and heavier paddler. As I understand it the boat was more than just a Romany with a higher deck. In order to accommodate the weight of a heavier paddler the hull was modified as well. The central volume of the boat was extended a bit fore thus causing the tapered portion of the hull to start at a location farther from the center of the boat….i.e. it is not quite as streamlined as the standard Romany.
Other differences from the standard Romany are that it has a flatter bottom and consequently harder chines. It’s been a while since I have paddled a standard Romany but if memory serves me correctly the Romany S’s bottom is quite a bit flatter than that of the standard Romany and the chines are quite a bit harder as well. The bottom of the Romany S is about the flattest I have seen on a sea kayak and the chines are the hardest I have seen short of a Greenland style boat.
WHY IS IT CALLED THE ROMANY S? :
Prior to the introduction of the Romany S I had read on a website somewhere that the Romany HV was an underrated boat that excelled in surfing due to its flat hull.
The Romany S was originally going to be called the Romany Surf probably due to this trait and as a marketing ploy to gain more following. The name was then shortened to the Romany S., probably to avoid having the boat appeal only to those interested in a surf boat (small crowd).
WHAT DOES NIGEL HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE ROMANY S?:
Well as I recall from a talking to Nigel himself at a symposium the Romany S is about 2 inches longer than the Romany and has a longer water line in order to make it a bit faster in order to make it more effective at catching waves, has a flatter bottom in order to make it surf better, has harder chines to make it carve better on the face of a wave and has a hung seat that is integral to the cockpit rim. Given that the coaming is wider than other NDK boats Nigel felt it was wide enough to allow hanging the seat directly from the cockpit rim (I would disagree…more to follow). One final difference is the addition of thigh hooks (which look aggressive but really serve no purpose as they do not make contact with any part of your body when seated in the boat). Additionally, the boat has knee bumps much like those in the Explorer HV.
FIT AND FEEL:
The Romany S fits me perfectly. Despite being derived from a “HV” boat, I find the fit to be very comparable to that of the Explorer. I really like the knee bumps. They allow you to put your knees a little further apart in a bit more aggressive position. The deck height and that of the thigh braces is about the same as the Explorer and thus higher than that of the standard Romany which I cannot fit into comfortably at 5’8 and 200 pounds. I always found the thigh braces on most Romanys to be too low for me.—not because I have long legs, but rather because my thighs are a bit to big to fit under them comfortably.
The seat…well I like the standard NDK glass seats, but not this one. It was so narrow that there was no way that I could paddle the boat with the factory seat. It was too tight for good boat handling and the edges dug painfully into my hips causing bruising. I had no choice but to cut out the seat and put in a foam one. I built it up to be a similar height to that of the factory seat and it is now much more comfortable. I added a foam block in place of the backband since I now had no place to mount a back band (got one of Dale Williams’ foam blocks ordered from VA Sea Kayak Center).
After adding some foam on the sides to tighten up the fit at the hips the boat now fits like a glove and is super comfortable. I thought the standard Explorer fit me perfectly…this boat fits me even better. It is now an extension of my body.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?:
The performance on this boat is the best of any I have paddled yet and I have owned several: a Dagger Meridian, Necky Chatham 16, Valley Aquanaut, Valley Avocet, NDK Greenlander Pro, NDK Explorer and a Valley Nordkapp LV.
For me this boat has a feel similar to that of the Explorer but with the attributes you would expect from a shorter boat. It sacrifices little in speed from the Explorer, yet gains leaps and bounds in maneuverability and playfulness and ease of control in high winds / rough water.
The boat probably handles a lot like the Romany but this is not a fair comparison for me to make since the standard Romany does not fit me. I also think that I am a bit heavy for the standard Romany but don’t feel that way with the S model.
I find the hard chines to give a noticeably different feel in the water. There is lower primary stability than that of the Explorer, yet higher secondary, furthermore the transition between the two is more noticeable. Hence, this boat has the ideal stability profile in my opinion and is super easy to edge and to hold on edge.
The boat is highly maneuverable and very responsive to the subtle movements of my body and shifting of my weight. I believe this can be attributed to the ease of edging and to the fact that the boat fits me so well.
I find the boat to be insanely easy to roll and to do Greenland-style side sculls. It is a fun boat to paddle and great for refining your skills.
How does it surf and handle rough water?: Good question! So far my opportunities to test it in rough water are limited. So far I have had it out on the Chesapeake in 20 knot winds and associated wind waves, and had it out in some Class II rapids on a local river. I have yet to have it in the ocean.
From what I have seen so far the boat is awesome. I got some incredible rides surfing wind waves on the Chesapeake. I found that boat was easy to surf with little tendency to broach and was very maneuverable on the face of a wave with some edging and ruddering. It was super easy to turn in any direction in the wind and to maintain its course without ever using the skeg. I also found that its rocker and its short length allowed it to surf without digging in at the bow to slow it down or limit its maneuverability.
One the river it was easy to ferry across currents and do smooth eddy turns. On standing waves it surfed like mad and maneuvered easily, responding to every subtle movement of my body and was easy to edge on the face of a wave. It was the best surfing sea kayak I have paddled.
I love this boat. I think it is exactly what I have been looking for. It fits me perfectly and responds precisely and feels like an extension of my body. I believe it maintains all the attributes of the mighty Explorer with a minor tradeoff in speed and tracking, and a bit less capacity. The capacity is lower than the Explorer, yet more that that of the standard Romany, thus making it suitable for shorter trips.
I think this is an outstanding boat, and I am supremely impressed with it. I purchased this boat as a supplement to my Explorer, but I liked it so much I have put the Explorer up for sale.
This is the end of the line for me…really. I have found the boat I was looking for and will look no further.
Since I brought this up in recent posts and since some have asked whether I ended up getting one and what my thoughts were I wanted to post a quick review.
You’re just getting started
Don’t tell us it’s the last one, cuz we’ve heard that before! Enjoy…
thanks for the report…
Everyone is different which makes kayaking, and the world in general, such a fascinating place.
I found the seat to be a bit too wide and needed to pad it out. I also found the thigh hooks provided good contact but not where I like it.
There is lots of conflicting information about the hulls of the S compared to the HV, the important thing is that you like the way the boat handles.
Enjoy the S, its on my short list of kayaks.
there is no conflict about the hulls
of these boats. there is one hull, that has shared 3 names over the years ending in the current Romany Sex.
surfing oriented hulls
what is quite interesting is the idea of which hulls of what boats are more ‘surfing’ oriented or designed.
i suspect Envyabull who paddles surf skis and race designed kayaks, and frequently writes about how well they catch and surf waves, has a different idea than some. the hulls of his boats are nearly round, and are, as i understand it, purpose designed to surf ocean waves.
i paddle a river kayak that is dead flat for it’s entire length, and surfs like a fiend. at least on a nice frothy and steep river wave.
and will look no further.
Matt, you are too inquisitve, restless, curious, etc… to stop looking.
The Romany S may be the end of the line this week, this month, or this year. However, there will be other boats whose Siren calls pull you in…
at the risk of being jumped on
I want to break down just a bit of the original post and compare it to specs on the Sea Kayaking UK website.
“Well as I recall from a talking to Nigel himself at a symposium the Romany S is about 2 inches longer than the Romany…”
Romany Specs from Sea Kayaking UK…
Length: 16 feet ( 4.89m )
Romany S Specs from Sea Kayaking UK…
Length: 16 feet (4.88m)
According to a recollection of a conversation Nigel said the Surf was 2" LONGER than the Romany. But the website lists them as the same length in feet, but the Romany S as .01m SHORTER - a difference of roughly .4 inches. A very minor measurement to be sure, but that means there is a 2.04" difference between the website’s and Nigel’s measurements.
Obviously, this is conflicting information. Now, many would say I am grasping at straws (and that could be the case). But I would also say this difference creates a good argument that other statements regarding dimensions, either by Nigel or websites, might be inaccurate.
From Maine Island Kayak Companay (http://www.maineislandkayak.com/ndk_romany.html)
“The Romany HV is the older version of the Romany Excel, and formerly known as Poseidon. This boat is designed for the larger paddler. It has softer chines than the Surf It has a wider keyhole cockpit than any other British made fiberglass sea kayak and has more volume in the rear to support the paddler’s extra weight and gear.”
Worth repeating is this…“It has softer chines than the Surf”. This would indicate a difference in hulls.
MIKCO also has the hulls of the Romany and Romany HV as the same lengths.
Sea Kayak Georgia’s website lists the Romany and Romany Surf as the same length.
Atlantic Kayak Tours lists the Romany and Romany HV as the same length.
Sea Kayaking Cornwall lists the Romany a .01m longer than the Surf.
… these conflict with Nigel’s statement of the S being 2" longer.
Like I said before… conflicting information. And I am not trying to start an argument with jbv, or anyone else… just providing examples of conflicting information.
bowler1 prefaces his remarks with “as I recall”;
the 2" discrepancy may lie with him
but the few websites I found with the length of the original Poseidon listed it as 16’ 2", which matches Nigel’s statement regarding the length of the Surf, but conflicts with many websites length of the HV.
I absolutely agree. After doing a bit of research and making a few posts here, my observations above are the result of what I learned.
I have heard people say that the HV and the S have different hulls, but in a previous post one of the posters mentioned that he cornered Nigel on the issue and that Nigel said the hulls were the same and only the deck had changed.
The length issue…I’m not sure. I’ll have to measure it myself. Perhaps Nigel said it had a longer waterline by about 2 inches due to less rocker…I really don’t remember.
There are a lot of discrpencies out there on the NDK site and on the various dealer sites…trust me I have looked at all of them. This is why I tried to clear up some of the confusion above (assuming that I have gotten it right which may not be the case).
Please note as well that if you go to any of these sites and look at the Romany S you will see a picture of either the HV or the Poseidon so if they have not even updated the picture then how updated are the listed specs (which all are derived from the NDK site)?
I would be interested to find out once and for all what the true differences are. Again, I admit I may have gotten it wrong.
What I can say is that this boat has one hell of a flat bottom and super hard chines. It looks like a bathtub…but certainly doesn’t perform like one.
Last I knew Matt hadn’t paddled a Cetus yet!
don’t waste good paddling time
measuring your kayak. Spend more time discovering how you and the kayak can work together to bring you hours of enjoyment.
flavor of the month
haven’t we heard this “I’ve found NIRVANA” before?
I admit that I do like like the guy who cried wolf, and for good reason.
Hopefully this time I am right about my choice. I think that I am.
I have had other boats that I have really fell in love with, but there were always some reservations I had that eventually became magnified with time as I became more familiar with the boat.
So far with this boat I have no reservations.
I had liked the Explorer quite a bit and still do. This boat shares the attributes of the Explorer but resolves some of the shortcomings I felt the boat had…and fits me even better.
Hopefully I will continue to sing the same tune on this one. This time I feel pretty confident.
The only real shortcoming I could see would be carrying capacity for trips, but I think I have decided to focus my trips during warmer weather so I will need less gear and should be able to do okay with this boat (I am a lightweight backpacker so I am pretty good at minimizing gear for a trip). Now the issue is more about minimizing bulk as opposed to weight, but the small diameter NDK hatches somewhat encourage you to do that anyway.
One other thing…
One other thing I will mention that may explain some of the origins of this boat…perhaps…or at least my take on it.
I had the opportunity to paddle and speak with Nigel on two different occasions at syposia last year.
At the first symposium I went to take my 4 star assessment. I brought my Avocet with me and a used Romany I had just purchased on the drive down to the symposium.
I paddled the Romany for the week and concluded that although an awesome boat and one that I preferred to the Avocet (perhaps largely due to my weight) that it just did not fit me. The deck was far too low and the fit was way too tight. The particular Romany I had was smaller that others I had sat in…perhaps due to manufacturing tolerances or year model. I don’t know.
Anyway…Nigel kept telling me that I really needed to look at the Romany S given my size and weight.
I somewhat assumed that he was just trying to sell me a boat, but perhaps I was wrong.
I noticed that at that symposium he paddled an Explorer.
At the next symposium at which I had the opportunity to paddle with him he paddled a Romany S. I also got to talk with him a bit more.
Basically he mentioned that he felt he had grown too big and too heavy for the Romany and that he paddled an Explorer most of the time as a result.
Perhaps this is the reason for the Romany S.
Remember that the original Romany was Nigel’s own design for what he considered the ideal boat for the location where he paddled at Anglesey. The Explorer followed as an expedition version of the boat.
My guess would be that throughout the years Nigel paddled the Romany but that after age took its natural toll that he outgrew it. Perhaps this is the reason for the introduction of a larger version of the Romany and for the Romany S.
Just a thought.
It somewhat applies to me. I wanted a play boat but was a but too big for the Romany and perhaps a bit too heavy. Nigel himself even said that weights much above about 185 were pushing the upper limits for the standard Romany.
Thanks for report
I bought the Romany S last year and really, really like it. I have a longer boat and wanted another to improve my skills and for day paddles, fun, etc. The fit was love at first sight. I’m 6’ 230# and the knee bumpouts, thigh braces and larger cockpit opening have made it a great fit. I did pad the thigh braces a bit which made the overall fit a bit better. I haven’t changed the backband yet but do not like it. I did buy the foam backrest too and am not sure if I like the back support.
I tried the Impex Currituck and Valley 167 and both are great but the overall fit of the Romany S tipped the balance for me. I must admit that I have great difficulty getting my legs in/out of the cockpit from a seated position in the 30x16 cockpits. So, the larger cockpit of the Romany S (primarily the length) had made a big difference for me.
Unfortunately, all 3 hatches leaked to an unacceptable extent and could not be successfully sealed. The dealer is replacing my boat, but I placed the order too late for it to come over on the first container and it’s a crap shoot as to when the next container will come in. Last year it was August. So now I’m trying to decide about taking a different color, etc. S out of inventory or going with an Explorer HV out of stock.
when you say “performance”:
…are you speaking of perfoamance as a surf boat? An rough water expedition boat? How much of a narrow niche boat is it?
I have one and it is a nice boat, but
the idea of taking it to the beach surfing in lieu of my surf kayak would be an odd day. Matt, get a real surf boat. Sea kayaks are at best an odd choice to surf beach breaks. Tidal races are a step up, which is what the S was made for. I can’t wait to see the vigor you put into a post when you actually discover what surf kayaks are all about.
Thank you dogmaticus!
Can you imagine the boy after his first late drop and bottom turn in a “surf kayak”? Gotta appreciate the guys intensity though!
With all the horse trading goin’ on
with that boy you’d think there would have been at least one Mega, Wold, Johnson or Valley surf boat in there. Not criticizing, Matt, just suggesting. Salty nailed it on the head, we will be bracing for all the trip and boat writeups in store for us when you do nail your first bottom turn. Then you will be parsing paddle length and fin placement among other hot topics.