Necky Chatham or Elaho

Hi, I am new to paddling, but after two evening courses and having paddled in rented kayaks for a few days, I want to buy my own kayak. The kayaks we rented, which were the same as we used on the course , are the Necky Zoar Sport. Although they were extremely stable on flat water, They felt rather unstable in wawes. On silent water, they where somewhat boring to paddle.

I am 16 years old, about 1.83 metres high and weights 72 kg. I do want to have som fun while paddling, and was very excited while paddling in waves.

I tried the Chatham 16 poly today and I just love it. It is a large difference from the Zoar Sport. However, my mother thinks that I should buy a kayak with a rudder. The kayak retailer is not sure, but recommends the Necky Elaho. I am going to try the Necky Elaho tomorrow, but I won’t got to try any of them in waves.

Do you have any advice to give?


Trondheim, Norway

“my mother thinks that I should buy a kayak with a rudder”

Is your mother an accomplished kayaker?

I personally don’t care for rudders. Other might even argue that for playing in waves, rudders are next to useless. But maybe your mother knows the area you kayak better than us?

No, she has not paddled any more than me, and she certainly does not rank waves as highly as I do.

Go for the Chatham.
You will be able to really grow with the Chatham. You’d enjoy the Elaho but over the longer haul the Chatham will be a better boat. It’s outfitted really well and at your size it should fit like a glove. Stay away from rudders. A skeg is all you need if you need even that. Rudders can get in the way and I prefer my foot pegs to be only foot pegs. You should also try a VCP Avocet before you buy a Chatham. You might prefer it and it also comes in plastic if that’s what you want.----Rich

be nice to your mother
especially if she’s buying the kayak,BUT, the Chatham 16 is very, very good in high winds which is the major reason most kayaks have rudders. You could tell her that rudders complicate rescues in rough water.

Many people think that a sea kayak
must have a rudder. They are wrong.

Lessons or being dedicated to learning good boat handling skiils are important.

Dress for immersion.

If you get a rudder …
don’t get the kind where you push the footpegs to make it work. They now make very good rudders that operate independent of you footpegs. FWIW, if a kayak is designed to perform with a rudder you better get the rudder. But it is best to get a kayak that performs well without a rudder. You can add a rudder or skeg for special situations if you want but you will find paddling without a rudder a lot more fun.

If Elaho
If your going to test paddle an Elaho, see if there is a skegged model available. It is a fun and playful boat. It surfs well and is easy to lean.

However the Chatham has a longer wateline and softer chines. It is a faster and more flexible boat.

You might mention to your mother that all of the most respected British boats and the many of the newest North American boats come equipped with a skeg rather than rudder.

The fit and performance of the hull and cockpit are far more important than whether the boat has a rudder or a skeg.

second on the Avocet
Yes, the Avocet is also known as a very good boat for waves. My favorate so far.

I don’t know how well it fit you though. I’m a lot smaller than you and it fit me well. So it may be a tight fit for you.

And if you can find it over there, a Wilderness System Tempest 170 is another very similar boat that might suit your use well too. It also comes plastic.

Most probably going for a chatham

– Last Updated: Aug-13-04 4:03 PM EST –

Thanks for all the replies, I needed a couple of good argument from people with some paddling experience to persuade my mother, and I think that's just what I have got (I don't actually need to agree with her, I will be using my own money. But she has bought a lot of stuff from this retailer, so he gives her a very good offer on the kayaks. She will most probably buy a Necky Narpa for herself.)

I don't know about the VCP and the Wilderness, I don't think the retailer has any Wilderness yaks, but I have seen an VCP Argonaut in the store. Most probably won't go through the hassle of getting him to import an avocat though, when I am not sure if I will even buy it.

good choice!
The Chatham is a very good boat. You will enjoy it and not outgrow it too fast.

The Chatham is a far better first kayak than most people I know are/were fortunate or wise enough to acquire.

Keep us posted on your experiences with your new boat.


Is it him or is it me?
For a 16 year old, he showes a lot of maturity I don’t see too many have in this country, even for kids a lot older!

The argonaut is a big boat
nice but big. Make sure you test paddle an aquanaut as well.

What about the boat fron Finland, the atrisan millinium from kayaksport. Fine boat for a committed beginner who dresses for immersion.

I never intended to buy the argonaut, it is much to expensive. That is also the reason why I want to buy a poly chatham instead of the fiberglass or the Advanced Composite (dreaming) chatham. I have also read that the polythlen will stand up to a bit more abuse, which I think is pretty smart for my first kayak.

Beware of rudders
I can appreciate how useful a rudder is when paddling with a following wind or crosswind but try to paddle without one whenever you can or you will get too used to it. Your coastline is a windy area and they may come in handy at times to conserve strength. Rudders can break and if you are used to it and a long way from a landing you can have a hard trip. Some boats seem almost impossible to paddle without a rudder and I would stay well clear of them. Good luck and good paddling.