Nigel Foster Legend--Awesome Boat!!!

A few months ago I asked some questions about the Foster Legend and its performance compared to several other boats that I consider to fall in the same niche of a fast, easily edged and maneuverable rough water boat—a tough bill to fill. Well I ended up finding one used and have paddled it a bit and now have answered my own question. As always, I like the share the answer to the question that I originally asked.

If you have followed my posts over the years you will know about my endless obsession over boats. I have owned many and have always been searching for something different. Although I have changed boats frequently, I have tested all of my acquisitions very thoroughly and have learned a lot in the process about boats and about my own preferences. I also like to share my findings and hope that others can find them useful.

My candidates for filling this niche were the Nordkapp, the NDK Greenlander Pro and a P&H Bahiya. I paddled all of them fairly extensively (the Bahiya the least though). I ruled out the Bahiya fairly quickly. While I enjoyed paddling it a lot I found that it weather cocked a good bit in the wind and was fairly skeg dependent. I paddled both the GP and the Nordkapp extensively for months, back to back. I really liked both boats and was debating over which one to keep. It was a tough decision but I decided that ultimately neither one of them was right for me for different reasons that I won’t go into.

Then I picked up a Legend. I had been considering this boat for a long time—years actually. When I first began my quest for the right boat the Legend was first on my list. When I first paddled it several years ago I did not like it, but I think that my skills were not up to the level where I could fully appreciate the boat, but now I am quite smitten with the boat.

I have been accused of “hyperbole” in the past, especially when it comes to boats and I admit that is a fair accusation; however, I will try to share my thoughts on the Legend accurately and impartially.

I have to say that I am more than impressed with the Legend. I have paddled it many times now on the James River on both calm and windy days up to about 20-25 knots. I have not yet gotten to paddle it in surf though.

Perhaps its most impressive attribute is its ability to surf even the smallest wave or wake. It surfs like no other boat I have paddled. The Legend is fast and can easily catch small waves, additionally and perhaps more importantly is that it is easy to control on a wave. I think that the flattish rounded bottom and hard chines are a winning combination that makes this boat such a good surfer. You can carve back and forth fairly easily with edging and a little paddle input. It is really amazing how the boat reacts when you engage the hard chines. The bow also does a good job of resisting purling, and will resurface pretty quickly if you lean back when it does start to purl. The controllability of the Legend resulted in very few times where I carved off the wave and was not able to bring the boat back on line. I can’t say the same for many other boats that seem to get a mind of their own at times in following seas on a windy day. The boat is an absolute blast to paddle downwind and that is something I love to do.

I find the boat’s handling to be great in the wind regardless of the direction in which it is being paddled. The bow rides up and over oncoming waves smoothly in a satisfying manner and without losing its forward momentum. This makes a big difference for boat speed in choppy conditions. It also throws very little spray in your face. It is not without splashing and spray, but it is directed away from the paddler. It is easy to turn in any direction and to maintain just about any course in the wind. It weathercocks slightly, but I find its maneuverability helps to bring it back on line quickly when necessary. It feels good paddling in beam seas as well.

The boat is highly maneuverable both on flat and choppy water. When you engage the chine and break the stern loose the boat will whip around very quickly and easily. I also find that you can actually get the boat to “spin” fairly well if you time a strong sweep when atop of a wave. In chop it almost seems to be easier to turn than in flat water and turns sharply with some edging and a good sweep.

It is also very capable and confidence inspiring in bigger conditions. I had it out one day on the James with the winds gusting to 25 knots with a fair amount of fetch and in the opposite direction of the current. This created some fairly good sized, steep and confused wind waves when combined with the wake of some large passing boats. The boat felt as stable as could be in these conditions. I even grabbed my Explorer and paddled it for a while that day for comparison’s sake. I was fairly shocked to see that I found the Legend to be more confidence comfortable to paddle in these conditions than the Explorer. It was not quite as neutral in the wind, but was easier to maneuver and felt more stable to me in these conditions. The surfing was also far easier, faster, and more controllable. This is the first boat that I have ever paddled that could “best” the Explorer in such conditions. Frankly I thought that could not be done.

Speed—the boat is fast. It is definitely the fastest touring boat I have paddled, even without taking into account the speed added by its surfing abilities. I have paddled it a couple of times with my GPS to confirm this. It took very little to convince me of this.

Cargo space—it has a ton of it. More space than the Explorer or Nordkapp and with large oval hatches to boot.

The last thing I will mention about this boat, which is one thing I was really looking for, is that it responds extremely well to small nuances of paddler input. Subtle changes in edging and shifting of your weight or body position has a dramatic effect on the boat’s behavior. I found this was true with the Nordkapp as well, but it is much more the case with the Legend. I find that this boat has lots of potential to be unlocked as you learn its attributes better.

Things I don’t like—there are a couple. I don’t like the seat. It is very narrow for me and I am working on replacing it. I really wish it were a bit wider. I find it hard to get good rotation as a result. I also am not sure about the build on this boat. Mine is made by Seaward (or so I think). It is nice and light and balances well on the shoulder, but it may not be the most durable layup and the gel coat is super thin. My boat is several years old and has been used a good bit. There are several places where the boat has been scratched through the gel coat and it is surprising thin.

In all the Legend is really an incredible boat and I am very happy with it. I think I will be keeping this boat for a good while. It is a fun and capable boat that seems to have a good balance of qualities that usually are mutually exclusive—speed, maneuverability, performance in the wind and in rough conditions, cargo space and liveliness. If a used Cetus MV pops up I may give it a try, but I think it would be hard to out-perform the Legend. I am not sure why so many people just don’t care for the Nigel Foster boats.

I think that the Legend as a touring boat makes a great pair with my P&H Aires which is now my surf and play boat and am very happy with the pair.


Nigel F likes to surf
His boats do what he likes.

Legend too big for me, but the Silhouette is its cousin and a nice boat. You should try the Whiskey though as well - neat boat.

Go Matt
I’m personally pleased that you are so obsessed with boats and do such great reviews. Legend was not for me because of the thigh support placement. But the Whisky, now that’s another issue. Great boat for what is is supposed to do in surf and conditions and it is by no means slow if you have a halfway decent forward stroke. All of Nigel’s boats seem to have secondary stability that is like leaning your boat on a rock while paddling. And you can certainly carve like crazy off those chines. I flipped my Whisky and a Delphin over side by side at an event and was amazed at how similar they were, except that Nigel’s boat had less volume going on behind the cockpit, which makes for a faster and smoother paddling boat, in my experience. OK Matt, now you gotta find a Whisky somewhere on the East Coast to paddle–good luck. Cheers------------Kevin

Sounds like a nice kayak
I never paddle any Foster kayaks wish I could but no dealers close by for me. I own a NDK Greenlander Pro. It seems to catch the smallest waves also like you describe which makes it go really fast. So far best kayak I have ever paddled for catching even small waves.

So your saying the Lengend catchs waves even better than the Greenlander Pro? I would appreciate any other comparisons between the Greenlander Pro and the Lengend since you have paddle both. Always looking for a better kayak.

I used the dealer locator for 2 closest places and both websites are dead.

GP Comparison
I have always loved the Greenlander Pro and have paddled one off and on for years. The Legend and the GP are similar in many ways. I will try to give a good comparison here between the two boats.

The Greenlander Pro has a bigger fit, has a more distinct transition between primary and secondary stability, and has less cargo space. The GP is a blast to paddle and I always loved how it carved turns and it is also very fast. As you probably know it has a bit of a different leg position than other boats. Ultimately this caused problems for me with my bad knee.

The GP does catch small waves pretty easily and I always loved that about the boat. However, when the waves get bigger and steeper it can become more difficult to handle. The bow will tend to plunge and stick, and the boat will sometimes get a mind of its own and veer off sharply. I found that it could be difficult to bring back on line once it go off a bit. I also found that it could be a bit “sporty” in steep beam seas. The slab sides got pushed around a lot and the boat would rock a lot from side to side due to its low primary stability. It also was a very wet ride in these conditions. These attributes made it pretty fun to paddle, but also could be a little disconcerting at times. Personally I really enjoy paddling the GP in conditions up to a certain level, after which I would prefer my Explorer.

Based on my time in the Legend so far (which admittedly is A LOT less than in the GP) I find it to be faster than the GP and able to catch much smaller waves than the GP. I also find that its bow does not plunge like the GP’s in steeper waves. This is a huge advantage. Once the bow on the GP plunged the ride was over most of the time. The Legend’s bow will resurface and allow you to keep surfing forward.

Additionally the Legend is much more controllable on the wave and easy to correct. It has less of a tendency to veer off and when it does start to wander it can be brought back on line pretty easily.

Additionally it is a good bit easier to turn in rough water. I found that the GP sometimes got sticky in choppy conditions and that the maneuverability seemed somewhat diminished from what it was in flatter water. The Legend seems to get more maneuverable when the water gets choppy.

Despite the lower stability of the Legend, it feels more stable and more confidence inspiring in bigger conditions than the GP did and is also easier to roll–it’s a very easy rolling boat.

Last, I found that the GP did not respond to certain strokes as well as other boats. It did not like to slide sideways on the water too well, which made side slips and sculling draws a bit less effective with the boat, as well as low brace turns. I don’t find this to be the case with the Legend at all. It responds well to all strokes–although maybe not as well to the bow rudder as the GP did but this is a minor trade-off.

I really liked the GP, but I like the Legend better ultimately.


Legend - not for whimps
Bowler - you’re probably a pretty good paddler. I used to swap with a friend who had one and it has many nice traits but it’s not a boat that demands no skills. If you ever get a chance to see Nigel doing a skills demo, do it because he is unbelievable and he can make the Legend do anything. Actually make any boat do anything with total ease and grace.

Nigel doesn’t seem to be getting around too much these days. Too bad because there’s nobody even close.

Thank you for the comparison. I hope some day I would get a chance to try out the Legend. Sounds like a great kayak.

the magic combination
Any time you can achieve good speed and efficiency without a large sacrifice to maneuverability, it’s a great thing.

I met Matt here a couple weeks ago. He’s a very good paddler, handles his kayak well in waves. I think that’s the key to having a great experience in the Legend. It’s nice to see someone else with a strong appreciation for it. I have a lot of fun riding waves in it, and I find the secondary stability plenty reassuring.

You will notice that it also likes to continue to side surf very easily when turning off of broken waves, or just taking them abeam when in the surf zone. This is a moment where a kayak like the Bahia just sticks and holds position more so - given that a broken wave at a certain size is going to take any sea kayak along - so let’s say in small to moderate waves, the Bahia sticks and the wave washes past much earlier. I think it’s something you can look at in two ways. The Legend is more easily spun around, especially on the whitewater. So you can get aggressive with your handling to see what you can do to aim yourself back in or out. You can also plant your blade upwave like we were doing the other weekend to help hold your position. I think I’ve managed to spin off of a broach back into surfing in the Legend more than any other kayak I own, but I don’t have an Aries, and I wouldn’t consider myself skilled at that move. I’ve just been able to pull it off occasionally. I think that’s where Frank said he’s seen me do top turns back down a wave, and I said I’m not so sure I would qualify anything I’ve done as a true top turn.

I said a person could look at it in two ways. The other way would be that you get pushed around a little more easily by beam breaking waves in the Legend than in a Bahia. So I think this is a typical compromise. You can pick a behavior, and decide whether there is a way to capitalize on it. I might be able to spin the Legend out of a sidesurf. The Bahia won’t get sidesurfed as far.

I picked up an NDK Greenlander a few months ago, but I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time in it to give a lot of comparisons there. The magic combination - speed and maneuverability - I’d give both to the Legend. So far I’d say the Legend is easier to stay with waves, and the bow isn’t completely buried so easily as the Greenlander. The Greenlander is lower volume, so I think here again, you will see the benefits of lower volume. But like Bowler’s experience in the Legend, the windiest I’ve had my Legend out was when tropical storm Hannah had sustained winds kicked up to 45 knots while it was still coming in. I was able to turn and point in any direction and travel, so even with the volume, it was manageable in the wind. Nothing easy at that windspeed, even just holding on to the paddle, but manageable. It’s very unlikely that anyone is going to take off on expedition mileage in that type of wind, but it’s nice to know that if you get surprised, you can manage it.

Mine has the Seaward sticker inside the hull. I don’t think I’ve heard the Seaward Foster boats described as light, or less durable, but perhaps you have an exception? Mine is fairly heavy, and seems to have a nice solid build comparatively, and a friend with a Seaward Silhouette used to say it was the only kayak he would feel ok with standing up on the deck. But I suppose there isn’t perfect consistency through the years? The back deck of the Greenlander is the softest that I own, and that’s one that requires me to sit on the back deck to slide into the ocean cockpit. So hopefully it proves durable even given the extra give that it seems to have.

Glad you’re enjoying the Legend. Your experience seems in line with my own. I certainly consider it a keeper, but I keep a lot of kayaks. It’s certainly on my A list.

I’m Silhouette-size and loved that kayak even though I was pretty new when I paddled it. It was not mine, and now that I think back I should’ve bought it when the owner decided to get a Tiderace.

I was also fortunate enough to take a strokes class which had 5 of us with Nigel for over 2.5 hours. He is a master to be sure. His technique is flawless and rather subtle and gentle. And he is ego-less while teaching it. He designs his boats for the way he likes to paddle and we are all the richer for it.

Really good review
Thanks for the nice write-up. I used to paddle with a friend who had a Legend and he could really make that boat sing. He was a very talented and experienced paddler, much better than me. I have a Kajaksport Millenium and we both swapped boats from time to time. Although similar in overall performance, I found mine easier for me to handle, and he found mine a bit too big for him. No matter, good boats are an absolute joy to paddle. Take care.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts on boats and I hope that it can be helpful to others. I personally enjoy reading others’ reviews as well. Of course boats are personal and I would never suggest that someone “hang their hat” strictly on another’s review, but I think that reviews can aid in one’s decision about a boat or help to clarify and reinforce behaviors they may have noticed in a boat but were unable to put their finger on exactly what was going on.

As to the skill level required of a Legend–I would say that it is not a boat for a beginner, but also not a boat that requires an advanced paddler. I might put the Bahiya in that category given how tippy that boat can be.

What I would say about the Legend though is that I believe it has a greater amount of potential to be tapped into by a highly skilled paddler.

Of course an advanced paddler will always be able to do more with a boat than a less experienced paddler, but I think that some boats just have more subtleties that a truly skilled paddler can capitalize upon.

For instance, a boat like the Explorer is a great boat. It is easily handled by just about any paddler. It is paddled by many, many top level paddlers as well. However (and I will try to state this very carefully) I believe that the same qualities that make this boat very neutral and predictable also somewhat limit what a truly skilled paddler can “eek” out of it. Sure advanced paddlers can do great things with an Explorer, but I think those paddlers could probably do even better things with a boat like the Legend that has so many subtleties in handling that can be unleashed in the hands of a truly skilled paddler. I think that the Nordkapp is another boat like this.

I hope that makes sense, and by no means am I “busting on” the Explorer which is a tremendous boat of which I am quite fond.

I guess what I am saying is that a new paddler would do much better in an Explorer. A good paddler could probably do equally well in an Explorer and a Legend. A more skilled paddler could probably do better in the Legend than he could do in the Explorer. I think it has a potential for higher performance but that it requires a requisite level of skill to realize those performance gains through subtleties of handling and paddler input.

Also please note that I am not trying to be in the slightest bit immodest by my words above and my claims that I can differentiate a noticeable performance difference between the Explorer and Legend. I hope that it does not come across that way


I loved that boat
A bit tricky for me at first in conditions, but when I demoed it I was in love.

I’m curious
I know you said you would not mention what it was about the Nordkapp that you didn’t like, but still I am curious whether it was something about the boat’s handling, or something about its build.

Of all the boats I have paddled, I liked the full sized Nordkapp second best, but now there might be a bit of a tie for second best–the new Eddyline Raven.

Point taken
"I am not trying to be in the slightest bit immodest by my words above and my claims that I can differentiate a noticeable performance difference between the Explorer and Legend. I hope that it does not come across that way"

No not at all. You write very well.

thank you

Well the Nordkapp is a great boat. The only reason I did not go into my thoughts about the Nordkapp above is that my post was already getting pretty long.

The Nordkapp I had was a 2006 H2O. The build quality was superb and the boat is a great one.

I really did like the Nordkapp, but there were a few things about it that ultimately were not right for me.

First and probably foremost is the fit. It was just a little snug for me. I remedied this by installing a foam seat, but the fit still was just never quite how I wanted it and I am pretty particular about fit. I think that kayak fit is a critical aspect of getting the most out of your boat.

The other thing I did not care for about the boat was its stability profile. Some of this may be due to the fit as well or to my short and stocky build at 5’8, 195. .

I liked how smooth the soft chines were in the water and I found the boat reasonably stable in terms of both primary and secondary stability. However, I was not a fan of the stability profile in steep beam seas. I found that in some conditions the felt like it was pushed to the edge of its secondary stability in steep beam seas, which could be a little disconcerting. I know that others have stated that the boat firms up in such conditions, but I did not find this always to be the case. Again though, some of this could be due to the fact that I never really got the fit dialed in.

Additionally I found that the Nordkapp just wasn’t as fast as the GP which was another deciding factor for me since I was really looking for something speedy. It surfed very well, but did not have the speed to pick up the smaller waves like the GP did. It also did not have the maneuverability and “fun” factor of the GP. For these reasons I chose the GP over the Nordkapp, but it was a close call. The Nordkapp was ultimately the better boat in conditions despite the stability profile I did not care for.

It was a super smooth roller though.


Matt, when are you go get a “properly fast” boat - that is something with nice plumb bow, all waterline, no rocker - basically a surf ski, or a sink with analog hull?

That’s a reasonable question. I assume you mean something like an epic–a true racing kayak. Personally for me I am not interested in that type of boat or anything with a rudder. I like to turn and zig zag across the water more than just just going fast and straight and really enjoy rolling. I don’t want to move out of the touring and expedition class of boats as I value other aspects of the sport other than just speed. Of course many may argue with me about that point but that’s how I feel about it personally.

Downwinders = Surfski
Once you try a ski on a proper downwind, “lesser” (and rudderless) kayaks just fall short (pun intended) -:wink:

God write up! Legend is something I have not paddled, yet and you make it seem so intriguing!

until you try to turn
…or you have to surf land.