I am new to the sport and currently own a plastic mid size sea kayak and want to buy a composite. I am 5’3" tall 115 lbs. I have tried both the Romany by NDK and the Avocet by Valley. It is almost a coin flip between them. Any advice, or comments on these boats to help with my decision will be most appreciated. Thank you.
Romany for fit and sizing
The Avocet is a boat I like, no question, but at your size and weight you may find that the cockpit is way too hard to get good contact in and your weight too little for the intended volume of the boat to make it easy to learn skills. I am 5’4" and 135 pounds. The Avocet works but is not as good a fit for me as would be the Romany.
The Romany has an affirmative keyhole cockpit - something that Valley seems not to quite understand in any of their boats - so will give you a better fit for learning skills. It also has volume that seems to morph for smaller paddlers better than the Avocet (tho’ at your size you might be a match for the Romany LV as well).
The Avocet is generally considered to be the faster of the two, but there is not so much diff between the hulls that good paddling won’t even it out. A lot of very serious sea kayakers including coaches I know have a Romany as their primary boat - so it does distances fine with a proper stroke.
I can only speak to this question after watching another small person try to find a boat that fits.
At 115# you are really light for an Avocet as a day boat and the same goes for the Romany. However, a Romany LV is likely to fit you well in terms of the cockpit, but the hull is the same.
I am 5’ 10" #180 and think the Avocet is a good, comfy fit. A friend of mine is over 200#, a coach and he uses a Romany. So you would be on the lower weight limit for sure. That might mean the boat just will never be as responsive as a boat designed for a smaller paddler if you like a “quick” responsive boat. If not, it may not matter.
Based on discussions with other paddlers of about your weight, you might find it beneficial to try out the Vela, the smaller Capellas, a Rumor, and the Force 3 which is a touring boat as opposed to a day play boat but fits someone your size very well. Some of these are going to have a very different feel from the Romany and Avocet. Only you can say if they are “lively” and fun or “twitchy” and scary.
That said, the Avocet and Romany are great boats. Its just that boats designed to work and fit well people under 130# are rare.
Romany would be my choice for you.
I have both (store an Avocet for a friend) available to paddle. The differences between the two are subtle but are there non-the-less.
The Avocet seems to me to be slightly faster, carves turns slightly better, & with some experience -in conditions- it seemed to be slightly more responsive due to it’s "v"ed hull (as opposed to the more boxy shape of the Romany)
The Romany on the other hand seems to me to have greater stability all around without sacrificing much else, not that the Avocet is bad, it’s just that the Romany seems better. Because of this (with its boxyish hull), the Romany seems better for skills development as the stability points are pretty well defined.
Both practically roll themselves, but for sculling-bracing-rolling, I would give the edge to the Romany (but not by much)
You really have to try them out yourself as the fit is not the same. It’s not that you couldn’t modify the fit of either, it’s just that one will usually just ‘fit’ better. The Avocet seems to me to have more cockpit volume than a standard Romany.
I believe that if you are new to sea kayaking & looking to develop skills, you should look for the lowest volume-comfortable fitting-well built kayak you can find, that enhances skill development.
I personally don’t think you can top the Romany for this, however, at your weight & height, perhaps the Romany LV would be best.
Thanks everybody for your input
I did not even think about the Romany LV as an option, but given my small stature it seems like I should really give that a try. I will demo these boats before any purchase. Thanks again for your input.
the Avocet and Romany are great boats
However, the Romany is lower volume and snugger fitting. A Romany LV may indeed be a good idea for your size.
I think the Romany is a better learning platform than the Avocet. IMHO the Romany is more forgiving. More coaches I respect use Romanys (or Explorers) than any other boats.
I’m slightly smaller than you
I rented an Avocet for a day a few years ago. Though the boat is not large, the thigh braces were minimal–useable but not great. Cockpit was larger than I expected after hearing all the talk about it being a play boat. Valley might have changed the outfitting since then, and I think it’s still worth demoing. I didn’t like it enough to consider buying one, but you need to try it for yourself.
What other boats have you looked at? Both the Romany & Avocet seem a bit larger boat for your body size.
Impex Force 3 or Mystic and P&H Vela are other composite options for a small paddler.
Our next scheduled new project is going to be an Avocet LV, we expect to release this mid to late summer and will be trying to incorporate as much as possible from recent feedback on the Avocet from smaller paddlers
My 5', 120-pound wife sold her Avocet because it felt too big -- even after I made some cockpit modifications. A properly scaled LV would make a great boat for smaller folks.
She ended up in a WS Tchaika Pro(now discontinued).
Avocet LV sizeing
My current intention is for the kayak to be approx 2" shorter, 1/2" narrower and 1/2" lower than the existing Avocet with a slightly smaller and more keyholed cockpit
More narrower and lower?
I’m sure you know the market potential and I do not, but to make it sufficiently smaller to appeal to smaller, less than 130’#, paddlers; why not go down to around 20" wide and the cockpit depth of around 9.5"? Women especially can use boats that are on the narrow side as in 20" and need a low deck to be able to get a good fit. Even the Rumor is a little high. Somehow the Force 3 cockpit manages to be a good fit for small paddlers and it is smaller than an AA cockpit except for not being an OC. Another thing is smaller paddlers can have problems with regular sized keyholes in terms of reaching far enough to easily release the sprayskirt and/or messing with stuff on the foredeck. So a short cockpit opening is a good thing for them even in a keyhole configuration. Just my $.02.
why 2" shorter? NM
this is what i like about P-Net
Possibly my first thoughts were a little conservative. Double those reductions would result in 15ft 8inch length 20.5-21 inch wide and an approx 11-12inch deck height.
Cockpit would be keyhole but narrower at the front to allow better knee/thigh contact and about 2-3inch shorter
needs to be in the 19 1/2" to 20 1/2 " inch wide range and no higher than the Anas Acuta…and shorter Keyhole. More the length of the old Valley Slalom cockpit. Smaller framed people can do the butt drop in method in it. (my Wife Can)
Peter…If you can get a chance to try the Rumour while here for Canoeacopia (go to Lake Columbia)(wear a hood so no-one reconizes you )The Rumour is 19 1/2" plenty stable…and I don’t have the lower weight distribution women have (I have a high center of gravity)I’m 5 or 10 pounds heavier than you, so you should have a blast in it. (The new Rumour is differant than the original, you need to try the CD Rumour)
The Rumour however has a high deck for that particular boat configuration.
Rumor for Play Boat?
Do you think the Rumor would make a good play boat for regular sized paddlers as in say 170# plus or minus 10#. I noticed that one magazine which reviewed it sent a 175# paddler on a multiday tour in one and supposedly it worked well so I have started to think about it as a day boat. I have the sense that Foster’s boats are fast and fun even if a little demanding. BTW, have not heard many call it stable.
It sounds like you're doing a whole new hull instead of just a cut-down deck. I appreciate the investment that requires.
The first numbers you gave worked out to a 2% reduction in beam and 1% in length, which would only be 3-4% in overall volume, right? So that'd only be a 5-10 pound difference in paddler weight to hit the same design waterline as the current design. It would hardly seem worth it.
I don't know the demographics, and I know you can't build a gazillion molds. I understand that if you do a more agressive LV design you may leave out the folks who are a good weight for the current boat but want a better fit. Would it be possible to use the current deck mold to make a bolt-in insert that would give a snugger fit for those that want it? Another option might be a factory foam outfitting kit. Make a removeable version for dealers for their demo boats, and you might keep a few of the folks who love the hull but dislike the cockpit.
Me–> your height & weight
I found the Avocet, while lively and agile, to be entirely too big in the cockpit. Tried one in RM and composite & that dissuaded me from buying it. People our size need a cozy fit to maximize controlling the kayak with leans, edging etc. And eventually, if you want to get a roll, a great fit (not just a good one)is, well, huge.
Haven’t tried the Romany, but have read many good things about it, so I’ll defer to those who have.
Wound up going back in time to get a North Shore Fuego… built in 1997 and no longer made (unless Peter Orton will persuade his new colleagues at North Shore to bring it back) Here are some Fuego measurements you can use as you demo and compare:
15 feet 10 3/4" 21" wide 44 lbs.
Cockpit 16" x 26" (The skirt size is XS in Snapdragon sizing)
Seat pan 15" wide between the seat sides.
Height at front of combing 10 1/2"
Height at read of combing 8 1/2"
Flat aft deck, very low slightly rounded foredeck.
Hope this helps. Agree w. others that there isn’t really all that much out there in a seakayak for the truly “small” small paddler - yet.
my family all love the avocet hull but the cocpit only fits me at 6 185
d at 5’3" 120 paddles a vela which would benefit from lower coaming hight. so please make sure the coaming is both shorter narower and lower with thigh braces pulled well back also narrow the hull so a ~120 lb will sink it
ps if you do that well take 2