Romany vs. Avocet???

-- Last Updated: Apr-16-07 2:19 PM EST --

Okay, please don't flame me for asking this...I totally understand about the need to make my own assessment, the differences in boat handling based on paddler height, weight etc...but I don't have a Romany nearby that I can demo and am looking for some generalities here.

I currently have a glass Avocet as my surf / rough water play boat, but there are some things about it that I am not crazy about. Great boat, but for me it does not have very solid secondary (could be a result of my weight and height at 190 and 5'8). Second I find that it broaches fairly easily, and third I find that it does not carve well on the face of a wave...I would like something that responds better to edging while surfing.

I found a good deal on a used Romany and am considering going to take a look at it (several hours away) and test paddle it. Before I do though I would like some feedback on generalities between these two boats.

I have been told the Romany has better secondary. It also has harder chines that may help it to carve better while surfing. I also hear it is slightly more maneuverable than the Avocet, but a litte slower. I imagine QC is probably more of a concern too.

I have sat in a Romany before and really liked the feel of the cockpit better than the Avocet, but have not paddled one.

What are your general thoughts on how these two boats compare...I know they are similar, but what differences do you find?


Same thoughts on Avocet
During the kayak testing to find a replacement for my stolen kayak I tested both the Avocet and the Romany. My impressions of the Avocet was very similar to yours. During my initial test in calm winds I was impressed with the Avocet. However in stronger winds and waves I found that the WS Tempest and the Impex Force Cat series weathercocked less, edged turned better when on waves, and surfed better. I tested the Romany in 20-30 mph winds and breaking 3-4 waves in our shallow bay. It was the most neutral in rough conditions of all the kayaks I tested. I found that the Romany did not carve turns when on edge like the Tempest or the Force Cat 3 (or even as well as the Avocet). However, when you put the Romany on edge it resonded exceptionally quickly to just the slightest sweep or rudder. I had no trouble changing direction in that high wind, but I did have to use a little paddle technique along with my edging. When surfing the wind waves it was easily controlled with just the slightest bit of rudder. Normally ruddering causes me to lose waves before getting the correction I want, but with the Romany the required ruddering was so small that I could actually change directions twice and still stay on the wave. The downside for me was the speed. I only caught about 10% of the waves when I would have expected to catch 50-75% with my former Mariner Elan or that I catch with the Force Cat3 that I now own. Less speed is needed for catching waves at a beach break so I would guess it would be a great surfer there. My regular paddling partners are quite fast and although I really liked the Romany’s handling best (the Tempest 165 was really close to the Romany) I decided to give up a little handling for more speed. For my fast cruising speed (rate I can maintain for about 1 hr)the Romany paddled around 3.3-3.5 knots while in the Force Cat 3 it is 4.3-4.5 knots. Of course your speed will be different especially since I am not a “strong” paddler. If you can maintain the cruising speed you want then I think you would really like the Romany. If you do not buy that Romany then take a look at the Tempest 165 or 170 as well as the Impex Force Cat 3 or Cat 4. I found the 165 and 170 as well as the Cat3 vs Cat4 to handle about the same so model choice was strictly based on fit.

Romany - Avocet
I find the Romany is more responsive with less effort than an Avocet. By this I mean it takes less hip shift, rudder, etc… to move the boat as you wish.

The Romany is a blast in soup and surf. It may not be a fast boat but I think its flat bottom slab sides combined with lots of rocker and snug cockpit make it a joy in such conditions.

The Avocet is a great boat. I know many who swear by it. It feels faster than a Romany, though neither is a fast boat. My Romany kicks up a lot bigger bow wake at same speed than an Avocet with me paddling.

I believe the Romany is lower volume and more rockered than the Avocet.

The cockpit of the Romany is sooo much better fit than the composite Avocet. I wish Valley would take a look at NDK to see what ‘keyhole’ can mean.

I’ve grown to believe that everyone should paddle a Romany at some point in their paddling life :wink:

When I read this posting

– Last Updated: Apr-16-07 11:52 PM EST –

I knew it would be you! Which mini van is fastest through the slalom? Just teasin..relax.

Take that cash
and put it on travel, or one on one lessons with a pro, or a new paddle. You have one great boat in an Avocet, and the Romany, also great is very very very similar. It does come down to your subjective stuff. At some point, feedback including mine is only subjective. I’ve spent a bit of time in both, and I’d probably give the nod to the Avocet, but that’s just me. Forget about speed. Both are efficient and you can cover long distances in big water.

You clearly are passionate about gear, in this case kayaks. While that’s cool I guess, I wonder what drives that when it’s with such similar boats.

My advice…take it or leave it… Buy a surf ski, or Rapier next. Then buy a dedicated surf kayak. Start playing in those and you might soon care less about your collection of touring boats?

Yes, I am pretty passionate about my gear. I am a perfectionist about most things. In today’s world of the internet, ebay etc. I tend to be more picky about my gear…it’s really easy to find a good deal on something used, and then sell off whatever you currently have and lose no money on the deal. Basically allows you to “trade-in” what you got for something you might like just a little better. I do this with all my gear in all sports…cycling, backpacking etc. and as a result I end up in the end with equipment that is absolutely perfect for me because I have tried everything else! Maybe that’s why I have something like 1300 feedback on ebay.

I really do like the Avocet, but it’s now quite perfect for me. The Romany is very similar and may have the characteristics that the Avocet lacks for me. I found a good deal on a used one…would be very easy to unload my Avocet and pick up the Romany.

I should have added to my original post…speed is not a big factor here. Just splitting hairs between the two boats.

I realize both are very, very similar and that’s part of why I would consider the Romany. If it’s basically an Avocet with a bit more secondary stability (which I suspect may be an accurate description) then I’ll get it. That would be just what I am looking for.

I also like the feel of the cockpit better on the Romany…another important factor.


if you want a surf / rough water boat
get a Pintail

Pintail / Anas
Yeah the Pintail and Anas Acuta would be on my short list too.

I might also want to let my wife use this boat though. She has only kayaked once. Pintail and Anas would be bad choices for her I would think, not to say that I would not still go for one.

I bought this boat, “for her”…so that we could paddle together in the summer. That was how I “justified” the need for two boats (expedition boat and play boat).

Not sure how much she will use “her” boat though.


Something to consider
One generalization is that many women find most kayaks way too stable and big and they need what for most men would be a rather tippy boat. You have to get down to say a Rumor before most athletic women will say the boat seems tippy.

I know this one–actually the Pintail with the skeg down tracks fine and, for a beginner, the ability to turn easily in tight spaces with the skeg up is a nice feature. I used the Pintail to do the reverse figure 8 in the BCU3 testing–so easy compared a longer less rockered boat. My wife usually paddles the Outer Island or a plastic Capella. Am thinking of getting the Impex tandem–there is really no way for us to do much distance paddling together, given our different interests and abilities, unless we’re in one boat. Fortunately, we’re best friends, so I don’t think that the tandem leads to divorce story will arise. The Romany is a terrific boat, but so is the Avocet or T165 or Force 3 … really comes down to what you and she like.

Has a chapter “Scottish Tidal Races”.

A whole bunch of kayakers try to surf one mess of tidal waves. Out of the whole group only two manage to do it. One of them in a Rockpool, the other in Avocet.

Does that mean that Rockpool or Avocet are the best kayaks for tidal surfing? It only implies that paddlers in these kayaks had the most skill to surf that day…

Romany = Reassuring
A Romany is very definition of reassurrance. If your wife doesn’t paddle much then it might be the best boat for her.

It is a boat that will do everything you ask it (except go fast) with little effort.

I’ve seen such smiles on the faces of novices the first time they get into my Romany.

I also think a Romany fits most women better than an Avocet.

The pro’s paddle whatever is given to them and make it look good. Justine of all people would say paddle whatever makes you happy…just go do a cool journey in it!

All good…
To follow up on Salty’s comment, and to caveat my post…I am finding that the more boats that I paddle (and own) that when it comes to reputable boats for the most part they’re all good!

As many have said, it is a matter of tradeoffs and personal preferences. All boats seem to have qualities and vices. It seems to be somewhat of a zero-sum game…just have to find the one that has the right combination of trade-offs for you, and one whose personality fits yours and fits your skill level. I find that as you develop skills as a paddler, your preferences in a boat change, at least this has been the case for me.

In this case I am splitting hairs…looking for just a slightly different combination of attributes and still trying to maintain a boat that my wife will be able to paddle.


Got to Paddle the Romany…
Wanted to follow up on my post.

This weekend I got to paddle a friend’s Romany (along with my Avocet) in some surf.

Well, depsite what I had previously thought these two boats are really quite different.

Please note that I am 5’8, 190 pounds so I believe my short and stocky build probably has a lot to do with how these boats handle for me.

I found that the Romany felt completely different. It definitely has a more upswept bow. Much smoother and better at riding up and over incoming and breaking waves going out through the surf zone.

Romany had much better secondary stability and it did not kick in too early as with some boats.

Maneuverability was similar, but I would say the Avocet was perhaps more manuevable.

Found the Avocet was easier to catch waves with. Maybe because of slightly better hull speed.

Found it difficult to prevent broaching on the wave with the Romany. Did not seem to respond well to rudders when surfing, but responded quite well to edging…probably b/c of harder chines.

Romany rolls easier, but both roll quite easy.

All of these points are fairly minor…what I found significant was the difference in rough water performance.

The Romany’s higher secondary made it quite a bit more stable in rough water and breaking waves. Did not hardly have to put down a brace. In fact, it was so stable in these conditions that I found myself not even paying attention. Actually I found it a bit boring in the conditions I was in. Made the conditions feel like they were less challenging than they were.

The Avocet overall is more fun to me to paddle…livlier hull. Super manueverable and smooth in rough water. Allows you to really feel the water and makes even benign conditions feel fun.

However…despite all of these things I hate to say it but I think that I probably will sell my Avocet and get a Romany (found a used one locally). I have been debating over this for a while.

With my height and weight I find the secondary on the Avocet to be completely lacking. Granted, I have never capsized in it even in some really rough conditions, but it requires frequent bracing in rough water when the water rolls the boat underneath you past the balance point. In some ways I like this because it makes the boat exciting to paddle and makes you a bit of a better paddler, helping you to practice instinctive bracing, but this is not optimal for really challenging conditions.

I plan to use this boat for my rough water play boat and hope to get out in some big conditions this summer. Also, I do tend to go out by myself in rough water at times as well. Having a super-capable boat makes more sense for me probably. I would have to say that the Romany definitely fits the bill.

I love the Avocet, but I think that I have just gotten too heavy for it (gained some weight). If I were lighter then I think things might be different, but I really think that its lacking performance in rough water is due mostly to my weight (when I sit in the boat I weigh it down to the point where the seam is only about 1 or 1.5 inches above the water).

Too bad I can’t keep both boats. I would probably opt for the Avocet in lesser conditions and the Romany when things got rough.

(Okay here is where you can respond and tell me that I need to shut up and paddle more, work on my stroke, quit worrying about boats, etc, etc., ha ha.)