Sterling Illusion & Ice Kap reviews?

I am currently looking to purchase a Sterling Illusion ( as a primary all-around kayak.

My limited time in the boat has been nothing but positive. A lively boat that is FAST and loves rough water. It is also fun to roll. There are not a lot of reviews out there, so I am curious to hear from with any experience with this boat.


I’m curious too.

Might try…
… putting a note in a bottle and tossing it to sea - and maybe it will eventually make it’s way to Dubside. Not sure he gets to paddle his much though since it doesn’t fit on public transit…

Since they’re a small shop I assume most of their boats stay local. Have you posted this question to any of the seattle area paddling clubs?

try the Greenland forum
I know Tim Mattsen, who frequents the GL forum, loves his. He’s given me reviews but I’m not going to kiss and tell!



Gronseth had a lot of input
in the illusion and I hear form local B-ham paddlers that it’s a great playful kayak. George likes the results after much tweaking. He told me folk at the symposium in Pt. Townsend loved the boat but many still gravitated toward the Brit boats because they were accepted in their clubs etc, even though they thought the illusion paddled better.

You might want to post this on
Yahoo group PSPN, (Puget Sound Paddlers Netework.)


Several paddling buddies with them…
…and they seem pleased. Go to (local club Sterling is involved with), sign up for the listserv and post your question there. You might get a good answer or two. He’s got a relatively small, but very devoted following. I’m still curious to see how they handle in very high winds

There’s still a couple of things about his boats I don’t care for, but these are just nitpik items–although I would like to see him use Valley hatches.

Was at Sterling’s shop last Saturday for a little clinic he gave on field repairs (recommends Solarez: --product 77300–mix it into some fiberglass cloth, slap the cloth over the hole and expose this to UV light–hardened up pretty quick for a strong field repair) and fg layups and we watched a boat get vacuum infused–think thats the right term.

Look pretty neat, however…

– Last Updated: Feb-10-09 8:17 PM EST –

"Ice Kap
This lightweight, high-performance boat is bringing British style to the American market."

Does that mean to say that the large number of British boats on these shores are not the result of many others bringing "British style to the American market" some years ago?

As Salty says "First of all let's recognize marketing for what it is"

Seriously they look like they could be fun boats. And who would not like a custom built boat?

is fast, surfs real well and looks like it will take a beating from rocks! These boats look to be well made and can be customized to the paddler.

thanks yinyang,

Thanks for the feedback. Do you own one? Can you elaborate a bit on your experience with it? Anything you don’t like? Where have you been with it? How does in handle in wind and rough water?

rough water yes
I do not own one(yet)but a good paddling partner does. We were out the other day in rough conditions. This boat handled the washing machine areas with grace. Had great speed and staying power for following seas. Of course the paddler has a lot to do with that. Speed, well it is fast for such a short water line. In the wind, not enough exp. yet for that opinion.

I would say that I dont like, not having one. We paddle on the Mendocino Coast,CA and we get a fare amount of rough paddling. I am interested in seeing how impact resistant it really is. Not sure I can get the owner to try that out though. He has a well made carbon model. Very sporty!

It can’t be fast
with a short waterline! Sorry, hydrodynamics on planet Earth are what they are! It seems to be another decent rough water all round boat, but it aint “fast” by virtue of it’s shape. NO gettin around that. But hey, I’m talking to “sea kayakers” so let’s forget physics and go with “emotion”.

leave the formulas at home
and go paddle. This is not a race boat, well maybe a gypsy race boat.

The kayak is fun and fast for its design.

Sea kayakers do not know of hydrodynamics? This is going to go far.

Enjoy the search!

Illusion IS a fast boat.
I only was able to demo it for an afternoon, but I will say that this is probably the fastest boat I have been in. Yinyangyaker is correct!

I don’t know the statistics, but the Illusion (or was it the IceKap?) won best in its class a few times at the Deception Pass Dash here in Washington State. The race boats always seem to win if they can get past the big standing waves under the bridge.

relative and in context

– Last Updated: Feb-12-09 9:06 PM EST –

Fast is a relative term. Even an Epic Endurance is not fast on the flat compared to a racing kayak. Though a K1 would not fare as well in dimensional seas.

Most I've read (self included) feel the Nordkapp LV is particularly fast in sloppy seas, yet on flat water it would be slow compared to a QCC700 or Endurance 18X. Though the 'kapp lv is quicker - according to Sea Kayaker up through 4 knots the Nordlow generates less drag than an Epic Endurance ;-)

Maybe the Sterling boat is fast compared to other "British style" sea kayaks.

I like the leg pockets on the Illusion,
similar to the Explorer HV. The rear coaming height “looks” a little on the high side. A tough boat that I could carry to the launch without risking injury sounds very interesting. I wonder if the weight rating applies to body size or a 180 guy being able to put up to 100lbs of gear in the boat. Like most boats, I doubt my 6’3" 250lb fits in it. I am wondering if it could be a pintail for big boys? I would spend the money for a quality American boat, but in this economy I will have to save over a longer period. Bill

There’s little doubt…
…that Sterling knows how to build a tough, light boat. He knows the cloth types and hybrids and resins and their properties and how to combine these properties with cloth directional orientation probably as good as anybody out there. I’m not planning on buying one of his boats, but if I were, the above would be my last worry.

Correction: the paddlers in the
boats were the fastest in their class. I get a kick out of, “my brit boat is faster than yours, man!” comments.


Isn’t that what I said?