Got the Dagger Stratos 14.5s to be my surf/rockplay boat because I decided it’s not worth taking a chance and smashing my carbon/kevlar Sterling Progression. The Sterling is like Porsche coupe in the surf - fast and highly maneuver. LOVE this boat! And, thus, not really wanting to risk damage to her in rockplay.
I got rid of my P&H Delphin 150 least year and upgraded to the Sterling. Here I am, a year later,adding RM surf boat back into the mix again. I lucked out and picked up a good conditon Stratos 14.5s (my size) from the local craigslist.
First trial was in 5-6’ wind swells with 6-8 second intervals, accompanied by a diagonal onshore wind. The waves were disorganized and closing out more than peeling. The second trial was with better waves – 3.5’ @ 11 seconds with light onshore wind. I was delighted and relieved that the boat handles pretty well and is manueverable on the wave. I just needed to figure out where to shift my weight and lean in the seat. Big difference!!!
2nd Stratos session
The Stratos does not come close to the performance of the Sterling in speed and manueverability. But, it will do fine for a rockhopping boat that is capable in the surf. I think the Stratos is slighly more maneuver on the wave than the Delphin because of its shorter length and/or (higher?) rocker. But, it does not paddle as fast as the Delphin. But, for me, I trade for more manueverability on a wave in exchange for less speed on flatter water. This is just my priority for what I normally want to do in a kayak – that is to play in textured water!
Look forward to getting more waves and more time in the seat!
I love the Stratos 14.5s. I currently have 2 - one of each size. Deciding which size I prefer and will get rid of the other.
I had an Alchemy L before these, but finally sold that. The Stratos does have more rocker and surfs better.
My fat butt does fit the small, but I did have to remove the thigh braces. The one I bought was well outfitted by the prior owner (who was more your size than mine), and I had to remove a lot of the beautiful foam outfitting he had added.
Something the guy before me did was to inflate a Jackson Happy Feet behind the back bank to fill in the space there, as thee boat catches a lot of water there when you try to drain it by lifting the bow.
Yeah, like your previous owner, I pretty much padded out the area around/behind the seat. I also customed a float bag with heat sealable nylon to fill out the copious space I have in the front of the cockpit. I also modified paddle shaft retainer rigging to make easier entry/exit, increased implosion protection for the large rear hatch with crossed bungees over the lid; and vinyl tubing over the perimeter line in front of the cockpit for easier hold in rough water conditions.
While you may fit into the 14.5s, I am not sure that would be good if you are doing a lot of rough water venues with it. On my maiden voyage in the 5-6’ steep wind waves, I noted that the bow actually doved into the trough and submerged several inches on several occaisons. Kind of alarming as this is often the precurser to a quick broach or a front ender. But, each time, the bow popped right back up without too much consequence (although some broaching happened). I think I have had Sterling bow dived like that only a couple of times in the past year of surf.
With your bigger frame/weight, I think you would likely end up with more bow submersion with the 14.5s than I did in the same conditions. The 14.5L would obviously give you more floation to mitigate that.
Again, after the second session, I am much comfortable with the handling of the Stratos. With the modifications and outfitting, I am pretty confident that Stratos will do well as rockplay boat. Glad to have added this into the boat quiver.
Getting three surf sessions in a week is a blessing. This last session provided an enjoyable and easy practice session given the beautifully formed but mellow waves. I had no capsizes in the first two sessions. Figure I should do some rolling to get a feel for the Stratos. No surprise here. Thought I would also try some back surfing. Here, I was surprised by how much the stern dug into the trough, even with these small waves. Way different from the Sterling, which is almost as good back surfing (limited by my abilities) as it is front surfing. Again, now a “dis” of the Stratos as the Sterling hull and rocker are optimized for surfing.