Swift Osprey vs. Bell Yellowstone Solo??

Curious to hear opinions on how you would compare these two boats.

I have seen the Merlin and Osprey compared, but I would argue that the Osprey (although 15 foot in length) is more comparable to the YS Solo.

I had an Osprey for a while and should not have sold it. Currently have a YS solo in royalex. Am thinking about upgrading next year to either a black gold YS Solo or getting another Osprey in the expedition kevlar layup (whatever they call it now but their strongest one).

Use would be strictly for kneeling (no sit and switch), use on moving water and ww up to Class II / Class II+, light tripping, and freestyle.

How would you compare these boat in maneuverability, capability in moving water / whitewater, and hull durability for ww use?

I have my own opinions from memory of comparing my Osprey to a royalex YS solo which may not be a fair comparison.

As I recall the Osprey is definitely bigger in terms of fit and freeboard (one of the things I did not like about it). For handling it seems to me the Osprey has less primary stability and higher and more predictable secondary. Is MUCH faster in terms of acceleration and top speed, and I believe it is more maneuverable as well, yet does not track as well.

For moving water I have not had the Osprey on moving water much but seems the YS solo may have the edge here. Its higher primary stability is also a bit more confidence inspring when ferrying accross large waves etc. But again I have limited experience with the Osprey in whitewater. I know it kicks but in wind wave on a windy day despite noticeable weather cocking.

thanks for your help and curious to see your opinions.


Quickie opinion
Matt, since you’ve owned both boats, you are probably in one of the best positions to form an opinion.

However, since you are obviously interested in soliciting viewpoints, I can offer a very limited one. I paddled a Royalex YS and an Osprey on the same day this summer for about 20 minutes each on a lake. Put them both through my normal quickie paces plus some freestyle moves, since this was at a freestyle event.

My clear impression based on that tryout was that I preferred the Osprey. I thought it was faster, glided better, tracked more nicely under my form of correction stroke, and turned almost as well.

They both turned very well, but the YS when heeled to the rail was a little more of a pivot-on-the-bulge feeling, while the Osprey felt more like a tight carve. Hence, the YS might be better for freestyle “drilling holes in the water”. I think the Osprey would be a better touring boat because of its tracking and glide, and in fact I was almost shocked at how well it could turn given its nice tracking.

Overall, I preferred the Osprey’s blend of traits and general sophisticated “feel”. I also am a big proponent of sliding seats for solo paddling, which the Osprey has.

I didn’t paddle either in white or any moving water. However, I am a very experienced WW boater. My instinct is that both would be fun boats in class 2, that the YS might have a slight edge in turnability, and that the Osprey might be able to handle bigger waves and accelerate quicker. But neither is a real WW boat.

RX verse Composite

– Last Updated: Sep-21-09 11:13 AM EST –

One cannot compare a RX hull with a composite boat. The RX shape has been compromised by blunter entry lines, less crisp tumblehome and the necessity of a thick, stiff, RX sheet to form and then come out of a one piece mold.

A Composite YS will be faster, have improved stability and respond to the paddle better than the RX variant.

That said, I compared a RX YellowStone, a Composite Argosy and a Composite Osprey at the WPASCR in June. All three paddled inside and cross inside circles. All three would turn a 180 dg Axle. The increased skin drag of the larger Osprey and RX hull was apparent. That said, only the Swift can be had in infused construction with integral rails, so...

You'll need to get all three together in new composite
construction to make valid comparison[s].

If you are serious about FreeStyle, you might consider the real WildFire, available used by Bell and now from Colden. It's increases stern rocker will play with your tracking until you get on top of forward strokes, but it turns tighter, an advantage in WW, and especially in FS's reverse maneuvers. Bells, look for Black Gold only, were hand laminated, Colden is infusing.