Valley Pintail?

Hi, I was wondering what people’s opinions are on the Pintail. I am a 5’4", 120 lb female looking for my first kayak. I am definitely a beginner – would this boat be completely inappropriate for me? I want something I can grow into, but will still be able to enjoy at the beginning.

Thanks, any info will be appreciated!

One of my favorite kayaks
I do not own one but have paddled one with a keyhole cockpit a number of times. Great rough water boat. Not really fast and it is a rather heavy boat. Depending on what you want to do, it is a great choice. Not a speedster, but a slug either.

Anas Acuta
the sister boat to the Pintail but with a 20" beam instead of 22". However, folks report that the pintail and Anas Acuta behaves the same. Then why not go narrower (and tad lighter) being a smaller paddler.

You may also want to try the PH vela. Vela has less rocker and is a better tracker than the Pintail/Anas Acuta. But latter are better play boats in conditions.


too much boat for a beginner –
i have a Pintail. it’s a wonderful boat, very playful, terrific in rough water, very responsive … a joy to paddle. but not in my opinion, in the hands of a beginner. i think you’ll have your hands full trying to get a Pintail to go straight unless you deploy the skeg (DO NOT GET THIS BOAT WITHOUT A SKEG) and that will minimize the boats most positive characteristics.

if you’re looking for a very nice boat which you won’t outgrow but which you’ll be able to paddle and learn with … try the NDK Romany.

The Pintail has a reputation as a great rough-water boat, but it’s not a great choice for flat water or touring. At your weight the P&H Vela might be a better fit. My 5’ 120-lb wife has a WS Tchaika Pro that she loves. The NDK Romany LV would be another boat that you wouldn’t outgrow. The Valley Avocet is more of an all-around boat than the Pintail but may be a bit big for you. The WS Tempest 165 might be worth a look. If you search the archive here for “small paddler” you’ll probably find a lot of discussion on the topic.

It shouldn’t be a problem starting in a “real” sea kayak if you’re reasonably coordinated, take a few lessons, and are willing to get wet. You’ll be interacting with the water at all angles instead of just sitting upright on top of it – if that sounds like fun, go for it!

for your size
the pintail could be alot of fun. I would try one and see what you thought.

If you are the type of person who sees yourself wanting to quickly develop skills, and really challenge yourself, having paddled the kayak, I do not think it is so tender that you will be swimming on your first try.

However if you are the type of person who wanted to get into paddling to relax and take it easy, go out a few times and not worry about waves, surf, bracing, rolling etc. Then maybe a different kayak appropriate to your aims of paddling.

Are you looking at a used one, or a new one. What type of paddling are you interested in?

This valley boat is favored by a lot of women paddlers I know for it’s lower volume, and good secondary stability, and its responsiveness. But there are plenty still with less volume and that are more responsive.

thanks…a few more things…
Thanks for the input…just to clarify a few things, I will be paddling on lakes (maybe great lakes and oceans when my skills improve). I’d like to do a few two or three day trips, but probably not week long expeditions, so I don’t need en especially high volume boat.

The other thing is that I am a graduate student and have limited funds. The Pintail I’m looking at is used and the price is right. I thought it would be nice to get a fiberglass boat if I could, but I don’t have $2000+ to spend. At the same time, I don’t want to spend $1000 on something I’m going to want to replace in a year. Any thoughts?

It’s a great boat, but…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-04 9:44 AM EST – depends on what you want.

My girlfriend (5'2", ~115#) and I (6', 175#) both own Pintails, as do a half dozen or so of our paddling friends. They are tremendous rough water boats, roll easily and are tough as nails, but they're slow on flat water and don't track at all without the skeg partially deployed. While I consider it to be the most stable boat I own, it certainly didn't feel that way the first time I paddled one. However, for someone your size, it should feel reasonably stable. Depending on your needs, it may work for you.

The ocean cockpit boats are preferred by most of the Pintail owners I know, particularly the older (pre-'96) boats with flat aft decks. The keyhole cockpit boats have a different hull design (squarer, fuller bilges, higher volume) and a higher cambered aft deck. The newer ocean cockpit boats share the same deck profile as the keyhole boats.

I also own an Anas Acuta. It's similar to the Pintail, but tracks slightly better and feels a bit faster, though the differences are small. I use the AA more these days, but the Pintail gets the nod for rough water, rock gardens and teaching.

If it’s in decent shape and you take care of it, you shouldn’t lose much if you decide to sell it.

It’s rare to see a glass boat sell for less than $1000.

On the other hand, it’s not the easiest boat to paddle straight, and it’s not fast. If you’re tripping with a group you might be working hard to keep up.

Atlantic Kayak Tours says:

“Take an Anas Acuta, round off the chines and add a bit of beam for stability and you have a Pintail. Fits a larger paddler than the Anas Acuta, but does not track as well as the Anas (which is also not known for tracking). Some people call it the Pin Wheel as it spins like a Pin Wheel. Put it in the hands of a good paddler and there may not be a more fun kayak to paddle.

The Pintail will help develop good paddling skills. The Pintail is a good day paddling, surfing, rock garden kayak, but large enough to camp from. Everyone should try paddling the Pintail. You will know where your paddling skills stand. Paddlers sometimes forget that kayaking should be fun, the Pintail will remind good paddlers how much fun kayaking is. The Pintail is a unique kayak in a field of copycat designs. It deserves more attention.”

VCP Says: The Pintail is based on the classical lines of the Igolorssuit Kayaks, but with rounded bilge hull sections to produce a good boat for lighter loads, lighter paddlers, and shorter trips. It is a rough weather boat with minimum windage. This is one of our most popular designs due to its maneuverability, low windage and ease of paddling. It appeals to many kayakers who want to do either easy cruising with a lightweight, quick and stable boat, or those kayakers who use ocean waves, surf, rock gardens and sea caves as their playgrounds. Available with two cockpit sizes: keyhole and ocean.

This thread might help:

It’s a tough call – The Pintail is a fine boat, but it’s hard to say if it’ll match your personality and mission. If it’s your first boat and you learn to paddle it well you’ll be ready to go play in anything, but it could be very frustrating if you just want a relaxed cruiser.

The Pintail should be plenty roomy…
…for what you have in mind. My girlfriend uses hers as her camping boat.

If the boat is in decent shape and structurally sound, $1000 is a good price. If you don’t like it, you should have no trouble getting your money back out of it, or even making a small profit. One of the best things about used glass boats is that their value seems to bottom out at ~$1000, unless they’re horribly abused. The resale market for them is excellent at that price.

What model year and cockpit configuration is it? The model year is the last two digits of the serial number.

BTW, the gelcoat on Pintails is quite thick, which allows you to polish up the deck to a near-new appearance, if that matters to you. Mine looked horrible (purple with spots so badly oxidized that they were white), but wet sanding and polishing brought the original color back. It’s now scratched up, but at least it’s not faded.

A scratched Pintail is a happy Pintail!

A favorite game in our club is…
…“Spin the Pintail”. The upturned stern is perfect for hooking with the bow of another boat and it’s nearly impossible to resist being spun. I’ve been the perpetrator and the victim of this game, many times. :wink:

If it is in decent shape
you won’t go wrong for $1000. If it does not suit you, you have a very desirable to trade. Give yourself time to get comfortable.

Ask yourself honestly …
What scares me? For example, if lack of initial stability makes you constantly think “I am going to tip over” then consider another boat. The Caribou S is worth a look. You don’t want to become a timid paddler and end up learning really slowly. If you are a bit of a daredevil and reasonably well coordinated then go for it. And definitely learn to roll it. You will have a lot more fun.

It’s a great choice!
Go for it! Very fun, and PLENTY of room for tripping. You’ll become a good paddler and will never outgrow the Pintail. One of the favorite boats of good sea paddlers. Don’t let people talk you down to a lesser, boring, choice. Forget “tracky” boats! Boring as hell, and once you figure out how to go straight in the Pintail (won’t take long) you’ll cruise along just fine. In the rough and wind, you’ll be out in front probably.

If you buy it,…
And it’s a little more kayak than you’re ready for,…I’ll trade you for my older glass VCP, which has a 23" beam and is a real good beginner yak you can grow with…Straight up. Ok,…I’ll even throw in a Greenland paddle.

Can you rent or borrow one first?
At your weight, tippiness is not likely to be a problem. I rented a Pintail and, at 110 lbs and 5’2", never felt that it was tippy.

HOWEVER, the boat I rented had had the skeg removed because of damage in the area (it was still paddle-able). When I first took it out, there was no wind and I got used to the boat’s so-so tracking after a few minutes. Later on when the wind picked up, I did not enjoy paddling it. Bad weathercocking. Heed the person who said DO NOT BUY THIS BOAT WITHOUT A SKEG.

It did turn very quickly with only a little bit of body English. I personally would not buy a Pintail but the price you stated is good. You could buy it, take some lessons, practice, and then if you don’t like it sell it to someone else.

Besides fit, purpose!
The Pintail is a fun boat if you are planning short paddles (less than 10-15 miles), expect lots of turns (exploring coastal nooks and crannies) rather than long straight distance paddles, like to “work” the boat (e.g. enjoy learning bow rudder turns etc.), are into speed, and don’t plan on more than a few days camping. I use mine mostly for day paddles where I’m poking around and for teaching,where the maneuverability is very helpful, and love it. For expedition camping and long paddles or when speed matters, I take my Quest. If the Pintail feels good when you paddle it, you’ll find that you can grow into it skillwise and that doing so will make you a better paddler even though the Pintail is a bit of a specialist craft. If you want an all around boat, however, as Dan (liv2pdl) said you’d probably be better off with a NDK Romany (not the Explorer).