PaddleWise Topics

PaddleWise Stories

PaddleWise Photo Album
Who's Who on PaddleWise

PaddleWise Links

PaddleWise Home

PaddleWise Discussion on Kayak Reviews


The following discussion occurred on the PaddleWise mailing list. All original comments are presented in their entirety. Some quoting of previous posts copied into subsequent replies are excluded from those replies to improve readability and reduce redundancy. Full archives may be retrieved by PaddleWise members from the PaddleWise digest by sending a message to PaddleWise-digest-request@paddlewise.net with the word "index" included in the body of the message. These posts may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission.




From: "Matt Broze"
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Another batch of new kayaker
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 21:06:11 -0700

John wrote:

> I also recommend the following site:
> http://paddling.net/Reviews/Kayaks.phtml  for reviews on particular models.
> Again, I suggest that you read them with a grain of salt as many of models
> are being reviewed by those that own them and are generally favorable.

I'd like to make that a verrrry large grain of salt. I looked up some of the
worst kayaks I could find on the list and most were given 9 or 10's by the
reviewers. I suspect that some of these reviewers are shills for the
manufacturers (they tend to read like ad copy) or are from very naive new
paddlers wanting to feel good about their choices. A few would even say what
was seriously wrong with the kayak in their text and still give it a 9. When
a reviewer did rate a boat poorly (5 to 7 in most cases was about as low as
they would go) the comments were usually right on about the negatives of the
kayak. Some kayaks with serious problems had nothing but 10's though. Buyer
beware!
This source of information pales in comparison to the reviews in Sea Kayaker
Magazine done by experienced kayakers.

Matt Broze
http://www.marinerkayaks.com


Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 08:41:47 From: Wes Boyd Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Another batch of new kayaker At 09:06 PM 8/11/00 -0700, Matt Broze wrote: > This source of information pales in comparison to the reviews in Sea Kayaker > Magazine done by experienced kayakers. You know, I've never seen a truly bad review in Sea Kayaker, either. Oh, they manage to find something to be picky about on every boat so that they can look critical, but I've never seen a "This boat blows -- don't buy it" review. Can't upset the advertisers too much, I guess. -- Wes
From: "Sailboat Restorations, Inc." Subject: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews [was Another batch of new kayaker Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 10:03:28 -0400 Matt Broze wrote: > This source of information pales in comparison to the reviews in Sea > Kayaker Magazine done by experienced kayakers. and Wes Boyd wrote: > You know, I've never seen a truly bad review in Sea Kayaker, either. Oh, > they manage to find something to be picky about on every boat so that they > can look critical, but I've never seen a "This boat blows -- don't buy it" > review. Can't upset the advertisers too much, I guess. I feel compelled to come to the defense of SK here, just a little bit. I think you just have to read between the lines in the SK reviews. They don't gratuitously bash boats, it's true -- perhaps they don't bother to review many of the really bad boats, and the lack of an SK review on file may in itself say something. But they do provide lots of good technical data on the boats they review. And the use of several paddlers helps a lot, particularly given that these paddlers have usually paddled many, many boats, *and* usually seem to have little to gain or lose by their comments on any given boat. I also think the designer's comments are very interesting. (For example, I seem to recall that the designer of the WS Sealution commented that this was "an early design in my career" -- hmmmm.) SK seems to try hard to be fair, and I see no fault in that. Every boat is different, and like my Momma used to say, "There's a lid for every pot." I do think that if you just picked up one SK and read one review of a boat you were considering, you might not quite "get it." I think it takes reading many reviews, over time, to come to understand how SK is doing this. The reviews they publish seem to be to be about as good as any reviews can get. Then again, they are, after all, a commercial enterprise, with (as Wes notes) advertisers. . . That has to have an effect. But I haven't seen any better alternatives out there. Mark
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:58:11 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: [Paddlewise] Boat Reviews, Was Re: Another batch of new kayaker Matt Broze wrote: > kayak. Some kayaks with serious problems had nothing but 10's though. Buyer > beware! > This source of information pales in comparison to the reviews in Sea Kayaker > Magazine done by experienced kayakers. I personally don't care for the boat reviews in Sea Kayaker. They tend to be too wishy-washy. I can do a pretty good parody of any of the reviews even before I read them. They start with charts and tables that don't really help much in knowing what a boat feels like in reality. This is then followed by a short box in which the boat manufacturer is given space to hype why his/her boat is so wonderful for such and such a paddler, which generally is either everybody or what we all want to be. Then A.J. and T.K. and other initials for the panel of expert paddlers comment in sound bites on various aspects and tend to wash out each other's findings. Then there is a final box in which the manufacturer has an opportunity to thank Sea Kayaker and the panel for being so fair and then saying all the problems that may have been found are, or are in the process of being, corrected. About the only thing I find useful is that Sea Kayaker weighs the boats with results that make you wonder if the manufacturer weighed the model on the moon. Reviews by committee are like blindfolded observers describing an elephant from the parts they are touching. I would prefer that Sea Kayaker have some good single reviewer of a known quantity and quality check each boat out with a fuller more thoughtful review rather than the sound bites of A.J., T.K. and other anonymous reviewers. For example, you, dear Matt. What a dynamite review you would give to a boat. Even though you make boats, I think that you would be as unbias as possible in reviewing a competitor's boat. Sure you have your likes and dislikes, but those would be stated upfront. A reader would have a real solid basis to make their own judgment based on what you said and your known values/slants. Maybe if we had Matt and John Winters doing the review together we would have some sparks fly, but in the pen stroked thoughts/reasoning that generated the sparks, we would have real meat to chew on in the resulting reviews. BTW, I had felt all along that the reviews by the anonymous reviewers were suspect but felt my suspicion was confirmed when I saw the one for the Khatsalano. It started with their all saying that it wasn't difficult to assemble. Excuse me!! It is a fine boat in many respects but ease of assembly isn't one of them. My thought was that they had the boat delivered to them assembled and were too embarrassed to admit this. To me, the Sea Kayaker boat reviews are a cop out, pablum and homogenized info in order not to upset advertisers. The format with the opening statement by the manufacturer and a closing statement to exonerate his/her model most likely resulted to please advertisers. It is the same reason why Sea Kayaker goes back and forth in its policy regarding whether or not a boat and equipment used in an expedition or adventure trip should be identified. At one point they would not mention it at all. For example, when Howard Rice took his trip in a single Klepper around Cape Horn, they relented under pressure from somewhere and said it was "a German folding kayak." Then for awhile they started letting on about the equipment used on a trip such as it was taken in a Current Designs such-and-such model, using a such-and-such length and model Werner paddle. Now they seem back to no-name. The no-name approach is just dandy for a general magazine such as Outside or Travel where most readers wouldn't know what the boat and gear were anyway. But in a mag devoted to a narrow subject like Sea Kayaker, leaving out the boat and gear leaves a good part of the story out for a more discerning readership. Sorry for equivocating so much in my comments. And, yeah, I am trawling on a rainy day when I should be doing something else :-) ralph diaz
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 11:40:42 -0400 From: Michael R Noyes Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Boat Reviews, Was Re: Another batch of new ralph diaz wrote: > I personally don't care for the boat reviews in Sea Kayaker. They tend > to be too wishy-washy. Many other comments snipped for brevity... Personally I an rather thankful for the Sea Kayaker reviews, and the fact that at least one of the manufacturers listens. It was the Sea Kayaker review that made me take notice of the Viviane that I ended up buying. I found some of the numbers very interesting. For instance; The Viviane is only three inches longer than the Current Designs Extreme, which I was considering at the time. Yet the waterline length of the Viviane is almost one FOOT longer! The Viviane is also a bit higher in volume, something I wanted for my trips. One of the pans that the Viviane received was that the deck rigging was too sparse, more bungs were needed. Especially in the front. Looking at the Demo boat at my favorite paddling shop I agreed. I figured no problem, I can add them myself. When Bill Zeller (he and his wife own The Country Canoeist) and I unwrapped my new Viviane I was pleased to see that Kajak Sport had already corrected the problem. They evidently took the review seriously. I have to wonder if the company that makes the reviewed boat doesn't get ALL of the comments made, not just what is published. I would think that they would want to hear all of it so that they can improve where they need to. I know that changing something major like the amount of built in skeg would be a problem, changing the mold isn't easy. But you can take the comments into consideration when you design the next boat. After all, even the Nordkapp had room for improvement! :-) Mike -- Paddling along through fog so thick that only one's thoughts are visible, your reverie is abruptly shattered by the ancient cry of a great blue heron as she lifts uncertainly from the brilliant blue of a mussel-shell beach witnessed only by the brooding, wet spruce....your passage home seems as much back through time as it does through space. Mark H Hunt
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 10:31:15 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews [was Another batch of new Sailboat Restorations, Inc. wrote: The > reviews they publish seem to be to be about as good as any reviews can get. > Then again, they are, after all, a commercial enterprise, with (as Wes > notes) advertisers. . . That has to have an effect. But I haven't seen any > better alternatives out there. Not so on two counts: 1) Sea Kayaker is a great magazine with lots of clout and a fine and well-deservedd reputation among readers. It is one of the most intensely worthy sources of information on sea kayaking around. While it is a commercial operation and in need of advertisers, advertisers are also IN NEED OF Sea Kayaker. Manufacturers would be suicidal in withdrawing ads from the publication that is THE central source of information on seakayaking and that does this so well. Sea Kayaker is THAT good; it doesn't have to kneel to the advertisers. If I were editor of a publication that was so good and important and an advertiser threatened to withdraw over some editorial content of importance to readers, I would first try to reason with the advertiser making clear the value to the common good of that editorial content; but also I would not bend to any degree that would compromise that content. Lest you think I am talking through my hat, I worked for a company for 20 years in the information/consulting/analysis business in which we on several occasions stuck to our guns regarding articles that may have stepped on some toes but were for the good of ALL of the clients and readers. 2. The non-committee approach to reviewing that I mentioned in the posting under Boat Reviews is a viable alternative that should be tried. And the advertisers should not be given their intro to hype the model and the closing word to exonerate it. It is this aspect that reeks of advertiser influence. ralph diaz
From: "SRI" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews [was Another batch of new kayaker questions/comments] Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 12:31:56 -0000 Ralph (and all), I got a kick out of the fact that you and I posted, at apparently about the same time, almost diametrically opposed views on the subject, each of us also renaming the subject header. Great minds don't think alike, it seems. I'd just like to further respond, briefly (for me), to your comment on my post. I said: >> The reviews they [SK] publish seem to be to be about as good as any >> reviews can get. Then again, they are, after all, a commercial >> enterprise, with (as Wes notes) advertisers. . . That has to have an effect. >> But I haven't seen any better alternatives out there. And you said: > Not so on two counts: > > 1) Sea Kayaker is a great magazine with lots of clout . . . [snip] > Manufacturers would be suicidal in withdrawing ads from the publication > that is THE central source of information on seakayaking and that does >this so well. [snip] I'm sure there's a lot of truth to that. But I didn't suggest that SK openly panders to mftrs in order to keep advertising. Certainly, in my view, that would be a simplistic understanding of the way *any* publication functions within its industry. I suspect the publicity that might follow a withdrawal of ads would be worse for the mftr than any bad review could be. . . . What I meant was simply that any business must rely on some source for its income. SK presumably relies on two sources -- advertisers and subscribers. In most business, it is important to maintain friendly relations with your income sources (and others in the industry). Thus, the editors and publishers of SK no doubt desire to maintain a good relationship with the mftrs of kayaks. Plain and simple. It would be difficult to maintain such a good relationship if SK decided to devote part of its energies (and space) to really bashing any given kayak model(s). So I suspect as they determine their content they keep this in mind. Frankly, I think that's probably a good thing. Perhaps keeps them from being unfair (not that they would, but . . . whatever). That's all I meant, and certainly I didn't say more than that -- all I said was that SK is a commercial enterprise, with advertisers, and that has to have some effect on its content. True or not? In response to my point that I haven't seen anything better out there, you commented: > 2. The non-committee approach to reviewing that I mentioned in the > posting under Boat Reviews is a viable alternative that should be > tried. And the advertisers should not be given their intro to hype the > model and the closing word to exonerate it. It is this aspect that > reeks of advertiser influence. I liked your suggestion -- particularly, I liked the idea of having people like Matt Broze and John Winters reviewing boats. Great idea! However, as I said, and at least as far as I know, that's not "out there" at the moment. It's just an idea (albeit a good one). BTW, I really can't agree with your objection to having the designer comment on the review. (And isn't it usually the designer, not the manufacturer -- or as you say, the advertiser? I do think there is a substantial difference (although admittedly in some cases they might in effect be the same).) What can that hurt? I think interaction between the industry and the publication is good for us -- the consumers. And I always find it interesting to read those comments. I think most of us can tell if the comments are genuine. . . . So. Just my further thoughts. . . Mark
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:57:19 -0700 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews SRI wrote: > Ralph (and all), > > I got a kick out of the fact that you and I posted, at apparently about the > same time, almost diametrically opposed views on the subject, each of us > also renaming the subject header. Great minds don't think alike, it seems. Good dialog, you two. Sign me up for Ralph's suggestion that some hard-bitten old salt get the duty to review kayaks. And wait for the cold day in hell preceding that assignment by the editor(s) of SK. I find the reviews too namby-pamby, although Ralph is correct that if you know how to read between the lines, they are useful. I disagree somewhat with Ralph re: numbers and graphs. The stability curves are useful if you stack one boat's against another's. Ralph, are you graph-challenged? OTOH, many of the other numbers are pretty useless. LOA and length of the water line at various loads are good to have, as a comparison. I also take issue with the notion that "there's nothing better out there ..." This forum (Paddlewise) is much more useful, albeit sometimes it is tough to judge the validity of comments made. I know Kevin Whilden has revealed to us before that he is one of the "anonymous" reviewers -- maybe he has some insight into how the review process works. Kevin? P.S. Kevin, I had imagined you trimmer than you looked in those wet suit/dry suit photos a couple issues ago-- welcome to the larger than normal crowd (that's 230 lb Dave speaking, here!). -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 13:17:06 From: Wes Boyd Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews At 09:57 AM 8/12/00 -0700, Dave Kruger wrote: > I find the reviews too namby-pamby, although Ralph is correct that if you > know how to read between the lines, they are useful. It seems to me that Sea Kayaker could do much for the sport and to improve the breed by putting up some truly critical reviews. It works in other fields, say, like plays and movies. Just the mere knowledge that a truly bad boat could get panned might lead to improvements, and removal of the truly bad boat from the market. > I also take issue with the notion that "there's nothing better out there ..." > > This forum (Paddlewise) is much more useful, albeit sometimes it is tough to > judge the validity of comments made. Very true. In fact, I've gotten to the point where I don't read Sea Kayaker that much, unless I find someone else's copy laying around and there's nothing better to do. I all too often detect an elitist attitude in the magazine that I find offensive. -- Wes
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:59:41 -0700 From: "Fred T, CA Kayaker" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews or Manufacturers As a relative beginner to sea kayaking (four years) compared to many on this list I have to agree with Ralph. I have been paddling a SeaYak since starting out - the price was right - I traded a five year old touring bike for a brand new boat from a kayak shop owner when I knew nothing about kayaks, paddles or ???. While I am considering which boat to "INVEST" in and I do consider US 2,500 plus to be an investment I find it difficult to obtain information and/or reviews that are objective and will allow me to make side by side comparisons to the boats I have had a chance to paddle and those that I haven't, but might consider. For such an excellent supply of kayak manufacturers, I am sure that many will agree that the particular availability of specific boats and/or manufacturers varies wildly by geographic region. Try finding a VCP Aquila or NDK Explorer or Mariner in S. California. One has no problem finding Necky or Current Design dealers. Though Feathercraft has dealers here the models they stock are limited. A plus in this area is Feathercraft referring me to a dealer who will rent a boat for three days. They were extremely helpful - Feathercraft and their dealer! Even stated design specifications such as: Length, Width, Weight, Volume are questionable when you realize that two boats that are similar in size, volumes and weights will not paddle anywhere close to the same and will not hold the same amount of gear due to skeg boxes, bulkhead placement, etc. Contacting some of the manufacturers is of little help. Asking a couple of manufacturer's customer service/sales person for volume I have been answered with: "We don't know." to "Low, Medium and High". If something that can be measured with total objectivity is answered in such a vague manner, how is one to consider their comments on performance characteristics. I was very surprised at one of the better known B.C. located manufacturers stating that they don't calculate volumes because the owner thinks that it causes to much trouble and didn't like the way Sea Kayaker Magazine handled the reviews and stated their volumes. I asked how one was to make honest comparisons between their own models let alone other manufacturers. Their answer was basically: That is all we provide and you can always go buy another manufacturers boat that gives you that information." Great, how will they handle customer service after the fact. Their answer: "We take back boats all the time and replace them with new ones for reasons we don't have to." Now that is reassuring on the subjectivity of Warranty Issues. Why are they taking back so many boats - all the time? See where subjectivity can lead. If we were to dissect the Sea Kayak Reviews into outline form, which Ralph has already mentally done, and then have some of the extremely knowledgeable people on this list such as Matt Broze and Ralph Diaz expand on the outline in total and break some of the major areas into greater detail we could develop our own database of boat reviews submitted by the owner. Thus giving us information on boats from all over the world. Leaving a paragraph for subjective comments by the boat owner/reviewer. After all, none of us has ever purchased a boat that wasn't the best kayak made, have we? Upon submittal to the list, a round of questions could be posed to clarify any issues and make modifications to the review prior to putting it in the data base. A non-committee review with a list critique. I concur with Ralph on his comments on Mr. Broze. When I contacted Mariner after receiving their information the main point emphasized was: You need to paddle the boat before you make a decision! Reviews and stats not withstanding! I believe that Mr. Broze and Mariner are some of the most forthright, straight shooting and honest folks I have run across when asking questions about their product. Thanks Mariner! I hope to get to Seattle in the near future.
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 10:46:19 -0700 From: Kevin Whilden Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Boat Reviews, Was Re: Another batch of new kayaker questions/comments At 09:58 AM 8/12/00 -0700, ralph diaz wrote: > Reviews by committee are like blindfolded observers describing an > elephant from the parts they are touching. I would prefer that Sea > Kayaker have some good single reviewer of a known quantity and quality > check each boat out with a fuller more thoughtful review rather than the > sound bites of A.J., T.K. and other anonymous reviewers. Ralph, it sounds like you think the anonymous reviewers are a bunch of schmoes who don't know bow from stern. What basis do you have for thinking this? Have you have ever met or paddled with one of the reviewers? Let me assure you that all of the reviewers I know are very skilled and highly experienced paddlers, who are capable of discerning the really important aspects of kayak quality. Some of the reviewers also write longer articles for Sea Kayaker and are dedicated kayaking instructors in local clubs or professional schools. I would consider them the equivalent of any "known" expert, but without a potential conflict of interest due to designing boats of their own or industry sponsorships. You are way off base if you think that these reviews are of "poor quality". As far as the sound bite criticism goes, I think the reviews are already long. How many pages do you want dedicated to each kayak? Sounds awfully boring to me. Far better to get three opinions on weathercocking, stability, handling, etc... than to get one potentially dogmatic opinion. Also, boats handle differently for different body types and sizes, so the review by committee is the only way to address that issue. I think the reviews in Sea Kayaker are far and away the best review of any equipment in any outdoors magazine, and provide a real basis for non-experts to critically judge kayaks. They perhaps even teach beginners some essential aspects of boat control, with references to weather cocking, secondary stability, etc... --KW Kevin Whilden Your Planet Earth http://www.yourplanetearth.org
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 14:55:52 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Boat Reviews, Was Re: Another batch of new I never said they were all schmoes nor do I think it. My objection is to the sound bite approach which comes with the committee approach to review. I rather have any of the more knowledgeable ones be fully identified as being so and so of such and such experience and such and such type paddling. Then that person, you--whoever, write a full thoughtful review. It would not take anymore space. And if it did, so what. Paddlers hunger for good information and length is welcomed not detested if it is good. If there is a desire to get as many different views as possible, then filter them through an editor who also does some overall descriptions. Look how Backpacker handles its gear reviews. A good deal of summation and overall and summary analysis centers the review. Then individuals are quoted basically because of torso/body size differences (reviewing packs, tents), foot size (shoes); perspiration propensity (breatheable rain gear). ralph
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 14:54:40 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews [was Another batch of new kayaker questions/comments] SRI wrote: > subscribers. In most business, it is important to maintain friendly > relations with your income sources (and others in the industry). Thus, the > editors and publishers of SK no doubt desire to maintain a good relationship > with the mftrs of kayaks. Plain and simple. It would be difficult to > maintain such a good relationship if SK decided to devote part of its > energies (and space) to really bashing any given kayak model(s). Mark, Your comments, as always are good and thought-provocking. One always has to maintain good relations with the industry. I find myself in this position with the folding kayak industry. I am friendly with all of the chief people and have broken bread with them and had them over to my home. Good relationships are important but in coverage of the industry's products, a publication has a greater responsibility to the reader than to the advertiser or industry. A case in point. I recently reviewed the Klepper Alulite in my newsletter. Since it had gotten such hype in so many magazines with photos and commentary right out of the press releases, I decided to give it a real thorough review. In some ways I held it to a higher standard because it was Klepper, a standard bearer of the trade. Also I decided to give it a full page sidebar comparison with the Feathercraft K-Light which is what the Alulite is squarely aimed at rather than into some little niche market. The review was tough. I went over my text several times to tone it down in order not to sound like I was bashing it. And, as is normal in my reviews, where I found a deficiency I often would indicate a remedy that the buyer could easily do. A committee of anonymous reviewers a la Sea Kayaker's approach could simply not do that. Only a dedicated, knowledgeable person in the field can with any credibility and credence. I got a call from the Klepper distributor. I was expecting that he would ream me but instead he asked for 35 copies of that issue in order to distribute at a trade show! A fair, honest review from a recognized expert (I am, for better or for worse) is worth a lot, more than pr stuff. I think that someone like Matt reviewing a hardshell would take basically the same tact that I do, i.e. not be belligerently bashing but rather act as the friend of the reader to explore high points and low points of a boat and where possible, with the latter, suggest small fixes that may work to improve those. Malicious reviews of a boat or a book or anything have no place in a responsible publication. One or two responsible, known knowledgeable experts will not be malicious but rather thoughtful in their approach to a review and readers would be the better for it. Again, I want to underline that I think that Sea Kayaker is a fine magazine. Like with Klepper, I am just holding it to a higher standard because it is so good. ralph diaz
From: "Matt Broze" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 19:22:35 -0700 I like Sea Kayaker's basic review format and can't think of a whole lot better way to do it to be fair to everyone involved than getting a variety of opinions from a variety of experienced paddlers. I totally agree with those who said you can't know a kayak unless you paddle it yourself. Even after you paddle it you really can't know a kayak really well until you have used it empty and loaded with gear in a wide variety of conditions. If we could limit the reviewers to experts who have owned the kayak for several years, paddle it a lot, but own several others too and are willing to tell us all their niggling little frustrations with it (because they don't have their ego invested in their recent purchase) that would be even better. Unfortunately that would also be somewhere between impractical and impossible. I have encouraged SK to use reviews by owners if possible but also to make sure to tell the reader that that reviewer is also an owner. Long term owners can be much more critical of the kayak than a short term tester. New owners are still "blinded by the shine" (and maybe how much better they like it than the kayak it replaced). If owner hasn't tested a lot of other kayaks they also don't have much basis for comparison. As for a kayak test Czar (even if it was me and had paddled over 500 different sea kayaks) I think at best that still only gives one kayaker's opinion. A kayaker who is of only one size and has their own built in biases of what they like and want a kayak to be able to do. Thanks for all the kind words from those who would make me or trust me to be Czar, but I think that would be a mistake. The manufactures aim their designs at a target audience, why should they be criticized because I'm not a member of that targeted group and can't relate well to them. I think it is important to have the manufacturer say up front what their kayak model is all about and think giving them a chance to respond to the review is both fair and gives Sea Kayaker more leeway (with their advertisers) to be critical. In the case of some plastic kayaks you can't know how it handles unless you paddle the actual one you will buy. This is due to the large variability that can exist even in the same model out of the same mold. Of course because of this variability the actual kayak a reviewer reviewed may be different than the one you buy (or the other reviewers tried in another part of the country). I have seen huge differences in turning times on retesting the same model (times I record when I test a kayak design). So much so in one case that I called the designer and asked if he had changed the original design from what I had tested years before to a much more rockered one. His frustrated response: "No, ....they're ALL different.!" I too can read between the lines in the kayak reviews. Some criticisms are niggling little complaints and some are, in my mind, fatal flaws. My biggest criticism of the Sea Kayaker reviews is that the reader is usually left to figure out which is which. Expert SK review reader's can do that for themselves (and may well disagree on what is important to them and what isn't) but this doesn't help the new paddler when the "fatal flaw" gets one sentence and is immediately followed by two or three sentences of favorable comment on some relatively insignificant aspect. I'm not sure how to correct this though because my "fatal flaws" might not bother you at all and visa-versa. Matt Broze http://www.marinerkayaks.com
From: "John Winters" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 08:13:05 -0400 Some years back I complained to Sea Kayaker about their reviews and told them (as well as the builders of my kayak designs) that I had no interest in the magazine ever testing my boats. I still feel that way even though they use a formula for resistance that I developed. I have the following problems with their tests: 1. I design a boat to suit a market the builder perceives. I know of few kayakers (actually none, including myself) with enough understanding of the marketplace, kayaks and design to comment appropriately on someone else's design. Any review with a subjective component has diminished value at best and no value at worst. Unfortunately one can't tell which. 2. Each of my kayaks gets designed for a specific weight range. Sea Kayaker blindly ignores this in their reviews. I can think of nothing less useful than to test a boat at a displacement 20% to 30% and more above or below its designed displacement. Why don't we test sports cars to see how much gravel they can carry or dump trucks for their acceleration from 0 - 60? 3. Sea Kayaker uses no standardized tests for handling. I sent them a series of standardized tests to use and they told me they did not have time to use them in their testing. So much for objectivity. 4. Sea Kayaker has no standard tests for watertight integrity of hatches or function of any of the gear. What you get - opinions and observations based upon minimal experience - really don't amount to much. 5. Opinions, as I believe an American politician once said, "Aren't worth a pot of warm spit." They have even less value if you don't know anything about the person providing the opinion. Consider wine experts. They often disagree about the same wine because personal tastes differ but that causes no problems for consumers who can taste a wine and compare their personal opinion with that of the expert. Then they can say, "Well, Robert Parker and I see eye to eye on red cabernets but his opinion on Pinot Grigio and mine just don't match. So, I will heed his advice on one but not the other." Can't do that with the Sea Kayaker reviews. We don't know the people doing the testing nor do we know how their skill. prejudice, and experience adds or detracts from their reviews. 6. Even the most objective experts have prejudices that do not allow them to see the value of boats that do not fit their "idea" of a "good" boat. 7. Magazines like Sea Kayaker depend upon advertising to survive. This vested interest diminishes their value as objective critics of products built by advertisers. I know, they may claim they don't pull any punches. BS. OK, perhaps I have an advanced case of cynicism, but I just don't see any halos over Seattle. 8. Just about any builder can twist the review to make it sound like his/her boat was designed by saints anointed by God to bring tears of joy to the paddling community. More BS. 9. The reviews lack consistency. Some times a comment (favourable or unfavourable) gets made and then, later the reverse or a significantly different opinion gets mentioned. (I regret that I can no longer remember the specific details of this as it happened some time back so don't come asking me for details. I don't keep ongoing records of such stuff). ETC. ETC. ETC. Having said all that, we should never allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. What we get from Sea Kayaker remains the best available (to my knowledge). Someday, in a better world ............... Cheers, John Winters Redwing Designs Web site address http://home.ican.net/~735769
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 08:51:28 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Matt Broze wrote: > I like Sea Kayaker's basic review format and can't think of a whole lot > better way to do it to be fair to everyone involved than getting a variety > of opinions from a variety of experienced paddlers. My beef with the reviewers part of the writeup is not in the reviewers themselves but rather in their being anonymous and the snippet/soundbite format. Kevin felt I had insulted the expert paddlers testing the boats and asked if I have met any of the reviewers. Without appearing to be mocking, my answer would be "How would I know if I met one? They are not identified!" Kevin also said that they are often instructors and tour guides and some also write for Sea Kayaker. Wouldn't the reviews be better understood if we knew who they were, especially the paddlers who have written articles for Sea Kayaker. If say, one of the testers is Nigel Foster or Chris Cunningham, I would like to know that. Why the secrecy, or am I missing something? On to the snippet format. It lacks cohesiveness. It is certainly alright to have the snippets for discussing whether there is legroom and you have a 5 ft. 2 in. person commenting and a 6 ft 4 in. person adding her two cents. Those are add-ons of important comparative information to a reader. But a review is always better off if a review is filtered through one known source who is upfront about his likes and dislikes and experiences and does an honest job of looking at all key aspects of a review in a more narrative format. Sound bites, as we sadly know from the political arena, don't always get right the totality of what was said. > would be a mistake. The manufactures aim their designs at a target audience, > why should they be criticized because I'm not a member of that targeted > group and can't relate well to them. To your knowledge, Matt or Kevin, does Sea Kayaker make an attempt to line up reviewers who are of a paddling type that is that audience? For example if it is a wide beamed boat, does Sea Kayaker weed out those potential reviewers who really are only happy in a sleek tippy boat that rolls easily and would skew the review inadvertently adversely? I am just asking not accusing. > In the case of some plastic kayaks you can't know how it handles unless you > paddle the actual one you will buy. This is due to the large variability > that can exist even in the same model out of the same mold. Of course > because of this variability the actual kayak a reviewer reviewed may be > different than the one you buy (or the other reviewers tried in another part > of the country). I have seen huge differences in turning times on retesting > the same model (times I record when I test a kayak design). So much so in > one case that I called the designer and asked if he had changed the original > design from what I had tested years before to a much more rockered one. His > frustrated response: "No, ....they're ALL different.!" If this is so, and I trust Matt on this, then, boy, a big point should be made of this. Moreover, Sea Kayaker should refuse to review plastic boats because, by what Matt says, the reviews are basically useless if the variation can be so wide in the actual boat you buy. Or am I missing something here? > I too can read between the lines in the kayak reviews. Some criticisms are > niggling little complaints and some are, in my mind, fatal flaws. My biggest > criticism of the Sea Kayaker reviews is that the reader is usually left to > figure out which is which. Expert SK review reader's can do that for > themselves Why should a person be an expert reader to figure out the reviews? If so, shouldn't that be stated as a warning to the person who is a newcomer or not so well versed in reading between the lines? What about when the review is copied by the manufacturer and distributed as a source of information? The person reading the handout would be at a lost to detect the nuances. Lastly, Matt said "As for a kayak test Czar (even if it was me and had paddled over 500 different sea kayaks) I think at best that still only gives one kayaker's opinion." That is a nice egalitarian thought but, with all due respect, Matt, some kayakers' opinions count more than others because of their wide experience, knowledge of design, comparative hands-on contact with many models, and a realistic expectation of what kayaks can or should do. Which gets us back to how this all started. Matt had said that the reviews on the web page that was cited should be taken with a grain of salt. Fundamentally because we don't know who the reviewers are, their experience and, if they are owners of the model, their possibly wanting to justify to themselves their purchase. And then added that the reviews in Sea Kayaker are better or more trustworthy or something, I forget the exact term used. ralph diaz
From: "Colin Calder" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 15:53:06 +0100 I tend to agree with Ralph, the boat reviews in sea kayaker are namby pamby, criticise only minor points and often flag up silly details that are easily modified if desired or largely irrelevant. All of them are positive, and in certain circumstances the comments by the reviewers are utter rubbish, and likely to mislead. Take for example the review of the P&H poly Capella, a boat I've owned for four years and am very familiar with. the reviewers thought: 'The excellent cockpit and knee braces made control easy' I think: the cockpit is way too big, and the knee braces suck. Fair enough - personal preference and maybe the knee braces are better than some other so called sea kayaks, but there is no way that a manufacturer would get away with thigh braces like the poly capella's in a white water boat. Not easy to modify them either (although I assure you it can be done :-). As I read the review I'm thinking these reviewers are not familiar with either well designed sea kayak thigh braces, or white water boats which set the standard. Further on the reviewers thought: 'The foredeck sheds water well and doesn't throw spray' I say, rubbish! I'm now wondering what sort of conditions the reviewers were actually paddling in, because this boat is wet, the square front hatch cover in particular throwing a lot of spray, directly in your face usually. I was particularly surprised by the reviewers comments about the deck rigging: 'VS and CC noted that the shock cords behind the cockpit cross under a deck fitting on the centreline. The deck fitting gets in the way of slipping a paddle bade under the shock cord for a paddle float rescue. They recommend loosening the recessed deck fitting and releasing the bungies from it.' I say VS and CC (whoever their anonymous selves may be) should have realised that the rear shock cords were designed to carry spare paddles (which they do superbly I might add). Their 'recommendation' effectively prevents the cappela carrying spare paddles securely on the rear deck. Maybe the reviewers didn't realise that in the UK (where the boat is manufactured) the wisdom of carrying spare paddles is widely appreciated, and belief in the paddlefloat rescue minimal, but whatever their recomendation was ridiculous. Sea kayaker mag exists to sell copy and advertising. My advice - don't even think of buying a boat until you have paddled it and as many similar boats as possible, ideally in a variety of conditions, loaded, empty etc etc. Cheers Colin 5719'N 210'W
From: "Peter Treby" Subject: RE: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 11:43:58 +1000 "3. Sea Kayaker uses no standardized tests for handling. I sent them a series of standardized tests to use and they told me they did not have time to use them in their testing. So much for objectivity." Time? If there is time to paddle test boats over several days, surely there is time to run a few standard tests. Are these standardised tests available for posting on Paddlewise? Could be very useful when considering a boat purchase. "4. Sea Kayaker has no standard tests for watertight integrity of hatches or function of any of the gear. What you get - opinions and observations based upon minimal experience - really don't amount to much." It doesn't take much time to fill each compartment with water and report the results. Sending a boat to Rev. Bob in Alaska for really thorough testing, on the other hand, might be a problem. Regards, Peter Treby 37* 42' S 145* 08' E
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 13:39:30 +0000 Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews From: Rex Roberton on 8/13/00 2:53 PM, Colin Calder at c.j.calder@.. wrote: > I tend to agree with Ralph, the boat reviews in sea kayaker are namby pamby, > criticise only minor points and often flag up silly details that are easily > modified if desired or largely irrelevant. All of them are positive, and in > certain circumstances the comments by the reviewers are utter rubbish, and > likely to mislead. Take for example the review of the P&H poly Capella, a > boat I've owned for four years and am very familiar with. the reviewers > thought: > > 'The excellent cockpit and knee braces made control easy' > > I think: the cockpit is way too big, and the knee braces suck. snip I'd just like to make one point about personal preferences (often related to body size and build, paddling style, and experience level just to mention a few). The following, I believe, would be an example of what Matt Broze was getting at when the made the statement about "fatal flaws" _ (quoting Matt now, after a big snip, this was his concluding sentence) "I'm not sure how to correct this though because my "fatal flaws" might not bother you at all and visa-versa". Colin, for you, the knee braces in the poly Capella suck but for me they worked fine. I paddled a poly Capella for one year and it fit me good without any custom modifications. I could consistently hand roll this boat and never had any comfort problems. I always custom outfit my kayaks, whitewater and sea kayaks and I've helped numerous others outfit their kayaks (For five years I've been teaching classes and workshops for local clubs and at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium.) When I got the Capella I planned on custom outfitting it as soon as I had some free time but since I never had any issues (comfort or performance) I ended up just leaving it. I have to agree with you that the cockpit size did not need to be so large. For me the "fatal flaw" with the poly Capella was the weight. Way to heavy, but to be expected with a plastic kayak. I built a 32 pound skin boat 2 1/2 years ago, sold the Capella and never looked back. On the subject of the "Design Statement" in the Sea Kayaker magazine reviews I have to admit I sometimes just read them for the amusement factor. For example take the April 2000 review of the Avalon Viviane by Kajak Sport. The Design Statement written by Phil Wong, Global Outfitters, Distributor: "Even in windy and rough conditions, it glides quickly and smoothly through the waves almost as efficiently as a plane propels through the atmosphere." This is advertising hype that is not useful. The same with, "and it remains remarkably maneuverable at all times." Some of the other information I would find useful, it's been around for a few years, it was designed by someone who races, it's had many racing successes including the marathon Artic Sea Kayaking Race in Norway. Rex
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 00:38:31 -0700 From: Kevin Whilden Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews At 08:13 AM 8/13/00 -0400, John Winters wrote: > Some years back I complained to Sea Kayaker about their reviews and told > them (as well as the builders of my kayak designs) that I had no interest in > the magazine ever testing my boats. I still feel that way even though they > use a formula for resistance that I developed. > > I have the following problems with their tests: > > 1. I design a boat to suit a market the builder perceives. I know of few > kayakers (actually none, including myself) with enough understanding of the > marketplace, kayaks and design to comment appropriately on someone else's > design. Any review with a subjective component has diminished value at best > and no value at worst. Unfortunately one can't tell which. I disagree that a subjective review has no value, as you seem to state. In sea kayaks, there are matters of safety as well as personal preference. Any moderately experienced paddler can determine them. For instance, weathercocking (with and without a skeg/rudder device) is essential safety information. Skegs get jammed and rudders break often enough that I want a boat that doesn't weathercock without them. Also, the quality of construction is a safety issue. For instance, a recent boat that I tested had seams that leaked and deck rigging that ripped off the boat under strain. If I was in the market for a new kayak, I would consider such information alone quite valuable. > 2. Each of my kayaks gets designed for a specific weight range. Sea Kayaker > blindly ignores this in their reviews. I can think of nothing less useful > than to test a boat at a displacement 20% to 30% and more above or below > its designed displacement. Why don't we test sports cars to see how much > gravel they can carry or dump trucks for their acceleration from 0 - 60? I am curious why feel so strongly about this. What are the specific problems associated with paddling at the wrong displacement? It would help me to think about the problem if you would give us a numerical example using one of your kayaks. What are the inherent problems that a practical test might spuriously encounter. How much leeway is there in your designs, given differing body weights and differing loads (day vs multi-day)? > 3. Sea Kayaker uses no standardized tests for handling. I sent them a > series of standardized tests to use and they told me they did not have > time to use them in their testing. So much for objectivity. How much would your tests cost? If they require specialized equipment, I bet they would be expensive. Sure it would be nice to have someone spending a lot of money to test kayaks, but it is not really necessary for Sea Kayaker to do that and still keep their review quality far better than average. Kevin Kevin Whilden Your Planet Earth http://www.yourplanetearth.org
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 01:39:47 -0700 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Kevin, in ten years of reading SK reviews I have *never* seen any mention of a flaw like "seams leaked" or "rigging that ripped off the boat" in a SK review. How come? What happens to a report from a tester (such as yourself) that contains hard-nosed (but damaging) information such as that? Could be I missed reports that detailed serious flaws, but I don't think so. -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 10:34:08 -0700 From: Kevin Whilden Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews I have never seen it either... until recently. I think most manufacturers have their act together and this is rarely a problem, which could be one explanation why you have never seen such a thing in a review. It simply hadn't happened. But given the laws of statistics, something bad like this is eventually guaranteed to make its way into an actual test. We will know soon enough whether some recent criticisms on Paddlewise are justified. Kevin Kevin Whilden Your Planet Earth http://www.yourplanetearth.org
From: "Grant Glazer" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 18:51:17 +1200 There is a lot of queries in all news groups and nets on recommendations on this or that kayak. I'm pretty ignorant in setting up and maitaining a web site and do not know how much work is invovled, but how about setting up a page in the paddlewise site where owners can post the advantages or disadvantages of the kayaks that they paddle? If it is set up in make and model order any potential purchaser can check out a kayak they plan to test paddle. Of course as has been stipulated in this debate, one persons love of a kayak trait may be anothers hate. But if information on size, preferences, experiance, length of ownership etc is listed then the browser can make a choice of whose advise would best suit their particular situation. The advantage of using the paddlewise site is that it is not affiliated with any manufacturer or magazine. No "nampy pampy" reviews, upset advertisers, or anonymous reviewers. Only one rule would have to be enforced. No debating on the site. If someone disagrees with another posting then, then they should enter their posting in the set format and not attack the others opinion. If the method of reviewing is disagreed with then we have only ourselves to blame. Would it work?
From: Melissa Reese Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 12:53:05 -0700 Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews On Mon, 14 Aug 2000 18:51:17 +1200, Grant Glazer wrote: > There is a lot of queries in all news groups and nets on > recommendations on this or that kayak. I'm pretty ignorant > in setting up and maitaining a web site and do not know how > much work is invovled, but how about setting up a page in the > paddlewise site where owners can post the advantages or disadvantages > of the kayaks that they paddle? If it is set up in make and model > order any potential purchaser can check out a kayak they plan to test > paddle. I too (being generally inept when it comes to computers) am ignorant of the work someone must put into maintaining a page like this, but I do think such a page could be great! Another advantage I can think of with this sort of thing is a much wider range of boats being covered. With the magazines, we just have to wait to see which boats are reviewed, and of course, there are many that are never reviewed - including the "builder modified" boats from kits and/or plans (for instance, I'm especially interested in Dr. Colin Calder's recently posted boat that he just built - hint hint - wink wink - Colin - are you reading this?). Great idea Grant! I would volunteer to maintain this page, but considering my complete lack of computer knowledge, I wouldn't advise accepting my generous offer. Melissa
From: B00jum! Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 16:20:00 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Instead of re-inventing the skeg, couldn't we just co-opt/invade/appropriate an already existing online kayak review forum? I'm not sure which one would be best, but I'd love to see it include a message/thread style response to initial reviews and links to the manufacturers web site. Places to look at: www.outdoorplay.com www.outdoorreview.com - this site looks promising. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- snark@... aka Glen Acord http://www.tulgey.org/~snark if ($snark eq "boojum") {vanish("softly","suddenly")}
From: "Michael Daly" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 21:11:11 -0400 From: "Kevin Whilden" > I disagree that a subjective review has no value, as you seem to state. I'll agree with you, Kevin, but SK handles it incorrectly. By analogy, let's consider film reviews. I live in a cinema-crazy city and there are lots of "serious" film reviewers in the local papers. They are all identified by name. As such, I have learned to associate their personal preferences and biases with their names. That allows me to judge their comments - someone who finds comedy films beneath his dignity that raves a comedy film identifies a film that's worth seeing. Similarly, I've learned that one reviewer's tastes are so like mine that I can use his reviews with little caution (he unfortunately writes for a paper I despise). Now SK maintains the anonymity of the reviewers. I don't know, nor can I remember who "XZ" is. A certain KW is the only one I know. I also don't know if there is only one "XZ". Therefore, the reviewer's subjectivity is not of value to me. I need to know, for example, that KW doesn't like rudders at all (KW wrote something to that effect on PW a while back). This means his comments on rudders can be taken with an appropriate amount of salt. If SK would publicise the reviewers and let us know things like: their favorite kayaks, their most hated kayaks, their favorite features, their least favorite features etc, then I could judge the meaning of their subjectivity. Your comments: > In sea kayaks, there are matters of safety [...] I would consider such > information alone quite valuable. imply a sort of "objective subjectivity" which doesn't exist. I agree that there is value in the subjective comments, but I need to be able to know where the subjective reviewers are coming from. >> 2. Each of my kayaks gets designed for a specific weight range. Sea Kayaker >> blindly ignores this in their reviews. I can think of nothing less useful >> than to test a boat at a displacement 20% to 30% and more above or below >> its designed displacement. Why don't we test sports cars to see how much >> gravel they can carry or dump trucks for their acceleration from 0 - 60? > > I am curious why feel so strongly about this. What are the specific > problems associated with paddling at the wrong displacement? I feel that knowing the designer's target displacement is important. I like the data that P&H provide with their kayaks - a range of weights within which the kayak is intended to be used. I look skinny, but tip the scales at 180 lb. When I talk about kayaks, I'm often told that I should paddle suchandsuch. I get in it and I'm at the top of its weight limit. Add some gear and it handles poorly (one that I tried at GLSKS felt like I was sitting on the deck rather than in the seat; my partner (126 lb) tried it and almost liked it.) I want to be able to decide on whether to try a kayak based on its suitability - including its design displacement. I would rather not waste my time on what might just look impressive. Mike PS - I hope you can take some of our concerns back to the honchos at SK!
From: "Michael Daly" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 22:04:11 -0400 I have written a few comments elsewhere about the reviewers themselves. But I have a few comments on the reviews too. (Coincidently, the issue I grabbed for reference is the one with Melissa R. on the cover - Apr 99) I see four steps in evaluating a kayak: 1) Discovery - I find out about it - the name, looks, type, dimmensions, capacity etc. This lets me either ignore it or get interested in it. 2) Info Gathering - I find out how others feel about the kayak. How it handles, its good and bad points etc. 3) Demo - on the pond/river/lake behind the dealers shop, at a symposium, etc. While only an easy, flat water test, it lets me eliminate the kayaks that are obviously not for me. 4) Trial - I rent, borrow (steal?) the kayak and put it through its paces under conditions that are representative enough of my typical paddling so that I can decide whether I want to shell out $$$$$$$ on the kayak. Sea Kayaker (or any other kayaking/paddling) magazine can help me considerably with 1 and 2. The problem is what's missing!!! The first page of an SK review has a photo (good) with two views (good). On the left is a column with cross sections shown (good). Then some dimensions. Unfortunately, they are in American units of measure - not good for those of us who live in the (real) metric world. Overall volume - good. But what about dry storage volume? How about telling us the capacity of the forward, day and stern compartments? If I want to replace a touring kayak, I need to know how much space I gain or lose. Speed vs resistance table. Too much space allocated. How about three columns - speed, Kaper and Taylor's. Cut the verbiage - publish a half page article once a year to explain. Keep this explanation on their web site for reference. Right column - top: Hydrostatics. Ok, but WHAT's THE DESIGN DISPLACEMENT??? How do we judge what 200 lb paddler + 100 lb cargo means in the kayak? We need a point of reference here wrt the kayak itself! One column should be for the design displacement itself (this gives the design waterline length etc). Perhaps a range of recommended weight as per the P&H adverts would be good. A note about the design speed would be good too. Next page - Design Statement. This is good, though the it shouldn't be written by the sales guys; let the designers be honest. Review: Identify the reviewers. Insist on realistic test conditions. Testing a serious tripping kayak in calm in-shore conditions with half a load of gear doesn't really cut it. I can agree on one test with an empty kayak - after all, we all paddle empty sometimes (eg- Nordkapps and CD Expeditions have a reputation of being less than great without load - we need to know that kind of thing). But testing a big kayak with a little gear makes no sense - note that the tables supplied by SK use 100 lb! The issue I'm looking at has three reviewers paddling a Seaward Endeavor - empty! Serious weather and sea conditions are mandatory in addition to calm. SK can't control the weather, but they can insist on having the kayaks long enough to allow the reviewers time to paddle in realistic conditions. Overall, I like the format. They cover the same info every issue, so you compare something approaching apples to apples. And in the same order, so if you're used to it, you can find the info you want quickly. Page three - Design response. It makes sense to allow the designer to rebut the comments. They often advise that they'll fix a problem - this is good. Options and pricing - the reality sets in. This is bad (grin)! Seriously, I have no problems with this. I'm sure if I thought longer, I'd have more to say (surprise!) but that'l do for now. Please note, I'm trying to be constructive. Mike
From: "John Winters" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 22:46:27 -0400 Kevin wrote: (SNIP) > I disagree that a subjective review has no value, as you seem to state. I didn't state that they had no value I said, "Any review with a subjective component has diminished value at best and no value at worst." Which do you find more useful, the length of a boat as measured or the statement "It is a long boat." ? > In sea kayaks, there are matters of safety as well as personal preference. Whose personal preference? Yours or the reviewer's whom you don't know anything about? If you want a personal opinion, why not accept the builders' opinion? At least you can call him up and ask him to clarify details. Try calling a Sea Kayaker reviewer to find out if he had a spat with his/her spouse before testing the boat, or hates yellow boats, or had haemorrhoids when testing the seat or,.... > Any moderately experienced paddler can determine them. For instance, > weathercocking (with and without a skeg/rudder device) is essential safety > information. Skegs get jammed and rudders break often enough that I want a > boat that doesn't weathercock without them. Also, the quality of > construction is a safety issue. For instance, a recent boat that I tested > had seams that leaked and deck rigging that ripped off the boat under > strain. If I was in the market for a new kayak, I would consider such > information alone quite valuable. Useful if accurate but how do you how the accuracy of the opinions? I would not consider the observation of a leaking boat a subjective opinion. On the other hand, how much weathercocking constitutes "weathercocking". Actually, your "opinion " about skegs and rudders jamming and breaking "often" reveals the failure in opinions since some people in this list have argued just the opposite. Whose opinion should we believe? (SNIP) > I am curious why feel so strongly about this. What are the specific > problems associated with paddling at the wrong displacement? It would help > me to think about the problem if you would give us a numerical example > using one of your kayaks. What are the inherent problems that a practical > test might spuriously encounter. How much leeway is there in your designs, > given differing body weights and differing loads (day vs multi-day)? As the displacement changes stability, form coefficients, waterline length, waterline beam, etc. etc. etc. change. As a consequence the boat no longer performs as designed. Depending on what expert you talk to, some can notice very small differences in performance. Many believe they can paddle two different boats on different days and know which has more resistance etc. etc. etc. It has nothing to do with the "leeway" in my designs. It has to do with the changes in immersed hull of any boat. Do you think you would notice a difference in your own boats performance if you paddled it with say, +/- 20% in displacement? Do you think it fair to test a 12' waterline kayak at 325 pounds of displacement and compare the results with a 16' waterline kayak at the same displace? (SNIP) > How much would your tests cost? If they require specialized equipment, I > bet they would be expensive. Sure it would be nice to have someone spending > a lot of money to test kayaks, but it is not really necessary for Sea > Kayaker to do that and still keep their review quality far better than What do you call "expensive" and how much would you like to bet? :-) Cheers, John Winters Redwing Designs Web site address http://home.ican.net/~735769
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 21:22:02 -0700 From: Kevin Whilden Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews At 10:46 PM 8/14/00 -0400, John Winters wrote: > Kevin wrote: > > (SNIP) > >> I disagree that a subjective review has no value, as you seem to state. > > I didn't state that they had no value I said, "Any review with a subjective > component has diminished value at best and no value at worst." Which do you > find more useful, the length of a boat as measured or the statement "It is a > long boat." ? Actually, you said: "Any review with a subjective component has diminished value at best and no value at worst. Unfortunately one can't tell which." So in my opinion as a scientist, I would say that by that logic, a review has no value. What good is an review if you don't know for sure that it *isn't* worthless? So my reaction to your statement that Sea Kayaker reviews are worthless still stands. >> In sea kayaks, there are matters of safety as well as personal preference. > > Whose personal preference? Yours or the reviewer's whom you don't know > anything about? If you want a personal opinion, why not accept the builders' > opinion? At least you can call him up and ask him to clarify details. Try > calling a Sea Kayaker reviewer to find out if he had a spat with his/her > spouse before testing the boat, or hates yellow boats, or had haemorrhoids > when testing the seat or,.... I agree that personal preference is entirely subjective and is not cause to defend the worthiness of Sea Kayaker's reviews. However my main point is that there are *safety* issues in a boat design as well. You do know what safety means, don't you? This sentence was merely a lead into my description of how any reviewer with decent experience can determine some definite *safety* issues with a good degree of accuracy. >> Any moderately experienced paddler can determine them. For instance, >> weathercocking (with and without a skeg/rudder device) is essential safety >> information. Skegs get jammed and rudders break often enough that I want a >> boat that doesn't weathercock without them. Also, the quality of >> construction is a safety issue. For instance, a recent boat that I tested >> had seams that leaked and deck rigging that ripped off the boat under >> strain. If I was in the market for a new kayak, I would consider such >> information alone quite valuable. > > Useful if accurate but how do you how the accuracy of the opinions? There is indeed a leap of faith required here. You have to believe that other kayakers can exist in the same universe who have equal or better skill than yourself. I understand how difficult this can be for some people... I suffer from it myself on occasion. :) > I would not consider the observation of a leaking boat a subjective opinion. > On the other hand, how much weathercocking constitutes "weathercocking". > Actually, your "opinion " about skegs and rudders jamming and breaking "often" > reveals the failure in opinions since some people in this list have argued > just the opposite. Whose opinion should we believe? As far as the whole rudder vs. skeg thing. Nobody can refute the fact that rudders do occasionally break and skegs do occasionally jam. Why settle for a boat that depends on a piece of equipment that occasionally breaks? Good designers can produce boats that don't need a rudder or skeg at all. Given that fact, jamming once is often enough for me, although it has happened many more times than once to me. As far as to whose opinion to believe, the Sea Kayaker review is rather limited in scope. It does not aspire to telling people what to believe. It is merely input for the person who decides to take the boat for a later test paddle. I think we all agree that the test paddle is a necessary step for anyone serious about buying the right kayak for themselves. >(SNIP) > >> I am curious why feel so strongly about this. What are the specific >> problems associated with paddling at the wrong displacement? It would help >> me to think about the problem if you would give us a numerical example >> using one of your kayaks. What are the inherent problems that a practical >> test might spuriously encounter. How much leeway is there in your designs, >> given differing body weights and differing loads (day vs multi-day)? > > As the displacement changes stability, form coefficients, waterline length, > waterline beam, etc. etc. etc. change. As a consequence the boat no longer > performs as designed. Depending on what expert you talk to, some can notice > very small differences in performance. Many believe they can paddle two > different boats on different days and know which has more resistance etc. > etc. etc. > > It has nothing to do with the "leeway" in my designs. It has to do with the > changes in immersed hull of any boat. Do you think you would notice a > difference in your own boats performance if you paddled it with say, +/- > 20% in displacement? Do you think it fair to test a 12' waterline kayak at > 325 pounds of displacement and compare the results with a 16' waterline > kayak at the same displace? I'm sorry, perhaps my question wasn't fully clear. I wanted a numerical example of why the standard Sea Kayaker test cannot produce the displacement conditions that your boats require for proper performance. If your boats are so finely tuned to a certain displacement, what do you tell people who want a boat that they can paddle either loaded with 50-100lbs of gear or unloaded? >(SNIP) > >> How much would your tests cost? If they require specialized equipment, I >> bet they would be expensive. Sure it would be nice to have someone spending >> a lot of money to test kayaks, but it is not really necessary for Sea >> Kayaker to do that and still keep their review quality far better than > >What do you call "expensive" and how much would you like to bet? :-) Okay, so the judgmental term "expensive" is hard to define. I'll grant you that. But I think it is difficult enough to design a truly objective test of sea kayak handling regardless of expense. Perhaps you can enlighten us with how you might do this. ;-) In fact, I would go so far as to challenge anyone on this list to come up with a set of truly objective tests for sea kayak handling. I have a B.S. in physics, and I would be happy to play devil's advocate in discerning whether proposed tests really capture the essence of the physics that a paddler would encounter. I have thought about this concept recently and I do believe that it would be extremely difficult to quantitatively test some (not all) of what I consider the essential aspects of kayak handling. Well, that's enough debate for tonight. I do hope you are enjoying it. Cheers, Kevin Kevin Whilden Your Planet Earth http://www.yourplanetearth.org
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 12:59:07 From: Wes Boyd Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews At 09:22 PM 8/14/00 -0700, Kevin Whilden wrote: > As far as to whose opinion to believe, the Sea Kayaker review is rather > limited in scope. It does not aspire to telling people what to believe. It > is merely input for the person who decides to take the boat for a later > test paddle. I think we all agree that the test paddle is a necessary step > for anyone serious about buying the right kayak for themselves. Just as a suggestion -- perhaps it would be of more use to the kayaking community as a whole if SK were to review some boats that are not the more top of the line sort of things, but the sort of things you see being bought, especially by newbies. I know there are not a lot of defenders of plastic boats here on P-Wise (Well, let's see . . . there's me, there's Strosaker . . . and we both have glass boats as well . . . ;-)) but if you drive down the highway in spots where kayaking is popular you see a lot of low-to-midrange plastic boats. I know when I was up around Georgian Bay a couple weeks ago I saw a lot of sea kayaks, but glass boats were rare. It would not surprise me that plastic recreational and sea kayaks outsell glass boats ten to one. Yet, reviews of plastic boats in SK are rare, and then it's more the top of the line plastic. Some reports on novice-to-intermediate level boats would be welcome. -- Wes
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 13:50:53 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews About 8 years ago I was talking with the head of a company that was well-known for its fiberglass boats but had just begun producing plastic boats as well. He always kids me about folding kayaks (as in "Hmmm, a Klepper. Good firewood!!") and so I razzed him a bit regarding the plastic. His comment "Ralph, making plastic boats is the next best thing to printing money." I would not be surprise that polyethylene kayaks outsell fiberglass 10 to 1 or even more. Sea Kayaker does review plastic kayaks. Perhaps not the low-end more recreational ones. I recall that some of those have been looked by Paddler and by Canoe & Kayak in recent years.
From: "John Winters" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 22:16:28 -0400 Kevin wrote: > Actually, you said: "Any review with a subjective component has diminished > value at best and no value at worst. Unfortunately one can't tell which." > > So in my opinion as a scientist, I would say that by that logic, a review > has no value. What good is an review if you don't know for sure that it > *isn't* worthless? So my reaction to your statement that Sea Kayaker > reviews are worthless still stands. Good point, I will clarify my statement to say that unless one knows the source and support for an opinion then one should treat it with scepticism. > I agree that personal preference is entirely subjective and is not cause > to defend the worthiness of Sea Kayaker's reviews. However my main point > is that there are *safety* issues in a boat design as well. You do know > what safety means, don't you? This sentence was merely a lead into my > description of how any reviewer with decent experience can determine some > definite *safety* issues with a good degree of accuracy. Yes, Kevin, I do know what safety means. Have I missed something in the tone of this question that I should recognise? Your comment leads me to my question, how do we know the reviewers have decent experience? Suppose I did the reviews, would you grant them the same respect you would grant a review from, for example, Matt Brose? If not, then I rest my case. By not giving my opinion equal respect you acknowledge that reviews vary in value. Now, I ask you again, how do we know that the reviewers have as much experience or knowledge as even me much less Matt? If you do give my opinion equal credence, then I still rest my case because you know very little about my experience and skills. I also have some swamp I would like to sell. :-) > There is indeed a leap of faith required here. You have to believe that > other kayakers can exist in the same universe who have equal or better > skill than yourself. I understand how difficult this can be for some > people... I suffer from it myself on occasion. :) Most of us recognise this but how do we know an anonymous reviewer has more skill or knowledge or does not have a hidden agenda? I would ask again how do we know the reviewer deserves our respect? As a scientist do you have as much respect for papers you receive when they come from anonymous sources? Do you generally like to see quantifiable support for a premise or do you just accept any theory that sounds good to you? > As far as the whole rudder vs. skeg thing. Nobody can refute the fact that > rudders do occasionally break and skegs do occasionally jam. Why settle for > a boat that depends on a piece of equipment that occasionally breaks? Good > designers can produce boats that don't need a rudder or skeg at all. Given > that fact, jamming once is often enough for me, although it has happened > many more times than once to me. Actually this has strayed off the topic. The question I asked had nothing to do with your opinion of yourself as an expert in this area but whether any one should believe your opinion or anyone else opinion over that of others who may have as much or maybe even more expertise. > As far as to whose opinion to believe, the Sea Kayaker review is rather > limited in scope. It does not aspire to telling people what to believe. It > is merely input for the person who decides to take the boat for a later > test paddle. I think we all agree that the test paddle is a necessary step > for anyone serious about buying the right kayak for themselves. Correct me if I error but the topic I commented on had to do with the validity and value of the subjective comments in Sea Kayaker. I did not suggest that they aspire to tell people what to believe although I believe novices to the sport will tend to give them more credence than they deserve. > I'm sorry, perhaps my question wasn't fully clear. I wanted a numerical > example of why the standard Sea Kayaker test cannot produce the > displacement conditions that your boats require for proper performance. If > your boats are so finely tuned to a certain displacement, what do you tell > people who want a boat that they can paddle either loaded with 50-100lbs of > gear or unloaded? Once again it has nothing to do with my kayak designs. It has to do with all boats. My concern has nothing to do with what I tell people but what Sea Kayaker tells people via its tests. I did not say the Sea Kayaker test could not produce displacement conditions for specific boats. I said that they DID NOT. >> What do you call "expensive" and how much would you like to bet? :-) > > Okay, so the judgmental term "expensive" is hard to define. I'll grant you > that. But I think it is difficult enough to design a truly objective test > of sea kayak handling regardless of expense. Perhaps you can enlighten us > with how you might do this. ;-) Perhaps you can define what you feel "expensive" means. Then we can see what kind of bet we can come up with. ;-). > In fact, I would go so far as to challenge anyone on this list to come up > with a set of truly objective tests for sea kayak handling. I have a B.S. > in physics, and I would be happy to play devil's advocate in discerning > whether proposed tests really capture the essence of the physics that a > paddler would encounter. I have thought about this concept recently and I > do believe that it would be extremely difficult to quantitatively test some > (not all) of what I consider the essential aspects of kayak handling. I think a more appropriate question has to do with whether anyone can come up with tests that improve on the subjective commentary. You may recall the quote about not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. It applies here. As a scientist you know that we build on our methods. We do not pull them out of a hat full blown and perfect. A more useful challenge would challenge someone to improve on the subjective tests now used rather than accept them as the best we can do. To help me get started thinking about this what do you consider the "essential aspects of kayak handling". Hopefully we will all agree. Cheers, John Winters Redwing Designs Web site address http://home.ican.net/~735769
From: "Matt Broze" Subject: RE: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 05:12:38 -0700 Ralph wrote (and I snipped some): > My beef with the reviewers part of the writeup is not in the reviewers > themselves but rather in their being anonymous and the snippet/soundbite > format. Kevin felt I had insulted the expert paddlers testing the boats > and asked if I have met any of the reviewers. Without appearing to be > mocking, my answer would be "How would I know if I met one? They are not > identified!" Kevin also said that they are often instructors and tour > guides and some also write for Sea Kayaker. Wouldn't the reviews be > better understood if we knew who they were, especially the paddlers who > have written articles for Sea Kayaker. If say, one of the testers is > Nigel Foster or Chris Cunningham, I would like to know that. Why the > secrecy, or am I missing something? I think the original reason for using only initials was to keep us manufacturers from knowing who to bribe. For instance know that I just found out Kevin is a Sea Kayaker tester I'd better start treating him better. > On to the snippet format. It lacks cohesiveness. It is certainly > alright to have the snippets for discussing whether there is legroom and > you have a 5 ft. 2 in. person commenting and a 6 ft 4 in. person adding > her two cents. Those are add-ons of important comparative information > to a reader. But a review is always better off if a review is filtered > through one known source who is upfront about his likes and dislikes and > experiences and does an honest job of looking at all key aspects of a > review in a more narrative format. Sound bites, as we sadly know from > the political arena, don't always get right the totality of what was > said. Chris Cunningham edits the comments and has most likely paddled the kayak as well. I think he tries to succinctly get the information from the testers across to the readers in a relatively consistent format using the tester's words where possible. > If this is so, and I trust Matt on this, then, boy, a big point should > be made of this. Moreover, Sea Kayaker should refuse to review plastic > boats because, by what Matt says, the reviews are basically useless if > the variation can be so wide in the actual boat you buy. Or am I > missing something here? My experience is that I get a wider variation in turning times on retests I have done on plastic kayaks. The one I discussed was startlingly different. Most of the characteristics written about (pounding, wetness of ride, leaking hatches, sticking rudder pedals, etc. etc) will be pretty much the same even though the rocker changes some between boats and affects tracking, turning and probably weathercocking. This variability is also not very widely known among kayakers and I certainly don't have the data to say that all plastic kayaks are variable (only that some of them are in relation to the repeatability of turning times and I haven't seen that in glass kayaks). > Why should a person be an expert reader to figure out the reviews? If > so, shouldn't that be stated as a warning to the person who is a > newcomer or not so well versed in reading between the lines? What about > when the review is copied by the manufacturer and distributed as a > source of information? The person reading the handout would be at a > lost to detect the nuances. Welcome to the real world. Unless you know thyself how can you know what is important to you and what isn't. Chrome and upholders sell cars, why do you expect it would be any different with kayaks? Often times its the gimmicks we can see that get used to differentiate what we think we want from what we don't think we need. Some stores think the customer is always right and cater to their whims. I argue with them and try to educate them so that they don't make a stupid mistake because of a little knowledge or miseducation they learned or misinterpreted from somewhere else. Some customers appreciate that and others just think I'm a crank and go elsewhere. It is always the customers final choice though. I try to do my best for them even though they don't always see it that way since I obviously would like to sell them a kayak. > Lastly, Matt said "As for a kayak test Czar (even if it was me and had > paddled over 500 different sea kayaks) I think at best that still only > gives one kayaker's opinion." That is a nice egalitarian thought but, > with all due respect, Matt, some kayakers' opinions count more than > others because of their wide experience, knowledge of design, > comparative hands-on contact with many models, and a realistic > expectation of what kayaks can or should do. Many of the kayak testers have paddled dozens of kayaks and have a pretty good idea of the range of handling performance with which to place the present kayak they are testing. Knowledge of kayak design is not a prerequisite to knowing how a kayak paddles and feels. In fact one of the early problems in the reviews was that the testers were trying to explain why a kayak performed as it did. Two problems I saw with this. One, the testers often got the explanation wrong, which would tend to mislead the readers they were trying to help. Secondly if a tester looks at a kayak and believes it will perform a certain way because of certain features he or she will bias themselves to look for those characteristics that they are expecting. I suspect the testers still sometimes make judgments about the "why" but they usually get edited out of the final review article. Just the facts, maam. Short of disguising the entire kayak so the testers are blind to what they are paddling I don't see how their biases can be removed. For instance in a recent post a Paddlewiser (Dave Williams) liked the way the Wilderness Systems Cape Horn punched through breakers. Dave guessed that there must be something about the kayaks bow shape that made it do this. First, I'd like to know how much experience Dave has had in breakers because most kayaks punch through them if caught by the dumping wave (and they have enough momentum to get through). best I could get from his post was he knew what a Sea Lion would have done. Assuming that the Cape Horn did punch through at the ideal point (and did this repeatedly in a wide variety of waves and times of hitting the break). For the sake of argument lets assume that the Shaman is ideal for this. I think Dave may have missed his guess as to the reason it worked so well. In fact, I think he may have been looking to the wrong end of the kayak for an explanation. This kayak has a very unique stern that is both buoyant and blunt. The buoyancy would resist sinking under as the bow lifted and thus not allow the bow to point too high (and get dumped over backwards, as is about to happen in one companies often used advertising photo--of a needle ended kayak in the surf). That blunt stern on the Cape Horn may also be serving another function that I have thought about incorporating into a dedicated surfing kayak. It may be resisting going in reverse by essentially holding the kayak in place as the wave sweeps over and past it. This may be due to the very blunt stern sections both through buoyancy pushing up (maybe even somewhat in the direction of the bow as the kayak stands on its tail somewhat--as well as holding the kayak at a shallower angle than a stern that could sink) and the blunt end which could not easily slice through the water in reverse so resists going backwards mechanically as well. My point is the reader doesn't necessarily need to know why it works just that it does. > Which gets us back to how this all started. Matt had said that the > reviews on the web page that was cited should be taken with a grain of > salt. Fundamentally because we don't know who the reviewers are, their > experience and, if they are owners of the model, their possibly wanting > to justify to themselves their purchase. And then added that the > reviews in Sea Kayaker are better or more trustworthy or something, I > forget the exact term used. I said a verrrrry large grain. The reviewers were self selected and we readers have no idea of their motivations or skills. Some looked to me like shills for the companies ad departments. A lot of flowery prose and puffery that sounded good but didn't tell me anything made me suspicious in some instances that maybe the reviewers actually were the companies admen in disguise. Maybe a reporter type could try to track the reviewers down and search for connections to the manufacturers to see if there may be a scandal brewing here. Sea kayaker appears to be making an attempt to find expert paddlers with wide experience and then insulate them from the advertisers (but I think I've figured out about 1/2 of them from the initials, sex and sizes given, its kind of a game with me, but I hadn't suspected KW until he gave himself away on this list--maybe they should have given them all code names and forbidden them to paddle with any manufacturer or dealer when they are testing a kayak). I obviously can't be a tester for Sea Kayaker because I am a designer and dealer. Even if I could be objective it wouldn't look good. Of course, this didn't stop Canoe Magazine several years back when they tested some doubles (under a prior editor). The head tester worked for (and owed a lot to) the manufacturer of one of the kayaks being tested and the editor was also good friend of that companies owners. The readers were never told this. The kayak apparently didn't do so well in the tests but you would have never known it by the flowery say nothing prose that was printed. The review of that particular kayak looked to be written by the companies ad man, what a real puff piece. I thought it all bordered on being criminal fraud. Sea Kayaker's reviews are far from perfect but they are head and shoulders above any other kayak reviews out there (at least that I know of). Finally, I have been meaning to ask John Winters what his suggestions were for objective tests that Sea Kayaker should do. It would be a lot easier for us readers to judge their value to us and if they were practical and relevant if we knew what he actually proposed. Matt Broze http://www.marinerkayaks.com
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 09:43:25 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Matt Broze wrote: > I think the original reason for using only initials was to keep us > manufacturers from knowing who to bribe. For instance know that I just found > out Kevin is a Sea Kayaker tester I'd better start treating him better. Hmmm, interesting. If that original reasoning is the case, and I hope it is not, it says a lot about what the editors think about the companies that advertise in the publication and the corruptability of the reviewers. Maybe, I am just more trusting by nature (we New Yorkers are, BTW, despite our reputation for cynicism), certainly regarding individuals who take on a task such as reviewing something for the common good of a community they belong to. Most people are not going to betray such a trust certainly in a small community such as ours where transgressions will be spotted easily and their reputations soiled. I still say, take a chance on bribes, and identify the people and give them more coherent longer statements about the boats rather than the snippet/sound bites. > Sea kayaker appears to be making an attempt to find expert paddlers with > wide experience and then insulate them from the advertisers (but I think > I've figured out about 1/2 of them from the initials, sex and sizes given, > its kind of a game with me, but I hadn't suspected KW until he gave himself > away on this list--maybe they should have given them all code names and > forbidden them to paddle with any manufacturer or dealer when they are > testing a kayak). Since you know a good number of them and, I don't believe travel to all corners of this country, I get the impression that most of the reviewers are in your Northwest, which is certainly logical given where the editorial offices are headquartered. From what I have seen, paddling styles, skills and expectations vary widely throughout the land. There are certain regional preferences in boats and paddling waters. Would be interesting to see how a Chesapeake expert paddler would react to a certain kayak or a Maine paddler or a Great Lakes paddler. This is another good reason for IDing the testers so we know where they paddle and what "school" or "paddling religion" they belong to. ralph diaz
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 08:25:54 -0700 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews I am for identifying (and profiling) the testers. It would help me to evaluate their comments. However, this "regionalism" prejudice for sea kayaks in the traditional "NW" mode is dying out around here. Can't speak for other regions. Kevin W., for example, is a full-on WW and surf kayaker, as well as a kayak tourer, and disses some of the overblown, over-sized, way-too-stable designs that are commonly associated with the NW. Kevin lives in Seattle. BTW, I own and paddle almost exclusively one of those way-too-stable designs, just so this is not interpreted as a pejorative statement. My way-too-stable design is great for the stuff I do, but it sucks in surf (it should not go there) and very rough water. -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 13:25:02 -0400 From: Michael R Noyes Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Ralph diaz wrote: > This is another good reason for IDing the testers so we know where they paddle > and what "school" or "paddling religion" they belong to. I KNEW that religion would come into this eventually! :-) As a member of the Evangelical Church of Rudderless Paddlers I frown on these so called tests because I know that they are just another attempt at seducing the faithful into a ruddered kayak. I know this to be true because I almost strayed myself. I was seduced by the sexy lines and sensual advertising of the Current Designs Extreme. I almost strayed, lusting after that fast little trick. Praise be to our Lord, I saw the light in time, and bought a non ruddered kayak that is even faster! And it carries more gear, too. Mike, who paddles with the ruddered heathen all the time. :-) -------- Paddling along through fog so thick that only one's thoughts are visible, your reverie is abruptly shattered by the ancient cry of a great blue heron as she lifts uncertainly from the brilliant blue of a mussel-shell beach witnessed only by the brooding, wet spruce....your passage home seems as much back through time as it does through space. Mark H Hunt
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 11:41:37 -0700 From: Kevin Whilden Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews At 08:25 AM 8/16/00 -0700, Dave Kruger wrote: > I am for identifying (and profiling) the testers. It would help me to > evaluate their comments. However, this "regionalism" prejudice for sea > kayaks in the traditional "NW" mode is dying out around here. Can't speak > for other regions. > > Kevin W., for example, is a full-on WW and surf kayaker, as well as a kayak > tourer, and disses some of the overblown, over-sized, way-too-stable designs > that are commonly associated with the NW. Kevin lives in Seattle. Yes, it's true. I like skinny so-called high performance sea kayaks. Disrespecting wide-stable kayaks is not something I have done on purpose, though perhaps this sentiment has worked its way into my tone on the various posts to Paddlewise. However I purposefully avoid reviewing boats for Sea Kayaker if they are not designed to be something that I would like to paddle. I have turned several offers to review boats for this very reason. All the boats I review are designed to be medium-high performance single kayaks, which is the kind of kayak that I love to paddle. I am not an expert in the benefits of wide-stable kayaks (eg fishing, photography, etc..), so I don't review them either. Kevin Kevin Whilden Your Planet Earth http://www.yourplanetearth.org
From: Melissa Reese Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 12:07:01 -0700 Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews On Wed, 16 Aug 2000 13:25:02 -0400, Michael R Noyes wrote: > I KNEW that religion would come into this eventually! :-) As a member of the > Evangelical Church of Rudderless Paddlers I frown on these so called tests > because I know that they are just another attempt at seducing the faithful > into a ruddered kayak. I know this to be true because I almost strayed myself. > I was seduced by the sexy lines and sensual advertising of the Current Designs > Extreme. I almost strayed, lusting after that fast little trick. Praise be to > our Lord, I saw the light in time, and bought a non ruddered kayak that is > even faster! And it carries more gear, too. whew! Close call, but I'm glad your soul was spared, brother. May your paddler's soul always bask in the light of the rudderless and true path. > Mike, who paddles with the ruddered heathen all the time. :-) Well, okay, I admit it... I've transgressed and often find myself paddling with those very same followers of the Dark Side. One must be tolerant. Melissa -- Melissa Reese, melissa@...net on 08/16/2000
From: "Matt Broze" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 21:41:17 -0700 Ralph Diaz wrote: > Hmmm, interesting. If that original reasoning is the case, and I hope > it is not, it says a lot about what the editors think about the > companies that advertise in the publication and the corruptability of > he reviewers. Maybe, I am just more trusting by nature (we New Yorkers > are, BTW, despite our reputation for cynicism), certainly regarding > individuals who take on a task such as reviewing something for the > common good of a community they belong to. Most people are not going to > betray such a trust certainly in a small community such as ours where > transgressions will be spotted easily and their reputations soiled. I > still say, take a chance on bribes, and identify the people and give > them more coherent longer statements about the boats rather than the > snippet/sound bites. I'm sure you are right about most reviewers and manufacturers in this regard but your original conclusion is about Sea Kayaker's negative beliefs is way off base. I'm sure Sea Kayaker wants to avoid as much as possible the possibility (and the appearance) that their review system could be easily abused rather than because they have a low regard for their advertisers and/or reviewers. I've seen many instances on this very list where posters jump to the conclusion that something is being done from sinister motives. I certainly thought of that possibility regarding the self selected testers on the website that started this thread. Best to distanced yourself as far as possible from the possibility of cheating. Years ago I know of an instance of a runners magazine cheating on a large shoe review for under the table payola. Years ago when discussing our frustrations about another paddling magazine one kayak company owner said to me, "It's hard to know how to deal with a company that is so (then something like--out front about--or blatant about advertising dollars being connected to favorable mentions and reviews)." Ralph again: > Since you know a good number of them and, I don't believe travel to all > corners of this country, I get the impression that most of the reviewers > are in your Northwest, which is certainly logical given where the > editorial offices are headquartered. From what I have seen, paddling > styles, skills and expectations vary widely throughout the land. There > are certain regional preferences in boats and paddling waters. Would be > interesting to see how a Chesapeake expert paddler would react to a > certain kayak or a Maine paddler or a Great Lakes paddler. This is > another good reason for IDing the testers so we know where they paddle > and what "school" or "paddling religion" they belong to. Three that I can think of off the top of my head are from CA, a couple of them are probably lurking on this list right now. I assume a majority are within driving range of Sea Kayaker because a new model kayak that is sent to Sea Kayaker for testing may not be readily available in all parts of the country. Being that the editor is from Seattle he can probably access the paddling skills of more local testers as well. I think Sea Kayaker has gone to some effort to get testers from other areas especially when they can test a more commonly available model. I don't see how it is that important though. Knowing where someone is from hardly is enough information to know their "religion". Given the reviewers are asked to tell the reader about the handling characteristics of the kayak rather than what their personal preferences are I think a good paddler from any religion can describe their experiences with the kayak. Some one who likes a stiff tracking kayak and another that prefers a very maneuverable kayak can both agree on which kayaks are which in that regard. This is why it would be difficult to judge the value of a certain feature or handling characteristic of a kayak in a way that could be more informative to a beginner. Different strokes for different folks. If that were not the case the one all around perfect kayak for everybody would be the only one that ever sells. I think Sea kayaker is trying to judge who this kayak is best for and does it perform well under the manufacturers statement of intent. By sticking to just the facts rather than an interpretation of them those of different religions can often agree. Oh yeah, in my post written early this morning "Shaman" (in the one instance I missed replacing it) should be "Cape Horn". I had originally paraphrased Dave's post from memory and confused the WS Shaman with the WS Cape Horn in my memory (until I rechecked the original post before sending it). Does anybody know how to do a global search and replace in IE? I see that the whole paragraph got very poorly edited before I pushed send. Hope it wasn't too confusing. Oh well, I've got to learn to go to bed earlier and not write when I'm half asleep. Matt Broze http://www.marinerkayaks.com
Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 11:34:59 -0400 From: Nick Schade Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews I find the snippet hard to wade through then connect back who said what to their specifics. If someone 6' 1", 200 pounds said the cockpit was comfortable, that means more to me personally than if someone 5' 2", 110 lbs thought it was too big. I would like to see a table of the reviews responses to various aspects of the boat along with specifics about the paddler including, height, weight, leg length, the type of paddling they do (i.e. touring, sheltered day trips, surfing, etx), "experience" (whatever that is) and other pertinent information. This way I can ignore the performance comments of the reviews that don't relate to me. I don't need to read what the 110 lbs paddler thinks of the boats maneuverability. At best it will be irrelevant to me and at worst it will be mileading. Obviously, the comments of a reviewer will always be subjective, but that is not neccessarily bad. I would like it if SeaKayaker had the money and time to thorough analytical tests of the boats. Maybe when sea kayaking gets as popular as driving cars they will be able to afford it. We shouldn't be too critical of the limits of what they provide, but I do think it could be better organized. I agree with Ralph that there doesn't seem to be any reason to keep the reviewers secret, but I don't think it is realy necessary to know their names as long as an honest characterization of the reviewers is provided. Nick Nick Schade Guillemot Kayaks 824 Thompson St, Suite I Glastonbury, CT 06033 http://www.guillemot-kayaks.com/ >>>>"It's not just Art, It's a Craft!"<<<<
Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 12:00:01 -0400 From: Nick Schade Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Kayaker Reviews Even a experienced kayaker will choose different things to highlight as important. I was sitting at eating lunch with a well respected british kayaker and author at a symposium recently when someone asked him what to look for when choosing a sea kayak. This worshipped designer of kayaks replied: (I'm paraphrasing) look for a small cockpit, round hatches, recessed fitting and smooth fiberglass. He did not offer any suggestions as to what it should do on the water or how to evaluate the performance. Obviously, some good performing kayaks will not rate as highly based on the criteria outlined by this expert. As John says, it is important to know the reviewer. You not only need to know their experience, but you need to know their priorities. Nick Nick Schade Guillemot Kayaks 824 Thompson St, Suite I Glastonbury, CT 06033 http://www.guillemot-kayaks.com/ >>>>"It's not just Art, It's a Craft!"<<<<
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 13:45:41 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Standardized tests for hatch leakage - was - Sea Kayaker Reviews > What specific proposals do people have in mind? > > The main one I've heard is that we'd like to know the identity of the > reviewers. Along with their identity I would find it useful to know > what their experience, preferences and what kayaks they own or have > owned are. Would it be so hard for Sea Kayaker Magazine to try > something different for one or two issues? That is what several of us have been saying. Identify the reviewers the way Backpacker does with its reviews of gear. Some are writers and staff of Backpacker; some are just darn good backpackers and their experience is stated. Also, Backpacker generally specifies where the gear was tested, in which seasons, and what actual conditions were. Backpacker reviews are also side-by-side comparisons of say 5 lightweight single tents or medium-weight boots. It must drive the manufacturers bonkers to have their gear compared with competitors but it is helpful (I can't imagine how sea kayak manufacturers would react to having their boats tested that way :-)). Also Backpacker grades each item along some 6-8 criteria for example, in tents looking at assemby time, breathability, waterproofness, etc. Then it gives an overall rating indicating how the individual criterion were weighed. The tent with the best overall rating is not always the best for you. You might feel that breathability is most important to you and pick the tent that is best on that combined with a high rating on another criterion of importance. > Taking a different leap - what are the components of an ideal kayak > review? It would be great if we could take the compiled comments of > paddlewise and synthesize it. Perhaps it could be posted to > paddlewise.net? There is really no ideal kayak review. Rather different types of ideal reviews depending on the type of boat. A Greenland style boat review should differ in its components from that of a review of a recreational sit-on-top. What is considered differs for the two. (Backpacker would never review light duty, trail running boots with the same criteria as it would heavy-duty multi-day backpacking ones.) Imagine if recreational kayakers reviewed a Greenland boat. "It is not easy getting into this thing. This thing won't stay upright!" Or a Greenland paddler reviewed a recreational kayak, "I can't lean the thing on its side!; it won't roll!" Also these type reviews would differ from some aspects of reviewing folding kayaks. That the two folding kayaks that were reviewed in Sea Kayaker did not doing any real commenting or rating of assembly was a major shortfall. Assembly specifics are important in reviewing a folding kayak; just ask any buyer or the thousands of folding kayakers I have talked with or corresponded with. ralph diaz
Return to PaddleWise

To subscribe to PaddleWise, send email to PaddleWise-request@paddlewise.net
To send email to members of PaddleWise, send email to PaddleWise@paddlewise.net
For questions or comments, please send email to owner@paddlewise.net