Friday, October 3, 2008

Seward G3 Passat Kayak Review

Our good friends at Seward Kayaks on Vancouver Island build amazing kayaks with attention to detail.  As a Sea Kayak Guide for Discovery Sea Kayaks, I have been around the G3 Passat tandem kayak for over 5 years. Overall my preference is a single kayak but for tours we put all clients in tandem kayaks.  So by default I have had the chance to get to know the kayaks really well.  



First impression you get when you unwrap one of these kayak is WOW!  They are very pleasing to the eye with great lines and beautiful profile.  The finish of the kayak is great.  Typically really smooth without any pockets or imperfections in the gel coat.  There is no denying they are one of the best looking tandems you can buy.

Specifications:
Length: 22 feet
Width: 26 inches
Weight: 90 pounds

Looking at the specs you can see that the long water line combined with the narrow beam (width), for a tandem, that this is a fast kayak.  At first we were a bit worried about the width since most tour companies use kayaks that are much wider which most would think makes a kayak more stable.  But in my opinion the performance of the kayak can create stability.  In moving water with chop the Passat G3 is a joy to be in.  It never feels unstable and cuts right trough strong currents with ease.  Where I have used much wider kayaks that plug away and tend to maneuver much slower and start to become an issue of stability when the kayak cannot turn back in to waves easily.  The Passat G3 has no problems.  In calm conditions the kayak is a rocket on the water.  The biggest complaint from guides is when you pair strong paddlers in a Passat G3, as the guide you have to paddle much stronger to stay the pace.

As a guide we work the kayak pretty hard and durability is a big factor.  I can say for starters that even though the finish work of the kayaks are good.  They are a pretty light layup.  You can pay extra for a outfitter layup, but adding any cost to an already expensive kayak is not fun. Here are a few examples of damage I have had using the Passat G3.  Tons of gel coat work.  The kayaks are not shoreline rock friendly.  Sometimes even a minimal run in with a rock can lead to pretty good gel coat damage.  When I say damage I am not talking about a scratch.  I mean it is exposing the fiberglass.  Fiberglass damage has been a bit of a problem as well.  Once the gel coat is gone and if you do not get the fiberglass protected right away.  The fiberglass will eventually get compromised by the sea water.  Then you have to remove the fiberglass and replace it and then gel coat over it.  Loading the kayaks on transport trailers has also damages the kayaks. You cannot transport them on the hull.  It is best to put them on their side.  Compression fractures on the side of the kayak are all to common.  Mainly because the light layup and  guides putting to much tension on the straps.  This is a hard repair as the damage is a crack that is through both gel coat and fiberglass.  The crack tends to always be on the curvature of the kayak.  Not fun to fix.  As for the components that are used on the kayaks such as foot pegs, safety line attachments and rudder.  I have had no problems.  I never seem to have to do any repairs to the working components of the kayaks. 

The cockpits and seats are very comfortable.  There is plenty of back support and the cushion for the seat doubles as a rescue paddle float.  The kayak fit is good as well.  Nice thigh support and plenty of leg room for most people.  

All the hatches are neoprene covered with a hard shell fiberglass top.  The hatches are very dry. We never have problems with water in the hatches.  Easy to use even with cold fingers.  The center hatch has ample room for bulky gear.  The deck bungee layout leaves a bit of room for small items to be stored on the top of the kayak.

To sum it up.  The Seward G3 Passat is one of the best tandem kayaks on the market.  As for the use of the kayak in tour business, well there is a bit of a durability issue.  But I feel it is the best blend of comfort and performance that is out there.  


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