Mats Bengtsson kayaking and kayak techniques

First thoughts from my Romany surf kayak

Mats Bengtsson mib over the years

The first thoughts from my Romany Surf, bought autumn 2008

When I first wrote this, I had been kayaking in my Romany Surf kayak in two weeks. Since then, I have been out with it a great number of times. Both on long and short trips, as well as in calm water and windy wavy choppy water. Below is the original impression, later experiences can be found further down the page.

The first impression was written after paddling the Romany kayak two times, both time paddling in winds around 10-12 meters per second. First time the wind had only caused quite small waves (only a little above 20 centimeters), and second time with a little bigger waves (somewhere around 40 centimeters).

The first impression is very positive. It feels stable, but is yet easy to edge the kayak at will. I would need to have it on a little calmer conditions to say how well I can feel the point when I have lent it too much, but the immediate feeling is that there is an increasing warning and no sudden surprises. It turns very easily, and it easily accelerates with the waves downwind.

It feels a little slower than the Zegul 550 (which in turn I see as too hard to turn in wind and waves, and less stable, so the comparison is only about speed). It is definitely faster than the Point Sea Cruiser (two of the kayaks I was contemplating to buy when choosing kayak). All in all, The NDK Romany (nowadays SKUK Romany surf) is a kayak which is fine, even regarding speed, which was a worry due to its short length and my heigh weight (but the top speed in the kayak is low).

I did not use the skeg, but without the skeg I have tried it both downwind and upwind and in the troughs, it all felt fine. The second day I had an interesting situation. The wind had turned and we were close to a bend of the beach. The waves and the wind did not come from the same direction. When setting the kayak up against the wind, I had the waves from about 30 degrees from the left. In that situation, the kayak was stable, and also in both downwind and downwaves. But if setting up the kayak perpendicular to the waves, getting the wind 30 degrees from the right and without forward speed, it very much wanted to adjust sideways (situation occured since one party had problem getting out from the beach, so I was waiting stationary out in the water).

Added thoughts on SKUK Romany surf after first spring 2009

Now I have had the Romany kayak during the first spring as well. I have not used it as much as intended, yet ever since march, I have been out almost every week (possible in part due to my gore-tex dry suit). Some weeks I have been out kayaking as much as three times. I am right now a little more focused on getting into physical shape than I am in paddling skills, but both come well together.

My paddling skills have improved. The Romany kayak remains very good. Seen as a touring kayak it might be a little short and a little wide (I am saying that because with my weight in it, it is what I believe a tad slower than the other longer kayaks I tested). However, it is still all that I wanted and aimed for (maybe a slight disappointment on how it handles waves straight from behind), and when paddling in group I do not have to work to stay with the speed of the group. I am sitting comfortably in the Romany Surf, bit the Romany surf is also built for big people. The adjustment for larger people in the Romany is made to a large extent where you have the knees, and does not affect the kayak negatively. It is stable, and yet easy to turn. I still use the skeg, but I often enjoy taking it up and trying to use edging of the kayak as well (I am still unpracticed and still not as flexible as I should be, so edging is not yet easy enough).

I have been out in calm weather, and normal weather, among them in a nice excursion in Landskrona, and two times in a little rougher weather (10 meter per second, waves a bit over 0.5 meters). It behaves well in waves and surf, which is also a reason why I selected to go with the NDK Romany which is a little shorter than many other kayaks. It is a sea kayak, but it is ment to work especially well in surf. The kayak is thus also easier to turn than the little longer kayaks are, and less prone to adjusting itself up along the wave side.

I am really happy I did not buy one of the first kayaks I was looking at. The joy of paddling is a lot higher when you are sitting really comfortably, which is the major difference between this little larger kayak and other kayaks I tried. On top of that, it goes better in waves both with and against waves, than many other kayaks I tried as well. For the last part, I could have found other similarly good, but not with the comfort for a person my size.

Addition on Romany kayak after most of the summer season 2009

Me in my Romany surf kayak while the kayak is used to pass shallow water between some cliffsNow a large part of the summer has gone by, and I have continued to paddle a lot. The intial weak breeze weather of spring has been exchanged with standard weather in Skåne, that is 5-10 meter per second winds every day. Thus, I have now paddled the Romany surf kayak in waves many times. It is good, behaves well in surf. When the waves comes from behind, it skids a little, but many kayaks do. However, it is easy to turn, and I have learned that ordinary forward paddling strokes, correctly timed, is enough to keep it going well also with the wind behind you. Skeg is almost only used when wind is coming from behind (it is not only good at stabilising the course, it also stabilises the rolling of the kayak, so it is a comforting thing to have when waves start to feel big).

I have now been out in some long excusions in the club. The Romany kayak is not the fastest kayak, but it seems it is more its top speed that is lower than the longer more narrow kayaks, it glides quite well on the water, allowing me to keep the same speed as the others without much effort. This is better than expected, considering its short length and me being large. However, the speed limit comes earlier than for others, for example compared to the Tiderace XCite. So if I really start to paddle hard, then there is a limit to the top speed, caused by the kayak, and occuring a little earlier than on the Tiderace XCite.

Edging works fine, but is not a necessity. The skeg works well. Oh dear, I am sounding like a commercial.


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