08 March 2011
Two expedition worthy kayaks from Tahe Marine.
Tahe Marine has recently brought on the market a new style of kayak: the Zegul Baidarka.
I wanted to compare it to the other big loader: the Reval. (Zegul is to Tahe what Lexus is to Toyota).
two very different stern styles
The view of these sterns is compelling: there couldn't be two kayaks more different.
The Reval has a typically British style up swept stern while the Baidarka..., well, there is no other kayak like it. (correction 01JUL11. Nick Shade has a valid argument; see comments)
A traditional Baidarka of the Aleut islands has a different stern than the interpretation of the Zegul.
The Reval has a decent rocker while the Baidarka has very little. Despite the low stern the Baidarka paddled OK in reverse and didn't seem to dig in below the surface.
Stern low in the water. The Aleut paddle seemed very apt for this test paddle
The bow of the Baidarka is just as unique as its stern. A very fine low volume end that up sweeps to a unique horn-like shape. What is missing from a traditional Baidarka is the bifurcated bow, but I guess that would be too much for most to take in :-)
The hull is in epoxy infused carbon/aramide core reinforced construction making it a rather stiff hull.
The kayak is large, there is no denial. The hatch spaces are huge and would swallow an insane amount of gear.
Despite the size of the kayak (of strong swede form) it appeared to cruise at 8 kph with little effort.
The cockpit coaming sits high and there is plenty of room even for the chunkiest legs to fit under the thigh braces of the keyhole cockpit. Large feet also have no problems fitting on the easily adjusted foot pegs.
interesting bow, to say the least
The Baidarka has a unique way of lashing the generous deck bungee cords: a section of teak timber provides the anchor point. There is plenty of room to stash your gear on deck.
a fantastic finish of the deck's bungees
The Baidarka rolls easily thanks to the positive thigh braces however low laybacks are hindered by the rather high rear coaming.
high brace with Aleut paddle.
The Reval is Tahe's other rudderless big-boat offering.
It has strong British style influence with a more chiseled deck look.
The cockpit has again plenty of room for large paddlers while still suited for lighter bodies. It is however not a low volume kayak. Maneuverability seemed very quick despite the size. I felt that the pronounced V shape of the keel line makes the kayak a bit tender on the primary stability. When sitting on the beach it leans to one side however the kayak felt solid when paddled. It tracked well for a rockered boat and was easily turned if edged. Weight didn't seem to slow down either kayak.
The skeg slider on the Tahes is superb: it slid smoothly and didn't seem to have any drag. A welcome discovery after seeing (and repairing) a few dodgy skegs on other branded kayaks.
Deploying the skeg made a strong effect on the kayak behavior and would correct the slight tendency to weathercock.
The cut-away on the deck next to the cockpit offers a paddle reach close to the hull for high angle paddling.
The cockpit has a positive space for my thighs (not just resting on little wings) and bracing in the Reval was great. The kayak rolled extremely easily for me and a fair degree of layback was possible.
Test paddle conditions;
We loaded the kayaks with about 45 Kg alternatively. They were both paddled loaded and unloaded.
Test paddlers were of mid to heavy weight (68 to 110Kg) and mid to tall height (175 to 184cm)
There was an average of 8-10 knots of wind (gusting to 15kn) and there was 1-2 knots of tidal flow in some spots. The small wind waves were little indication on how the two boats would perform in following seas.
Only an extensive test paddle over several days would give us a better understanding on the kayaks' performance therefore any firm opinions on these kayaks ability are abstained.
This review's aim is to depict the two new kayaks since public images are very hard to come by.
Test kayaks were supplied by Adventure Outlet.