I started using this robust and large kayak after I had paddled many years and many thousands of kilometers on a Gumotex Helios. I suspected that this higher class would bring with it more improvements and new possibilities, and I was right. The first time I used the new boat was in my second home – on the Leboulou and Niari rivers in the Congo Basin in Central Africa. After unpacking the boat from its waterproof carry bag (which provides plenty of room for other accessories, which always comes in handy in the field), the red-and-gray strap-tied beauty lay in front of me. It was a shame to unroll it in the mud… Four and a half metres long piece was perhaps surprisingly compact and light when folded. Therefore, handling it is easy even for one person and this time I was sailing the boat alone. Once unfolded, finding the valves to the main three chambers – the bottom and sides – was easy and straightforward. Their location is also reachable from the boat, and unlike some previous Helios models, these are not in a place where they might get in the way or push the kayaker in certain positions. That is not a concern now. Next up are the separate, adjustable and stable backrests, which are easy to adjust with the straps, and just like the inflatable footrests, installation is intuitive. The seat has a high enough backrest for my taller stature (almost 190 cm) and the boat was comfortable even after several days of intense paddling. The very furthest bow and stern of the boat is covered from above and offers the possibility of partially inserting, for example, a water canister, a tent, a backpack or even a watermelon! The boat is easy to handle when carrying (or even pouring water) by both one or two people. It can be nicely slung over the shoulder of one carrier or carried by two by the solid handles in the front and back. On the water, the boat is very solid and it doesn´t look like inflatable boat at all. It is dynamic, responding quickly to the kayaker’s cues. Its stability is excellent. I had it filled with a large suitcase with electronic equipment, a full crosse, 10 liter water bottle, pot, shoes, tent, tripod, machete, and food supplies for several days. All of this was no problem to stack in the places in front of and behind me and to secure it thanks to the longitudinal side ropes. The tying down was more out of habit, as the boat actually still held its position and stability. Its surface is very pleasant to touch and it is evident that it is made of strong and solid material. Numerous runs aground or even sharper broken branches underwater have left no marks on it at all. It is easy to turn the boat around during the sailing or even to climb over to the front if it is empty. It allows a really wide range of activities and uses. If necessary, a fixed black directional fin can be installed with a few moves to better maintain the course. In short, I felt comfortable, safe and somehow privileged on the Seawave kayak – because it really is a joy to paddle.
But let me not bore you with superlatives, even if deserved:
My rather narrow range of usage of the boat, which is not recreational, but always either research or expedition, makes me admit from my point of view only two disadvantages of this boat – the first is the colour of the outer sides – bright red. While this is beautiful and – I admit – often very practical, in certain situations and environments a less conspicuous colour – khaki or natural green, for example – would certainly suit such a water vessel. I believe that these colors would find their customers. The second and quite often downright impractical shortcoming is the fact that without a pump, the type of valve used cannot be inflated by mouth. It is necessary to have a special part on the pump and you really can’t make it work without it, although I have tried holding various objects between my teeth and being creative. Only by making a special mouthpiece of the exact size from PVC pipe, rubber hose and a screw can the boat be inflated with this little ” tool”. I always carry it with me (and often don’t use the pump at all, for space saving reasons). In limited and emergency situations, I think this non mouth inflatable type of valve can be a problem.
But, of course, with the recommended use of the boat in less extreme conditions, it will meet the 99.9% of expectations, and even in my somewhat wilder setting, this is not a problem as long as I am prepared. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this boat after the first hundred miles paddled. I definitely give it an „A“ and can highly recommend the boat as a genuine product, an aesthetically beautiful piece and above all a reliable means for sport and travel.
Bring in an old Gumotex boat, get a 40% discount on a new one. Rules of the event: At selected points of sale, the customer hands in an old Gumotex boat and can buy a kayak or canoe with a 40% discount...