Wilderness Systems Offshore Kayak: Interview with CJ Siebler E-mail
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00

Wildy-Offshore-Surf-6L

The Wilderness Systems design team sat down with Pro Staffer CJ Siebler after testing the new offshore fishing kayak prototype to discuss his first impressions.

How did you get involved with the Wilderness Systems offshore prototype testing?

Earlier in the month I was asked, along with my fellow Wildy Pro Staffer Dave Easton and local expert and writer Paul Lebowitz, to participate in the testing of 2 new models form Wilderness Systems set to be launched this fall. These new models are aimed at exactly the type of fishing that we do in the coastal waters of SoCal, so naturally we were all very excited to be part of the development of such a product!

What were your expectations going into the testing?

Our expectations were high and the Wilderness Systems design team did not disappoint. From a West Coast waters perspective, we had asked that Wildy create a hull featuring more bow rocker and volume than their other models in order to better handle surf. We also asked that these boats have storage for rods and other gear while in the surf. Needless to say, the initial design drawings and the prototypes produced definitely delivered.

Wildy-Offshore-10 630

The new big water boat will feature two sizes – approximately 14’ and 15.5’. What are your thoughts on the different sizes?

While both models are similar in design and set to meet the needs of both inshore and offshore anglers with long paddler-friendly hulls, they are very different from each other. The 14-foot model has a more traditional width and is similar to other boats in its class such as the Tarpon 140; the 15.5-foot model comes in at a slightly larger, yet reasonable width.

For me this posed a question as to which I might prefer; traditionally I am a fan of kayaks in the 15-foot and greater length but in a narrower width range. Neither of these boats exactly met what I am used to, and I felt the smaller of the two would likely feel more “at home” to me. However, after testing them both it was a very hard to pick a favorite as each had their advantages and will offer much-needed variety to anglers.

What are some of the specific advantages unique to each model?

The 14-foot version offers plenty of stability for most paddlers – especially those with some experience – and is definitely above average for its class. The tracking of this boat was also above average for its size. Although some speed and glide are sacrificed to provide the higher stability, the boat is still very efficient and above average compared to other popular models. In the surf the boat excelled, easily lifting over waves and whitewash. Even while paddling parallel to the shoreline inside the surf zone this boat easily rode over everything the sea threw at it.

The 15.5-foot model in which I thought would be too wide for my preference really won me over. This boat is one of the most stable kayaks I have ever paddled! Primary stability was above average and secondary [stability] was unbelievable. Given the immense stability the boat did lose some efficiency, especially “out of the hole.” However, once up to speed the boat had a very comfortable cruising speed and great glide. The designers assured me that the production model will increase the takeoff speed, making this one of the best paddling and most stable kayaks in its market. In the surf, the boat performed even better than the 14’ offering plenty of lift in the bow and also handling waves from the side with ease. The cockpit drained beautifully and everything worked just as well as I could have hoped. Tracking was solid and this boat held true on flat water and when presented with swell and wind, and though equipped with a rudder I rarely felt as if I needed to deploy it as with other big water models.

Wildy Offshore Profile2

Can you describe some features shared by both models?

Both models feature familiar deck rigging in the SlideTrax™ system, making installation of many accessories a breeze. The ample storage in these boats will accommodate all the tackle and rods any angler would carry, and is sure to please. Your rods will easily stow from a seated position, giving anglers an easy option to stow gear in the surf or to have extras with them. The hatches all seal beautifully and have solid latches that were exceptionally easy to use.

Storage pockets on the deck – a familiar feature on other Wildy models – have been reworked and improved with great drainage and placement. Of course what would a new model be without an innovative and super clean way to mount electronics? Yep, your fishfinder installation is covered too, and very well If I do say so myself. Top all of this off with some very cool new deck fittings that are sure to make lashing gear in big surf much easier and secure.

What are your overall first impressions of these prototypes?

To say I am pleased with beginning designs of these new models is an understatement. Wilderness Systems has really listened to anglers’ wants and desires in the design concept. Execution of the designs was spot-on and the small changes we asked for have already been sent back to the drawing board. For a first round prototype, Wilderness Systems has knocked this out of the park. I am very excited to see the next round of tweaking to the designs and even more excited to have the boats in production – they are sure to be a winning model!

Wildy-Offshore-Surf-7L

CJ has over 13 years of kayak fishing experience with 7 years as an industry professional as the GM of KayakFishingSupplies.com.  He has proudly been a member of the Wilderness Systems Fishing Team for over 5 years and is the Chapter Coordinator for Heroes on the Water (HOW) at the SoCal chapter.

 

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