Review: Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.3 meets 'The Cow'

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N2Y
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Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:35 pm

On Friday I managed to score a hot of the mould Ultra 4.3 to fondle over the long weekend 8)

Before I get going (you might want to make a cuppa this could go for a while :lol: ) I started yak fishing in a Prowler 13 then moved to a Profish 400 so comparisons will likely be to these two yaks. I am 6'2" around 85kg.

The Where: Manukau inner harbour (Mangere Bridge)

The conditions: Slight wind against tide chop initially dieing to flat calm - Not ideal for a yak test but beggers can't be chosers right

The test time: Approx 1.5 hours paddling (no fishing :( ))

The short version ( no pics just words):

- Easy to lift on and off the car with solid handles (much easier than my old P13 but heavier and a little more awkward than my PF400) :y:
- Quick to setup: Seat already attached, FF in center well etc :y:
- Quick accelerating up to speed and cruises nicely :y:
- More stable than the Prowler 13 but less than the PF400 :y: :n:
- Seat (standard 4.3) too hard for my liking and felt the bones in my butt after short time (no thigh support) :n:
- Tracking: I could not get this yak to track straight without using the rudder (pulled fairly hard left) :n:
- Dry ride due to high foot-wells and nose and large amount of rocker :y:

The long version:

Saturday morning rolled around and with the wind and rain pounding the windows it was out to the garage to skope out the new Ultra 4.3. I'll start with the design and features.

Design and features:

From the front...

- Front Hatch: AWESOME!!! Easy to open and close and seems to seal very well (hose test). Can fit the C-Tug trolley through the opening after removing the wheels and folding the supports in. Plenty of access for installing wiring etc.

- Centre well system: SWEET!!! Heaps of space inside the well and no ridges etc to stop containers sitting flat. You might need to buy more tackle to fill this sucker 8) According to the 'spray with a hose test' the new lid is pretty well water tight. There is a small issue with water running down the lid and inside the well when opened though. The new hinge design is a really good addition I think, allowing larger type of cable/connectors to be fitted through:
small_1.jpg
- Transducer recess scupper: VERY COOL!!! Allows a huge range of different transducer options

- Factory fixed seat: OK. While I really like the design of this seat it just didn't suit me on the water. I found the foam far to hard for my butt and after around an hour of paddling (in comparison on my PF400 with high back seat and blue foam cushion I can get 4-5 hours with no un-comfort) the pain had started to set in. I found that the hard foam combined with the lack of thigh support meant that all my weight was effectively sitting on my butt bones which I can only guess is not good for circulation. In saying this I understand the factory seat can be removed and replaced with aftermarket options...the next test ;)

- The rudder system: Hmmmm. One of the first things I noticed after adjusting the foot supports (I paddle with slightly bent knees) was the lack of travel I could get from the rudder pedals. After investigation I noticed the pedals were tilted down (possibly due to a mould shrinkage issue?) which resulted in them clashing with the moulded section of the deck at the end of the footwells. The results was a very limited rudder angle (see first two pics). I also noticed that the groove for the rudder to sit in when up was two short meaning you could not use the foot pedals to brace in a surf situation. I understand this issue is already being looked at on the tool.
rudder_small.JPG
- The foot wells: When I initially saw the really high foot wells I was a little dubious as to what that would mean for the rudder pedal operation (being the pedals would sit much lower on the foot). Not a problem at all for me. Pedals were easy to operate. I really like the removal of the moulded steps in the foot wells also. I was always in between two steps on my Prowler 13 and also find being able to move the angle of your foot infinitely makes things more comfortable. The foot wells drain very quickly as soon as you start to paddle too :y:

- Rear rod holders: Not so sure. I would personally have preferred standard flush mount holders. My main concern with them is controlling the material thickness at the bases. One of the ones on the yak I had seemed quite thin and I wonder how well they will last with metal gimbal butt rods. Maybe a plastic cap inserted from the top or glue on from underneath would remove possible issues? Not sure could be perfectly fine and time will tell.

- Rear well: Again, I didn't get to use it but it's huge and seems very usable.

- Wear strip: Personally I think it is too short and leave the rear scupper edges exposed to damage. To me having the wear strip gives the impression of being able to grab the front handle, lifting the front of the yak with straight arm and pull the yak out of the water. This is not the case. As I mentioned I am 6'2" and have to lift the front of the yak up to above my waist before the wear strip is taking the load. This may be fine and doable after you realize this but I wonder if the strip could be made longer for a bit more tolerance in lift angle.

On the water...finally :lol:

- Speed: Impressive. I am not one to read into the whole hull speed, a 'k' here a 'k' there discussions but to me this kayak did seem to paddle very well. It certainly seems to go along at cruising speed easier than my current ride, PF400 (although remembering it was a flat calm day) and the top speed I reached was faster than I have any any other yak - around 11km/hr. At one stage I ended up in the middle of the channel against the roaring outgoing and still putting on 4.5km/hr (going hard though :sweat: ) This is after putting the paddle down and picking up the camera :lol: :
over_10.jpg
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- Tracking: Um, with my lack of skills an training it did not track well without the rudder. Initially I paddled away from the launch with the rudder down and after lifting while going along the yak straight away pulled left. I found it very hard to correct with extra paddle strokes and what little I know about 'railing'. Couldn't do it. I thought it may have been the current (I was heading across the channel) but tried again in dead flat glassy conditions in close in less than 1m of water and it was pretty much the same. With the rudder, fine! On a side note I did notice that the extended keel did not seem to be very far in the water at all (see pic below - taken with similar size paddler on flat water). I wonder what effect this will have on tracking, water line length etc when in choppy conditions:
keel.jpg
keel.jpg (15.6 KiB) Viewed 4660 times
- Stability: REALLY STABLE!!! This yak has got rid of a large amount of the 'tippy' feel of the Prowler 13. Not as stable as the PF400.

Now I have just about run out of words I know so I think I will rap it up...

Overall a very easy to maneuver kayak on and off the water. Easy to paddle, stable and plenty of storage. Some awesome new design features that will definitely take a lot of the DIY and guess work out of setting up a fishing kayak. For me there are still a few small things this yak could do with to make it into the ultimate beast.

Cheers :beer:
Last edited by N2Y on Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PB's: Snapper 26.2lb :whew: ; Kawhai 3lb :?: ; Kingfish 25lb 8) ; Trevally 9.5lb :rock: ; John Dory 2lb? :lol: ; Gurnard 35cm :P

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Pizzaeater
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Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:33 pm

Thanks N2Y nice balanced review.

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Hairy Little Dwarf
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Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:04 pm

Thanks N2Y - A good comprehensive review :y:
(I wouldn't call the 13 "tippy" though ;) )

Wonder if there is some distortion there that could be contributing to the pedal fouling and skew tracking on that one?

Was it one of the prototypes?
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.................... "Flying Mango".......... [Up for sale, $1400]

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N2Y
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:02 am

Hairy Little Dwarf wrote: (I wouldn't call the 13 "tippy" though ;) )
Haha...I guess maybe tippy is not the right word? Just meaning the side to side rock you get with the Prowlers that doesn't exist with the likes of the flat bottom Profish's. 'It' has been reduced anyways ;)
Hairy Little Dwarf wrote: Was it one of the prototypes?
It wasn't one of the 'first 4'. Correct me if I am wrong Regan, but I think this was one of the first of the production run after the initial 'tweeks' had been made. I am guessing there will still be work being done to tune the moulds though.
Last edited by N2Y on Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PB's: Snapper 26.2lb :whew: ; Kawhai 3lb :?: ; Kingfish 25lb 8) ; Trevally 9.5lb :rock: ; John Dory 2lb? :lol: ; Gurnard 35cm :P

GBC
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:12 am

Regan posted the other day (last week) that production was not due to start until this week at the earliest.
That was my understanding of his post anyway.
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GBC
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:19 am

I have found Regans post.
Hi Guys,

We have all the known issues sorted and have built the cooling jig.
I have run and fine tuned the boat and the hulls are looking sweet.
We have made the new demo boats and will go into full production after the long weekend.

The current NZ orders will be filled by mid June.

Cheers

Regan
Ocean Kayak
Alcohol doesnt solve any problems But ..... neither does Milk



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Mental
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:23 am

As far as I know the yak I had this weekend is a pre production boat and it's NOT one of the first four (they were destroyed last week)... and for this reason I'll be posting my feedback direct to Johnsons and not in a public forum... Might pay to check this N2Y...
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N2Y
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:27 am

Mental wrote:As far as I know the yak I had this weekend is a pre production boat and it's NOT one of the first four (they were destroyed last week)... and for this reason I'll be posting my feedback direct to Johnsons and not in a public forum... Might pay to check this N2Y...
Check and approved for review before posting :y:
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PB's: Snapper 26.2lb :whew: ; Kawhai 3lb :?: ; Kingfish 25lb 8) ; Trevally 9.5lb :rock: ; John Dory 2lb? :lol: ; Gurnard 35cm :P

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sk8e8
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:24 am

Nice review mate. Feel like I know the yak already :)
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Yak PBs. Snapper: 18lb 12oz @ Cuvier * John Dory: 4lb 6oz @ Cuvier * Kingfish: 10kg @ Mayor Island * Blue Nose: 22.7kg @ White Island * Hapuka: 8kg @ White Island * Skipjack Tuna: 5lb @ Auckland

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Mental
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:30 am

N2Y wrote:
Mental wrote:As far as I know the yak I had this weekend is a pre production boat and it's NOT one of the first four (they were destroyed last week)... and for this reason I'll be posting my feedback direct to Johnsons and not in a public forum... Might pay to check this N2Y...
Check and approved for review before posting :y:
Sweet :y:
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Kayakmaker
Posts: 69
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Kayak Make: Ocean Kayak
Kayak Model: Ultra 4.3
VHF Call Sign: Prowler
Location: Silverdale

Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:18 pm

N2Y, Thanks for your input and constructive criticism,

It is information like this that is valuable to us in trying to create the best kayak.
I will look into your feedback and go over the areas of concern on the kayak in fine detail
Especially the rudder set up.

One thing I would like to make clear, this boat is not the final production version.
Changes have been made to the flag holder and the rudder stay after similar reports from earlier test paddles.

Bringing a kayak as complicated as the 4.3 online is quite an involved process and there may be changes to the design in the early stages as feedback arises.

One thing that is not clear in your report is that in the picture of the keel out of the water, you have not stated that the paddler is leaning forward and the kayak is at rest.
Be mindful that displacement hulls rise at the bow and dip at the stern when under power.
This is all part of how we have achieved a very fast kayak that remains extremely stable at rest.

While we do not want to delay the production release any further, we are mindful that the final boat suits the majority of the paddling public, It is the 80/20 rule.

All comments will be taken onboard and accessed to see if further action is required.

Once again thanks for your feedback

Regan
Ocean Kayak

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N2Y
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Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:42 pm

Kayakmaker wrote:...One thing that is not clear in your report is that in the picture of the keel out of the water, you have not stated that the paddler is leaning forward and the kayak is at rest...
Yes sorry if that was misleading. The yak was not being paddled at the time of that snap and the driver was leaning forward playing with the sounder.
Kayakmaker wrote:..
Be mindful that displacement hulls rise at the bow and dip at the stern when under power.
This is all part of how we have achieved a very fast kayak that remains extremely stable at rest....
Good to know. Cheers for the info :y:

Would have been good to get a video of that impromptu wear strip test in the carpark this arvo :o :whew: :D
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PB's: Snapper 26.2lb :whew: ; Kawhai 3lb :?: ; Kingfish 25lb 8) ; Trevally 9.5lb :rock: ; John Dory 2lb? :lol: ; Gurnard 35cm :P

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Kingfish killer
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:20 pm

Only just spotted this reveiw and found it to be very informative and well balanced.
Nice one Mike :y:

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Kingfish killer
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:31 pm

Hairy Little Dwarf wrote:Thanks N2Y - A good comprehensive review :y:
(I wouldn't call the 13 "tippy" though ;) )

Wonder if there is some distortion there that could be contributing to the pedal fouling and skew tracking on that one?

Was it one of the prototypes?
Calling the 13 tippy is exactly the same description i used when i upgraded my flat bottom viking espri to the P 13 .
I can clearly remember being shocked at how tippy it felt compared to the espri .
The good thing is i quickly got used to it and in 2 years paddling the P 13 ive never fallen out .
Damn i hope i havnt just jinxed myself ! :worried:

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Celebre
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:48 pm

Kingfish killer wrote:
Hairy Little Dwarf wrote:Thanks N2Y - A good comprehensive review :y:
(I wouldn't call the 13 "tippy" though ;) )

Wonder if there is some distortion there that could be contributing to the pedal fouling and skew tracking on that one?

Was it one of the prototypes?
Calling the 13 tippy is exactly the same description i used when i upgraded my flat bottom viking espri to the P 13 .
I can clearly remember being shocked at how tippy it felt compared to the espri .
The good thing is i quickly got used to it and in 2 years paddling the P 13 ive never fallen out .
Damn i hope i havnt just jinxed myself ! :worried:
:devil: :devil: Hmmm...."tippy"....you are always free to paddle my boat..... :devil: :devil: :lol:

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Hairy Little Dwarf
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:04 pm

...or my skinny Prijon (comes with extra wibble-wobble :) )
Image
.................... "Flying Mango".......... [Up for sale, $1400]

Phoenix Hornet - Specialty Assault Craft

Dad! Dad! Look at his fish! It's way bigger than anything you've EVER caught! - Nosey 7-8yo boy on opening my icebox to father strapping down his $XXX Stabicraft 759(?) - Gold. Pure Gold.

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Celebre
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:11 pm

Hairy Little Dwarf wrote:...or my skinny Prijon (comes with extra wibble-wobble :) )
:o

I can't manage Mr Celebre's Opus.......

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Kingfish killer
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Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:11 pm

No thanks guys , it would be like watching a 5 year old ride a bike without training wheels for the first time ! :doh:

richardantony
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Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:23 pm

Great review. It is always refreshing to read something that is told straight, and taken so well by Ocean Kayak. As someone looking into new kayaks at the moment it would be great to have a post back on here as to which of the issues raised have been resolved? Especially for someone like me not necessarily wanting to fit a rudder system but not wanting to go around in little circles either. What say Ocean let NZY out on the production version and do another review.
ps Have you tried to find a kayak retailer that has bothered to feature the 4.3 on their web site yet. I might be missing something but if it wasnt for Kayakfishing NZ you would think this new kayak was a secret. Check out the suppliers listed on the Johnstone Outdoors web site for Auckland,then try and find one featuring the new baby. This free sales advise does not come free!!! I expect delivery of my complimetary 4.3 by the end of the week :lol:

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Kingfish killer
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Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:27 pm

richardantony wrote:Great review. It is always refreshing to read something that is told straight, and taken so well by Ocean Kayak. As someone looking into new kayaks at the moment it would be great to have a post back on here as to which of the issues raised have been resolved? Especially for someone like me not necessarily wanting to fit a rudder system but not wanting to go around in little circles either. What say Ocean let NZY out on the production version and do another review.
ps Have you tried to find a kayak retailer that has bothered to feature the 4.3 on their web site yet. I might be missing something but if it wasnt for Kayakfishing NZ you would think this new kayak was a secret. Check out the suppliers listed on the Johnstone Outdoors web site for Auckland,then try and find one featuring the new baby. This free sales advise does not come free!!! I expect delivery of my complimetary 4.3 by the end of the week :lol:
Go back to johnson outdoors site and look at " new kayaks " .

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