I had the pleasure of paddling the new Barracuda 'Interface' a few days ago (I paddled the medium volume boat) care of Canoe and Kayak (thanks Pete!). The only thing I can really compare it to is my Southern Skua being that I have done almost all of my paddling in the Skua.
Obviously a very different hull shape with the Interface having the 'V' shaped hull as opposed to the rounded hull of the Skua. The conditions were relatively calm with a small swell. The first thing I noticed is how light the Interface is (around 17kg?), I always thought of my Skua as 'light' for a 5.3m kayak (22kg) but you certainly notice the difference with the Interface.
Getting into the boat and out though the breakers was very easy and dry. With a much roomier cockpit than my older Skua it was nice to be able to sit in the seat and simply fold my legs in, not like the houdini act involved in getting into my boat The extra room was also nice on the water to be able to move around a bit to relieve any pressure points or soreness (would be handy on long trips). The only down side to the spacious cockpit was that when rolling I felt like I 'flopped around' a bit and was out of touch with the boat, needing to re adjust my position once upright. This could be easily addressed by installing some foam paddling though. I had heaps of room (lengthwise) and found the foot pedal adjustment easy and the self adjusting rudder pedals great.
The Interface paddled nice, although a bit shorter that the Skua it is slightly narrower and with the reduction in weight it 'felt' quick through the water for about the same amount of effort as I am used to. I noticed a little less primary stability than the Skua, especially and rest and in choppy water but secondary stability was solid. By the end of the paddle I found I had adjusted to the differences and was not a problem. It tracked well (rudder up) and seemed to respond well to edge control. Possibly a little less manoeuvrable than my Skua but nothing major. I did notice for example that when slow or stationary a sweep stroke is converted a little more into forward movement than turning the boat however this can be mitigated somewhat by edging.
I surfed a few small waves and the Interface handled well and was good fun. Initially it seemed to broach rather quickly but that may have just been me getting used to the boat as after a few waves I had good control with a stern rudder and edging and had some nice long rides. One thing I did notice is that when I broached along a wave with a low brace and the boat came up and over the curling lip of the wave it would 'dig in' and the wave would pass under me. Possibly due to the hard chines grabbing the water as in my Skua with a rounded hull I often find myself sliding back down the face of the wave with the lip.
I liked the layout of the deck. Loved the small hatch/compartment at front of cockpit which is allowed for by the high foredeck immediately in front of the cockpit. The low profile fore and aft hatches look good and I think are a good idea being that the boat is so light and prone to windage. It would be good to paddle the Interface in a reasonable wind to see how it behaves as I have found the Skua to be excellent in wind.
All in all I found the Interface to be a nice boat with some very good features. I am a bit old fashioned and visually I love the rounded lines and smooth rocker of the Skua, the Interface is a whole different look but I could probably learn to love it At the end of the day it is all about suitability and compatibility, depending on the kayaker and what they want in a kayak. I am sure the the Interface will be very popular, it will be interesting to see how many Beachcomber owners make the swap!
My two cents worth,
Ps My dimensions are 6'2" and 100kg
Discussion here that is specific to SiKs and catching/processing fish without (hopefully) joining them...
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