Scupper 14 Review

The stats quickly:

Specifications:
Length:            429 CM / 14’1”
Width:              65 CM / 25.5”
Deck Height:    34 CM / 13.5”
Weight:             29 Kg / 64 lbs.
Max Capacity:  177 Kg / 390 lbs.

Brief into:

We were really keen to demo this kayak because it would be our first experience of an international kayak so to speak. The Scupper 14 comes from the US-based Swell Watercraft. It takes its heritage from and was designed by the guy who brought the world the very first sit-on-top kayak in 1971, American Tim Niemier.

Our first test of the Scupper 14 started in Simons Town harbour which is on the southern peninsula of Cape Town. The first part of the paddle was very sheltered from the 14 – 22knot SE wind but as soon as we turned past the edge of the harbour wall we were straight in to the wind for the first four kilometres down the coast.

The prevailing SE waves slam in to the harbour wall and rebound making that section one of the trickiest parts to the paddle. May paddlers have come unstuck on that corner because of the sudden change in conditions. So it was an ideal time for us to put the new Scupper 14 through its paces.

What we instantly loved:

Its glide – within two or three strokes the Scupper 14 was moving cleanly through the water. Both of us were very impressed with how easy it was to get going and maintain a comfortable speed.

We think that it is going to be a super kayak to learn how to paddle downwind! I know that a review of plastic kayak should not even mention downwind sea paddling but this kayak seemed to love the small swells on the way home. We cannot wait for our friends and clients to try it to hear what they have to say.

It is remarkably dry in the cockpit. We had our doubts about this aspect when we first unwrapped the kayak for two reasons. The first is that it has a gigantic hatch in the front of the kayak that is big enough to fit our 5 man tent (yes we tested it) so we were worried that as we paddled in to the waves, water would pour in under the hatch cover. The second is that the cockpit space is massive and with your feet below the water line, if that filled up with water it could be an uncomfortable paddle. We were wrong to worry on both accounts; the hatch did not take in a drop of water and the cockpit area remained dry throughout the paddle in to the wind and swells.

What we were impressed about:

The overall finish of the kayak. From the beautiful hull to the numerous attachment points and the rod/ action camera baseplate, the overall impression is that this is a top draw kind of kayak.

The seat area. At 520mm it is the widest kayak of our fleet by at least 50mm. This is important because essentially this is a touring kayak and so it is nice to be able to move around a little in ones seat to look around, take the pressure off a particular point on your bum or so that you do not feel trapped in one’s seat.

The hull/ keel and rudder combination. We paddle along the same course as the world famous Millers Run and although we don’t ever plan to go out in strong winds (25knots +) from time to time they come out of nowhere and so any review from us will take in to consideration how we feel the kayak will cope should the weather turn suddenly. I am happy to say that the Scupper 14 tracked very nicely into the wind and waves so that at no time did Kevin have to correct the steering. It held its path across the waves with very little effort and paddling with the waves and the wind on your back is just wonderful. The problem that plagues plastic kayaks is that most of them are flat bottomed and so they broach very easily. This is when the nose of the kayak keeps turning in to the wind even though you are doing your best to paddle with the wind on your back. I am happy to report that not once on the 4km downwind stretch did the Scupper 14 feel like it was about to broach.

Concerns:

There are some points of contention between the testers though. Some paddlers may prefer a more snug fit in the cockpit if they come from a surfski background and the centre hatch is nice but it can catch on your calf muscles. Overall it was felt that there are two aspects to the Scupper 14 that could take a battering and they are:

The first is the comfy paddled seat.  It looks great and works like a charm but being material runs the risk of catching on clothes, branches, fishing hooks etc..

The second is their revolutionary scupper valves used to drain the cockpit area. It is a sight to behold and a stroke of genius in its design and it works like a charm to boot! But when they are opened, they stick out the bottom of the hull and we all expressed concern that they may be damaged if one forgets to close them before returning to shore.

Conclusion:

Our first impressions of this kayak were very favourable and we think that it is stable enough for all our friends and clients to give it a try. So over the next few weeks we will be getting a host of people to paddle it and see what they think. Hopefully we will get a few of them to take it down the world famous Millers run and then we will ask them for their impression of the kayak. Do give Paddle Experience a shout if you would like to be one of those lucky paddlers to demo the new kayak.

The first client review is in:

Scupper 14 review:

It was my first time paddling this kayak and was quite impressed with it. I found it easily manoeuvrable and glides through the water with ease. The conditions were perfect, so did not test it in choppy waters, but found it very stable going over swells. I found the hatch that is placed between your legs uncomfortable, however for someone that may enjoy fishing, I could imagine that it would be nice to have an easily assessable hatch for your bits and bobs. Overall a great kayak and I’d definitely like to paddle it again. There’s even space at the back for your dog. *Inge