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You can't have everything in one boat. For speed, you want long-and-narrow. For comfort, you want beam and a big cockpit. For maneuverability and compactness, a short kayak is desirable. Artful compromise is the mark of good design, and we feel that Eric Schade's Shearwater Sport is a great combination of kayak virtues.
For years kayak builders have been asking us for a kayak that slots in between the high-performance Shearwater series and the beamy, comfortable Wood Duck series. At our in-water demos, the experienced paddlers often made a beeline for the Shearwater 14, because it has the handling and the great looks of the West Greenland-style kayaks, but its shorter length makes it more maneuverable and easier to use than the long, fast Shearwater 17. The Shearwater 14, however, is a scaled-down 17, intended only for smaller-statured paddlers weighing less than 150 pounds. That left a lot of paddlers on the shore.
Eric has brought his practiced eye and decades of paddling experience to bear on the problem. Settling on a length of 14'6", he added just enough beam (25") to support paddlers over 200lbs. Refinement of the underbody, the bow, and the stern allowed him to retain the crisp handling that has sold almost 650 Shearwater kayaks.
For paddlers with longer legs who want an easy entry and egress, Eric specified a 34-inch long cockpit. Standard spray skirts still fit, and the Shearwater Sport is outfitted with all of the features expected in a high-performance kayak: knee braces, hip braces, and a low aft deck for those who want to roll the boat.
The compact Shearwater Sport gives up nothing in cruising speeds to its longer, narrower Shearwater sisters, though it won't be quite as fast in a sprint. It's still more than fast enough to accelerate onto waves for surfing. Indeed, many paddlers will build the Shearwater Sport just for surfing, while maintaining longer kayaks for distance work.
For less adventurous paddlers, the Shearwater Sport offers the perfect compromise of light weight, sharp West Greenland handling, effortless cruising speed, and an extra-large cockpit for comfort. The shorter length means easier construction, storage, and cartopping. It might just be the One Kayak that does almost everything well. Watertight bulkheads and flush-mounted deck hatches are standard, so many builders will camp out of the boat.
The payload is ideal for up to a 220-pound paddler plus gear. The reduced windage of the Shearwater family means that small people can paddle the Shearwater Sport, too, so more than just one person in the family can enjoy this beautiful kayak.
The Shearwater Sport's construction follows the proven stitch-and-glue process of the rest of the Shearwater family. A dark sapele deck is standard.
The Shearwater Sport Hybrid substitutes a cedar stripped deck for the standard sapele plywood deck. Somewhat more challenging to build, the Shearwater Sport Hybrid rewards the kit builder with a unique and beautiful design. Builders are provided with a mixture of light, medium and dark cedar strips and may create their own strip pattern, or imitate the design in the instruction manual.
Plans for the Shearwater Sport comprise a 33-foot by 3-foot roll of paper with full-sized patterns for every part in the boat.
Build this boat if:
- You're looking for a versatile and comfortable kayak that isn't a beamy tub.
- You're looking for a sport-oriented kayak for surfing
- You want a sleek, West Greenland-style kayak without the gawky 17- or 18-foot length
- You prefer advanced handling qualities in all conditions, including waves
Builders also looked at:
Shearwater 14 | Shearwater 16 | Wood Duck 12 | Petrel Play