IF ANY BOAT RIVALED or surpassed the Seda in stiffness, that would be the Chatham. Chalk that up to a new epoxy-fiberglass composite construction courtesy of renowned builder Cobra International (the world's largest windsurf and surfboard manufacturer adds a hardening core layer of Soric polyester material).
"It'll take tremendous impact in the surf zone or while rock gardening – you can actually hit the seam with steel hammer. It's designed to get the crap beat out of it and bring you back alive," says Necky's Murray Hamilton, who designed the boat with planing hull pioneer Spike Gladwin. Although they certainly won't peg the Chatham's displacement hull as a planer, their "no-compromise rough-water boat" carries volume in the bow through sleek lines and a very full chine profile for a stable ride.
"It didn't want to turn as fast as some of the others, but it was forgiving," one tester said, noting the tight-fitting cockpit. "You'd catch an edge and if you felt the boat trying to rattle you, it recovered." Despite a tight fit for larger testers in the bunch, the Chatham maintained speed and held its line well during long miles back through a cross wind.
Specs: $1,699 in polymer, 59 lbs.; $2,999 in fiberglass composite, 51 lbs.; $3,999 in carbon composite, 46 lbs., neckykayaks.com. Length: 16.45'; Width: 22"; Depth: 12.5". Three airtight hatches, retractable skeg, produced in Thailand
and Ferndale, Wash.
This review first appeared in the March 2009 edition of C&K, as part of our review of Skook-worthy sea kayaks.