By Paul Lebowitz
Tarpon, meet the FlexPod OS. Wilderness Systems has married a 13-foot version of its time-tested performance-oriented Tarpon hull with its recent cutting edge innovations.
Those, of course, are the elevated, mesh-backed AirPro MAX Lite seat and the versatile FlexPod OS, home to electronics and a new Motor Drive. That AirPro seat is on tracks, adjustable fore and aft, one of the changes needed to accommodate both short and tall users if and when the company introduces a plug-in pedal power option. Wilderness Systems reps are making no promises. Keep in mind that the system now known as the Flex Pod has evolved over time. The new Motor Pod isn’t compatible with the Ride 115x, the first Wildy kayak to field a removable thru-hull console. History could repeat.
Wilderness Systems senior designer David E. Maughan walked me through a prototype T130x at the On the Water Demo at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. The Tarpon has never been this wide – the 32-inch span is needed to support the seat and the Flex Pod, as well as to provide increased stability and capacity. The sides look straight up and down, but rolling this baby over to see its bottom revealed unmistakable Tarpon DNA. A quick paddle showed that this new style Tarpon isn’t as quick as the older 140 or 160, but a straight-up comparison is missing the point.
With the advent of the hands-free options, Wildy has added a separate transducer scupper elsewhere (no worries). There’s plenty of SlideTrax accessory rail system, as well as a redesigned console. The rest of the standard features look familiar. Pricing will be released later.