This is the second of a two part series. Part I may be viewed here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=49342
Part II On the water:
The compact Sports load and stack easily in the truck and will fit in the trunk of some cars:Hull:
The new hull is a huge improvement in refinement -- hull slap and pounding were virtually non-existent in the trial period. Spray from wind and chop was also diminished for a drier ride. The bow still pushes water, but this is to be expected from such a short, boxy hull. With additional internal volume, the seat is higher for a drier ride. The stern also rides higher so the cargo well stays drier. This in turn elevates the rudder lines for less potential water intrusion (rudder lines are "sealed" but not necessarily totally leak proof). Older model shown with water covering rudder and rudder lines: Cockpit:
Everything is easy to use -- trays have improved utility, side pockets are handy for stowing small gear and rudder control positioning is good. Placement of the dual concave lift handles intrude into the cockpit by 2.5"; this was not a problem for me, as they were pretty much under my legs. The only issue I had with them was that I couldn't use them to hang on to while on the water. For boat handling they worked fine though and having two instead of one on the old Sport facilitates better control. One of the small improvements I really like is allowing full drainage from the bottle holders.
The only serious cockpit flaw I found was the shallower footwell. At 5', 10", I use the #7 (full forward) pedal position because of the short cockpit. Unfortunately the reduced footwell interferes with pedaling unless one has pigmy feet. IMO, this limits leg thrust. Here is an illustration -- old Sport:
To get full leg extension with the new boat (same pedal position) one had to use the instep (not comfortable)
or point the toes:
This only poses a problem in the most forward pedaling position. A person with shorter legs who can readjust the pedals closer to any of the other six positions should not have this problem and may find the new Sport to be just as fast as the older boat.Stability:
Initial stability (how tippy the boat feels when you sit in it) feels solid, but not quite as much as the older boat. More importantly, secondary stability (tipping point) is much improved over the old hull -- I would rate it as excellent -- good advance warning and increasing resistance give ample support.Handling:
With the optional large (sailing) rudder, the new Sport responds quickly and turns beautifully -- better than the old Sport (which was also quite good). Speed:
The old Sport is a little faster on sprints (5.6 MPH vs. 5.4 MPH with Turbofins), but cruising speed is similar at about 4 1/4 MPH (Turbofins) fast cruise though. Paddling:
The new Sport tracks satisfactorily with the large rudder and fins down. This boat can also be edged (lean-steered) for small corrections without having to adjust the rudder. As a result, I think the paddling is quite satisfactory, especially for a boat that is designed to be pedaled and maneuvered easily. Rudder down, fins up, the boat wanders a little but still does fine. With the rudder up, the boat has no skeg substitute, and does not paddle well.
One small gripe I have is that it is difficult to get the paddle into and out of the redesigned paddle holder. As noted in Part I, this was changed to facilitate a more consistent mold release by reducing the depth of the paddle shaft groove and shorting the paddle perches. The bungee eyelet is too close to the paddle for easy use. It's not a big deal and not hard to adapt to, but in a size by side comparison, the old Sport paddle holder was easier to use.Sailing:
This boat sailed amazingly well for a 9.5 footer! Less tender (tippy) than my Revo 11 in spite of its shorter length, there was very little weather helm in light to moderate winds. There was also surprisingly very little leeway (sideways slippage) upwind. I went sailing with a longer, sleeker Hobie Adventure with daggerboard and managed to stay essentially even with it in lighter winds. As winds picked up the Adventure's greater hull speed came into play, but still very impressive! The Sport out-tacked the Adventure and had excellent manners and control -- got up to 4.2 MPH in moderate breeze. If you like sailing and understand the limitations of kayak sailing, you will really enjoy this little Sport! Here are some pics from my friend Mike:
With a couple of small mods, you can take the sail along stowed along side of your boat until ready to use it when the wind comes up -- you just need to pre-rig the mainsheet ahead of time. When done, simply unstep the mast, roll the sail up and stow it along side. Easy after you get the hang of it. Summary:
Significant revisions, expanded weight capacity, much more refined and quieter hull should perform better in all water conditions. Size and height limitations apply to this boat, but weight shouldn't be an issue. Hobie should consider updating their capacity specs.
Didn't like: new leg length limitations due to no heel clearance in the full forward pedaling position, grip handles unusable for holding on while on water, paddle rest awkward.
Overall, despite a few shortfalls (IMO), an excellent upgrade. Better capability on the water, more versatile handling, impressive sailing for size. Turbofins and large rudder used and recommended for best handling and performance, and especially if sailing!