I have really been enjoying the Wahoo. Now that I have about 125 miles and two races in it, I feel qualified to give the boat a good, honest review, so here goes:
When I decided to build the Wahoo, my biggest concern was stability. All of my previous paddling was in much wider boats and I was not sure that I could keep the Wahoo upright. I initially went with a low foam seat but on the first outing my fears were allayed, so I ordered an adjustable height Nelo Rotofix K-1 seat. Now I paddle with the seat in the highest (3”) position in all but the roughest of conditions. The raised seat, combined with the boat’s narrow beam, large cockpit and footbrace allow me to pump my legs and get good rotation when paddling. With the foam seat, the stability is good enough that I would be comfortable letting a novice paddle the boat in calm water.
Prior to building the Wahoo, my fastest kayak was a CLC Chesapeake 17LT (length-16’10”, beam-23”). In that boat, my all day race pace (125 pulse) was about 5.2 mph and my two-hour race pace (pulse 145) was 5.5 mph. In an all-out sprint, I could get maybe 5.8 mph but not for long. With the Wahoo, my all day pace is 5.5 mph, my two-hour race pace is 6.0mph and I can sprint it over 7 mph.
Thus far, I have been in two races with the Wahoo, both of which grouped all kayaks and surfskis into a single class. The first was a 9.0 mile up and back course on a winding river (Silver River Florida) with a lot of current. This was only my third time in the boat, and I averaged 5.6 mph placing 4th out of 7. The other competitors were roughly my age and were all paddling 18-20’ surfskis. The second was a 9.6 mile course in the intercoastal/canals near Melbourne Beach. The conditions made this more of a fight for survival than a race, so I was very pleased with my 5.8 mph average speed. About 1/3 of the race was in open waters exposed to 30 kt winds with 2’ white caps. Many dropped out of the race and everybody that beat me was in 20’+ surfskis (and generally 20+ years younger). I was actually the only kayak to complete the long race, and would have been swimming several times if it were not for the good stability of the Wahoo.
Generally speaking, I find the Wahoo to be competitive with 18’ surfskis but slower than longer ones. It may actually be a little faster than the 18’ers in a straight line but loses a little in turns. The surfskis also appear to do a little better in rough water but that may be more of a paddler issue than anything. I have not been in direct competition with other kayaks, but based upon results from the short races during these two events, I suspect that the Wahoo will be pretty hard to beat anytime there is a separate FSK class. (As a side note, my modified Wahoo has a waterline length to beam ratio of 11.4 so it still fits in the FSK class for races that use the Sound Rowers Association system.)
Much of my writing above focuses on racing, but that is not how I most use the boat. The vast majority of my time in the Wahoo is solo exercise paddling in the wilds of central Florida, and I find the boat very well suited for that. Its speed means that I can cover a lot of distance in four hours and the added length allows me to carry the necessary water and safety gear. Overall I am very happy with the Wahoo and would make the same choice again. Thanks for all of your help with this great design!