The Eddyline Raven is the latest sea kayak design from the renowned boat builder from Burlington, Washington. (www.eddyline.com)
A couple of months ago, I got a call from the Headwaters Shop in Lodi, CA,(www.headwaterskayak.com) asking if I'd be interested in testing the latest Sea kayak from Eddyline, the Raven. The objective was to put the boat through its paces and give my honest feedback. Of course I jumped on the opportunity.
"Sweet", I thought to myself, as I loaded the boat onto my car. I noticed right away, that it is very comfortable for a solo carry, thanks to Eddyline’s Carbonlite material. The kayak is extremely tough, yet light enough to handle by myself.
The build quality of the boat is top notch, but that is no surprise since Eddyline has been building first class kayaks for decades. Even though I do prefer function to looks, I had to admit that the Eddyline Raven is a very good looking boat, my wife called it outright 'sexy'. I hope she meant me, but I think she referred to the kayak.
The cockpit fit was perfect for my 6ft1, 190 lbs frame without any extra outfitting. The generous keyhole was easy to get in and out of without hitting my shins. The cockpit combing appeared a little flimsy to me however after probably 100+ self reentries in various conditions, balancing exercise, sitting on the back deck etc. it was never an issue.
The seat was very comfortable, with multiple adjustment options to accommodate a variety of paddlers. I liked the placement of the thigh braces, and the back band was excellent, giving good lower back support and never got in the way during self-reentries. Legroom was great, plenty of space. I liked Seadog Foot braces, large enough to be comfortable and very easy to adjust while sitting in the kayak.
I couldn't wait to get the boat in the water.
After about 25 days of paddling in various conditions from calm to rough water, flat to 30 knot winds, paddling in tide races, strong currents, reflective waves, wind waves up to 3 feet, rock gardens and open water here's my impression of the boat:
The boat is extremely well balanced, very responsive and was a pure joy to paddle. I love the precision with which the boat can be maneuvered. It carves beautifully, both on flat water or on a wave. It very fast and accelerates well making It was easy to catch waves. The Raven tracks very well, AND turns very well. This kayak loves the rough stuff.
As an ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor I do focus a lot on paddling technique, and I was very impressed how easy even more complex technical moves could be accomplished. The Raven felt very intuitive, and lots of times I just had to look where I wanted to go, and it went there.
While the initial stability might feel a little tender for a novice, the secondary was excellent. Putting the boat on edge was a blast, very stable and reassuring. It is very responsive to hip/ knee movement, and was easy to turn even in fast currents and confused tide races. Aaaah, and it LOVES to surf. It was at times a little squirrely on take off, however even if you blew your angle a bit it would still come around. Its effortless to catch waves and just pure fun to surf. A very playful touring boat.
On a long bay paddle I noticed good tracking, good speed and very comfortable cockpit ergonomics. I could sit longer in this boat than in other ones without experiencing any discomfort.
The Raven paddled very well in any conditions encountered. It is certainly at home in bigger water. During the test period I paddled in winds up to 30 knots. With proper technique it was very predictable and easy to control, even on local lakes with strong winds but small waves. It was easy to hold a course abeam to the wind, and I never felt the need to drop the skeg. The Raven is simply the most balanced sea kayak I have ever paddled in windy conditions.
The little hatch on the front deck is very handy. I also liked the multiple recessed deck fittings. They allowed an easy customized outfitting of deck lines and bungees. A built in compass recess would have been nice (oh well I'm just used to my Brit boats..). Spare paddles can be carried forwards or aft, the day hatch was a little hard to close, but with a squirt of 303 it worked well. Front and back hatch had between a cup to a quart of water in it, after intensive rolling and recovery sessions. The other hatches were dry.
The Raven rolls effortless, and the low back deck makes climbing onboard easy. Great for self reentry techniques like the cowboy scramble, and reentry and roll, however I repeatedly managed to open the foot brace lever accidently, and lost contact with the foot braces. (good refinement exercise for perfecting your roll, not so good in a combat situation), a piece of duct tape to secure the lever took care of the problem.
Last but not least, storage space is pretty good for such a sporty boat. I'd say there's enough storage for trips up to one week. I do like the fairly spacious day hatch. I paddled the Raven with around 30lbs load and did not notice much change in performance vs. empty.
All in all the Eddyline Raven is a playful, highly responsive touring boat that gets from A to B fast and if you are into playing and exploring the coastline along the way, even better. If you like wind, waves, rough water and conditions too, you might as well stop looking, because the Raven is one sea kayak that does it all.
ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor