This is our second outrigger canoe review, and will serve as a direct comparison to the Draco model that we reviewed here www.k2nonlinepaddleschool.com/post/outrigger-gear-review-kai-wa-a-draco-pro-ozone
Currently we have Canoe Specs, Measurements, Boat Comfort/Quality of Life, Flatwater Testing, and Surfability.
I am 5ft 6 (167cm) and 140lbs (63.5kg) slightly above the intermediate skill level as a reviewer. I typically fit in all canoes without issue but have a good general idea of a paddler being too big for a given vessel based on club members using boats.
The Ares has served as the flagship boat from the Kai Wa'a lineup with major success in big downwind races around the world. With a very elegant rocker line and hull outline this boat finds success in all conditions. As with all Ozone models these boats come in very light and very stiff so the performance output is top notch. The volume in the boat is much appreciated when the water gets turbulent but it still glides very well overall in the flatwater context. Our test revolves primarily around the flatwater ability, which we will discuss compared to the Draco and give some final thoughts on pros and cons at the end.
20ft9in long x 15.875 inches wide (6.325m x 40.3cm)
Seat Depth- 4 inches/10cm (To Velcro)
Seat Depth with Seat - 3 inches/7.5cm
Seat Width - 15.25in/38.5cm
Footplate Leg Distance (Longest setting) 45 inches/112cm
Footplate Leg Distance (Shortest setting) 18 inches/46cm
Heel Depth 10 inches/25.4cm
Ama Distance (inside setting) 30.5in/77.5cm (Hull edge to Ama Edge)
Ama Distance (outside setting) 32.5in/82.5cm
Boat weight for testing - 17.2lb/8kg hull
Rudder 4 Inch/10.2cm Ozone Flatwater
Outline Measurements from nose
15 inches from nose - 3.5 inches wide 38cm/8.9cm
30 inches from nose - 5.5 inches wide 76cm/14cm
45 inches from nose - 7.25 inches wide 114cm/18.4cm
60 inches from nose - 8.5 inches wide 152cm/21.6cm
75 inches from nose - 11.25 inches wide 190cm/28.6cm
Outline Measurements from tail
75 inches from tail - 11.5 inches wide 190cm/29.2cm
60 inches from tail - 9.5 inches wide152cm/24.3cm
45 inches from tail - 8 inches wide 114cm/20.3cm
30 inches from tail - 6.25 inches wide 76cm/15.9cm
15 inches from tail - 3.25 inches wide 38cm/8.25cm
The Kai Wa'a boats are very comfortable in their seating arrangements. The seat pad, depth of the heels and position of the pedals make this a very nice fit for myself. Every sit bone and seated comfort will be different user to user, but overall these have been my favorite so far. The leg lengths an be adjusted from 18 inches to 45 inches (46cm-118cm) which fits a wide array of heights. Its an easy boat to lean back in when keeping the nose up in big surf. The cockpit area helps keep you connected to the water.
Quality of Life Details
The larger shaped pedals allow for mid foot leg drive without interacting with the steering. This means you dont need to master heel drive exclusively to get good leg drive or being punished too much with the boat steering around each stroke. The rope for the leg leash is in a nice spot out of the way, but I usually attach it to the iako personally. Bungees are nice and tight for stowing gear. The self centering rudder within the Ozone manufactured boat will spoil you quickly! I have a hard time going back to boats without the spring loaded rudder.
Boat Overview: Looking at the outline of this boat compared to the more flatwater oriented Draco, you can immediately see the nose profile is much sleeker on the Draco. But you may be surprised to know the tail of the Ares is very slightly more narrow at some of the measurment points! There is more stability coming from the thickness of the hull overall, so the tail does not need to be bulky to stay high on swells or keep the boat stable. This helps a lot with its flatwater ability having this very nice outline front to back. There is more rocker in this hull, and being a lighter paddler means theres more boat in the air comparatively. Total waterline is closer to 19ft being a lightweight. In total flatwater, it changes how the boat can glide and maintain speed... but on a wave you dont have to do much and the nose will stay high and dry gliding on swell. The volume of the boat can definitely handle wind chop and swell, and you wont feel those turbulent waters so much like a lower volume canoe.
(With all canoes your height, weight, age, current skill level and paddling environment will influence how each boat feels and that dynamic will continue to move back and forth on a spectrum forever)
Flatwater Testing Overview: For all tests ongoing we will be using the format of 3 miles 4827m at a specific stroke rate. This lake has the same water depth annually for consistency, and the course is marked by 4 buoys that do not change position making it easy to run different boats on the course for cross analysis. The Stroke Rate goal is a submaximal 55SPM with a margin of error for 1SPM 54-56spm. Noting boat weights and rudder sizes as potential future differences amongst similar shaped boats. This serves as a good general guide on boats that vary dramatically in shape, but will also be fun to see how boats compare and factoring in the outline measurements towards that.
Flatwater Testing - Compared to the Draco on the flatwater test, it accounts for 10 seconds per mile slower at the same stroke rate. You can feel the difference in glide between the two boats with the Draco responding to lower stroke rates better. That being said the Ares feels most efficient with a higher stroke rate, with easier effort per stroke. That constant input of energy helps the boat stay on its glide. Seeing 10.89ft is a good metric but the Draco getting 0.3ft per stroke further is a big advantage. Overall its not a huge difference in performance for flatwater but it can be the difference in finish positions. That all being said, the bigger the water and more difficult the conditions, the Ares will likely close that gap depending on the riders skill level. For an all round versatile boat its very close to its more specialized counterpart.
Surf/Downwind Overview: This will be an opinion piece more so than a factually based one since there are many factors to consider. Rider ability being the most variable aspect. The Ares in the surf is only limited to your imagination and confidence. There aren't many conditions that overwhelm the boat, only the rider. It has won every prestigious downwind event in the world it seems! The rocker line and rudder position make it easy to put the boat exactly where you want and get the most out of the swell. It punches into swell easily and makes it simple to maintain high boat speed. When looking at where you paddle and your intended uses with the boat, losing a little flatwater time to surf easier may be a great trade off. If your course racing takes you into big water, this boat is built to be succesful!
Thank you all for checking out the article. If you have any questions about boats or our online coaching feel free to message anytime via Live Chat or my email Robertnorman142@yahoo.com