This is our first outrigger review and will act as an outline on what we are trying to achieve. All input is appreciated so we can continue to structure these better! 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 Draco is the latest and greatest boat in the Kai Wa'a line up designed to excel in the flatwater-mid conditions. This canoe by design has a tremendous amount of glide with its low volume outline, and tends to be an excellent course racing boat. With all Ozone manufactured boats they are ultra stiff and incredibly light, with this Pro Model hull coming in at 15.9lbs. The Pro Models are usually a few pounds lighter, and they come with some extra perks like extra rudders and an upgraded canvas bag. I've had this boat for around 6 months now and have a bit of experience with it, so far I am a huge fan!
Draco Pro Specs
20.5ft feet long x 15.75 inches wide (6.25m x 40cm)
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 12 inches/30.5cm
Ama Distance (inside setting) 32.5in/82.5cm (Hull edge to Ama Edge)
Ama Distance (outside setting) 33.5in/85cm
Boat weight for testing - 16lb/7.3kg hull
Rudder 4 Inch/10.2cm Ozone Flatwater
Outline Measurements from nose
15 inches from nose - 2 inches wide 38cm/5cm
30 inches from nose - 4.5 inches wide 76cm/11.4cm
45 inches from nose - 7 inches wide 114cm/17.8cm
60 inches from nose - 8.5 inches wide 152cm/21.6cm
75 inches from nose - 11 inches wide 190cm/27.9cm
Outline Measurements from tail
75 inches from tail - 12 inches wide 190cm/30.5cm
60 inches from tail - 10.5 inches wide152cm/26.7cm
45 inches from tail - 8 inches wide 114cm/20.3cm
30 inches from tail - 6 inches wide 76cm/15.25cm
15 inches from tail - 4 inches wide 38cm/10.1cm
This has a distinct feel to the Ares and Gemini models of boat if you are familiar. The 1inch/2.5cm foam pad is very ergonomic but every sit bone is different so comfort is a moving target. I'm personally very fond of this sit pad. There is a huge leg length range from 18inches to 45 inches (46 cm- 114cm) which fits a large variety of leg lengths. There is also a foot plate extender for shorter paddlers to keep them near the center of the boat without going too far forward. The Heel to Sit Bone Ratio is very nice in these more modern OC making that ongoing comfort better as well as allowing for better leverages in leg drive.
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: The outline of this boat is absolutely crazy! It is so narrow in the nose and tail its almost unbelievable. As you take strokes you can see and feel the efficiency of that nose interacting with the water. It has minimal nose rocker but a little tail rocker. The tail rocker helps with sprinting this boat and for surfing capabilities. In the time trial format this boat will quickly get up to speed thanks to that rocker line and over a long distance it will easily sustain its own glide. As we compare more boat outlines it will be easy to see how narrow this boat is in the front and back. There is not a lot of volume in the boat because of this which can make conditions more difficult to navigate than something with more "beef." That is indicative of the riders ability more so, but is something to keep in mind that you will "feel" that adverse swell/wind chop more.
(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 - This boat can glide very well with proper energy input. Once the boat is at speed maintaining that speed is effortless. Its easy to feel like youre constantly working to keep that glide, so its refreshing to get the boat cruising at 7.2mph/11.5kmph without really pushing. Seeing over 11ft is a pretty good mark, I would need to be 50-52spm to see 12ft per stroke. A maximal effort for me would be 60+spm in this distance. So far in my general usage the input of power whether its coming from longer powerful strokes or shorter quick strokes will yield boat speed. This means mixing up how you are taking strokes to match the situation is possible. With the 4 inch rudder the turn radius is fairly wide in the flatwater test as expected so keep in mind that rudder change makes a huge difference in the turn radius. It cuts right through this water like a knife! You can really tell it was created to be efficient out on the flatwaters.
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. This boat seems to slot into 3ft/1M bump excellent, and really punches through smaller surf with ease. That being said it can be quickly overwhelming in those moderate/extreme conditions of swells closing in on 6ft/2M. With the nose rocker being minimal and the low nose volume you have to work a little extra on leaning back to keep that nose up and dry. If you dont manage that nose it will point downward and easily pearl. In more higher volume boats they naturally sit higher on swells and will have the buoyancy to keep that nose pointed upwards. Depending on where you live and your primary usage, 3ft of swell may not be something you ever encounter or it that may be a tiny day for you! The boat can definitely surf, I've had the pleasure of keeping tempo with some local surfski racers in that 3ft size swell, but I can see the shape designs of more ocean specific boats coming into play beyond that threshold. If you look on the internet youll find this boat surfing HUGE swell... rider ability the biggest influence.
Thank you all for checking out the article. This is mostly a test article to give us our first point of reference in outrigger canoes going forward and to get some feedback on how to continue to make them better in the future. 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