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Surfski Gear Review - Mcgregor Classic

This is our seventh boat review and the second of the "elite boat" category. I will make many references to our last article found here -

These reviews become a test of splitting hairs for flatwater performances and should be seen as a showcase of the boats design and potential comfort levels in each different bucket. Currently we have Boat Specs, Measurements, Stability Rating, Remount Rating, and Flatwater Testing.

I am 5ft 6 (167cm) and 140lbs (63.5kg) slightly above the intermediate skill level as a reviewer. I typically fit in all boats 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 Mcgregor Classic is quite a unique boat with its shorter 19ft4in/590cm length, its interesting bow shape being reminiscent of a sprint kayak nose, very narrow hull shape and bucket design, and its flatter hull for a section of the boat. For many pure flatwater applications this boat hits many of the design marks and has been popular amongst small/mid sized racers in flat to moderate race conditions.

Mcgregor Classic Ultimate Specs

19ft4in long x 16.1 inches wide (5.9m×41cm)

Bucket Depth 7 inches 17.8cm

Bucket Width(Highest point) 14.75 inches wide 37.4cm

Bucket Width (Lowest point) 10 inches wide 25.4cm

Footplate length (Longest setting) 42 inches 106cm

Footplate length (Shortest setting) 28 inches 71cm

Heel Depth 8.5 inches 22cm

Hump Height (highest point in cockpit) 4.5inches 11.4cm

Boat weight for testing - 23 pounds 11kg

Rudder 4 Inch Flatwater Custom 10cm

Outline Measurements from nose

15 inches from nose - 3 inches wide 38cm/7.6cm

30 inches from nose - 4.5 inches wide 76cm/11.4cm

45 inches from nose - 6 inches wide 114cm/15.2cm

60 inches from nose - 8 inches wide 152cm/20.32cm

75 inches from nose - 9.5 inches wide 190cm/24cm

Outline Measurements from tail

75 inches from tail - 13 inches wide 190cm/33cm

60 inches from tail - 11 inches wide152cm/27.9cm

45 inches from tail - 9.5 inches wide 114cm/24.1cm

30 inches from tail - 7.5 inches wide 76cm/19cm

15 inches from tail - 4.5 inches wide 38cm/11.4cm

Cockpit/Bucket Area

This may be one of the narrowest cockpits out there right now, even on my smaller frame it is closer to snug than spacious. Overall the back of the bucket seems to be pretty squared off which reminds me of the Stellar buckets. The footplate can be installed with an epic footplate system, which is what was there when I received this boat, I have not used the factory configuration in the Classic before so I am not sure how they differ. I would assume its relatively similar since they can be swapped out between boat.

Comparable to the Think Uno with the seated height position being very high and rivaling that of Entry/Beginner style boats. This hull shape is much more sleek in comparison in the front of the boat so overall it adds to the initial instability of the boat. The heel to sit bone ratio is slightly less with the depth being a 1.5 inches or 3.75cm, but is still a high differential compared to the lower bucket configured boats we will review next.

Quality of Life Details

There were also two drain plugs on the far side of the cockpit near the bungees that were plugged up for a Debrito style bailer. The plugs not being accessible meant they were always open before, which in a cold water scenario would be really annoying. The Debrito being installed is much more convenient but is also not a factory option. No carry handles, but being so narrow and short this boat is very easy to pickup and maneuver without additional grips. The epic style footplate also means the adjustments for the length is all the same with the pedals auto tensioning to the new footplate setting.

Stability Rating: High seated position, narrow nose outline and a very narrow overall width at 16.1in/41cm... this boat is one of the most unstable surfski I have ever used. There is a flat section under the cockpit area that runs towards the tail that does help counteract some of these tippy features. Flatter surfaces provide more surface area and in turn provide more stability at the cost creating more drag. The Mcgregor does this in an interesting way with only a section of the bottom being flat, with the nose and tail being more rounded again. It feels like nearly the minimum amount of flat area to make the boat feasible! When the boat is in motion and on glide, the stability is much more forgiving. But, when you're sitting idle you can really feel how twitchy it is. The edges are not as rounded as the Think Uno so you do feel in more control of the boat even if you tilt side to side in choppy waters since the edges are also flat as they engage the water.

Comparing this to some other surfski, this does rank near the top for most unstable boats. The very narrow beam does reflect its overall stability rating compounded with the higher seat and shorter length it is very responsive to side to side movement. Length being a factor that does influence wetted surface area and the side to side feeling is a factor that we will elaborate on in the future with even shorter surfski. Models like the Epic V14, Fenn Glide, Stellar SES are similar, and models like the Epic V12, Kai Waa Vega, Elite Fenn S, Stellar SEL, Think Uno all slightly more stable options. This is splitting hairs on stability depending on your skill level, but if you are adept at these elite style boats you can definitely tell the differences.

(With all surfski 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. These ratings will give some insight into what the boats shape will do for rating as we begin comparing them to other similar model widths with different outline measurements. We will work towards numerical ratings as more reviews are completed to compare boat to boat on stability.)

Remount Rating: I found this remounting to be comparable to the Think Uno with its high seat position making the first half of re-entry simple. This boat is much more unstable feeling when not in motion, so the process of transitioning the legs into the boat is much more touchy than the Uno - again combined with the narrower outline and shorter hull you have to be more meticulous with those last movements into the boat or it is easy to fall again. We are still a few more articles away from assigning a numerical value/tier list to remounts but for now it is "harder than a Think Uno."

(Like Stability Ratings, we will rate remount ratings boat to boat as we complete more reviews.)

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 at 45SPM(This denotes double strokes, so 90SPM single strokes) with a margin of error for 1SPM 44-46spm. 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 width, but will also be fun to see how similar width boats compare and factoring in the outline measurements towards that.

Flatwater Testing - This was actually a lifetime PR for me, ha ha! I am in pretty good kayaking shape right now so this was awesome to see. Another reason I am working to get these time trials done in the same time frame before transitioning into longer distance racing and losing some of the lactic acid threshold push. I have had this boat for a couple months now so I am much more familiar with it than the Think Uno which may attribute to the performance difference purely from a comfort stand point. For my size and skill level I can feel a discernable difference in glide between stroke, ending at 44spm when the target is 45spm. The urgency to turnover sooner isn't quite as prevalent since the boat feels like its doing so much of the work. Spending time in Olympic K1 I feel like this boat is very close to that feeling overall which makes it great on flatwater. All of the features that do help it glide faster are likely detriments in a downwind application. Comparatively to the Think Uno only losing 8s/mile but having a half dozen great surfing features shows how competitive boats can be with those attributes in contrast to more flatwater centric models. The gap between all boats may end up within this range with only seconds dividing different models. Bucket comfort and identifying your paddling conditions to have a boat match it will always be the most important features to match with,

Thank you all for checking out the article. If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to reach out. I'm going to try and continue to get a bulk of these elite surfski reviews done in a similar time frame so my overall fitness does not influence the results too much with the time trial. These articles should be a showcase of the boat and features and only take my personal performances with a grain of salt.

If you have any questions about boats or our online coaching feel free to message anytime via Live Chat or my email

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