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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:19 am
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In April, 2018 I journeyed to Ukraine to do a little kayaking. Before departing I did some online research looking at Neris Smart Kayaks. I wanted to find a kayak for some good friends that would be suitable for someone completely inexperienced at kayaking. They have two young children so it had to be roomy, stable and safe. As their skills and experience grew I envisioned a kayak that they could grow into, that would allow longer trips in less than ideal conditions if necessary. It was important that this kayak have decent performance as well. No point in going out in a boat that is going to be slow and tiresome to paddle.

I own and have used extensively a number of folding kayaks over the past 40 years. Several Klepper AEIIs, a Longhaul Mk I Expedition, two Feathercrafts and an ORU Coastal that I heavily modified. I also have owned a number of plastic sit-on-tops for surfing and fishing along the Pacific Coast where I live.

I wanted something for my friends that would be a lot easier to assemble, use, takedown and care for than the typical folders that I have experienced. I did not want my friends to be put off by the difficulty often encountered wrestling a number of well known folders into submission. Better for them, and anyone, to get on the water without the delay, the fatigue and the frustration encountered while enduring the steep learning curve of most, but not all, folders.

I made arrangements via email to visit the Neris factory located just north of Kiev near the shore of the Kiev Sea. After an easy drive I was able to meet the owner of Neris, Konstantin Abramov. Konstantin speaks English very well and he took time to give me a very thorough tour of his factory. It was very impressive: quiet but very busy. He has a well trained and functioning crew that know their jobs very well it seemed to me. We agreed to meet the next day in the afternoon and I would be able to try out one of the Neris Smart doubles.

I met Konstantin at a park on the shore of the Kiev Sea, a very large body of water on the Dnieper River. I watched in quiet amazement as he assembled his kayak in well under ten minutes while carrying on a conversation with 4 other people that he knew. In no time we were carrying the kayak to the launch point. I was surprised at how light and rigid the boat was: no sag typical when folders I am familiar with are lifted by the ends.

On the water the boat was very stable and with the open cockpit it required no special technique or caution to board and take a very comfortable seat. The optional rudder was not installed. Once we pulled away from the shore I was happy to see how easily driven the boat was and that it tracked very well, even with two paddlers who had never paddled together before. In just a very few minutes I knew that I had found the boat that I was looking for.

We landed and I got out and Konstantin easily moved the seats to configure for solo paddling. I stood on shore with his friend/photographer while he paddled alone. It seemed very fast and easy to handle solo even without the rudder.


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