Story & Photos
By Henry E. Dorfman of Cincypaddlers
A few years ago, we started a paddling group (Cincypaddlers) in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was in response to complaints within another group I helped run that our events and instruction centered on a hardcore whitewater paddling elite, and excluded all others.
Since I owned only whitewater SINKs, I needed a boat that would lend itself to a variety of other applications. I perused the web and found a number of rather pedestrian kayaks that failed to capture my fancy. But, a Dagger Cayman caught my eye. Sit-on-top? What the heck is that? The advertising claims were alluring, even discounting the hype. I did some more web surfing, but kept returning to the bookmarked Cayman site. What the heck. I bought it.
It proved quite adequate for lakes and slower rivers, but it was a bit long for twisty, fast white water. I ran across a Dimension Typhoon and was intrigued by its sleek lines. Seemed like it would be good for creeking. Except for a lack of scuppers, it turned out to be okay.
As our group expanded (now about 220) and the range of paddling expanded to virtually all varieties, I added significantly to my fleet with all kinds of boats, employing the rationalization that members needed to borrow boats for various events. I will footnote in my defense that a prior passion had been large cabin cruisers, where dockage, insurance, gas, and maintenance expense for just one season would easily exceed an investment in an entire fleet of kayaks. From my perspective, kayaks are cheap.
As our membership continues to experience healthy growth, I still encounter numerous questions, comments and odd looks concerning the SOTs. So, I arranged an exchange or demo night, where all the SOTers would (should) bring boats for others to try out and learn for themselves. It grew into a swap/sell night, and we were "infected" with a few gear and SINK peddlers, but that was okay.
Talking with the participants surprised me about what impressions were still held, with a primary source being some local dealers who did not carry SOTs. Their claims were; SOTs are warm climate boats. SOTs are recreational barges, unsuited for anything except float trips. And, of course, the theme from the Inadequacy Club for Men, SOTs are for those who are afraid of entrapment or whitewater boats, or who lack advanced skills.
Thirty-five people showed up and tried out a broad spectrum of SOTs. There were many smiles of surprise and delight (and no beer was served!). Within a week, participants purchased four new SOTs and one used. Not a bad conversion rate.
Like many SOT paddlers, I still paddle SINKs. But I recognize where
an SOT is more enjoyable, and encourage others to learn that as well.
To both International & United States Kayak Clubs:
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