Earlier this year the sea kayaking community was delighted with the release of the P&H Virgo; P&H’s answer to a fun, dedicated sea kayak that’s more manageable and appropriate for those single day trips.
Coming in at 14’6” the Virgo is distinctly shorter than its counterparts in the current P&H line up except for the P&H Hammer. As such it has a greatly increased play potential while also being a more manageable weight and size for shifting around off the water, available in both P&H’s MZ3 single skin construction, or Corelite X three layer construction.
While the Virgo does still need to be paddled like any other sea kayak, offside edging etc, when on a wave the shorter length and hard chines mean the Virgo really comes alive responding well to the techniques white water paddlers find more familiar.
At an initial glance the two obvious comparisons currently on the market are the Dagger Stratos and the Wave Sport Hydra, coming in at 14’6” and 14’10” respectively, with the Stratos the only of the three to come in two sizes. On the water there are some noticeable differences between the three, both in terms of handling and functionality. The rocker profile on the Hydra and Virgo are rather similar and, courtesy of the Virgos steep bow, have a remarkably similar waterline. This means that the forward speed of the two is noticeably more than that of the Stratos.
While the Virgo has a moderate amount of rocker, it is less severe when compared to other playful sea kayaks of a similar length, such as the Dagger Stratos. The combination of this very gradual rocker profile and steep bow results in a boat with a long waterline which, in turn, results in efficient forward paddling. As such the Virgo feels like it has found a slightly more balanced feel when it comes to being able to rock hop, surf and cover some ground all in a day.
In terms of playfulness, all three do excel when compared to the longer 16’+ kayaks. The rocker of the Stratos makes it ideal for sneaking in and out of rocky outcrops and coves, as well as a very enjoyable and forgiving ride while surfing, while the width inspires confidence. The narrower Virgo still has ample play potential; the boat needs to be driven a bit more to unlock this, with the paddler really needing to make the most of the rails to get the most out of the boat. The Hydra, like the Virgo, does have great play potential but again needs some driving on edge to really unlock the full potential of the boat, particularly when surfing.
Now for the outfitting. The Virgo comes equipped with a bow and rear hatch as standard, with the option of a factory fitted day hatch in front of the cockpit for an extra £73, bringing the standard MZ3 construction still at a lower price point than the Hydra but with the same amount of hatches. The Hydra does however have a far better skeg control than both the Stratos and Virgo. It must be said that the skeg control on the MZ3 construction Virgo would be improved if the same skeg slider system was used as on the Pyranha Fusion and P&H Scorpio and Corelite X construction Virgo.
One thing that has been noted during testing on both the Virgo, particularly in the MZ3 contruction, and Hydra is the flex in the hull due to there being no hull stiffener in either of these models. The addition of this would, in our opinion, really add to the performance of the boat in rougher seas or strong tide races, particularly when compared to the Stratos in those conditions.
This is of course just our opinion, so why not come on down for a chat and give one a try for yourself!
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