Nick at the Ledge

NDK Sportive RM

by Nick Delprete

Lots of talk on here about the Sportive recently and I've been paddling one for just about two years now; figured I'd throw my own little review out there. I've used my sportive in rough water, as a primary guiding boat, and for weekend trips. Let me say first that I love this boat and it's my go-to at the moment. Like any other great boat, fit is important and this was one of the first boats I had sat in that immediately felt like it fit. For reference, I'm about 5'7"(1.7 m), 155 lbs (70 kg).

Nick Delprete in the NDK Sportive RM

My first day ever paddling the sportive was a pretty good surf and rock garden day in Casco Bay, Maine, USA. We unwrapped it that morning at Maine Island Kayak Co. and I didn't do any fitting or foaming aside from adjusting the pedals and back band. I was instantly impressed with how the Sportive kept the characteristics that we love about classic sea kayaks but was able to stay loose on a wave and navigate rocks with ease.

I love that I can paddle miles to a play spot and not feel like I'm fighting a bow wave the whole time (you know who I'm talking about). For a plastic kayak with a good amount of rocker, the Sportive feels fast, I have no problem keeping up with anyone on the water. The relatively small volume of the sportive makes the kayak feel incredibly responsive and I feel as though I can really drive this boat. Other plastic kayaks have always felt huge and needed LOTS of foam to feel really locked in.

As for a guiding kayak, the sportive is great! I brought mine up to Prince William Sound, Alaska for a whole season and spent time guiding in Maine. I can fit enough gear into the kayak for weekend trips but not much longer than that. It's pretty maneuverable on flat water and I am able to perform and demonstrate pretty much any rescue with ease. I love how big the day hatch is, I can fit lots of snacks and goodies in there along with the standard rescue and safety equipment.

NDK Romany Sportive RM

Now for the cons (there aren't many): When the sportive is fully loaded with gear, I can feel the boat flexing an uncomfortable amount when in rough water. I have also noticed some oil canning on the hull (which may be my own fault); anyone else noticing this? The skeg control box is constantly digging into my thigh and I've had to replace my foam padding on that side a couple of times as it's worn through. I wish I could pack more gear into this kayak for extended play trips but then we'd lose a fair bit of the performance that I love so much.

Photos of Nick by Peter Frank Edwards in the Maine Magazine article, Rock Garden Plan in Casco Bay.

Posted in Boats and Gear.