Mad River Canoes, Synergy 14
Length 14' (4.27 m), Width 30" (76 cm), Weight 60 lbs (29 kg).
Maximum weight capacity 400 lbs (149 kg) depending on water conditions
You have to love Mad River Canoes, they have bucked the trends in fishing kayaks and come up with something quite special in the Synergy 12 and Synergy 14, a quality moulded deep open decked sit-on-top, with vast tankwells front and rear, both with removable mesh covers, Gaspatchi hatch forward of the seat base, plus a mesh pocket with a top Velcro fastening on either side of the cockpit for small items of tackle or small fly/lure box.
The seat is the same arrangement as used on the Wilderness System Tarpon and Ride, a padded adjustable back with small mesh bag and a separately fitted gel base on a slightly raised platform. Your feet rest on a pair of adjustable foot braces.
Synergy 14 ready to launch.
Behind the seat a pair of integrated rod holders moulded in to the deck. In the cockpit is a short console with cup holder the top of the console shaped to allow cockpit side access to the front tankwell, this also allows you to slide your paddle blade under the webbing freeing your hands for a quick cast of rod and line.
Either side of the console rod notches are moulded into the deck, these are clever little slits which will hold your fly or spinning rod when laid in the cockpit, an elasticated rope in front of the seat on the cockpit floor is for trapping the handle of your rod or in the case of a fly rod the rod butt and fly reel, these are such a simple but incredibly useful ideas… we love them.
There are the normal arrangement of carry handles, one at the bow, stern and a pair either side of the cockpit; these are linked to a pair of paddle tie downs.
Flip the kayak over and you are faced with a multi-chine hull with twin deep channels running along its length.
Showing off it's multi-chine hull.
We haven't mentioned scupper holes, the reason being there aren't any, and yes it surprised us too.
Placing the Synergy 14 on the water, she sits high floating on top of the water rather than in it like most sit-on-tops, the illusion probably due to her tall gunwales. Climbing onboard takes a little more thought as it's quite a drop into the gel seat.
Posing for the camera.
Sitting so low with such high gunwales I though that paddling may be a little awkward but this wasn't the case, in fact the Synergy 14 was an enjoyable and easy paddle and once used to the slightly wobbly initial feeling confidence soon took over and paddling out into a growing Dorset swell seemed the natural thing to do.
Heading out to the swell.
The Synergy 14 felt fast on the water, and glides beautifully, the high bow did it's best to keep out the growing swell, the odd larger wave washing over the cockpit, these conditions were not what Mad River Canoes had in mind when they designed the Synergy range, but she was handling them extremely well, confidently cutting through the growing number of waves, my only concern was how much water was actually sitting in both tankwells, the cockpit however was remaining remarkably dry.
Manoeuvrability was very good she turns fast and I can't see any need for the optional rudder, even running with the swell she behaved herself without much need for corrective paddle strokes to keep her on course.
Running side on to the swell was a little more nerve racking, with a distinct roll as the wave passed beneath, a relaxed body helps here as your waist flexes to counteract the movement of the kayak, this becomes second nature with time spent afloat.
Fly fishing from the Synergy 14 was a pleasant experience, I was concerned with the amount of fly and line tangling fittings around the deck but none of them proved a problem most were out of the way of my coils of fly line laying in the cockpit. Sitting in any position other than facing forward whilst fishing is not an option, thankfully the gel seat pad was comfortable as was the padded back rest even after four hours on the water.
Back onshore it was time to see how much water had been taken onboard, the forward tankwell as expected had taken on quite a lot, but the conditions were a little harsh, the rear tankwell remained quite dry, the cockpit as said before, no more than on other kayaks, the only difference being it doesn't drain away when you beach.
Because this kayak is so different, it was decided to try a deep water recovery, not me of course, I had to take the photos. Frank headed out to deep water and flipped her upside down. On his first attempt at re-entry he high sided and rolled right over the other side. Second attempt and he was in, not very pretty but in none the less, and not too much water onboard given the conditions and lack of scuppers.
Frank preparing to re-enter, but rolls straight over on the first attempt.
Safely back onboard.
If you're looking for a kayak to fly/lure fish in estuaries/sheltered waters, wish to stay relatively dry, fancy the odd camping trip (you will need some dry bags) and above all want something different then the Synergy 14 is worth checking out.