Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Zegul Arrow Play Six Months Review - Caveat Emptor

Executive summary

The Zegul Arrow Play HV is a very fun kayak that works as intended. The build quality of it is a pure catastrophy and mine is falling to pieces already. I wouldn't recommend anyone to buy one until Tahe Marine gets its act together.


I've paddled the Zegul Arrow Play HV since the middle of December 2015 in a variety of conditions, from ice and calm weather to wind up to 15 m/s with 20 m/s in the gusts. I've had it for short day trips, a number of weekend trips as well as one six day trip. I've done technique and roll training in it and also done some instruction with it.


The Arrow Play HV is functionality-wise an excellent kayak. It is a fun playboat that also works well for touring. The cargo space is in my opinion quite generous and there is no problem getting gear for a full week to fit in it. It is very manouverable and reacts very well to input from the paddler. It rolls easily and has excellent primary and secondary stability. It is a joy to paddle in hard weather, where it behaves predictably and is quite stable,. The speed is ok, though not great. It glides easily up to 8 km/h, after which additional effort is met with little reward. The cockpit is roomy enough for my tall frame and the kayak is in most aspects an ideal kayak for me, except that it is falling to pieces.


The first problems occurred after having been out in the ice with it. There was some gelcoat damage and I took the kayak to Niclas Perander, an experienced kayak builder and sea kayaker, to have it repaired, since I have no warm garage to do it. Nicke soon called me back and told me that although he could repair it, it wouldn't last, since the panels flex too much. I didn't believe it at that point, since my other kayak, the excellent Aquarius Sea Lion, is much lighter and flexes noticeably upon impact without any damage taking place, apart from some small gelcoat scratches.

The kayak was repaired and I took it for some kayaking, including two weekend trips and the six day trip. After this I inspected the kayak and noticed cracks along the bulkheads, and what's worse, on several places along the hard chine. All this without actually even using the kayak for any playboating, just normal touring. I hadn't even had any real impact to stones. It seems that merely the act of dragging a loaded kayak up on rollers or a soft paddle float has the bottom flex enough to crack along the bulkheads and chines. I certainly haven't seen any such problems on another kayak. The cracks can of course be repaired, but it will crack again, sooner rather than later.

At first I thought that the kayak was from a bad batch or something, but studying the issue closer had me convinced that the construction is simply too weak. My kayak is the normal G-Core and not the supposedly stronger Rock Solid, but it should definitely hold up to six months of normal use. I would expect a normal kayak to last for 15-20 years or so.

Neither my local retailer, Melontapiste, nor me, have had any real success contacting the manufacturer in Estonia. Three weeks of inquiries have been met by a couple of mails telling that they have received the mails, but nothing more. Rumours on another site tells about Tahe currently not being able to deliver anything due to quality problems, but the radio silence in my opinion is a sign of bigger problems. In my opinion I have now given the manufacturer plenty of time to respond, so I don't feel bad publishing this. In my case, if the manufacturer doesn't come through, Melontapiste will take the hit, but I still need to find another kayak, something which is easier said than done with my criteria.

It is such a shame for an otherwise fine boat.

Update 30th August 2016. Nothing has been heard from Tahe Marine/Zegul, so seems pretty obvious they have no intention of honoring any warranty, The kayak has now been returned to Melontapiste.

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