I recently purchased a new member of the SKUK kayak family, the Pulse.
I opted to have a skeg instead of a rudder. This decision was based on the comments from various experienced coaches and kayakkers, who have tested it both withe skeg and rudder.
I wasn't able to test it myself prior the purchase, so I took a leap of faith.
Honestly, I haven't regretted my purchase at all.
It's is a fast and slim kayak, with excellent primary and secondary stability. I can easily edge it as far as my sprayskirt touching the water without the kayak getting out of balance.
How does it handle in several conditions?
At first, I primarily used it as a fitness kayak on flat water and gentle seas.
I did notice it really wants to weathercock at the slightest breeze. It can be corrected with some edge or drop the skeg a little.
By time the skeg wasn't needed that often anymore, as I got more used to the behaviour ot the kayak.
Acceleration and cruising speed are very good. My other kayak is an NDK Explorer and compared to it, the Pulse needs half the effort and is easily 1,5 knots faster.
I have paddled the Pulse at speeds reaching to 6,5 to 7 knots, and this for about a 10k distance, considering myself an above average fitness paddler.
It turns quite easily applying some edge, but due to the long waterline (no rocker), it took me some time to manage the right amount of edge.
Edging too much and it would start to turn very short and applying too little and you might miss your turn. This is not so important at open sea but closer to land it is good to get used to it.
In following seas (sea state 3-4), the Pulse is a very capable sea kayak.. It remains very stable. Depending on the direction of the wind (side or stern), you probably need to deploy the skeg to some extend but surely much sooner than I would do in my Explorer.
Although it is not designed as a surf kayak, it does this quite well. The concave hull and flat section, allows the kayak to surf on even smaller waves (<1m) with minimum effort.
It tracks well while surfing.
In actual surf, heading towards the beach, I found it sometimes hard to keep in straight and it wants to turn parallel to the breaking wave. but that might be just me and not the kayak...
also the plumb bow, isn't really considering surfing on stronger surf towards a rocky or pebble beach.
I wouldn't use the Pulse for more than a weekend mostly due to less loading capacity and not being designed for this either...
A great and versatile sea kayak, ideal for fitness, speed (it is fast) and weekend trip with light packing (it hasn't got that much loading capacity). And I agree with the designers, it is perfectly capable to be used up to sea state 4!