Tradition and innovation can, and frequently do, fly in each other’s faces. And that is certainly the case with Hobie’s Mirage series of peddle-powered (dubbed the Hobie MirageDrive system) sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.
When our tester first got his hands on the boat, he indicated that it felt so wrong, on so many levels, to have a craft called a kayak that doesn’t use a paddle as its intended means of propulsion. Gone is the winding up of the torso, the feel of a paddle blade sinking with authority and the releasing of energy from the paddler’s toes, legs, torso and finally to the paddle, resulting in forward momentum. Still, being the professional he is, our tester put preconceived notions aside and hit the water peddling.
The MirageDrive System is its own self-contained unit that drops into the hull through the cockpit area. With both the hull and MirageDrive System, the entire boat weighs nearly 70 pounds -- certainly a load to heft onto a roof rack. Also, when throwing the package up on a roof rack, one has to contend with the MirageDrive System’s blades. Remove the MirageDrive System and the boat is as easy to transport as any SOT, although at 16 feet, this Mirage was significantly longer than most rec boats. Removing the MirageDrive System and inserting the supplied plug into its berth enables the Mirage to be paddled as any standard SOT.
Hobie claims that its MirageDrive System is much more efficient than a standard paddle, and that would certainly be the case with recreational paddlers who are not accomplished in performing a forward stroke. In using a GPS and a heart rate monitor, our tester found that the MirageDrive System was maybe a tick or two faster than using a paddle. Our tester also points out that most of his recent training has been in the boat and not on his bike. If his legs were a less vestigial organ, made stronger by transporting his boat and body to the water’s edge on a bike or on foot, his results may have been different.
Our tester’s primary objective was to test this boat as a fishing craft on the windswept and tide ripped Puget Sound. Keeping a boat positioned while chasing a pod of Silvers feeding on krill, or keeping a boat stationary while fishing in a tide rip can be quite a challenge. Hobie’s MirageDrive System allowed our tester to maintain course while casting kept both of his hands occupied -- a feat that could have only been accomplished previously with a standard SOT using an electric trolling motor, another $500 of expense, and a convoluted battery and motor mount set up. Still, with a suggested retail of nearly $2,000, the Hobie Mirage as tested, is nearing the price of a nice composite touring boat or a used motorboat set-up for fishing.
At 16 feet long, the Hobie Adventure is plenty fast. With three hatches and a large rear cargo area, the Adventure is totally suitable for a week-long fishing trip. Side storage areas, with net closure, offers instant access to whatever is needed. Options such as the kayak cart -- a set of wheels that plug into the hull’s scupper holes -- show that real thought and fieldtesting went into this boat. The Hobie is best suited for more open waters than say, confined ponds. And with the MirageDrive System, one can follow a promising shoreline, trolling one rod and casting another (check local regulations to make sure that fishing two rods is legal) into shoreline structure. We can’t think of a more effective way to locate and catch fish.
While the MirageDrive System certainly flies in the face of convention and is difficult to compare to other boats on the market, the thought that went into the overall design of the boat and, ultimately, the functionality of the entire package as a system compels us to bestow it with a perfect rating.
SNEWS® Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection).
Suggested Retail: $1,819
For more information:http://www.hobiecat.com/kayaking/models_adventure.html, firstname.lastname@example.org