Boat Review: The Sultan by Azul

The Azul Sultan is just under eighteen feet long and is quite narrow at 21.5 inches. The Sultan is available in fibreglass, Kevlar or carbon layups and while Azul’s specs show the fibreglass weighing 58 lbs, word from the factory is that they have it down closer to 50 lbs. Based on the Calypso’s unique performance oriented design, the Sultan brings these same attributes to larger paddlers or paddlers looking for added storage capacity and sea worthiness for extended expeditions. Azul has further increased the useable space in the hatches by contouring the bulkheads into the cockpit area. In addition to the increased volume the Sultan has large eighteen inch bow and stern hatches and an eight inch round day hatch all with watertight Valley urethane covers. The larger sized hatch in the bow is a pleasure for stuffing and storing gear, that could otherwise only go in the larger stern compartment. We are getting used to enjoying the convenience of a day hatch for both keeping things organized and quick at hand on extended trips or using it exclusively on day outings. To complete the outfitting, Azul has included full bungie deck rigging and perimeter grab lines.

Inside the Sultan, we enjoyed the long cockpit allowing even our tallest paddlers the ability to take out his 36 inch legs while still seated. The seat and thigh brace configuration didn’t seem to fit any of our test paddlers without some additional foam modification. It was simply a matter of either raising the seating position, which not all paddlers were necessarily into, or padding down the thigh braces for a more egonomic fit. Ensuring a proper fit is a must in any boat especially one like the sultan where much of your control and enjoyment is form being part of the boat rather than just sitting in it.

A retractable skeg is controlled on the left side by a simple rope and cleat system. The skeg springs down (and up if you happen to scrub it on something) and you control the running depth by cleating it off.

The Sultan’s large volume rides high and rolls with the water. This is both unnerving for some and a dream boat for more experienced paddlers. The long waterline and narrow beam produces a boat that accelerates quickly and maintains its speed with ease. The Sultan is one of those boats that seems about the same speed as the one your in, and then its paddlers smiles to you, winks a knowing wink and leaves you behind cursing in disbelief.

The single hard chine makes small adjustments in direction a quick snap of your hips at the end of a forward stroke. The long waterline of the Sultan that produces great forward speed means you have to aggressively tilt and sweep this boat around for a complete change in direction. Without the retractable skeg, lighter paddlers in an empty Sultan will notice that it weathercocks quite easily, there’s simply lots of boat for the wind to catch and not enough boat deep in the water to keep it going straight. Dropping the skeg half way, more gear and/or a heavier paddler fixes this problem immediately.

Who should paddle the Sultan? Experienced heavier paddlers looking for a larger volume sea kayak with a hard chine British feel will love the Sultan. The Sultan is an ideal guides boat capable of big water and getting to where you need to be quickly. In the words of an old friend and professional sea kayak guide who happens to have a sultan of his own, “Ah mon ami, c’est moi dancing bebe!”

SPECS

Length: 17 ft 10 in
Width: 21.25 in
Weight glass: 58 lbs
Cockpit: 16.5×30 in
SRP fibreglass: $3350

This article first appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.

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