The guiding principle of the Necky Eliza is that smaller paddlers can go faster in a smaller boat, because they will have to push less water with the hull to get the boat moving. As Necky puts it, “Weaker paddlers may find a kayak with less wetted surface is quicker for them.”
Necky Eliza Composite Specs
Cockpit Size: 28.5” × 15”
Weight: 47 lbs
MSRP: $2,599 USD
The Necky Eliza breaks the mold
The fastest boat is one that fits
This notion of “fitting the boat to the paddler” is a rather sophisticated idea when for so long we’ve been taught that the longer and narrower the boat, the faster it will be. Period. In this enlightened age Necky is telling us that the fastest boat for you is one that a) fits properly, and b) has the least possible drag at the speed you normally paddle. Hence Necky’s advent of a specific design for female paddlers up to 160 pounds.
Necky tested these waters a few years ago with the introduction of the Eliza in polyethylene. That model was hugely successful and Necky released the composite version on its tail. This model has the slightly more performance-oriented features the buyers of a top-end kayak are likely to want, like a narrower hull and those British touches (rubber hatches and skeg) that cool rough-water paddlers consider de rigueur.
With its narrow profile, low deck and short cockpit, the Eliza fits smaller paddlers just right—while the cockpit and hip stays are carefully kept wide for women’s hips.
Necky’s Eliza turns heads
Understandably, the 15-foot Eliza with its dry, buoyant ends is better suited to hot on-water performance and playful paddling than long-distance touring. With even the slightest hint of a tilt, she cranks a mean turn and sticks to it (wave carving, anyone?), unless you insist otherwise. Straight-ahead paddling keeps you alert unless you dampen her spirit by dropping the skeg.
While the 16- by 9-inch hatch openings are generous, the volume of the rear hatch is very low and the volume isn’t allocated as efficiently as trippers might like. The several inches of space behind the seat would be better put behind the bulkhead (followed by moving the rear hatch opening forward, as ours was partially obstructed by the skeg cable housing entering the skeg box).
Comfort at play
Curved bulkheads increase dry storage in the hatches and give taller types a couple of alcoves to stretch their tippy toes into up front. Advanced Composite layup is a techy-looking honeycomb material.
The Necky Eliza’s firm foam seat is simple and comfortable. The low deck and low-profile backband are a high-performance combo that let you lay way back to roll or balance brace. The seat-stays bend out wide for generous hip room.
Though technically a shallow V, the hull looks almost flat like the planing hull of a surf kayak, with a semi-hard chine for good secondary stability and carving on edge.
Eliza is at home in rough waters
Highfalutin efficiency arguments aside, the Necky Eliza is more of a dancer than a cruiser at heart and promises women will be able to hold their own in the rough stuff. You’ll want to save the talk about wetted surface area and coefficients of drag for pub conversation when the surf dies down. This girl just wants to have fun.
This article was first published in the Summer 2009 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.