Legendry Aussie made Sea Kayaks

Sea Leopard Testimonials

Hi Bob, finally got my boat into the water for the first time last weekend. I did the Basic Skills class with the NSW Seakayaking Club. Very windy conditions so class was cancelled for the Sunday. Was great to get out in my boat and had a few people most interested in my boat. We were on the water for most of the day and I was just as comfortable at the end, sitting and paddling as I was at the beginning. Yesterday I went for a fairly gentle paddle around Lake Burley Griffin for about 4 hrs/19km (with a few short rests) and again felt comfortable, no blisters or sore spots that need padding out etc. This, I think, is a great start to having a boat that I hope to learn more about, e.g. the “edge”, turning circle etc, and become “at one” with. I have to say my Leopard is just how I expected and the little extras, such as cords to keep my hatch covers attached to my boat, a real bonus. Also my boat, in my opinion, is more finished and ready to use in comparison with my husband’s Mirage. I feel like I have been using this boat for a lot longer than I have and am surprised that I do not have to be putting bits of foam in places to pad it out/make it comfortable. I feel very spoilt that I have my groovy glove box in front, for snacks etc. and still have room in the cockpit for my chubby legs. No problem getting in and out, even with my level of chubbiness, or balancing whilst I get in/out as I sit on the back and go in feet first, which is quickly becoming easier to do on my own. I realize I haven’t done any big trips so that may change but I am off to a good start. The Leopard feels very stable so I can concentrate on my strokes etc. yet nimble enough to glide over the water.
I went out on Lake Burley today and did about 15km in 3hrs. I pushed myself a bit more today as felt a bit better, health wise. Yep, still comfy and no need to be adjusting/fiddling with foam etc. May move the pedals but seem O.K. at present. I find the pedals easy to move with those strings attached. Would of had a hard time reaching them the first time I adjusted them if not for those strings. No need to be screwing/unscrewing to move them and nothing gets in the way. Currently I have a cut-off of a plastic drink bottle, the bottom third/half of a litre size, with some foam stuffed in it as a “bailer”. It is tied to the backrest belt at present. Even with the bailer loose in the cockpit, I don’t notice it there. My legs and feet are really comfy. I am also really happy with the colour. Looks really stylish and have also had a few people commenting on how good it looks, cheers and THANKS HEAPS for my lovely Leopard, I am very happy with it….A Female paddler
Another happy customer.
“I did take the Leopard out for a jaunt along the Manning River and then out into open water along the coast from Old Bar to Harrington. It handled the conditions beautifully, got out through the breaking waves easily, and at the end it stayed straight and true on a wave as I surfed in through the Harrington bar, which was a bit hairy. To tell the truth I was a bit worried about getting through unscathed. My mate came a cropper, and he was really impressed about the way the Leopard just held onto the wave and I landed nice and dry. The hatches were completely dry on this journey, with some waves breaking over the kayak.
I am loving it.”   …S M

Partof Comment from site http://squid71.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/my-new-baby-is-getting-closer/
After paddling the Leopard some months ago I have been unable to look at any other kayaks the same way. I kind of relate it to when you are dating, sure you want to play the field and weigh up all your options and that sounds like a lot of fun, but then you stumble on the lady who just does it for you! The search is over, this is the one. You don’t need to look any further because this is Miss Right (or at least Miss Right Now )

The Leopard just ticks all the boxes for me. It is extremely sea worthy with a great pedigree for extended trips. It is relatively fast, so should be right at home in the Hawkesbury Classic. Being a long bugger at 5.8 metres it will hopefully deter some of those 5 metre great whites out there from taking a bite . Laurie Ford has paddled one for many, many years and in a reply to an email I sent him he convinced me that this was the right choice.


Just a quick note to let you know that I took the leopard sailing the last 2 weekends in 18-20kn NE running down wind and 15-18kn E reaching – it was BEAUTIFUL! We have replaced the bottom batton with a tiller extension & rigid batton & this is the first proper wind I have been able to sail in. It was very lumpy in the NE but it was soooo stable, I hardly braced at all and left the others in the group behind (yee ha!). It wasn’t as fast across the wind, but partner had to paddle to keep up so that is great to know (ie that reaching works), S.D. Female paddler


Comment from another happy Leopard owner,
Hope all is well, not that you need to be told, but your kayaks are amazing!

Since my recent purchase I’ve been out in a few different conditions all of which but one have been undesirable, strong winds mainly. I’ve been paddling in open ocean sth side of Phillip Island and sheltered waters of Western Port. The kayak handles absolutely beautifully, to my amazement even able to turn with no rudder in 30 plus knots wind. Incredibly fast and stable.  JF:


Taken from Laurie Fords’ web site.


NEW SEA LEOPARD : Review  By Peter Treby, former VSKC president Club member Bob Mitchell has made a number of improvements to the Sea Leopard, the Adrian Dean designed sea kayak which has long been a favourite of Tasmanian paddler Laurie Ford  ( http://members.iinet.net.au/~lford1/ ). The Sea Leopard is a very distinctive design. It is a hard chined design, with a high deadrise, or deep V hull cross-section. It has a small cockpit, something which goes against the fashion in sea kayaks, but which is very seaworthy. It has low decks, particularly the back deck, which makes for an easy layback when rolling. It has a small fixed skeg which runs for around the last half metre to the stern. The stern finishes in a small triangular transom. The bow has a long rake and overhang, and low volume. Bob has made a number of useful modifications and improvements. The mast step is now housed in an under-deck cone, avoiding any issues with foot entrapment with the full height aluminium tube of the demo model. A great innovation is the fore-deck glove box, accessed by a small hand sized Kajaksport rubber cover. This would be great for cameras, charts, food, water and the like, and is in addition to a day hatch behind the cockpit, which is suitable for larger items needing to be accessed while on the water. The day hatch is covered by a larger round Kajaksport cover. The main hatches are covered by light sewn marine vinyl covers with a glued on rubber backing, sealed by a double thick bungy around a coaming. These remain watertight after a long rolling session. The seat coaming is enlarged, which with the addition of a back band, makes the boat more comfortable. Like any kayak, after you acquire it, the personalised fitting process begins. Here are some of the new Sea Leopard’s vital statistics and fittings: LOA: 5820 mm Beam: 540 mm Front and rear compartment storage volumes combined: 203.5 litres Deck lines: 8 mm diameter Rule 360 gpm electric bilge pump, with 3+ amp hour battery fitted in the day hatch.

When thinking of buying any any sea kayak, take it for a test paddle for as long as possible, in as rough conditions as you can find and handle. Roll the boat, turn it in all directions, paddle it without rudder, flood the cockpit and paddle it, hit it with a rubber mallet all over, be thorough and punish the boat when you put it through its paces. Check all compartments for leaks. The Sea Leopard comes up looking pretty good after this sort of testing. Put it on your short list.


Your Sea Leopard has been the best kept secretin sea kayaking. I can’t believe the stability for such a long narrow kayak. I like the cockpit. It is a comfortable fit for me. I also like the big glovebox.

I find the new layout a snug fit for me after a few minor adjustments. I can still easily lock in for a roll but because my circulation is not as good these days, I need to be able to move my legs a bit after a couple of hours in the saddle to maintain circulation.

Dry hatches all round.

Since my original email I have paddled the Leopard for about 25km and am now a definite convert. We usually do between 30 and 40km day paddles on the weekends we are not doing an overnighter but I didn’t have enough time available this time. However it was enough to convince me that I have made the right choice. I feel as though I have missed out on owning an Australian icon for years.

I was particularly impressed with it’s stability in a beam sea. I found that the Leopard responded to the steering strokes and turns easily when J leaned. Doesn’t it love a following sea? I came home under sail on a reach in about 12-14kn constant breeze. I only took a couple of good strokes to put it on the 3-4 foot wave and with minimal effort was able to overtake the sea and progress from wave to wave. I can’t wait to get it out in a decent blow!

I have been experimenting with packing it for a trip and am pleasantly surprised with it’s capacity. It is deceptively large and I actually had room to spare. I found that lying on it’s side was even helpful in some instances.



P N representing Rafta Kayaks in the Hawkesbury Classic in October, writes:

Matt dropped the Sea Leopard off yesterday, it looks great, you’ve done a good job. I popped down to the river with it and did a 12km lap.

Initial comments:
Boat puts you in a great position to paddle, I feel high in the boat rather than some boats which make you feel you have to reach up and over the cockpit.
 Glove box is very handy and makes you feel comfortably ‘locked’ into the boat, only down side is I have broad feet and there is barely enough room for them to sit on the foot pegs. The narrow nature of the boat at the cockpit facilitates a good vertical stroke keeping the paddle close to the body. I have large thighs and use a lot of leg action during the stroke, this is slightly restricted by the height of the front deck but comfortably so. The rear skeg gives the boat great lateral stability so you can concentrate on putting in power rather than staying straight.

  Matthew Koerber, of Adrenalin Adventure represented Rafta Kayaks in the New Look Sea Leopard at the Maximum Adventure 24hr race near Newcastle on the 22-23 of September. Matthew was just coming back from an injury in the Geo 07, but was again forced out with injury, but had this to say about the Sea Leopard:

The hard chine give huge primary stability and also enables you to turn the boat by leaning out on the corners rather than using the rudder.I found the limit of the primary stability while leaning the boat heavily through a turn but it braced well.
The boat is good to paddle although I feel I am pushing water out of the way and this seems to be confirmed by the turbulent wake that is generated about level with the front hatch. I went through and with the wash of some power boats and I love the way the flared bow sheds the water out and away and washrides confidently although I will need to experiment more with the rudder if I get into some swells to see what it does. Overall a very comfortable boat that has an excellent paddling position so the limitation will be how much effort I can put in and how fast the hull will let me go through the water as a result. I know I will have fun and be comfortable trying.


Thanks Bob
Phill expected to do the race in 13 hrs, but in the New Look Sea Leopard brought it home in 11 hrs and 4 seconds to take out a second place in his division, an amazing effort, we are all delighted and indebted.
Phil N, (Engineer Paddler circumnavigates Tasmania)


Thanks again for the use of the Sea Leopard over the weekend, it was great.

I was very impressed with the performance of the Sea Leopard. While the stronger paddlers on ski’s got away from me, I kept the ski back markers and the guys paddling Rockets in my sights. The Mirage’s (4 or 5 of them) were nowhere to be seen behind me by the end of the paddle, so i was quite impressed with the speed considering they’re as stable, if not more so, than a Mirage. Unfortunately I couldn’t wear my Garmin GPS during the race, or else I could have supplied you with average speed figures for the paddle legs. I think one of the stand-out features was the cockpit. I found the glove box aided with bracing the knees in the cockpit, and this led to maintaining good form throughout the paddle. I find I get lazy and sloppy with my paddle stroke in a Mirage, and the Sea Leopard had me maintaining good posture throughout. Adjusting the pedals was also pleasantly easy after what you have to go through with the Mirages.

As for the race, unfortunately my adductor muscles blew up a little as I ran into equal second place. My good friend, Mark McDonald, was paddling his Rocket and wasn’t comfortable taking it out in the dark, so for the night time paddle I allowed him to take the Sea Leopard out. He seems quite impressed by it also, and was very appreciative as he was certain he wouldn’t have been able to handle his Rocket given the conditions on Saturday night. I set the kayak up at the registration tent on Friday night when I arrived at Budgewoi. It seemed to attract a fair bit of interest.

Cheers. Matthew     

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