I have paddled the LW 12.5 only twice, once in a swimming pool, but, so far I am thrilled with the performance of this boat.
The following is an update to my review that should by on paddling.net soon. I will be happy to send my full review with photos to anyone who sends me their email address.
Update on Stability and Maneuverability:
I took my LW 12.5 to a ‘pool session’ yesterday. I found that it turned very quickly, and responded well to leaved turns. It did not turn as quickly as the whitewater boats in the pool, but turned better than any other sea kayak that I have paddled. The whitewater guys were very impressed both with the looks and stunning finish of the boat and with its turning ability. Both the primary and secondary stability of the LW 12.5 are very high, I would call the secondary stability extremely high. This boat could be paddled by absolute beginners as a recreational kayak for bird-watching, fishing, etc. However, its response in waves and to leaning is to have even greater stability and its secondary stability is as good or better than I have experienced in any sea kayak. I believe that in this LW model the stability comes from the progressively wider rear ‘wing’.
The LW 12.5 is widest in the stern section and carries this width almost the end of the stern. I measured the widest part of the stern section at 21.5 in, which from the photo below seems impossible to believe. I think that our eyes deceived us when we view this boat from the stern; I would have guessed that the widest point was 24-in or greater. The widest part of the bow section is 21-in. Since the kayak is narrowest at the cockpit (20-in), there is no need to have any ‘tumblehome’ at the widest point in the kayak to make it easier for the paddler to reach the water. The profile of the stern from the keel to the upper edges of the deck is progressively wider; I think a good part of both the primary and secondary stability is in the stern. The waterline beam of the LW 12.5 is only 19.5 in.
Rescue and Water Tightness:
I tried some wet exits and reentries at the pool session yesterday. The LW 12.5 had so much buoyancy that I could not do the over-the-stern scramble that I always use to re-enter my Folbot Cooper. However, the low rear deck and the great buoyancy made paddle float re-entries fairly easy. After performing five or six exits and re-entries I checked inside the hatches. The rear compartment was bone dry, the front had a few drops of water dripping from around the seals on the hatch. I probably did not tighten the front hatch straps sufficiently. The bulkheads look well sealed, and I do not see how they could possibly leak.
I have never been able to roll my other boats; a Necky Gannet and a Folbot Cooper. The whitewater folks at the pool session though the LW 12.5 looked like it would be easy to roll, so I will probably learn soon. On the other hand, the high stability of the LW 12.5 makes the need to learn to roll a moot point, unless I decide to tackle rougher water. I suppose about the only negative to owning a Little Wing kayak is that their great stability makes learning traditional kayak bracing and rolling skills superfluous. I had told myself that my next kayak would be a Greenland style kayak like the CD Suka, partly because I like the classic design, but also so that I would be forced to learn some kayak seamanship. Then, I got intrigued by the design of the Little Wings, and I am thrilled with my new kayak.