Conducting clandestine photo shoots and testing new, classified kayaks ain’t exactly James Bond glamorous. Two foam-wrapped prototype kayaks and half a dozen large boxes of accessories—some assembly was apparently going to be required—signaled the demise of any unoccupied floor space in my garage way back in June. Fearful that someone might inadvertently photograph or video the secret kayaks and post the information online, I had to slip them in and out of Hobie covers whenever transporting them in daylight. Several kayakers must have thought I was downright anti-social when I pedaled off at warp speed when they attempted to approach me on the water. And even though we shot thousands of images and terabytes of fish-catching video, we had to refrain from posting any of it online until Hobie introduced the new model to the public.
That would be now.
The new Hobie Mirage Compass matches the standup capabilities of much bulkier boats, but is far more athletic. At first glance, her sharp entry, low gunwales and angular lines disguise a 34-inch width, and the no-nonsense kayak hull weighs in at a svelte 70 pounds.
That kind of width typically condemns a paddle kayak to the slow lane. However, I had no problem hitting 5.5 mph despite the added weight of an H-Crate, four fishing rods, drink cooler, electronics battery and a typical load of fishing gear. Even more impressive, I managed 4.95 with a paddle. The lightweight boat has very impressive acceleration, right up to the point when the wide stern suddenly digs in around five knots.