Plastex Athena

Review by Shuna Braithwaite
Model: Plastex Athena
Size: 65 (60-65kg)
Construction: Carbon, kevlar, fibreglass & novolacepoxy (Racing +)

This is the smallest Athena, used mainly by junior women and light junior men. It is wingless and was designed by Richard Seruga in 2002.

Despite only being the Racing + construction type, this boat is surprisingly strong and rigid. It is a carbon-kevlar sandwich with a shiny gelcoat on top. The deck and hull are separated by a gold-coloured rim. The fittings in the boat are of excellent design: the seat can be adjusted easily in two ways, both forwards and backwards, and up and down. This means the paddler can choose to sit leaning onto the water more, to make a stronger catch. The footrest is easily moved by squeezing together two levers, there are no fiddly wingnuts to undo, which makes it quick and easy to adjust. The pull bar can also be moved. The tiller bar is connected to the rudder by thin ropes instead of wires. This makes it easy to repair or replace. All Plastex boats come with a tough fitted boat bag.

The first thing to notice when paddling this boat is how comfortable it is. You feel like you are part of the boat – not just sitting in it. There are no wings to scrape your thumbs on, and the front of the cockpit is raised slightly, which gives you more room for your knees when using a spraydeck.

The boat looks good too – it has a racey line down the side, and a radical shape, which I think is important because if the boat looks fast then it is likely to give you more confidence to go fast. Once used a few times it is relatively stable.

When paddled, the boat is quick to accelerate off the start, and shoots forward on each catch. The footrest is a strong base to push against and the seat is comfortable to sit on, although I find a plastic bag over the top makes it easier to rotate on.

As with most Plastex boats, the cockpit rim on my boat came unstuck, which is annoying but easily fixed. The rods that connect the pullbar to the footrest leave a very narrow gap for the feet, so your toes get cuts or blisters. I think the pullbar is also slightly too high. Although I think the rudder ropes are better than rudder wires, they do come loose after a while, especially after a journey on a trailer, so they need to be re-tied. Also the gelcoat chips quite easily so don’t crash.

Overall Recommendation
This boat is a good 4 out of 5 because it is so comfortable to paddle and is so well thought out. Its flaws are only small and don’t effect the performance of the boat. I haven’t yet paddled a better boat.