By tOM Humphries, video by Andrew Elizaga.For the last couple of years folks that don’t know any better would ask me “just what’s so special about the Sterling Reflection”. I would explain about the near endless secondary stability, the responsiveness, forgiveness, how it punched out through the break, how it could back surf, avoid purling and pop out of unbelievable conditions with control. Invariably, I would sum it up that no other long boat comes close on a wave. This last statement is no longer true, damn it all Sterling!
Last Friday during a dawn patrol surf session I managed to damage my Reflection beyond useable & I’d not brought another boat for the remaining three days paddling. Sterling & Marty Perry were kind enough to make sure I had one of the Progression demos for the remainder.

First impressions: Initially the boat feels a tad nervous, as if it’s hunting which chine you want it to be on. I’m sure this would be subdued with proper outfitting, I was a tad loose all three days but soon managed to be very comfortable in all the conditions we encountered. The secondary stability is deep, as in far over deep, like at least an inch of water over the skirt edge deep, but completely predictable, controllable and firm, firm like a rock firm. The boat edges with ease and responds quicker than any other long boat I’ve ever been in,(yes quicker than the Reflection, Alchemy…). I did a handful of rolls and no surprises there, it rolls back up easily. I had more than a handful of combat rolls and never even thought about it until this writing. It came up first try every try. It accelerates quickly and feels reasonably fast, more so in rough water. I deployed the skeg once for a while, it’s almost not needed. Though on a return paddle with quartering seas it was nice to have it down and just cruise for a bit. In surf it catches waves and holds them easily when I’d be struggling in other boats. It’s so fast on the wave you can really chose where you want to be on the wave because it responds so quickly to even subtle shifts for & aft. In the following short clip you can see for yourself just how responsive the boat is on a wave.

Review: IMO; in the surf I believe for someone about my weight the Progression does everything the Reflection does and does it a bit better, with one exception, in crashing foam the Reflection has a bit more pop. A truly versatile kayak with the ability to out play any boat on the water. No other long boat even comes close on a wave, except the Reflection. I will have one as my next boat.