Paul Kuthe, a familiar name at Tiderace HQ had the chance to try the new kayak model: the Xtra which is pitched as “Perfect for surfing, rock-hopping and day touring”.
I asked him for his thoughts on the Xtra…
A chance to paddle the Xtra
Tiderace continues to pump out some of the best boats in the biz. Stylish performance driven designs combined with bomber construction and clean finish work sets them apart from the sea kayak pack. While coaching in Anglesey, North Wales in October 2011 at the 6th UK Storm Gathering, I had an opportunity to test paddle the latest offering from Aled and Tiderace. My mind was primarily on the task at hand while on the water with clients, but I managed to put some observations together once back in the comfort of the outdoor center.
My initial impressions of the boat was that of intrigue. I wasn’t aware that Tiderace was about to release a new hull until there it sat waiting for me wrapped in plastic and begging to be boated. It looked wider (especially in front of the cockpit) and shorter than anything I had seen from them thus far.
Once I slid into the cockpit, my impressions were confirmed. This boat is roomy with a fairly high knee position. At my size, I would need to pad out the seat, hips, and knees quite a bit to get a good connection. While the fit is not my personal cup of tea, I could see it being a good option for many paddlers.
The deck was very much like the Xcite. The hatches, lines, and overall shape stay true to Tiderace’s style and functionality while introducing a slightly fish form profile with tons of width at the cockpit and some healthy but well balanced rocker at both ends. As I rolled the boat over on the lawn to check the hull (and to evenly distribute the drool from passers by) I noticed how flat it was. It looks much like the Excite from the deck side and the Extreme on the hull.
How it feels to paddle
Surfing and hopping along the shore line, this boat felt right at home. It’s rock solid on either edge and responds well to maneuvering in tight spaces both on the inside and outside rails. I did notice a bit of drag that I’m not use to feeling in a Tiderace boat. The extra bow width, flat hull, steep rocker, and wider cockpit area did have a noticeable effect on initial acceleration, but once up to speed it felt great, and as I found out, it can certainly keep up with the crowd.
The day I was able to test the boat we were running a “rock hopping” class. Due to weather conditions including stiff winds and a fairly active and changeable sea state, we were forced to switch our venue mid session to keep the clients happy. This gave me a good chance to see what the Xtra was like over a bit of distance under a load. We were beating into a head wind of about 20 knots on average and slogging through the beginnings of the flood current (about 1.5 knots) to get around to the next bay where we could find better protection and a more suitable learning environment.
During the 2 hour slog-fest I noticed that the Xtra, once up to speed, held it’s glide better than I though it would. At 22.3 inches wide, it certainly inspires confidence in the rough stuff, but I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to keep up with everyone, this being their shortest boat to date at 16.5 feet. At a point about halfway to the next play spot, the lead was starting to pull away while a student in the back was struggling to keep up with her short plastic rock specific boat (that will remain nameless in this review;), so I hooked into her and was able to accelerate past the group to the front of the pack even under tow!
“The Xtra” proved stable, fun, and maneuverable with enough room to have most folks paddling in comfort without sacrificing too much of the speed needed to keep up over those long slogs out at sea. If you loved the Excite, but wish it was a little bigger and a touch more maneuverable you must try the Xtra!
Paul is 178cm / 5’10” tall and weighs 84kgs or 185 lbs. He currently paddles the Tiderace Extreme.
He favours a combination of expedition paddling with plenty of time built-in for playing and surfing, or in his words “Surfpeditions”. “I love to pack up the boats and paddle to out of the way places. When I get there, I like to unload kit, drop in for big rides in the break, and thread the needle through the rocks, caves, and pour-overs close to shore”.
Thanks for the review Paul – Alice