The most often asked question we hear, with boat choices available from EK now numbering in the high teens, and each craft selected to slot ever so slightly into a niche of it's own.
Although it's impossible to provide intricate details of each & every design in a single blog post, here's a summary of where the kayaks in our range fit into the broad scheme of things. I've categorised them into three main groups:
Skill building sea kayaks which promote good technique and 'feel' for the water. We learned our craft paddling rudderless sea kayaks and they are a great place to start for new and ambitious paddlers looking to skill-up, or for committed rudder boat paddlers interested in expanding their feel for the ocean, and who want to develop a more 360 degree style. Typically sympathetic in rough water and fantastic for helping develop a good base of rough water paddling skills.
- Tiderace Xceed Series - A successful combination of sympathetic secondary stability, combined with a harder tracking hull typical of many Swede form kayaks. The Xceed series are designed to flatter, encouraging paddlers out onto the ocean in a kayak that will look after them, while still inherently being fast enough to make them a genuine expedition boat. Sitting somewhere between former Tiderace stable-mates the Xcite and Xplore the Xceed boats all carry gear well, their performance isn't hugely influenced by a decent expedition load. Price $4890 (Nelo N9 layup)
- Valley Nordkapp Forti - the original British sea kayak revived in 2015. Not a huge load carrying expedition boat, but a paddlers kayak in every respect. For coastal expeditioning & touring the Nordkapp is a joyful sports car of a kayak now substantially more user-friendly than earlier incarnations of the Nordkapp. Once you've owned a Nordkapp, it's hard to get the same vibe from any other boat, they are something unique in sea kayaking. Here's Rob's thoughts on Five Years in a Valley Nordkapp. Priced to clear, just $3500 for our last remaining stock Nordkapp.
- North Shore Ocean 17 - a modern amalgamation of the traditional British skeg boat with the flatter planing hull that has become recognised as more efficient and generally easier to handle in rough water. Gear capacity for a multi week trip, more speed than your average skeg boat, and built tough. Price $3950 (composite)
- Valley Sirona 15.1 - Valley's latest offering in the 'look after you on the sea' category, a shorter more nimble boat, with bouncy secondary stability reminiscent of the North Shore Atlantic but with flatter planing hull as is the modern trend. A great starting skeg boat, or a day/play special for the experienced paddlers. We've got one remain ex demo in stock, just $2490 in a nice lightweight Valley composite layup. A brilliant kayak for a smaller paddler looking to learn the art of paddling. Here's a video of the Sirona in action in some fun surf:
- Tiderace Xtra/Vortex (composite/plastic) - Available in three sizes in the composite version, or just the one (equal to the standard or M size) in the plastic Vortex. A spinning, carving, full-on play and day paddling sea kayak with huge initial stability, but so reassuring in the rough stuff. Turns on a dime, lifts and planes with minimal effort thanks to a large flat section in the hull, and built for punishment. Fast enough to clock a 5km time trial at 8.5kmh, so plenty in the hull if you're out tooling around along a coastline with mates. $4890 (Nelo N9 layup) $2190 (Triple-layer Rotomould).
- Valley Gemini SP - A game changer in many respects, short enough to fit into the standard car spot available in a block of units, fast enough to foot it on a club trip which clips along at 6-7kmh, and a ball-tearer in the surf (see our video of the Gemini in action HERE). Although designed with the surf in mind, a clever hull shape with more V than you'd normally associate with a play boat gives the boat solid tracking characteristics, and also a surprising turn of speed. If you measure a sea kayak by the ease with which it holds a cruising speed of 6-7kmh, then the Gemini loses nothing for being shorter than the traditional sea kayaks we have come to know. Available in Valley's superb RM layup for just $1990
The Future of Expeditioning - Fast Touring Sea Kayaks
We've firmly held the view that next few years will see a whole new genre of sea kayak popularised, as the idea of fast & athletic touring gains a foothold. It's hard to argue with the numbers, with old sea kayaking speed records falling one by one to paddlers with good technique, fitness & a plan. Don't think that these boats are all about speed however, the drastically improved efficiency in the hulls translates to an easier day on the water, less energy expended getting from A to B and everywhere in between, and a less taxing day on the water. None of these things is possible without stability, and the goods fast touring sea kayaks have that in spades, the days of fast automatically meaning unstable are thankfully behind us. A more detailed explanation of what makes a good fast tourer is HERE.
- The Expedition Kayaks Audax - Our own design, launched in 2017 after more than two years of development, testing and prototyping, and proving to be a very accessible, stable and user friendly addition to the fast touring market. It's also the fastest hull in the genuine sea kayak range that we have ever measured. A cracking boat downwind, fast enough to put a 10 hour Hawkesbury Classic within reach of a reasonably fit paddler, and built in Australia for tough expeditioning. You can read all about the Audax HERE. Priced from $4890 (with a new LV version being released in August 2019).
- Tiderace Pace 17 & 17S Tour - A fast plumb bow touring sea kayak, with enough rocker and stability to look after a paddler with average ability, and enough room for a multi day trip, stretching to multi week, has occupied our thinking for the past few years. There is no question that whilst first generation fast touring kayaks like the Rockpool Taran rewarded skill, fitness and sea skills, the new Pace Tour 17 has allowed entry to the world of fast touring boats to paddlers who don't necessarily paddle aggressively all the time. A very exciting development and the sign of things to come in the sea kayak expedition market. The 'S' version is a scaled down ergonomic form of the full sized Pace 17 Tour, same length, slightly narrower & a little bit quicker, with a cockpit designed to fit paddlers in the 55-75kg range.Price $5190 (Nelo N9 layup). Here's a video of Mark shifting the Pace 17 along in some small runners.
- Tiderace Pace Action and Action S - a 4.8m sea kayak with radical manoeuvrability in line with it's waterline length, but a terminal hull speed to rival most long-haul traditional sea kayaks. Designed for paddlers who want maximum manoeuvrability in their sea kayak, but who also don't want to be left behind, light, fun & well capable of extended touring. In many ways this is the complete all round sea kayak. Price $5190 (Nelo N9 layup).
- Epic 18X - Now ensconced in it's second incarnation, that features a revolutionary rudder system, sound & adjustable ergonomics & a proper expedition fit out that includes a day hatch as standard. Off the shelf it's a well fitted out kayak, with little or nothing to do to customise other than make use of the factory fitted adjustability. The 18X is probably too quick for the average paddler on the flat to ever reach, and has a proven track record of, well, epic expeditioning to stand on, having recently been piloted around Australia & then Cape Horn by Freya Hoffmeister. Price $4290
There you have it, a brief summary of our range & where they fit in relation to one another, and their design strengths.If you have any questions or queries please feel free to to give either or Rob or myself a bell, or drop us a line. We have a demo boat available in each & every one of the models mentioned above, & will take you out on the sea for a test paddle in live conditions.