Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Six Months in the Tiderace Xcite

We landed our first Tiderace shipment in late September, and six months down the line can offer a few pearls on the performance of the Tiderace Xcite.
Our initial thoughts on the boat were 'not another allrounder', in a market where niche designs are starting to target very specific zones of appeal, be it surf, fast open water touring, fitness or more specialised areas like Greenland rolling.
 The 'all rounder' tag implies either a lack of top end ocean speed, something that can be the death knell for the occasional multi day tourer who does all the rest of their paddling as day trips, or a lack of responsiveness in the fun stuff.
It also conjures images of being OK at this, this & this, but not brilliant at any of them, a one-boat solution that always has you looking at your mates Taran, or your other mates Gemini, and wishing you could do the stuff they're doing, in the conditions in which they thrive.
Happily, the Xcite has broken the mould in several ways, a design which has all the playfulness even the most motivated close-quartering junkie could wish for, combined with that magical property that is beginning to emerge in recent higher performance sea kayak designs, acceleration.
Why is acceleration such a breakthrough? If you think about the dynamics of a hull, a shape that 'sticks' to the water through the length of your forward stroke is going to be a lot harder to cruise along in than a design which lifts, or planes much earlier. Some boats feel heavy all the way through your stroke, the Xcite seems to lift very early on in the power phase and the back end of your stroke is much lighter on. It makes it much easier to paddle, certainly at that 7-8kmh speed where the majority of coastal touring & play takes place.
The Xcite hull is so flat along a substantial portion of the boat that a decent bit of power down produces a higher than proportional push, as the boat lifts up & begins to plane.
Where this is most noticeable is in a sea with any shape to it. Running down the back of an oncoming wave, or shifting the boat along in a nice following sea, you notice how much the boat accelerates as soon as you get it pointing downhill. It very quickly influences the way you paddle as you tune in to this lovely feature of the Xcite, your cadence varies, you start watching the wave shapes in front of you and you skip away, grabbing a hold of all the free stuff the sea is offering. The flatness & hard rails also translate to high initial & secondary stability, which importantly is also very predictable.
In the surf this flat planing section engages instantly, and the hard chines and deep rails make the big edge an unnecessary waste of energy. It took me a little while to get me head around this, being used to throwing in a big edge in to execute a hard turn in the surf. The Xcite responds much better to a small edge and a short, sharp & early stern rudder on a wave, to achieve a very predictable and instant direction change.
For paddlers new to kayak surfing, this is a seriously reassuring hull property, giving you a flat, steady planing ride with far more control over when & where you will head, and also much more influence over where you end up once the inevitable broach gets you.
The Xcite is the all rounder with a light, nimble feel on the water, and plenty of hull speed for light touring, with rough water performance in the very highest echelons of sea kayak designs. It's certainly put a smile on my dial these past few months.
You can see the range of Tiderace kayaks, including the Xcite, as well as the current stock colours, on the Kayak Prices & Stock page, and all model details on the Tiderace page on our EK Website.

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