Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Which Sea Kayak for Me...?

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:

Traditionally Shaped Sea Kayaks

Traditionally shaped sea kayaks, with 'pointy ends' to make the distinction clearer. Typically sympathetic in rough water and fantastic for helping develop a good base of rough water paddling skills.
  • The Nadgee Solo - Legendary iconic Australian sea kayak, designed to track hard and true, keep you safe from waves and nasty seas, and provide a solid comfortable ride.

  • 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)

  • 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) $2490 (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 good 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. Designed specifically to be a stable alternative to some of the more demanding early designs like the Rockpool Taran. Priced from $5490
  • The Expedition Kayaks Azure - designed and manufactured in Australia, aimed squarely at paddlers in the 55-75kg range, as an option for lighter paddlers eating all of the performance, speed and handling of the Audax.

  • 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 $5490 (Nelo N9 layup).
  • Epic 18X - Now ensconced in it's third incarnation, that features a smart track 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.


  1. EXCELLENT article, Mark... with so many choices in boats these days, it's very helpful to have an overview such as this.

    I hope you revisit it once the Tiderace and Valley Gemini boats come in and you've had time to assess them.

    Btw, aren't there TWO Gemini boats, a play one and a 'light touring' one? I'd actually be more interested in the latter, from what i've read it'd be the perfect day boat, compact in size and very light, for super-easy portage and storage.

  2. Yes, two Gemini boats about to launch. We figured the Sport version would do pretty much everything the rec style would do, so for now will just be bringing in the higher performance model. We'll publish our thoughts on the Gemini once we've had some decent water time.

  3. So nice to read honest opinions about a boat from somebody selling them. Even tho I have to buy in my country you have helped me narrow my choice to just four kayaks! Your honesty and integrity is very much appreciated by myself and my paddle friends here in Norway.

  4. got advice on double sea kayak models?

  5. The most exciting double we've seen in recent times is the new Epic 18X Double. Really fast, as stable as the rock solid double skis & with similar gear carrying capacity to other light weight doubles. Also very light & manageable at 28kg for the heavier version.


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