Christmas Eve brought the promise of a lingering two metre longish period easterly swell, which was bound to kick up against an outgoing tide on one of our favourite play spots, the Bundeena Bar.
We decided to ditch the last minute shopping and head down with two boats we'd wanted to try out in just these conditions, fast enough for fun, but not crunching beach breaks. In other words, something we felt most sea paddlers could relate to, surf that wasn't intimidating but was still a helluva lot of fun.
The video is a small cut of what was laid on for us for the best part of two hours.
We swapped boats about half way through, running the long rides on offer, bouncing around in the whitewater and generally getting our heads around these two boats that were designed to excel in the surf.
Rob let his full suite of surf tricks loose, delighting in the ability of the Gemini to 'hit & run', timing a sweep with the first 'hit' from a broach to bring the buoyant little boat back on line and carry on. You'll see him doing it a few times if you watch closely.
The differences between them are palpable. The Gemini oozes buoyancy and edge control, but still accelerates wonderfully onto a wave. It lifts once planing and feels light & loose on the wave, encouraging you to have a crack at things you wouldn't normally do in a sea kayak on a wave.
The Xcite runs faster, in fact the waves probably weren't fast enough to cut it completely loose, and tracks hard on the wave with a lot more dependence on strokes for control. When you consider how good the Xcite is in open water, both zipping downwind and bouncing around at close quarters, it's a very well credentialed day & play machine.
They are both supremely reassuring in the rough, not for a moment did I get tripped up by either and I'm a bit rusty surfing a sea kayak. Rob's boogles were self inflicted, pushing the envelope to unlock the little gems hidden in the hull shapes.
Of course this was all done in the name of market research, a tough job that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy....