Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tiderace Xcite Classic - an impression

The Xcite is designed as a fast yet manoeuvrable coastal touring kayak. According to its designers the kayak is "at home playing in rough water, equally comfortable carving turns through rock gardens, the Xcite has ample storage for week long trips. Its high stability and quick turning response make this boat a joy for those paddlers looking to improve their skills and take on advanced conditions".

During the paddling week in Spain with Lieke, I paddled a (black and white) Tiderace Xcite Classic, one of the Test-kayaks of SK Kayaks in Llanca. A week is too short for a full review, but I spent enough hours paddling the kayak for a good impression.

Fitting the kayak on the beach, I was impressed by the volume of the Xcite, and a bit afraid it might be too voluminous for me (1,82 m, 73 kg) - as I was planning to do in Spain mainly day-trips with the kayak. Once on the water the high volume was immediately forgotten: due to the ergonomics of the cockpit, the contact with the boat is excellent and the hull shape with a lot of rocker the Xcite is very responsive on body movements (edging, leaning) and paddle power. It accelerates quickly, it is reactive like a much smaller kayak, but it has the cruising speed of a 17 foot-kayak. The kayak is easy to roll: the low back deck makes lay-back rolling easy, the high knee position facilitates forward-rolling. The large cockpit is a delight on rocky shores: it's very comfortable (and safe) to be able to get your legs out of the cockpit before landing! At the rougher moments (winds up to 5 Bft.)on our trip, the boat tracked well in wind, wave and chop.

From the first moment I found it a pleasure to paddle the Xcite. After a week I started to appreciate it even more: it's not only a playful boat that gives confidence in the rough stuff, but also a comfortable tourer with enough load capacity and a appropriate cruising speed for long camping trips. It does what the designer promises!

About the built quality: the finish is excellent. The test-kayak was a "Classic" - (=Tideraces standard), featuring a high tech lay-up with reinforcements and coremat constructions to increase stiffness on the critical spots. This results in a very stiff (and probably strong, but that's difficult to examine for a simple tester) yet light kayak.

Tiderace wasn't represented in the Netherlands for a long time, just recently the Kanoshop started a dealership. Congrats to Wendy and her team ;-)


gnarlydog said...

Hans, have you had the opportunity to compare the Xcite with a Zegul520? The two kayaks look the same but I suspect the Xcite has more rocker than the Zegul.
Also the cockpit looks a bit different. I am seriously interested in the Xcite since I am somehow disappointed by the Zegul520: it just doesn't turn fast like I expected.

Hans Heupink said...

Hello Gnarlydog! I didn't paddle the Zegul 520 yet, but at the pictures it looks indeed like a close copy of some Rockpool and Tiderace designs... I found the Xcite a good turner, but note that it needs a bit of edging to turn really fast. With the great ergonomics and good boat-contact of the kayak this is no issue. As always: do try it yourself, its quit subjective ;-)