Tuesday, 7 August 2007

At last...

Stu paddles off into the sunset...

I'm falling behind in the blogging of kayak trips, so expect to see something about them soon. But something more momentous happened recently: Stu took charge of the Tiderace X-cite that he'd been patiently waiting for.

You have to hand it to the Tiderace team. A company forged out of the ashes of a previous kayak-building partnership, they've faced more than their share of teething problems. A hasty re-branding exercise only months into the business venture to steer clear of offending native peoples, and an unfortunate incident involving a trailer load of 15 brand new kayaks, a layby and a bad French lorry driver are just two of the storms Aled and Dave have had to weather.

These boats are deservedly attracting a good deal of attention in the kayaking world. A comprehensive review will have to wait for those who can really compare it with its step-brother, Rockpool's Alaw Bach. It is a gutsy boat for those who (a) have enough mass to keep the built-in skeg in the water, and (b) the ability to edge it quite confidently. The overall finish actually seemed better than on an earlier demo version of the boat: the gelcoat colour more saturated, the grey underbelly more subdued.

At this stage, the overall impression is good, but I suspect that it will take 6 months to a year to iron out some quality control issues. This doesn't detract from the design and build of a kayak that is clearly at the cutting edge of this salty sport. It's clear that Aled and Dave are putting everything into these boats, and there's no doubt that Tiderace will be a formidable force in the coming years.

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