At Kayak Bute we use Tiderace boats with our clients when we coach and guide so when the first plastic model from Tiderace was launched we took a keen interest. Lead guide and coach Roddy McDowell gave his reaction to the new kid on the block.
In the league of plastic sea boats I think the Tiderace Vortex looks set to stand out from the crowd. It has the trademark features that define a Tiderace sea kayak, exceptional build quality, fit for purpose design, superb fitting out and great looks.
This boat is one hard customer. It is built to bounce off rock and does. I’ve bounced and scrapped it off quite a few and the hull has nothing more than light grazing to show for the encounters. No deep grooving, scratches or peel back of the plastic. The hull feels really stiff, I’d say by way of analogy its at carbon end of the plastic spectrum and that’s where it needs to be for a boat that’s made to journey to the play spots.
The great hull quality is complimented by the standard of fitting out. The counter sunk stainless steel bolts bring a huge touch of class not just on the looks front but reassurance that the bits that are bolted on are there to stay. The skeg and control lever talk to each other through a no nonsense chunk of wire and the micro adjustment is impressive. Throw in Kayak Sport hatches and the whole packet is quality.
The boat is really solid and built to take the rough and tumble of the rock garden and surf. Thankfully it doesn’t have a foam core so no osmosis from deep scores and scratches.
Take a whole bundle of hard edged rail, aggressive rocker and box it out under the cockpit. Add in a bow and stern section that clearly have a good relationship and include a cockpit that has paddler connectivity built in and you have a recipe that’s one tall order in plastic. Tiderace must have taken a cookery master class because the Vortex has it all and the result is a beautifully balanced boat that not only looks the part but serves up outstanding performance.
In the calm water on Loch Lomond I put the boat through a series of moves to test out the handling characteristics with minimal impact from other environmental factors.
The primary and secondary stability was great with the boat giving me constant feedback as I went more radical in manoeuvres. Close quarter handling was a delight with superb edging and response to bow and stern sweeps, quick on the draw, and good on the turn with bow and cross bow rudders. Given the plastic construction and hull shape it was surprisingly quick on acceleration.
The boat complemented my strokes not only in how it reacted on the water line but also in the way it maximised effort expended through great connectivity in the cockpit area. That hall mark of Tiderace design, the great linkage between body, boat and blade has been translated from hard shell to plastic.
The next day after the calm of Loch Lomond and in a seriously windy Firth of Forth the Vortex showed her true colours. The XC Weather Site was giving it F 5 gusting F 7.
Give the Vortex the right stroke and timing on the top of a wave and she turned on a dime. The rails held the waves in quartering and beam seas and the stiff hull was reassuring punching through the break and dropping into the next trough. The volume distribution made for great rough water handling and my guess is it will surf way on the better side of good.
Deploying the skeg was very effective both in cross wind reaches and running down wind with a following sea. The skeg hung just where you placed it so micro adjustment worked really well with the control neither being too stiff or sloppy.
All in all the Vortex has play and durability written all over it and it is great to be stocking the boat. Demos of the Vortex are now on in Scotland most weekends and our Kayak Bute clients will love paddling them.