I took the Kayak Bute demo Xplore M in CK Hardcore construction for a work out this Sunday. It was a cool winters day here on the Isle of Bute as I headed down the east side of the island into a F2/3 south westerly that was often pushing against the bow, and me. The first and powerful impression of the boat was that it cut through the chop like a knife through the proverbial butter.
Speed, Stability and Fun
I had decided to paddle on my own so I could push the pace to the limit of my own comfort zone and there was no doubt in my mind that the ‘M’ was showing a very respectable turn of speed. Although 20 cm shorter than it’s bigger relation the Xplore L it was definitely holding its own and it felt it did have the edge over the ‘L.’ A boat I knew well as I had previously spent 3 weeks in one paddling the west coast of Scotland. I have no cause to doubt the speed coefficient advantage that designer Aled Williams quotes on the Tiderace site of 3.5 for the ‘M’ as opposed to 4 for the ‘L’ on a 5 point rating with 1 being the fastest and 5 the slowest. The shape of the ‘M’ above the water line is to me reminiscent of my beloved Xcite but this belies what is going on at and under the water line in terms of design and efficiency.
Built for Serious Stress
It was as I headed round Garroch Head into a strengthening south westerly and the tidal overfall that the construction really showed its true colours. Occasionally the waves were big enough for the bow to be dropping into the trough with a fair bit of a bang. This Hardcore version of the ‘M’ is built in the toughest and most durable of the Tiderace constructions . It has a high tensile layer of carbon / kevlar as part of the multi layer lay up and it took the impacts with a satisfying ‘THUNK’ as it bottomed out and sliced on to take the next wave. The construction simply instilled confidence that this hull could take a serious amount of stress and it is super ridged.
All in all it was a great paddle with the seas coming from every direction during the 6 hrs 20 min I was in the cockpit. The foredeck hatch proved great for holding the insulated mug I had filled with hot chocolate and espresso coffee. The potato, coleslaw, cheese and spring onion main course might not grab every ones buds but it tasted pretty damn good to me. As did the snack bar on the hour every hour.
I just cannot fault the Xplore M. It is stable and forgiving, holds and responds to an edge, is capable of carry enough kit plus this 75 kg paddler for multi day or multi week expedition. But it retains much of the fun and responsive handling of the Xcite and in Hardcore construction it’s simply a dream machine. And it gets you to a better than anverage spot to enjoy the view while you eat the take away.