Tiderace Vortex Reviewed

IMG_0725At 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.

Initial Reaction?

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.

The Summary

IMG_0735All 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.


About Roddy at Kayak Bute

Passionate about the seascape of Scotland and its islands and mountains. And the great people you meet on your journeys. Sea Kayak Guide and Coach.
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6 Responses to Tiderace Vortex Reviewed

  1. Adrian says:

    This boat sounds interesting. I’m looking for a plastic day tripping sea kayak and play/surf boat (nothing too extreme!) and have been considering the P&H Delphin 155 RM and the Valley Gemini RM. Have you tried these and would you you like to make a stab as to how they might compare to the vortex?

    Any chance of an RM Xcite coming out?



    • Hi Adrian

      Thanks for getting in touch. When I started my coaching and guiding company Kayak Bute I wanted to brand it with its own distinctive style and ethos. One of several ways I did this was to make a decision to only use top quality boats in terms of design and manufacture with my clients. The boats I would chose to paddle myself which in my case are Tiderace.

      I’m sorry can’t help re your question on the comparisons with other manufactures. I know the Tiderace boats inside out but it would be unfair of me to speculate about other manufactures. The best advice I can give is invest some time in demoing the different models you refer to. At the end of the day we all paddle in different styles with different expectations and the relationship our different bodies have with a boat is unique to us. I can make a comparison between different kayaks but it cannot be the same as the one you make or valid for you. My own view is that talking in ‘absolutes’ about the merits of one boat vs another is at best not helpful and at worst misleading. So try before you buy.

      The Vortex as you will have seen from my review would certainly match your criteria very well indeed. If I can arrange a demo for you please get in touch and also if helpful keep an eye on our weekend demo schedule.


      There is no intention to add a RM Xcite to the range.

      All best and buy the one that makes you smile most!


      • Adrian says:

        Hi Roddy,
        Thanks for your reply. I would love to demo a few boats, trouble is I live in rural Western Australia and kayaks are few and far between. I have a couple of questions about the Vortex though:
        What is the weight range for the boat? I weigh 96kg.
        Will the boat be fast enough to keep up with more traditional sea kayaks on a day paddle?

      • Hi Again, See http://www.tideraceseakayaks.co.uk/kayak-models/vortex/ for spec on the boat.

        As to your second question, depends on so many variables your fitness, other paddler fitness, your technique, their technique, the designs of boats others are in, the list is endless. Good practice however when paddling in a group is for the fastest members to paddle at a pace that is comfortable for the rest of the group.
        Also in general a plastic boat will never be as efficient as a hard shell of the same or similar design.
        Cheers, Roddy

  2. Johna Till Johnson says:

    Argh! Why did you have to write about this boat… I have three kayaks, my Xplore (Solstice), Valley Avocet (Photon) and tiny 15-year-old feathercraft K Lite (Baby Vulcan). Now I am going to have to get a fourth… the Vortex looks irresistible….!

  3. I’ve just spent three weeks in the Lake District and have used a Vortex at Platty + water sport centre on Derwent Water several times now. Can’t recommend it high enough – fantastic boat

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