As I’ve found myself drawn to dynamic ocean whitewater, my boat needs have started to change as my paddling shifts from medium distance exploration to short bursts of speed and adrenalin in amongst the surf and rocks. My current tupperware sea kayak is quite good for the rough stuff but at 18 feet, is too long to manoeuvre in close to rocks. Its hull design also makes it a tad tippy when you catch paddles or parts of the hull on submerged rocks.
So I’ve spent the last 6 months considering many different boat designs and options. In the sea kayak realm there are a few boats designed for surfing and rock gardening, such as the poly P&H Delphin, which comes in at 15 feet and has a unique hull design especially for surfing, or the Sterling Reflection, with a hull designed to surf equally well backwards as forwards. And let’s not forget the Tsunami X15 as paddled by the Tsunami Rangers, with a length of 14 feet and a wash-deck for easy dismounts and remounts.
My general needs are basic, I want a boat that is short, turns easily, is tough, surfs well in any direction and has a good level of stability in the rough stuff. Of course my hefty weight (approx 290lbs/130kgs) is a limiting factor, with very few boats designed for that level of, err, paddler load, especially as the length of the boat decreases. With this in mind, I’ve sought out a range of advice from paddlers and suppliers experienced in ocean whitewater about various kayak designs that don’t fit into the mould, including surf kayaks, whitewater creekers and surf sit-on-tops.
The culmination of my research has arrived at one boat – the Liquidlogic Remix XP10. This ten foot hybrid with a whitewater pedigree has plenty of volume for large paddlers, a rear hatch with enough storage to go camping, and enough length to generate good speed on waves. It has a spring-loaded skeg to help it track when cruising, and all the outfitting expected of a top-quality whitewater boat.
With thanks to Melbourne paddling superstore Capacity Sports, I’ve been able to order in an XP10 which should arrive any day. I can’t wait to add this great looking boat to my fleet and am looking forward to learning all about her in some rough stuff soon. Expect to see lots of photos and video in the coming months as I see what she can do, but in the meantime check out this little teaser below to see the kind of water these boats are designed to play in. Cheers – FP