Review Tiderace Xcite Harcore Layup

-- Last Updated: Apr-20-09 12:00 PM EST --

Tiderace Xcite Review

Here is my review of my new Tiderace Xcite. The better reviews state the background of the paddler, his or her size, and biases, the conditions tested in, and the factual reason for the conclusion reaced. I wanted to see if Aled’s design statements held up to my experiences in the boat so far.

Designer statement Aled Williams
The Xcite is designed as a fast yet manoeuvrable costal touring kayak. At home playing in rough water, equally comfortable carving turns through rock gardens, the Xcite has ample storage for week long trips. Its high stability and quick turning response make this boat a joy for those paddlers looking to improve their skills and take on advanced conditions.
The Xcite has been in development since it was originally designed by Aled Williams in 2001. This final version is totally redeveloped through the use of CAD design software and a new wood strip plug was made. The Xcite now benefits from a more refined hull design: waterline volume distribution has been equalised, waterline length increased by 80mm, lowering of waterplane(cwp), prismatic(cp), midship area(cx) and block(cb) coefficients and finer Half Angle of Entry and Exit, giving a more efficient hull. The bow volume has been redistributed to reduce slamming in choppy waters and the stern area shaped to reduce squatting of the stern while paddling forward. The rear deck has been raised to increase stiffness and storage, a fore-deck hatch added and the bow hatch profiled to ease vacuum construction. The final version of the Xcite is faster and more efficient while still retaining volume, stability and the seaworthy rough water handling performance is has become renowned for.

Aled is also a highly rated kayaker and coach. His view of the boat as a padler:

The most exhilarating thrill for me is paddling out to a tide swept headland and surfing its overfall and tidal race. The power of the sea is evident here, it’s in your face, it’s all around. It pushes me to new limits, it occasionally allows me to think that I can master it, but never for very long. The Xcite is my choice boat here, and it’s all about having a reserve, a performance margin and a comfort zone.
This final computer generated hull of the Xcite gives the boat more speed, a tighter carving arc, equalised longitudinal balance and a stable and more progressive edging characteristic.

Paddler Body Size, Intended Uses, Prior Experience, and Test Conditons

Body size
Height 6 ft 3 in, weight 178 lb, waist size 34 in., shoe size 12 Additionally I had about 10 lbs of gear with most of the weight in day hatch,and spare paddles one foredeck.

Intended uses and desired attributes in a boat
Paddling coastal Maine. Does-everything boat geared toward day touring, surf, and rough water play. Would like to be able to do 3-5 day overnight trips. Emphasis is on the play boat but would love it to be as efficient and stable as possible for several day trips.

Experience level
Comfortable in 25 knots wind, can handle 30, waves to 6 feet,solid rescues and roll in same. Comfortable in 2 ft surf. Solid roll in same. Wanting to expand to bigger surf. I currently own an NDK Explorer and a Jay Babina designed Outer Island.

Started in whitewater 30 years ago, sea kayaking last 15 years. Instructor of beginning and intermediate paddlers. Sierra guide. Helping professional and educator.

Test conditions

One hour, 5 hour and 2 hour sessions. First on Hudson River, winds to 15 k, second on Lake George (32 mile x 3 mile lake)winds to 22 k, third Hudson River, winds to 25 k., wind against tide.


My bias is that no seat ever fits me, and I always replace with custom foam Seat. However, the seat provided was solidly built and comfortable to me. I don’t use a back band. However, the one provided was comfortable and very Well made.

Foot brace
The left pedal broke within minutes of my first brace. The dealer replaced it Immediately and was totally helpful. Alex himself stated that the model shipped to them was inferior to the one specified and it was already corrected. He personally apologized for the oversight.

Build quality
The build quality was totally on par with the best boats I have seen made in the 15 years. It was finished outside and inside, reinforced in all the right places. I Got the Hardcore layup and it appears very stiff and rugged. I especially liked The small skeg box, and the small extra compartment in front of the cockpit, Since I want it to be a 3-5 day boat as well as a playboat, I specially liked the Roominess in the cockpit for my 34” inseam legs and size 12 feet.

Aled states that the Hardcore layup is not meant to be lighter. It is meant to be tougher. I agree. The boat is only 2 lbs lighter. The trade off is that repairs to fiberglass are generally easier.

Primary stability
The statistics back up my conclusion that the initial stability, is excellent. I Found it on par with my Explorer, a boat most students and instructors rate Very high. The transition from primary to secondary is very linear and
All the way to laying on the water for bracing and sculling.

Secondary stability and edging characteristics
The statistics also back up my conclusion that the secondary stability is very Firm as well. The boat does not need to be edged to turn smartly, but edging Produces a very predictable and very quick slip or carved turn.

I found the best characteristic of this boat the fact that regardless of direction of the wind, the boat could be edged easily to accelerate or check turning without use of the skeg. The skeg is very effective on a long beam run in high winds.

For a boat with this much rocker I found it amazing that I could make it track so Easily. This is why, in my experiences with it, that it did so well in the really Rougher stuff. Any boat, for example when it is well into a broach is very hard to control. However, I found I could prevent broaching with a hip and edge check, and if I let it broach it was more controllable even then than any other boat.

Performance in wind and waves and chop
I found the boat actually lived up to the designer statement. All boats designs must have compromises. However, this boat surpasses any other boat I have paddled as a play boat and also as a 3-5 day trip boat. I find this remarkable. For me, It is more predictable and stable in high wind and waves than a Romany, for example, a boat that is famous for these capabilities. And yet it is more efficient and holds more.

To be totally objective and accurate with only 6 outings and only 3 in conditions is not possible. And it differs by paddler size, experience, skill, and biases. However, so far, with not surfing, and in current only of 2 knots, winds to 25k, waves of 3 feet on Lake George, I find this boat actually meets or surpasses my experience in all other boats I have had the pleasure of trying, and actually does what the designer states, a true rarity. I was very pleased to find this boat was an absolutely confidence inspiring play boat yet is was also an amazingly efficient, roomy, and well tracking for 3-5 day trip boat. I had intended it to be a great rough water boat and settle as that. To find it so capable for gear and week long trips makes this boat my favorite boat of all time. A good friend WisoJ pointed out to me that it really helps if the designer has authority and little red tape so the boat can be refined and evolved. Many times in a short period of time. This may be the reason the Xcite has profited from a number of prior versions and now appears to be a very refined design. As I get to test the boat is additional conditions I may find flaws not as yet discovered. I will post back to the board for an update at a later time.

– Last Updated: Apr-20-09 2:19 AM EST –

Glad to read you are still so happy with the boat.

I do think the designer not only being an avid paddler, but also controlling the company can be very beneficial.

Please post this review in the review section so it becomes part of that information resource.

Tide Race
Excellent review. Glad to hear the boat is surpassing your expectations. I look forward to taking a demo paddle in one. I was also out on the Hudson River this weekend. Cold Spring to Bear Mountain Bridge and back. The water was like glass at times…gorgeous Spring weather.

Enjoy your new boat!

Will this boat work for someone who
is 6’3" and 245lbs? It seems they make an Explore model that may be a better fit. Thank you for your review and any comments. Bill

As a playboat

– Last Updated: Apr-20-09 4:12 PM EST –


Aled states the design range as 220 lbs as the upper limit as BOTH playboat and a trip boat i.e., fully loaded. So, if you realize that you would be overloading it with both yourself and full gear, and looked at it as only a play boat and day boat, the waterline on the boat with you in it might be totally fine.

So then would you fit? I think farily likely you would. I found the seat a bit small for me, but as in my review, I don't like any OEM seat. So, if so for you, two bolts later the seat is out, and your new foam seat is in.
Try it and see I say. Also the Explore S is possible fit.

…how’s she roll ???

Great review. Mine is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow… Joy!

Rolling Today !!!
OK, so I first rolled in 40 degree Hudson River, yeawoh!!! Good thing drysuit, 5 mm hood and mask! First roll this season, NO NO NO problem.

Most of us in our pod, one in particular love to compare how a zillion boats roll, Wetzol by handle.

I rate this boat up there with the Nordkapp LV, my Outer Island, and other lower volume boats Brit boats.

It has a harder chine, not a hard chine and I can feel it as I roll, but

PURE BUTTER I SAY. Totally smooth. And as the boat has excellent primary and secondary stability it doesn’t feel like falling off a cliff heading into the water nor does it feel like it will window shade either

I then took it up near Lock 6 where there is a dam, with some class 2 rapids and eddies and fairly heavy current and rolled in that mess. The boat is just so responsive I could roll up against or with or at 90 degrees to current. Purely great.

Then I quit while I was still intact in the freezing water.

I say yea! Let’s head to Rhode Island!

Enjoy! Due to economy there are not so many available. So good to jump on it. Read my rolling post.

You should come down…
…to Tybee Island in Oct…just to experience the opposite water temps.

Paddled tideplay’s Xcite
I paddled tideplay’s Xcite a bit on Saturday on Lake George. The water was 46 degrees so I didn’t roll the boat. However, crossing the lake in beam and quartering winds and chop gave me a sense of how the Xcite handles in such conditions. It is a very confidence inspiring boat. To me it felt like a refined Explorer. It moved through the chop very much in the manner of an Explorer, but was more responsive to corrective strokes especially bow rudder, and felt quicker than an Explorer. The Xcite was also incredibly nuetral in these conditions. I never felt the desire to deploy any skeg - as I might have in my Nordlow.

That being said, it is not a low volume boat. It felt big after spending the first half of the day in my Nordkapp LV. I checked the stats and it is about the same volume as a full size Aquanaut - which is less than an Explorer but notably more than a Nordlow.

If the next time I get a chance to get into the Xcite the water temp is above 50 degrees, I will roll the boat. In the meantime, I would recommend it as more than worthy of consideration as an all round boat.