Elan was bringing the boats today, kindly supplied by Up & Under Outdoors Cardiff. We had two Tidraces, the Xcape and XPlore, and a Valley Etain, which I paddled on the way out.
Views over Cardiff.
On the return trip I swapped with Jules to paddle the Xcape.
Verdicts on the boats: Firstly it was nice to paddle two very shiny well made boats. Mine has seen it's fair share of knocks and scrapes. It was also nice paddling two boats that were more suited to my build, my boat is probably more suited to the larger paddler.
I paddled the Etain on the outbound journey, a boat I have paddled briefly before. The manoeuvrability of this boat combined with the secondary stability is great. We hit a patch of rough patch of spikey water around the far reaches of the island and the boat was happy to sit in it completely comfortable I wasn't going to be tipped in an unfamiliar boat. A great expedition boat which is manoeuvrable and stable.
On the return trip I paddle the Xcape. The first thing I noticed sitting down in the seat was the snugness of the cockpit. The seat wasn't quite as comfy as the Etain but it felt like the boat was part of you. Out of the Tidreace line this boat is geared more toward the novice. It is very very stable, great for getting the SLR out of the dry bag. What it had in stability however it lacked in excitement for me. It does what it says on the tin, a great safe option, reliable, stable and a good boat for chewing up the miles. It would be nice to compare it to it's more playful brothers.
If you would like to try out any of the boats seen here, they are available for demo at http://www.upandunder.co.uk/