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Submitted: 01-09-2008 by CapeFear
I am a thrilled owner of a Current Designs Extreme (fiberglass). I am 6'0", 175 lbs.
It was not my first boat, not my most expensive, not made with the fanciest materials, nor is it my newest. I believe I do have to consider it my favorite (1 of 7 sea kayaks). I've paddled it for a number of years now. A couple fun trips would be from Cape Cod, MA to Martha's Vineyard,and more challenging, a 37 nautical mile day trip circumnavigating Cape Fear (It was named Cape Fear for a reason.) I paddle it loaded with gear, many times on camping trips, but more frequently unloaded, just going out for a few hours.
As far as stability, I consider it very comfortable. Lower stability than my Solstice GTS, but higher stability than my P&H Sirius or Kayak Sport Viviane. (Don't read me wrong - I own, paddle, and really like all of the boats I've mentioned here. They are also all designed to be very seaworthy and cover some distance - not to turn super easily and play in one area. They represent my favorite kind of paddling.) It's a perfect level of stability for this boat. The Extreme feels responsive (edging and turning), especially vs. the Soltice GTS, which takes pretty good force to put and hold on edge.
The Extreme handles quartering waves quite well. Front quartering I don't even notice myself making any compensation for tracking. Rear quartering only presents a significant tracking problem when it wants to take off surfing. At that point a lean (responsiveness to leans is good)and a stern rudder will keep you on track going faster than you can hope to propel yourself with paddle alone. (Always a good feeling to surf - and this boat is fast for such a wonderfully seaworthy hull.) I should really mention here that I never use the rudders or skegs in these mentioned boats - probably part of why I love them is that they handle any reasonable conditions, including small craft advisory days on the open coast, without aid of a rudder or skeg.
I surf this boat on the Atlantic coast - sometimes just looking for fun, but also necessary entering inlets into the intracoastal waterway from the ocean or doing beach landings, or the mouth of the Cape Fear River, or the Frying Pan Shoals....you get the idea - it's necessity for a lot of paddling. It holds its course well perpendicular to the wave, picks up waves easily, and side surfs with ample forgiveness if you end up parallel. As far as turning, I find the Extreme turns the easiest of the 4 boats I mentioned. Paddling in groups, turning has never represented an issue for me, although tracking regularly has for others. For the paddling that I most often witness people doing, turnability seems to regularly be given too much clout vs tracking. I also have more playful sea kayaks, but their attributes just don't offer a significant advantage to me nearly as often as the attributes of the 4 boats I'm mentioning here.
If I have to choose one boat, the Extreme has a wonderful turning/tracking balance for me. The Sirius and Soltice GTS track best, but I would never consider tracking a problem with the Extreme.
The Extreme and the Viviane are the fastest, and I'm not really sure which of those two outdoes the other in speed. The Extreme is fishform, the Viviane Swedeform. The handling characteristics between the two are just different enough that when I've been paddling one consistently, it takes an hour or better in the ocean to get back into stride paddling the other. Considering the speed of all four, sprinting aside, I seem to average 4 knots, give or take, just doing my thing for 10 to 20 nautical miles in all 4 of them. So Derek Hutchison seems to have something when he says the Sirius is a fast boat and others take it out for a sprint and say they're unimpressed. Take it out for a 20 mile run with some swell and wind blown waves. Make your decision then.
I know a lot of folks ask about bracing and rolling, but once I had it truly learned, it's hard to tell the difference anymore. As a beginner, I found the Extreme and Solstice GTS easier than the other two to roll because they have a point that you can feel (I think it's the same feeling as secondary stability.) where once beyond that point, the boat wants to roll up the rest of the way. It's kind of like standing an egg on its point, it wants to go one way or the other, and once it starts, there is a force making it continue that direction. This feeling gives a strong sense of where I am at in the progression of the roll, which can be nice if you feel at all disoriented. The Viviane has this to a lesser degree, and the Sirius less yet. They will lay on edge without feeling like you have to keep pulling it on edge, but require more deliberate hip action to bring them back upright. The Extreme and Viviane represent nice mediums to me, with the Soltice GTS and Sirius being the opposite extremes in this sample of boats.
In any case, I should just sum up by saying that in the more extreme conditions and on my most challenging trips, to this point I have preferred my Extreme for the task. It is solid, the hatches do not leak, and it's a very sleek and beautiful looking boat. Even if I'm only paddling for an hour on flatwater - I prefer 4 miles to 3.5 - I love this hull design!
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