VORTEX – First Impression
Update: There were few changes made in the construction of Vortex after we purchased ours. The most significant was that Vortex is now made from three layer plastic. We are planning to do more detailed update in March/April when we will have a year long experience of paddling Vortex.
I have to say that I was never big fan of plastic boats. Ever since I started paddling I’ve always preferred composite ones. However there were times when I felt restricted in a nice fiberglass or carbon-kevlar kayak. There and now I was worried to try certain things as I did not want to smash an expensive boat.
So when I saw that Tiderace started to make plastic, too, I didn’t need much convincing to get us some.
The first trip with our new boats was to Scotland for week of paddling over the Easter break.
I know there are lots of different qualities in which kayakers are interested in when choosing new kayak. So let me start with the most important one; the color.
Currently Vortex is made in four different colors. I had a chance to see them all. Pink, blue, orange and green is the order in which I would choose them.
Now to the kayak itself. Vortex is a plastic kayak, yet, from the first moment it was clear that it is a Tiderace boat. Hatches, deck lines, bungee cords, foot pegs, everything felt very familiar. As soon as I sat in it, there were no surprises, I felt the same comfort and the same connection with the kayak as in my other boats.
We could not wait to get them on the water to find out how does it feel paddling. Vortex is a short, flat hull seakayak with proper rocker. Thanks to this it felt incredibly stable, yet it turned really well. What was most interesting was its speed. It didn’t feel lazy at all and we could easily keep up with the group in longer composite boats and doubles.
To keep a straight line wasn’t an issue. It weathercocked a bit in the side wind, but skeg dealt with this very easily. Planned overnighter looked like a challenge at first since we were used bigger boats but surprisingly we fitted everything with some space left. However the front and back hatch had to take more stuff in as the day hatch is smaller compare to Xplore.
While paddling towards our camp we found the best conditions of the week for playing and even with the fully loaded boat it was great fun ridding waves and rockhopping through gullies and channels. Sadly we could not find any surf to give the boat a proper ride and I am looking forward to it the next time.
Overall the impression from this boat was of one which would be perfect for anyone who’s new to kayaking, but in the same time it is lots of fun for experienced kayaker to play in and to push boundaries.
The boats fulfilled and in some ways exceeded our expectations, however there is one small thing to keep in mind. The boat is made of single layer of plastic and as it is flat to allow the best performance, this has effects on the flexibility of the hull. Which then causes for the bulkhead of the day hatch to become less watertight. However for us this does not deter the good impressions we got of the boats as we never rely on hatches being completely dry at all times.