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The boat is great for day trips. I typically paddle it around a 9 mi. reservoir every weekend without a second thought, while many other kayakers on the reservoir think twice about such a trip.
The Extreme HV has plenty of space for camping gear. I took it on a 9 day camping/island hopping trip to the Adirondacks with my wife, and it fit everything I needed for the duration.
Hatches are easy to open and close, and are largely water tight (I get a few tablespoons of water in the front hatch after much rolling).
I almost never use the rudder...only if there are severe cross-winds or I am surfing waves.
In the ocean, the front deck sheds waves nicely and provides a dry ride.
The boat's relatively narrow beam takes a little bit to get used to, and at first I was hesitant to buy a kayak that did not feel "rock steady". However, after several years of paddling it, I'm now wishing that CD will create a somewhat sleeker extreme with a beam of 19 or 20 inches. (My wife and I recently purchased some Epic V10 surf skiis for fun. If you think the Extreme is tippy, you should try these 17" wide kayaks.)
Needless to say, I find the Extreme easy to roll.
Very fast and very stable for a boat this long. the wifes boat is a tad to big for her at 5-2 and 140# but she can handle it extremely well and has learned to deal with it. I'm 5-9 and 175#. the boat turns great on it's edge. we have four of these boats now. As far we are concerned it is the best boat out there!
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!
High Points: (1) superior finish (2) don't have to have the rudder down to paddle (you have to deploy the rudder on the Looksha III although the IV can be paddled with the rudder up or down), (3) superior design on the water tight bulkheads - truly water tight - the Necky bulkheads have leaked profusely on all my boats, (4) higher volume bow that enables the boat to cruise through waves without punching through the waves for a wet ride characteristic of the Looksha III and larger rudder control pedals that don't concentrate pressure in a small area of the foot like the Necky pedals, (6) a much lighter boat than the Neckys.
Low Points: (1) The rudder is plastic as opposed to aluminum which is standard on the Necky, (2) turning radius requires more strokes for 180 degree turn with rudder deployed than with the Necky, (3) gel-coat is more susceptable to abrasion (like it is a softer gel coat) when traveling with the boat in a rack over long distances than is the Necky, and the forward hatch cover can be a bit small for bulkier items.
All in all . . . for long distance performance-expedition paddling . . . I can't think of a better boat than the CD Extreme. The boat has plenty of room for gear, is comfortable in the cockpit which is properly snug (no slop), handles well in rough water and is a fast boat to paddle . . . as fast if not faster than the Looksha III in conditions with any kind of wave action.
Hull and outfitting: - The boat has a fish form, sleek shallow round bottom design, 18’10,” long, 21.5” wide, a light, car-toppable 48 lbs. Fit and finish are mostly excellent, although mine has some uneven spots and roving texture showing through the gel coat at the stern.
Hardware/outfitting are mostly excellent. The inside is finished as well as outside, Hatches have heavy rubber gaskets and flush hatches. Bow hatch leaked at first. The dealer (Southwind Kayak) refit it for me and provided a loaner hatch while they did it. Hatch tie down buckles are undersize, brittle and have broken at times. The dealer quickly replaced them.
Steering gear is very sturdy, but uses conventional pedals and rails. There are no bungies to hold the pedals down, an annoyance that I shall correct. There a very nice low drag rudder assembly, designed to pop off if it is struck very hard, presumably being left hanging by the rudder cables and waiting for someone with a very large screwdriver to reinstall it. The rudder raise/lower controls are primo. Some people say that skegs are better than rudders and nothing is better than both. Some might eat those words, if they try to do a 27 mile open ocean crossing with one knee raised, leaving them feeling like an exposed dog by a fire hydrant, lifting its leg in a hurricane.
The Extreme is fairly comfortable, but with arthritis and heel spurs, I badly needed heel pads. My first long paddle, while wearing soft booties, left me in agony and cramped my calves up, as well. The seat back is relatively comfortable and adjustable, but it is anchored by a bungie loop which sometimes pops off at inopportune times, like re-entries. The seat bottom could use some foam padding. I recently installed a Yak-Pads gel seat pad, which works great.
There is a little room for safety gear, jacket, food and water behind the seat in the cockpit. The cockpit does not drain easily during a rescue, or beach dump-out. I keep my pump on the front deck in a specially included bungee loop, with a cord to secure it. The cockpit entry is a little short. Wet exit is not hard, but with the short opening and narrow beam, it’s a little more difficult to re-enter than I am accustomed to.
Under-hatch storage space is pretty good, but substantially narrower than my other kayaks, requiring some new skinnier dry bags.
The deck bungees are a little thin and cheesy, but most other hardware is first cabin. There is a built-in rudder tie down bungee, nice for those 80 MPH trips back home at night. The rear deck lacks real straps for tying things down. Bungies just don’t cut it when the waves/weather get rough.
There is a stainless steel anti-theft ring aft to fasten your lockup security cable to, but the boat is so darned long that my cable won’t reach forward to the kayak car top rack. The coaming is recessed into the hull- very nice- and still easy to fasten the spray skirt, but not that easy to grab in a paddle float rescue.
I have a fabulous factory–installed, deck-mounted Ritchie compass, which is a little hard to see at night. Kayak manufacturers should consider incorporating a GPS mounting pad, too- Maybe a PC also?
The Extreme’s center of gravity (CG) is a little too far forward for a comfortable shoulder carry—one must balance it right on the thigh brace extension, which digs into the shoulder. I remedy this by leaving my first aid kit in the rear compartment when I carry it, adding extra weight. However the CG seems to be good for handling at sea, which is what really counts.
Regarding performance: Now for the best part- The Extreme is one of the faster production sea kayaks you can buy, that still is fairly stable and handles acceptably. It's not an all-out racer, though. I tried the big Sedas, Neckys and Seawards, but they all seemed to me to have unacceptable tradeoffs, although they were excellent boats for what they appeared to be designed for. Although the Extreme is fast, it is a lot of boat and requires a very strong paddler for best results—that speed is not without cost. I find that I’m using different motions and muscles, due to design differences from my last boat. The speed advantage is not huge, but even a little can be decisive. It lets me now easily cruise at 4.5 knots. 5.5 is doable, with significantly more effort. I can exceed 6, when conditions are right.
Edging is good-- if you lean the boat hard, it will carve pretty well, but it won’t turn on a dime like my Eclipse or Looksha Sport. I find myself using more extended sweeps, draws and rudder strokes.
For a 19 footer, the Extreme handles surprisingly well in the surf zone. It maintains an edge well and punches through moderate waves. In surf play sessions, it stays upright when most around it capsize. It surfs OK, but not in dumpers. I haven’t done more than six footers yet. It has more of a tendency to broach than my last boat, but I’m getting the hang of it.
Primary stability is fair, secondary stability is good. The boat handles very well fully loaded, perhaps better than empty, with relatively little performance loss.
Tracking is good, but not great, without the rudder. Cross/following seas and wind effect are considerable. I leave the rudder down on long crossings or when there is any real weather influence and then it tracks like it is on rails. That way, I can focus on forward progress, instead of practicing the BCU strokes class. However,in 30+ knot winds off Santa Rosa Island last summer, weathercocking was significant, even with the rudder down.
The Extreme has a high bow and and large forward cross-section, great for plowing over waves, but there is a performance loss in rougher seas (as well as additional weathercocking). I don’t mind paying that penalty, because I believe that it is a safer boat that tends to rise over and through waves, rather than merely plow through them. However, it doesn’t simply bob over waves and pound down like a Malibu2. I’ll update this report when I encounter more difficult circumstances to test my hypothesis—assuming that I live to write about it.
I find that, unlike in my Eclipse, I can’t just sit in the cockpit reading a book out on the ocean, but must actively control the attitude of the craft by bracing or hip flexing. In a recent following sea, I had to throw braces regularly.
The boat rolls surprisingly easily for a nearly 19’ craft, because of its roundness and low back deck. The seat back is a little too high, but the support is welcome. The thigh braces are only marginal. It would be easy to slip off them during a rough roll. I think that I’ll add some foam wedges.
The Extreme is a top quality, fast, seaworthy boat, worthy of extended ocean open touring. The only real tradeoffs are less stability and maneuverability, as well as more snug accommodations.
On the negatives, it is a wetter ride than I had in a Solstice GT, and the cockpit is small enough to make entry or egress difficult. Were the cockpit longer, I would give this boat an unqualified 10. The positives far outweigh the negatives, since this is such a fast and surprisingly stable hull. To get a faster boat, I think one would have to get a surfski or a kayak that is essentially a racing hull. The speed combined with good handling and cargo capacity were simply too much to pass up.
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