I've been looking at buying a Fast Sea Kayak (FSK) for some time and very nearly bought a second hand Rockpool Taran back in 2016. But at the time, I was really looking for something to do my Sea kayak leadership awards with and couldn't justify spending out on a boat I wouldn't get to use very often. So along came the Valley Sirona 16.1...
Having recently sold the Sirona, I decided to look again at the market for FSKs. I'd paddled the Rockpool Taran and seen John Wilacy a few times chucking his Taran about on the Swellies, not to mention reading his exploits around the UK (https://performanceseakayak.co.uk). But I must admit I did have some misgivings about the Taran, particularly with its stability. I remember the Taran feeling quite tippy at the time when I paddled it. I also don't like the tiny front hatch on the Taran. This to me seems a bit of a waste as it severely restricts what can be carried in the front compartment, let alone trying to get anything out.
Another similar contender to the Taran, is the Tiderace Pace 17 Tour. I had heard bad things in the past about Tiderace and their quality control not being up to scratch. But Tiderace have now addressed this issue, with their boats now being made in Portugal. So it was a case of find out more about the Tiderace Pace Tour; from people I know have owned and continue to own Pace Tours, and get a demo in one. I eventually rang Ivan Lawler, who I'd first met at the Oban Sea Kayak race. I had no idea who he was at the time when I first met him, just that he'd beaten my time by almost forty minutes, over the 20k race around Kerrera. But then he is a seven times World Champion! Luckily for me, Ivan was coming to Nottingham that very weekend to do some coaching at Nottingham Kayak Club and said he'd pop a Pace Tour on his trailer for me to try.
My first impressions of the Pace 17 Tour was how well made it was. The detailing is exceptional, with even the deck line ends being shrink wrapped on the ends. This particular boat is the Hardcore Epoxy version and weighs in at 25 kg. I was expecting it to be white, as all the Tiderace Pace Tours I'd seen up to now had been white. But this boat was a lovely Orange, with a black deck and cockpit, a bit like a carrot! This boat was also brand new and had not been near water before. My first thought was to set the foot pegs before getting on the water. This job was really easy, as I soon found out, as the footpads are adjustable with a small leaver on each side, reachable from within the cockpit. On the water, it felt nearly as stable as my Etain. I did have a user error with the rudder though, as never having paddled a boat with a rudder, I kept trying to edge the boat to make it turn. Using the rudder is something I am told, by Ed Lofthil, I will learn to master. Ed tells me that having once mastered the rudder, going back to a rudderless boat is more of an issue... we'll see. Despite it being long without much rocker, the Pace Tour does turn on its edges, albeit slightly. I took a GPS with me so I could see if it had speed. Paddling into the wind, and it was a windy day, and against the Trents current was fairly effortless, with me easily getting around 4.5 kts. Downwind with the wind, I was flying! Yeeeeeehaaa! Soon my test drive was over and I was grinning from ear to ear.
The following week, I made up my mind and decided I'd buy a Pace Tour. Speaking later with Ivan, we did a deal on the "Carrot". I think if I was to choose a colour scheme I'd end up with something completely different, but I really liked the colours of this boat. I was more than happy. I just had to arrange going to collect the boat now, which was now back at Ivans place, near Woking. As it happened, I had just left my job and had a month off before starting my new job. I also needed to go to Oxford and Warwick, so decided to combine the trips into one. After a day of mostly driving, the Carrot was collected and brought home.