I bought my CD Extreme back in 1999. I use it on Lake Superior in almost all conditions - except for 10-12 ft rollers. I also go to the Boundry Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota and pack it for one week or more. The kayak's ability to cut through any condition while weighted is wonderful. The stability is fine without weight, however, I typically add weight to each hull in order for the performance to increase.
Its purpose is extended expeditions and it handles well when loaded with a weeks worth of food, water and gear. The boat requires this weight and does not inspire confidence when empty. In other words, this is a great boat for a 300 mile expedition and there are better boats out there for a day paddle.
The extreme has a roomy comfortable cockpit. There is plenty of room for big feet and the seat and backband are comfortable.
The hatches on the extreme are flush with the deck and have a weather seal that is recessed and hidden. They are held in place by three cam straps. The hatch design is water tight during normal paddling, but mine take on a small amount of water when rolling the boat. The amount of water is not enough to be a safety concern, but gear or food sensitive to water must be protected by dry boxes or dry bags.
The boat tracks and glides extremely well and is very fast through the water. This boat goes in a straight line and is resistant to turning even when put on edge. This resistance to turning allows more energy to be utilized in propelling the boat forward and less energy loss in correcting direction.
There is a decent amount of rocker to the bottom which helps with rough water handling and a dry ride. The bottom profile is rounded chines with a slight v bottom. The v bottom does not give enough initial or secondary stability to feel comfortable without an expedition load stored below deck. When empty the boat feels tippy and is slow because a lot of energy goes into bracing. When loaded the boat takes on a completely different personality and is stable and confidence inspiring.
The Extreme does not edge turn well and is subject to weather cocking, especially when the cargo holds are empty. It is a very rudder dependent boat when dealing with a cross wind. With the rudder deployed and enough cargo to sit the boat down in the water the Extreme handles winds very well.
I give this boat a 9 because I believe the stability profile could be better when not carrying a heavy load and is in fact better on another Wenonah built fast expedition boat, the QCC 700. On the other hand, the extreme will haul more gear than the QCC 700 and the Extreme's rocker gives more maneuverability and a smoother, drier ride over choppy waters. Both are great expedition boats.
Overall, if you are looking for a boat to carry a week or month worth of gear and supplies that will cover distance fast and efficiently, the CD Extreme is a great choice. It gets a 9 because of poor all around performance. The Extreme is a purpose built boat and when used in this purpose, it is hard to beat. When used within the Extreme's purpose, its performance is a perfect 10. On the other hand, for a weekend warrior who may do a week or longer expedition once or twice during the boat's lifespan, a more well-rounded touring boat would be a better fit. The well rounded touring boat can handle an extended expedition and the paddler will be much happier in a well rounded boat on short camping trips and day paddles.
I hadn't planned on buying another kayak but my beloved Impex Currituk was seriously damaged and it is in the midst of being repaired. I had just previously sold my other two kayaks so I decided I needed another kayak to get me by. The Extreme HV came up from a friend. I think this is no. 27 that I have owned. So far this appears to be one of the best ruddered kayaks I have been in. It has speed, stability, maneuverability and comfort. I like the seat but with my usual personal modifications. I usually put an extended inch and a half thick hard foam pad in front of the seat because of a back issue. This is personal and not a criticism on the seat because it is well designed and adjustable. They HV model has good room for entry and exit. I like the feel of the cockpit and the HV seems more normal for me even though I do not think I am that big at 5ft. 10 in., 170 lbs. and size 10 and a half feet. There is wind cocking (with out using the rudder) when the wind picks up over ten knots. I am use to kayaks this big that wind cock. It is similar to other kayaks I have had. In other words it is no worse or no better than what I am use to and I have paddled a lot of kayaks as well as toured extensively on the west coast.
The friend that I purchased it off of did a forward roll with it. I have not rolled this kayak yet so I can not comment. I just know that big kayaks are usually not as easy to roll unless you have goods skills and are physically fit. This appears to be a very seaworthy kayak as I have not had a calm day in this kayak. I was in twenty knot plus winds and gusts from all angles on the west coast and had a solid secure feel. It is a great surfer and there was no cork screwing when waves are not directly on the stern. When there is some wind cocking I just used the rudder to correct. I eventually get tired of edging or doing corrective paddle strokes. You can expect that with these large kayaks. Nothing unusual.
I have worked as a shipwright and worked on many kayaks. I have been hired to help build boats and worked with a few skilled hull designers. I have built two of my own personal kayaks. I am presently rebuilding my Currituck in the back yard. I do not pretend to know it all. I am constantly learning new things. I read the many comments on this kayak. I think for the most the comments are consistent. Current designs has built quality into their kayaks. Their designs are well thought out. Russel & Graham Henry, the sons of Brian Henry who started Current Designs, did an amazing trip from Brazil to Florida in the renamed version of this kayak, the Nomad GT. It is identical to the Extreme. Think of what they encountered in these kayaks on the 7 month, 6500 kilometer journey they did. I think that is a true test of this design. I am looking forward to finishing the major repair on my Currituck but not in a rush because in the mean time I am loving this kayak.
I loved the feel of this boat the first time I got in it. The narrow beam and soft chines make it very easy to make fine adjustments in your edge (I've found other boats with excessive initial stability to result in muscle fatigue trying to hold them on edge), while secondary stability is rock solid. I have limited flexibility in my hips due to surgery, but the ample cockpit makes it easy to move your legs when you need a stretch, while still fitting snugly enough to facilitate edging, leaning and rolling. At almost 19 feet it is a fairly fast boat. Speed is compromised somewhat by the moderate rocker, but this enhances maneuverability, surfing and handling in big seas. It does surf well, but due to its length it needs fairly good sized, long-period waves (which are less common on LI Sound in summer); in shorter period waves where a shorter boat might surf well, it bridges the trough and tends to stall. It handles well even when surfing on waves steep enough to cause the bow to plough, although the rudder is a life saver here unless you have a very strong stern draw/rudder. Hatches provide ample storage space and hatch covers, when properly adjusted, provide a very good (not perfect) seal. The high volume up front provides a fairly dry ride in head seas. Weight is quite reasonable for its size, and it balances well at the cockpit for carrying it solo.
The not as good:
Contrary to some reviews I have seen, I find that this boat does not track well at all without the rudder (these reviewers may have been talking about tracking with the rudder deployed, but any boat can do that). In fact, it has a strong tendency to weather cock - although correction for this is facilitated by the ease of edging. Adjusting the trim by changing the weight distribution in the hatches helps considerably, but that is only practical if you will be paddling with seas from the same direction for extended periods. An adjustment allowing the seat to move forward and back would have been a nice addition. The cam straps on the hatch covers are rather finicky: not enough tension and you don't get a good seal, but too much tension can result in cracking a D-ring, with the difference between these extremes amounting to perhaps 1/4" adjustment of the strap. Since tension also changes with temperature, moisture and stretching, I find myself wanting to adjust the tension a lot. The relatively high back deck makes rolling and self-rescues somewhat more difficult than some other boats. Although the bow deck lines are well laid out, the stern lines are problematic: it is designed with a full criss-cross pattern in the bungees which is useful if you use those as part of a paddle float self-rescue, but this leaves only a very small triangle of perimeter lines aft of the bungees, which is wholly inadequate for emergencies. I had to remove my stern bungees so I could extend my perimeter line up to the cockpit.
Finally, despite the "extreme" length of this boat, the cockpit opening is actually shorter than some other boats that are as much as 2 feet shorter than the Extreme overall. While I can enter and exit the boat easily under normal circumstances, with my size and physical limitations, I am unable to do so without grabbing the combing to pull myself in or out, which creates instability during a surf launch or landing.
Pretty much all the key attributes given to the Extreme in these Paddling.net review articles I agree with including the speed, secondary stability, and the ability to handle rougher sea conditions. It has a snug fit around the hips as well as good leg and foot room for a medium built guy, 5 ft. 10" , 165 lbs. and size 11 feet. It has more manoeuvrability than most boats this length because of the amount rocker but doesn't seem to compromise the speed that much. Current Designs did a good job on the infused resin glass lay up so the weight is around 55 lbs. dry. The detail and finish is excellent. I did own the Telkwa at one time but it was too wide a cockpit for my hips so that is why I was planning on buying a Telkwa Sport.
The Extreme's cockpit and the kayak overall has been a good fit for my build and style of kayaking. It is sometimes hard to look back analytically at the different kayaks you have owned through the years and rate them today because your skill set and specific focus to paddling changes as well as your body. What I have learned is not to be too critical at first of a new kayak until you give yourself time to adjust to its design and what I call 'personality'. Let's just say that overall I am very happy that I had purchased the Extreme.
I am 5 ft. 10 in. and 175 lbs. I fit in the ocean cockpit no problem. My size 11 feet have good clearance. A bigger person might struggle a bit getting in and out without good technique. I have just done a 4-day tour on the west coast of British Columbia. We encountered two days of aggressive seas.
The Extreme is fast and stable. It has some wind cocking that I have experienced on some other fast boats I have paddled. I believe the Extreme is the fastest. I will compare it to the Seaward Quest I owned. The Quest was 19' length & 22.5" width and the more stable Extreme is 18'10" length & 21" width. Most kayaks are solid when loaded but the Extreme does OK empty. It does not need a big load to be stable. Both initial and secondary stability are incredible. It is a good surfer and takes it well a beam. It has minimal broaching on the stern quarter.
The Extreme is a fish design. The widest point is in front of the cockpit. It has a lot more hull up front so is more buoyant in the bow and is a dry ride. That also means that the bow will catch more wind than the stern. I have loaded some lighter gear and the paddle float on the stern deck to catch the wind and keep the boat more neutral when heading into the wind. It is a dream going down wind. It has enough rocker to get a long fast tour kayak turned around in a reasonable distance. Using good edging technique allows for tighter turns. It tracks well with the rudder up. I only use the rudder in strong winds and choppy seas.
As you get older, kayak weight becomes a factor when loading and unloading on a vehicle. I like the weight of this kayak which is the lightest I have owned this size (including the Kevlar Quest). I personally weighed this kayak at 52 lbs. This is typical of what I have seen in the Current Design boats. The inside is very clean and smooth using their vacuum-bagged composite lamination process.
The deck is clean and fittings are recessed. They have a simple lid clamping strap that makes the hatches a dry seal. Bulkheads are water tight. It has a pretty comfortable padded seat. The new CD Nomad (Extreme) is also a fish design and has the same dimensions. It is hard for me to see the difference so I will have to paddle it at paddle-fest to see if it is the same kayak.
I was a little nervous in the Extreme when encountering some tide and wind slop off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The confused steep waves were intimidating. It was reassuring that the kayak handled it well (and dry). That's when I really fell in love with the Extreme.
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.