I took the paddle float out last week to practice with it in calm waters and upon performing the evolution I noticed that a substantial amount of water had gotten into one of the air chambers , So much water as to weigh the float down considerably when trying to lift it from the water. This obviously defeats the purpose of a paddle float. Trying to get this water out was no easy or quick task in fact standing in my kitchen afterwards trying to get the last remaining ounces out was quite frustrating, there is a few ounces still in there that I cannot get out.
Fast forward - I contacted ACK about this and they arranged for a new one to be sent and for me to return the original. New one arrived and first thing i did was to bring it over to the sink to see if the new one would take on water, which unfortunately it did. Apparently this is the present design and to be quite honest not a very good one, in the instructions there is no mention of that, if one or both of the valves are in the open position that it is possible if not imminent that the float will take on water through the valves and that while stored and deployed valves should be in the closed position until ready to inflate. I think that at the very least this important piece of information should be added to the packaging/instructions. As for myself I will be returning the float to ACK as I find it a bit dangerous to use like this especially if I found myself capsized in a rough water scenario. In this day of our litigious society I would hope they look further into this issue and perhaps find a type of valve that works in a different manner.
The whole Tiderace line of boats are impeccable in their layups (I have the Hardcore) and the graphics on the boats are real eye catchers. As far as handling I find the Xcite a very stable kayak in both primary and secondary terms, to me the boat thrives in the rough stuff which is exactly what i would like to graduate toward.
As far as speed I can't complain, at almost 6' and between 210-220lbs depending on how much pizza I've had that month, the Xcite gets me to where I wanna be in a timely fashion easily keeping up with and sometimes passing paddling friends. The boat tracks very well with a bit of edging and if the wind kicks up too much I find that by dropping the skeg even just a little does the trick.
If I had to nitpick anything it would be the smaller cockpit (getting in and out) that I'm not used to but that's for now and I'm sure with practice I'll adapt to it, that said once I'm in I feel very connected to the boat which is what you want in a sea kayak.
The other thing which I have already gotten used to is the low volume by the foot-peg area, I'm a size 11 and cannot where just any type of water shoe or booty. I purchased the NRS Freestyle wetshoe and now my feet fit just fine. I took the Xcite on a week long kayak camping trip up to the Adirondacks last fall and was impressed that I was able to fit all My gear with relative ease. I'm very happy with the Xcite and find it to be a very competent all rounder.