Today the wind was blowing with 5 bft: an ideal opportunity to check different courses in the wind. I left home paddling with the "Alkmaardermeer" as destination.
Total distance was 17 km which I paddled with an average speed of 8,5 km/h. Paddling directly into the wind reduced it to 7-8 km/h while in a sheltered stretch I easily reached 9 km/h.
Paddling with the fin retracted the 18XS weathercocks significantly. If it is blowing like today you have to work hard to compensate for this. With the wind blowing less sharp, the kayak responds better to your paddelstrokes.
Using the rudder is much, much easier because the kayak responds immediately to every command.
On the lake I found nice waves and I paddled there every course in the wind I could think of. Using the rudder the 18XS does exactly what you want her to do. Even paddling a small circle in these waves is easily to perform.
Without the rudder you have to use a lot of power and technique to turn downwind.
But with the ruder this move is a piece of cake. I never paddled as relaxed as today in this disturbed, irregular waves on this lake.
Looking at the stability I did a funny observation. Using the rudder, the fin down, the stability is perfect while paddling. After stopping, floated a bit , the kayak felt less stable in the waves. Just like if anybody is constantly pushing constantly your stern sideways back and forth. Probably this is the influence of the waves playing around with the motionless rudder.
When paddling with the fin retracted and the rudder locked the kayak seems a totally differnet kayak: responding very lively on the waves. Something I do not expect in a kayak of this length.
The stability, with the locked rudder felt a bit less stable. Something you can undestand easily because the fin (when down), works like a stabilizer
Do you stop paddling, like described above, the stability is better compared with the situation where the fin is retracted.
Seems a bit contradictory.
Paddling downwind on the lake, tryinf to surf the short, steep waves, I reached 10 km/h. But on the canal I could also achieve that with only the wind pushing. So probably the 18Xsneeds long waves to surf on.
On my way back I tried again to sprint and reached no more than the 11km/h just like yesterday. Probably you must be stronger and/or having better technique to push her to a higher speed. A higher speed which potentially is available.
Finally I tried to remember the stability of the 16X. I think that the 18XS is close to that. Maybe fractionally a bit lower. It is however very clear that there is no big difference in stability between these two kayaks.