The latest Kai Waʻa oc1 most of the competitive guys in Hawaii are moving towards is the Scorpius XM with extended footwells. I see a lot of guys trading up their recently bought Scorpius XS canoes and Scorpius XMs (no footwell extension) and moving to the XM with the extended footwells. The question is why? Does the body position moved 4″ forward compared to the original XM make a significant difference?
With the XM I liked the height of the cockpit, you are positioned a little lower to the water, more so than the Pueo. You get good hull control and feel, especially in the surf. The ama is super buoyant, no way of going ama under and the iako settings allow you to adjust enough so that you can ride the ama light and fast or stable. Compared to the Pueo, the XM iako(s) are longer, giving the rider a lot of adjustment options.
I must say that the XM is a bigger volume Oc1 compared to the Pueo. Just sitting on the XM you notice that the deck by the front iako area is bulky and also in the hull area right under. Once surfing downhill you notice it more. Even in ideal surfing conditions, and like the original Scorpius, the XM takes a lot of effort to get it onto bumps. Once on, the canoe carries nice and holds its hull speed (i think) a little longer than the Pueo can. But when trying to push onto the bump forming in front of the one you are riding, its hard to power over and down it.
From what I understand the ama, hull shape, iako sleeve placement all remains the same for the new XM (Extended Footwells). Only the 4″ move forward of the footwells makes this canoe different than it predecessor. I had a chance to try the new XM (maui made) extended footwell model and I noticed a few things:
Position of Ama in Water: For my height and weight (5ʻ9″, 187lbs) and the placement of my body forward by 4″ I noticed the waterline of the ama moved a bit forward. More of the ama was now in the water. The movement forward (for my leg length) threw off how the ama was originally designed to sit. By Kai Waʻa moving just the footwells forward and not the iako sleeves, the front half of the ama rides more in the water than it should.
Dropping in: We did a series of downhill runs, three 20-minutes intervals at 80%, 85% and 95% efforts. Having the extended footwell allowed me to sit more up front and having my body weight 4-inches more forward did help drop the front down in the surf. But the ama felt off with me being more forward, I noticed the front where the ama touches the water digging in more than when on the standard XM. Like with the standard XM, I had to muscle it to get on bumps riding the Extended. I found it still hard to get the larger volume front to drop down. Once on the canoe carries nice. The XM maneuvers well and has a quick pedal to rudder response. Kai Wa’a has the height of the cockpit down, in the surf you can really get a good feel being inside the hull and close to water. For me this really helps with control when maneuvering on bumps.
I am not sure the intent of the XM extended footwells, if it was created to help drop in easier in surf (which is needed with the original XM) or was it designed just for taller guys. It seems the later. I am by no means an expert and do not want to disrespect any canoe or builder. But for me, the XM (standard as well as extended) seems to need some of the volume taken out in the hull area below the front iako. It just takes a lot of energy to power the front down and onto the bumps. Iʻve always liked Kai Waʻa canoes, I had many, a Polaris, Spica and Scorpius from them. I think Oc1 designs have evolved so much that it maybe time to rethink the round hull concept originally taken from the Wave Blade and used for the Polaris, Scorpius, and now XM.
I must say that Kai Wa’a canoes have awesome construction. The canoes are light, stiff and components are quality. Pedals are carbon (nice and light!), seat soft and comfortable with a bungee system in front for your hydration.