We headed out with the tide, gliding along on a perfect conveyer belt that stretched from the parking lot straight out to the the rocky headlands and cliffs of Cascade Head and the open ocean beyond. Small swell (about 4 foot) and a low low tide height allowed us entry into ALL the caves, tunnels, arches, and pocket coves; some of which rewarded us with some particularly sweet deep water reef breaks. Pour-over rocks could be found around every corner. Outside, there was wind and long period swell providing the perfect testing ground for this versatile coastal machine.
There was enough energy in the sea to make things interesting without pushing anyone beyond their limits. There were a few big rides and the occasional head rudder on one of the bigger breaks tucked inside one of the West facing coves. When we had our fill, we pulled up on one of the rocky cliffed out beaches to stretch our legs and lay in the sun for awhile. The late afternoon northwest winds picked up gusting to force 4 (about 16 knots) and would help carry us all the way back home to the Salmon River mouth just as soon as we were ready to let it.
I kept things light but still managed to pack the essentials into the much needed day hatch that was added by popular demand for this season! (It's nice to see companies respond to their coaches and athletes in the field). The Aries has 4 round hatches capped off with Kayak Sport hatch covers that seem to be super dry. At 165 lbs, 5ft 10in, plus about 20 lbs of kit I fit perfectly and floated at a great level in the water. The super handy fore day hatch aka "whiskey hatch" is cavernous. It in combination with the full size day hatch has me set up for coaching, surfing, or even the occasional "surfpedition"!
The boat was faster than expected pushing into the headwind on the way up the coast and was begging to surf on the way back down wind at the end of the day. The pick up and initial acceleration for dropping onto waves or sending over pour-overs was obvious. For a 15 foot boat, it really moves. I opted for a heavy lay-up so I was pleasantly surprised to feel how nimble and 'light' the boat felt on the water. I pearled the bow a few times on some of the more critical take-offs, but managed to carve out once committed to one edge or the other. The cockpit was set to the stern end of the boat to help prevent some of the issue and helped with tracking on the way back down wind at the end of the day.
The Aries has a plum stern line creating a long water line and unique look on the water. It was difficult to keep from broaching on the back surf, but overall, I'd say this boat is most at home in the surf. For the well timed rock hopper the Aries is just fine, but being a composite boat, I'd watch it on the thinner moves. (I DO look forward to The Hammer if you couldn't tell)
On the wave, it felt buttery smooth and greasy with plenty of holding power to drive the line, but still nimble enough to push around a little. The outfitting is super adjustable and made me feel right at home as it's basically the same set up as my Pyranha whitewater boats. The finish quality is top notch, and I gotta say I am LOVING the color choice. Check out a few photos from our day below. Be sure to stop by your local retailer soon for a demo this one. I know I can't wait to get it on a big tidal feature. Be patient though, I hear I have the only one on the West Coast of the U.S. for now. More on the way though!! More photos and footage available of this beauty soon.