I’m Tom, I’ve been paddling and coaching nearly 10 years across the UK and, in recent years, parts of Europe, Norway and Chile. I’m 6ft and weigh 11.5st (73kg)
The Zet Cross is 727cm long, 67cm wide, weighs 21kg and is designed for paddlers with a weight range of 70 – 100kgs. It is also has 350 litres in volume.
350 litres is a big boat; a large Machno or OG big boat! So the Cross being 350L was a bit of a concern of mine when it was announced but somehow, when I put it down next to a Zet Five it only appeared slightly larger, a little more volume across the deck of the bow and a slightly enlarged booty.
Zet typically go for wider spread knees than most brands however when I first got in the boat I was pleasantly surprised to find the seated position was more traditional. Higher/more vertical knees, closer feet. Comfort: Tick. I’ve been paddling the Five for the last few months and whilst the Cross has an additional 50 litres of volume it would seem this only contributed a centimetre each side. This combined with a much flatter hull between the rails makes a narrow boat feel really stable giving the confidence to really throw the boat around and push it into corners and turns. Alongside the rocker this makes for some seriously flowy boulder gardens.
Ah the rocker, the rocker from the gods. The Cross boofs beautifully at low speed and accelerates to top speed quickly, it defiantly blasts over holes, eddy lines, rocks, school busses… Now, possibly due to the rocker, the Cross won’t be winning any awards for its top speed but to be fair to it, this wasn’t what it was designed for but I’ll come onto that in a moment.
Because the rocker extends so far back under the hull (please address arguments to Richard at CAKS), it makes it very easy to release the hull on drops and waves and just when breaking in and out, a little bit of trim goes a long way.
And now, what we have all been waiting for: the rails.
Whilst not as ‘hard’ as found on the 9r do not be fooled these rails mean business. The rails on a boat, apart from surfing, are designed to allow the boat to track well across the flow whereas a totally smooth boat will be more affected by the flow and carried further downstream. The tracking on the Zet Cross is aggressive. With a rail engaged it will carry you clean across the flow in a way that is unlike pretty much any other boat I have paddled.
All this tracking is great, if you mean to do it, or, if it’s in the direction you want to be going. Let’s be clear: the Cross really, really locks on. It took me a fair while to get used to how to break the tracking if I needed to change line.
This is where you remember this is a top shelf creek boat designed for use by experienced paddlers looking for the perfect line.
You get the same reminder the first time you manage to catch an edge. Rails on a narrow boat make for awesome handling but also an ass-whooping if you are still sketchy on eddy lines.
In summary: this boat is awesome; flowy through the boulder garden. Drop a rail and carry speed and momentum across the flow and fire up the boof at the lip. Land buttery smooth and carve into an eddy.
Words by Tom Botterill