So I’ve had the chance to get out three times now in the Mega Bullitt XS in about a week and a half. We had a long drought of waves through june-july that has finally relented, the wind is blowing and we are getting some waves. I had to drive to New Buffalo twice to get them, but both days were very interesting in the Bullitt.
First day was at my home break in South Haven. We had a nice Northerly blow for a day or two, I headed out and saw the waves breaking way down the beach with no larger outside break by the lighthouse. This distressed me, but I suited up and headed out nonetheless. I found small 3-4 foot waves right near the edge of the swimming area. I immediately began to catch some nice left hand runs, super fast down the line, that I never had the speed for in the Valley Rush. However the tail was not coming around for snappy bottom turns the way the Rush does when you build up speed. It was also not releasing at the top for top turns or cutbacks. Full disclosure I was running a tri-fin setup with three inch fins. Overall kayak was crazy fast and able to get up and over some faster moving great lakes waves I would have missed for sure in the Rush.
Second day was in New Buffalo at the trailing edge of a very brief storm with some beautiful peely waves that were 4-5 feet. I was rushed for time and ran the same tri-fin setup I did the first time. I was able to catch everything, and the waves were peeling enough to make cutbacks and top turns, but the fin setup was still not allowing me to throw my weight around and get the tail to release. That said with some paddle effort I got the tail to move and sliced the tail out. I caught many long rides in the top third of the wave adjusting trim to slide down or up based on whether or not it was going to close out. Very very fun stuff.
Third day was also in New Buffalo. Wind was up around 25 knots, waves were 7-10 feet on the outside, though I was surfing the waves that made it around the breakwall, they were much smaller, 4-7 at most. I finally went with a single center fin, a 3″. The tail finally got really really loose. I was catching steep waves and cutting towards the wall, but if I picked up a lot of speed at the bottom where I needed traction, the three inch fin didn’t have enough bite. I ended up switching to my 4″ fin in the center, and finally it started to rock. I was dropping in on steep faces, cutting along the line, and then hitting cutbacks as I approached the breakwall and flying off the shoulder. The waves were so weird. I would essentially wait in deep water, paddle in, grab a wave, surf it in a bit, cut off and then paddle back to safety in the channel. It was so big and mushy you had to really pick your ride.
This kayak is very different than any surf kayak I’ve been in, other than Sean Morley’s Murky Waters Salsa. But it is still very different than that to me. The fins and smaller length seem to make it more nimble. The rails on this boat are very flush so hitting tight bottom turns has been dependent on how much speed I was carrying into the turn. Whereas the Rush was actually more forgiving and would allow me to lean way over on a lower speed turn. Not sure if this is entirely scientific, but I think the more flared rail allows for carving wild turns at lower speed. Whereas the Bullitt XS really wants you to keep the boat flat through a turn like that until you’ve carried enough speed through it.
The Bullitt XS is crazy fast and seems great for Lake Michigan Surfing. Tons of speed, ability to really carry it fast down the line. Can’t wait for a slightly bigger day in South Haven where I can predictably catch waves in the same spot to judge it’s performance better with that 4″ fin.
I’d be curious to hear what other folks who’ve surfed this kayak think.
Many thanks to Nigel and Kristen of Savannah Canoe and Kayak for carrying Mega Surf Kayaks and offering great advice and consultation/.