Zet Cross: Team Paddler Review #2

SUBMITTED BY: BEN HAWTHORNE | APRIL, 2019.

Shot a-Cross your bow

Following hot as an appropriately Easter themed hot cross bun on the heels of last years Five, ZET announced the Cross a few months back. Needless to say I was excited. At 5’11 & 1/2 (that all important half inch eh…. fill in that’s what she said jokes at your leisure) and 85kgs, the Five was a little on the small side for me, and i was eager to see what the boys had cooked up. I’m very pleased to say that they’ve outdone themselves this time. If you cant be bothered to read the rest of this, basically the Cross is ZET’s best boat yet. This thing is sicker than a leper with the Ebola virus. If you want to know exactly why i think that, you’ll have to plow through some more of my awful chat.

Eli Chilton very kindly keeping his hands out the way so we can see the logo

So looks-wise the Cross is a big rounded nose with a flat tail. A bit like Lady Gaga, sexy in an androgynous kinda way. That said this thing has more curves than an Atlanta strip joint, with a super continuous rocker profile from bow to stern. In common with the Toro, she doesn’t have full length rails but in the Cross they start behind the cockpit and run to around your feet, significantly further forward. ZET reckon the Cross is 67cm wide, just 1cm less than the Toro or Director but i think that measurement has been taken from the widest point of the top deck, just behind the cockpit. What it doesn’t tell you is the sidewalls curve in significantly towards the hull, which is a lot narrower. The Cross is a big boat, coming in at 350 liters, or 92 gallons and a shade under the race crucial 9ft length.

What does all that mean in paddling terms? So that rocker and volume keeps you on the surface with your nose up like a 18th century French baron. The boat wants to boof, she loves it nearly as much as you do. It also allows you to spin her on a dime. Where the Toro really needed to be driven into moves, the Cross is super snappy making it easy to grab the tiniest of micro-eddies. That’s also down to the rails. ZET have nailed it here, with enough edge to make the boat handle really well, but not so much that you’re going to be tripping over them on slides and boily eddy lines.

The narrow hull gives you a super fun, sporty platform and crucially, speed. It just takes a couple of strokes to get the boat up and planing. Coming out of drops, that stern rocker has you accelerating faster than shit off a shovel after a hard night of dodgy Delhi street food. In common with all ZET’s designs so far is a semi-displacement hull that makes most landings decently soft. Although the Cross is a big gal, she never feels big, just nimble. With it being so easy to keep the nose dry its going to be interesting to see how this boat does in race season. I think fitter, stronger, younger athletes than me will be crushing it.

As with all ZET boats, the build quality and outfitting are of the highest standard. You get the foam seat, which is warm, doesn’t break and is super comfortable. You get every bolt on a single allen key, again helpfully placed in a little holder in the stern pillar. The new “same as a coke bottle top” drain plug is genius. No more whittling sticks to fit when you lose the thing. In common with all ZET boats, the variable thickness hull and legendarily bomber plastic is super solid as ever, all backed up by that great warranty. Being narrower, the Cross does have a slightly straighter legged seating position than the Toro. For myself, I’ve found this narrower position even more comfortable. 

So whose it for? Well, I think any intermediate to expert paddler over about 150lbs will love this boat. As with all ZET designs, I’d say it’s built more for an advanced boater to really get the most out of it but unlike some other boats I don’t think its going to kick your ass if you’re not driving it hard. For sure, the boat responds better to being properly bossed but the Cross will really look after you. Whilst its a narrower, sportier platform than say, the JK Nirvana double wide, she’s pretty forgiving and has the rocker and acceleration to get a beater out of trouble… most of the time. Often times people say that kayaks are getting a lot more similar these days, and whilst that’s true to an extent, I’m struggling to find a real comparison. The Cross hull is somewhat reminiscent of the 9R, but that boat is more like dating a coke addled model. Sure, it’s fun most of the time, but you just know that at some point she’s going to ruin your day. The rocker, and responsive rails remind me of the OG or Tuna but the Cross is just more playful and faster. The Waka OG is more like your high school prom queen, 2 decades down the line, after a few kids. Sure, she’s still got the moves, but she’s a bit bigger than she was and generally just cruisey, like an old pair of slippers. The Cross? She’s your playmate of the year, girl next door, always got your back and up for a good time.

In short, I feel ZET has come up with a real winner. The Cross for me is everything a good creek boat should be, and I’m loving it! In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Cross is the best creek boat I’ve ever paddled. That’s a big call, seeing as I’ve been around a while (I’m super old) and I’ve been through a fair amount of boats in my time. In simple, the boat rocks! My only real reservation is the new, large, molded in ZET graphic on the top deck. I’d rather just have clean lines myself. At least it doesn’t have anything dumb like “Crack Rock” or “Meth-head” stamped into it tho…;)

Sven airing it out. Yea, i know he’s in a Toro but he was stylin’ so…

 

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