Fenn - Love at first paddle

6 days 23 hours ago #32847 by MCImes
I know i'm 12 years late, but here's a little review of the XT and a vingette of paddling last night.

I just picked up an old (2006) Fenn XT glass layup over the weekend and took it out last night for the first time. I had 1.5-2m/15 second long period swell being churned off the huricane to our south with very little texture (.3m) in between the big swell, light wind 5-10 knot in line with the swell.
If I had been in my other boat, there is no way in hell I would have caught a single swell. The SRg1 could not pick up/surf a 80' (25m) wave at Nazare. The SR1g is the worst surfing boat in history and I was starting to get really frustrated aaaaaaalmost getting on to a wave then loosing it, swamping the bucket, and (with the 2 person bathtub sized bucked on all stellars), once you miss 1 you're now 50lbs heaver and will never catch any waves of the set. Frustrating. Whoever designed the SRg1 never took it out into the ocean to surf once. They couldnt have.

The XT on the other hand picked up tiiiiiny little waves and just sat in them. I rode a 16' clam boat out of the harbor at 6mph and hardly had to paddle being carried on tiny 10-20cm waves. I paddled out about 1k from the break wall and was able to pick up reflected swell and surf reflected waves into the oncoming swell (a first for me, due to my boat). When I turned around and started going down swell the XT just wanted to grab on and go. I couldnt really stick on the fast moving swell 100%, the height:interval ratio was still a little too shallow to truly ride down a face, but the XT sticks to the wave so well I was able to surf the biggest wave or 2 of a set, then almost stay on the trailers. Even though I wasnt 100% on the swell, the XT wants to stick with it. It grabs it and I was able to turn it into an extended downhill sprint.

On the standout set of the night, I bet a rogue 2-2.5m set came through. Luckily I saw it coming from a ways in front of me (lightly breaking in open water) in the distance and I turned around to catch it. I hammered hard and caught on to it - that was the first time I experienced sailing down the face of a big ass swell and riding it for 10-15 seconds with the hull in full plane, just leaning back and flying down it.

Last night reinvigorated me, as missing wave after wave in the SR was starting to demoralize me on good days that I knew I should be catching more runs. So, I've become a Fenn fanboy. The way they surf is phenomenal, which is the fun part of this sport. (the XT flatwater speed is average, but on waves its in the top class)

I hear there may be an XT S model on the drawing board? anyone know if that is true? The downfalls of the old XT are things they fixed in the new S models (bucket hump is huge, rudder is too far back, layup has soft spots from factory, bucket could be a little farther forward to surf even better, single footwell, better footplate - all these things are small dings to the XT, but overall none ruin the experience). With the 'S' improvements, the XT would be a monster downwind and a more comfortable boat overall.

I know the Bluefin and Swordfish are S model contenders, but The XT is riiiiight at the edge of my stability ability at the moment so a Swordy is out; I almost swam 4 times but some epic bracing kept me upright. I actually want to get a Bluefin S for big days (and for my wife) and hopefully add a 2nd boat like an XT-S if its made or maybe my stability will progress enough that a Swordfish S may be manageable in small-medium conditions. To those who have paddled a SF-S, how does the stability compare to the old XT?

Anyways, those are my ramblings. The big winter swell is starting to come more regularly to the California shores and I'm looking forward to the best winter of paddling in my life!
Hope you all are enjoying some good waves and good health (or a speedy recovery in Rob's case)

Cheers

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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6 days 18 hours ago #32848 by tve
Nice, I'm glad it worked out!

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6 days 18 hours ago - 6 days 17 hours ago #32849 by Atlas
Hi MCImes.

The South Africans sure do know how to make skis that really perform in the ocean.

The second gen XT (2010) is an improvement on the original (double footwell) XT. It has a single footwell and I think the rudder was moved a little further forward. It still has a wide catch and a big hump. I had one and loved it downwind. I had a really aggressive DK rudder on it which improve the handling enormously. Mine was a povo fibreglass one so it was pretty heavy. I found it to be significantly more stable than my (vac glass) Swordfish.

The XTS is an improvement again and I came extremely close to buying one last week. It's a really sweet boat. It has (small) cutaways at the catch, a smaller hump, a leash attachment and a lower profile bow which should catch less side wind. The demo I paddled was as stable and fun in waves but seemed less prone to broaching than my 2G model. So close but I bought another South African in the Carbonology Sport Boost LV. This ski feels similar to the Fenn but the cockpit fitted my little arse better than the XTS. Since you like the old XT; I have no doubt that you would be crazy in love with the XTS.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.

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6 days 17 hours ago #32851 by MCImes
Thanks Thorsten, we will have to meet up for a paddle soon

Atlas, I am also considering a Zest (or possibly Boost) for my eventual ski as well. Why did you end up going with the carbonology? I agree, the south africans really get ocean skis. I've also considered the carbonology and custom kayaks skis, but there arent many on the west coast usa to demo or get second hand.

My local ski dealer that carries both Fenn and Carbonology carries neither the XT or Zest for some reason (a 19"/48cm boat is the sweet spot of the speed/stability curve IMO) so if I get either boat eventually it will likely be butt-unsat. Any thoughts appreciated.

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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6 days 16 hours ago #32853 by Atlas
I was looking for a stable intermediate ski for general rough water and downwind paddling. I chose the Boost LV because I like the lower volume of this boat. It doesn't seem to get blown around like other skis I've paddled and the bucket fits me really well. At 78kg I could probably have gone with the standard Boost or the LV but I will keep my Fenn Bluefin for those really big days. The lower volume ski was more appealing to me particularly for out and back type downwinders where I have trouble paddling into the wind with a high volume ski. If I hadn't managed to demo the Boost LV; I'd have happily bought the XTS. I think your local Fenn dealer is right not to stock the XT: It's just too old. However I do think it would be a mistake not to stock the XTS.

FWIW; I would put the Nelo 520 in this category. This ski is faster (and less stable) than the dimensions might suggest. I was lucky enough to demo one extensively and really liked it. However they are just too expensive in Australia.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.

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6 days 13 hours ago - 6 days 13 hours ago #32854 by TheJRM
Atlas: A bit off topic here, but I'm about the same size as you (weight wise, at least): 77 kgs. As far as low volume boats are concerned, how does the V10L work for you? I've been training in a V10 for the past 6 - 7 weeks, but feel that it's a little too much boat for me (too corky). I'm looking for a flat water boat for next season and am up in the air between the V10L (which I've never paddled before) and the new V10 Gen 3. I will most likely go with a V8 Pro or V10S for my ocean/rough water racing boat. Plenty of bucket time in both of those boats and find them to be much more stable than the V10 Gen 2 in the rough.

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6 days 3 hours ago #32857 by MCImes
I dont see an XTS model on fenn's website:
www.fennkayaks.com/mako-xt/
Does that page reference the latest S model with no mention of 'S'? or is the S a real model? Nothing comes up for XTS or XT S on google.

Would you say the Boost (or carbonology skis in general) surf/catch waves on par with Fenn's? the Zest is fairly tempting to me if it surf on par with Fenn. Boost looks like the same boat just a little shorter and wider.

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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6 days 2 hours ago - 6 days 53 minutes ago #32858 by Atlas
JRM. I really enjoy the V10L. I find it very comfortable. The bucket is snug without any pressure points. I can rotate properly and it sits on the water nicely under my weight. It is nowhere near as corky as the V10 (2G) for me. It is important to point out though that mine is a povo blue nose. I deliberately sought this one out as an experiment because at my skill level I don't really have any business paddling a high performance ski. Although a heavy ski is no more laterally stable than a light ski of the same design, they have less tendency to pitch and yaw which helps in rough conditions. Besides; anyone else looking for a high performance ski will want a light one so I bought mine cheap. I have surprised myself with the conditions I can paddle the boat in. However it seems optimised for precisely the flat to moderate conditions I enjoy paddling this ski in. It doesn't have as much rocker as some other skis so it glides along nicely on the flat. I need a wave deflector if I do a (gentle) downwinder because it will nosedive on steep runs if I don't pick my lines carefully. The bailer is pretty good at draining the cockpit but it's nowhere near as fast as the DeBrito bailer on some other skis. I've been so impressed with it that if a black nose one comes up at the right price near me; I might trade up.

MCImes. Yes. It is frustrating when you hear things about Fenn skis (or any other brand) but they take months to update their website. I had been busting to try out the XTS since some rumours started on this forum. When I heard on the grapevine that there was a small shipment of them in Australia I immediately made plans to take the 10 hour each way drive to demo the ski and compare it to what I thought was it's most likely competitor.
The XTS really does exist and it's a very nice ski. I regret not taking some photos of it. I thought I'd be driving home with it on my roof.
I haven't paddled other Carbonology Sport skis. However it is my impression that they all perform well in the ocean catching and linking runs. My preference is generally Fenn skis because they are widely available in Australia so they are well proven in the ocean conditions that we paddle in and can easily be sold when I'm ready for a change. However on this occasion the Boost LV seemed to be just what I was looking for.
The Zest is clearly the next step up from the Boost. Fairly high volume too. I wasn't interested in anything above stable intermediate and I was looking at low to medium volume skis so I didn't bother testing it.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.
The following user(s) said Thank You: TheJRM

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6 days 41 minutes ago #32859 by TheJRM
Great feedback on the V10L, Atlas. Thank you!

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