Fenn Elite SL

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7 years 4 months ago - 7 years 4 months ago #23176 by AR_Junkie
Fenn Elite SL was created by AR_Junkie
Got an offer to trade one of my skis I dont fit well in with a Carbon Fenn Elite SL. From what I read its extremly tippy. Currently paddling a Fenn Swordfish but had an Epic v12 before. I was thinking of using the SL for flat water and to pratice my balance and keep the Swordfish for racing etc. Not even sure I will fit the bucket though, but currently the ice is thick on the lake where the SL is located so cant try it yet, just looking for some feedback on it :)
Last edit: 7 years 4 months ago by AR_Junkie.

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7 years 4 months ago #23182 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Fenn Elite SL
Well, I have not paddled one but from what I gather from people that have had one it seems they are the least liked out of the Fenn range.

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7 years 4 months ago #23202 by Suburbanbloke
Replied by Suburbanbloke on topic Fenn Elite SL
In Defence of SL

SL is the least discussed ski on any online forum around the globe (or perhaps there are online forums I'm not aware of). Only two people seems to like SL: Dean G and Robin M. Dean's position is understandable: a legendary Aussie paddler but also the Aussie Rep of Fenn Skis. SL is also not paddled by many elite paddlers in any international races (I could as well be wrong here, in 200+ boats its hard to spot one or two).

However, I have a very different experience with SL ( only of six weeks) and I strongly believe as paddlers we should appreciate the uniqueness of this SKI instead of loathing it.

First of all, I'm not presumptious enough or experienced enough to say I'm an advanced paddler. I see myself as an intermediate paddler with a little sea kayaking and SUPping background (less than 2 years). I didn't come to paddling because of pleasure, was compelled to take on lighter exercises due to an injury in the army and thus came to paddle sport from running and cycling background.

However, over last 10 months, I did paddle quite a number of sea kayaks: Pittarak, Mirage, WS Tempest, Delphin, Hybrid 550 and Stellar range of touring kayaks. In ski range I started with Sprint Racer and then all Stellar range, Fenn XT and Elite. think Fit, Eze & Evo, Epic, V8-12. None of them I owned, mainly test paddles and some from mates in the Club for a duration of 10-30 minutes.

I got into SL quite accidentally, I was looking around to buy a ski once I got bored with Spirit Racing Ski after 3 months. I was looking mainly at SEI or Think Evo, Epic range being popular and too expensive. As I once test paddling a Fenn Elite, a random guy at the beach (must be a tempered paddler suggested, perhaps due to my size and shape, that I try an SL). Luckily one popped up on GearTrade and put a bet on it (very impulsive of me). I have done some research in various ski specs an sizes and convinced that the SL spec would suit me better.

Anyway, as soon as I unpacked, I fell in love with the compact design and look plus weight in Vacuum fibre-glass layup.Took to the water the next day but was cautious in my first demo. Had a bad experience with SES demo in winter before I even graduated with T/K1s. Luckily did't fall on the first try. The best thing I liked about the Fenn SL is the seat. Something that stirred me away from Stellar or Epic. Too wide even with thick seat pads on. I was having cramps on my leg on Spirit's Spec style flatter high knee seats if I paddled more than 90 minutes.

However, very excited, I hit the water the following day: fell off 7 times most of the time swimming. A rower, watching me from the pontoon, hailed my patience. I became very frustrated and was thinking of downgrading to an intermediate ski: a swordfish or an SEI. However, the cost of these two skis deterred my downgrading impulses.

Next week on I fell less and less until by the end of roughly two months I stopped falling and swimming and enjoying the unique features/qualities of SL. This is the most dynamic boat I've ever paddled (I haven't tried Spark or Glide yet, so can't comment). In windy situations the nose of the ski flies and gives me the sensation of a seado on big chops. Its super responsive and manoeuvrable: I can do a 180 turn in 2 strokes and somehow I had the same sensation of riding a BMX bike lifting its front wheel.

Strangely enough, SL feels more stable and predictable in chops and waves. I think the rocker is the best attribute of SL in choppy water and contributes to its dynamism . A straight bottom ski could be faster or track well but it misses the main appeal of being a ocean ski: dynamism emanating from choppy, following water. This sheer sensation of being in the wave motivates me to drive mies to the coast from Western Sydney.

A paddler, once had the grip, would feel the slightest movement in the water paddling the SL. It becomes the extension of ones body. It doesn't glide, it flies but doesn't broach. The nose being lighter it doesn't slices through chops it flies on the top of it. A great sensation.

The downside of paddling an elite ski is that one can never downgrade: every other skis (haven't touched any sea kayaks in months, feels like a wide nobbied MTB after cycling a Pirenello or top of the range Speialized with 19 mm wheels) feels like a barge dragging through water.

I'm sure that I still need to grow a lot in the SL, but the dynamic feeling I have, the speed, the responsiveness, the fit and the look are strengths enough to own and love this boat. All one needs doing is just spend a little more time on the ski and understand all its nuances and show some love and care. This is the best ski I've ever paddled and loving it more and more.

I hope this very basic review of SL will demystify the myths around SL and help regain its place in the Fenn range it truly deserves. If an intermediate paddler like me can handle an SL, all paddlers out there can master this craft and have a lot of fun in the ocean.

Happy paddling.
The following user(s) said Thank You: robin.mousley, AR_Junkie, sv607, Hansie

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7 years 4 months ago - 7 years 4 months ago #23211 by AR_Junkie
Replied by AR_Junkie on topic Fenn Elite SL
Thanks for the input Suburbanbloke!

I will once the ice melts for sure give the SL a try. Many skis I tried I feel very limited in due to the high or forward placement of the bump and deep bucket, feels like my posture is terrible.

The only ski so far I sit perfect in is my swordfish and if the SL is similar or even lower bump it will be perfect (just hope the bucket is wide enough so I fit). Would be great to have an elite ski for calmer days and flatwater races. I will always keep the swordfish for any other condition.

Attached a picture from last sundays paddle preparations :)
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Last edit: 7 years 4 months ago by AR_Junkie.

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7 years 4 months ago #23218 by Paul600
Replied by Paul600 on topic Fenn Elite SL
Blimey, looking at your picture, forget the SL and get an ergo!

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7 years 4 months ago - 7 years 4 months ago #23226 by AR_Junkie
Replied by AR_Junkie on topic Fenn Elite SL

Paul600 wrote: Blimey, looking at your picture, forget the SL and get an ergo!


Haha, I got an ergo but sometimes even during winter the urge too hit the water takes over :)
Last edit: 7 years 4 months ago by AR_Junkie.

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7 years 3 months ago #23257 by Nige
Replied by Nige on topic Fenn Elite SL
I've owned an Elite SL in carbon as well as every top end Fenn ski so far produced : Mako, Millenium, Mako 6, Elite, Elite SL, Glide and my current ski is the new Elite S. (I've excluded the Spark as I can't fit into it, and it's specifically for smaller paddlers.)

The Elite SL is the tippiest of them all, particularly on primary stability, and in the open ocean conditions where I paddle (east coast of South Africa) I found the lack of primary stability to be a problem, so I was never too happy with it, especially in big downwind conditions where it had a tendency to wobble as it got onto a run.

When the SL originally came out, most of the top paddlers preferred to stay with the Elite, as the SL's increased tippiness wasn't matched by enough of a performance increase (if any.)

For flat water, you should be fine (although it must be said that the Glide is the best of the Fenn flat water skis.) If you're getting one for a good deal then it's well worth considering.

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7 years 3 months ago #23274 by Suburbanbloke
Replied by Suburbanbloke on topic Fenn Elite SL
Hi Nige,

Thanks for sharing your experience with SL.
For me primary stability only becomes an issue when I'm too tired or somehow my strokes are incorrect or a little messy.
Can you give me some feed back on Fenn Elie S.
Cheers,
S

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7 years 3 months ago #23283 by Nige
Replied by Nige on topic Fenn Elite SL
The S is essentially an updated Elite, basically the same hull shape, but with the following key differences:
- less volume in the nose, and without the raised nose of the Elite
- rudder is further forward
- cockpit is further forward
- paddle cutouts on the sides
- lower seat hump

The S is similar in stability to the Elite (maybe slightly more stable), it catches small runs quicker and turns better than the Elite, and the lower hump makes it more comfortable. Flat water speed is about the same.

Overall the Elite S is a great ski and I'm very happy with it, but if I had an Elite I wouldn't rush to get an S as the differences aren't that significant. I loved my Elite, but the SL and Glide didn't suit the conditions where I paddle nearly as well, which is how I ended up with the S.

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