Think Ion review from an intermediate paddler

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6 years 8 months ago #24727 by Orman
Hi all,

I recently purchased a second hand Think Ion. Prior to buying it I found it fairly hard to track down information about this ski aside from advertising material and a couple of reviews of the boat by elite paddlers. I thought I'd share my thoughts on the ski for any other non-elite paddlers out there looking for information. The ski is marketed as an intermediate to advanced big water downwind boat.

I am an intermediate paddler, no industry ties/conflicts of interest etc...

Prior to buying the Ion I was paddling a Fenn Elite, I was making reasonable progress in it but it was still a bit too much boat for me for the sort of paddling I want to do (big downwinds and long course races) and the cockpit did not fit me well, resulting in dead legs if I spent more than 30min in the cockpit.

I can also make some comments about the Ion in comparison to the Fenn Swordfish - my paddling partner has just bought a new vac glass Swordfish S (lucky [email protected]!)

Stability:
Exactly as advertised. It has quite a roll on it; when you first get on the boat you think 'this feels like an elite boat', but when you get used to the roll it is actually very forgiving. It gives you a lot of warning before you go for a swim. Once I felt settled in the boat I felt pretty stable in side chop too, much more stable than the Elite in those conditions. At speed downwind it feels VERY stable, much more so than the Elite. I find it a lot more forgiving at the end of a run when you start paddling and looking for the next one, this allows me to relax and conserve energy (I loved paddling the Elite downwind but found it pretty tiring). I think the stability increases a lot in the Ion when you are travelling at speed. It is tippier than the Fenn Swordfish though; I would put overall stability squarely between the Swordfish S and the Elite.

Speed:
This boat has a lot of rocker, so it gives up some flat water speed, especially if you are using the 9 inch surf rudder supplied. On flat water for me it feels a bit faster than the SF and slower than the Elite, as expected. The rocker makes for a very smooth and floaty ride upwind though, it feels quick heading into chop. Down wind it feels like a rocket ship, it will catch the smallest of runs and has a great glide on it. Acceleration is fantastic. For a paddler at my level any speed advantage from an elite level hull is probably negated by tippiness in anything other than calm conditions; I think for me the Ion is the perfect compromise between hull speed and stability. I reckon my race times will be better in this boat than the Elite (especially if no swimming is involved!)

Wave-catching:
Superb! This applies both to catching runs downwind and catching clean breaking surf at the beach. With the rocker and a fairly high volume nose you can take some steep drops and not nosedive. I LOVE chasing waves in this ski!

Comfort:
The Ion has the supposedly very ergonomic Evo 2 cockpit transplanted into it. I have found this cockpit to be extremely comfortable, and have had no issues with dead legs etc. It allows me to work on my rotation and leg drive (both need improvement!). It is much more comfortable than the Elite cockpit. The Swordfish S has a redesigned cockpit compared to the Elite and the original Swordfish, from my limited experience in the Swordfish S I would rate the cockpit as highly as the Ion; the design and shape look pretty similar

Other comments:
Build quality is superb, love the micro adjustment ability of the pedals, RAZOR-sharp steering with the type of rudder lines used

Overall I reckon this ski is exactly as advertised: an intermediate to advanced big water/downwind boat. It is exactly what I was looking for; I would highly recommend it to V10S/Swordfish/Evo 2 paddlers who want to step up but don't yet feel ready to have an elite level boat as their main go-to ski.

Hope this is helpful for a few ski-shoppers out there!

Takapuna Boating Club
Current: Think Ion, Think Evo II, Custom Kayaks Mark 2
Previous: Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf 70
The following user(s) said Thank You: owenfromwales, jonny250, mckengmsurfski, peteski, merijnwijnen

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6 years 8 months ago #24728 by zachhandler
Nice review. There is not much out there on the ion so your write up is helpful. . It looks like a very unique boat with the combination of hull speed and rocker. Would love to get the chance to try one in waves one day. Almost everyone seems to love the think bucket.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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6 years 8 months ago #24729 by Mjwashington
Here is my experience/ take on the ION...

I purchased the ION as a stepping stone into the UNO MAX and found it greatly assisted me when I jumped into the UNO MAX. It meant the step from the EVO to the UNO MAX wasn't as great as it might have previously been.

The ION is now my go to ski, but don't get me wrong, I love getting in the UNO MAX as it is a speed machine through and through.

However the ION gives me the opportunity to still go quick in conditions I may be apprehensive of in my UNO MAX. No matter what you throw the ION at it pulls through and gives me confidence and stability, no matter what the conditions.

When they say don't sacrifice speed for stability it is a well founded comment. What the ION gives is still some speed but it gives great confidence when the conditions rough up.

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6 years 3 months ago #25624 by robin.mousley
Can anyone compare the Think Ion to the Think Evo II. I feel bullet-proof in the Evo II, love it in downwind conditions but sometimes feel that my buddies around me have an advantage in their Elites and Elite S boats, which seem to catch the runs easier and glide further.

I've had a couple of goes on an Elite S in moderate conditions and loved the feel of it. I'm nervous though of my ability to handle it in very rough, side-on conditions though.

So I really want a ski with elite-level speed and intermediate-level stability. Don't we all?! The holy grail.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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6 years 3 months ago #25625 by Dicko
I've had a brief paddle in both the ion and the elite s. My personal opinion is the elite s felt way more stable. When I tried the ion it just lacked primary stability.

One thing I tried on my old carbon elite was to make a large rudder from an old epic elliptical rudder. There was a fair improvement in stability with a simple rudder change. You could try something similar with an elite S.

I've had mates who have had ions and they never lasted that long. The elite s is the best boat I have paddled. The stability is amazing for an elite level boat. Bigger rudder and swap the stainless rudder cables for Q power line and you have the perfect boat. Keep the evo for really gnarly stuff.

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6 years 3 months ago - 6 years 3 months ago #25626 by Fath2o
Hi Rob,
I actually have an ION elite hanging in my garage right now. It's on loan from a buddy of mine who wants to sell it and thought I might be interested. He went back to his new version Huki S1-x special.
I have only paddled it a couple times enough to know I'm not interested. It is fast, super maneuverable on waves and catches waves like no other boat I've paddled. BUT, when still, it's like sitting on a ball trying to hold your feet in the air. I like to be able to relax and blow my nose once in awhile. Stability improves quite a bit when moving at a good clip.
I'm currently holding out for a, light version, second hand S model Swordfish or EVO II.
Oh yeah, for comparison, my go to downwind boat is a kevlar EVO I that doesn't have great maneuverability, but, gets the job done with great comfort. Speed isn't an issue for me.
Good luck!
Last edit: 6 years 3 months ago by Fath2o.

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6 years 3 months ago #25627 by robin.mousley
Thanks guys!

Actually I have an Elite S on order, which should arrive towards the end of the month... I'll get out the old typing fingers and do a "Fenn Elite S in the hands of a hacker" review!

Oh boy we had such a good Miller's Run race today... organised by the SUP community but there were a number of skis too - 25-30kt winds, some big waves, fabulous conditions! Cracked a third (in a small field, but I'll take it!) in the Evo II, which went like a bomb...!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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6 years 3 months ago #25629 by Dicko
We had a loan of an elite S over the weekend. Everyone agreed it was a brilliant boat. Our downwinders are smaller and the waves probably more organised than yours, but the wind tends to be in the 20 to 30 knt range. The S seemed to handle it well. One mate put his carbon v10L and v10 G2 on gumtree yesterday to fund a new elite s.

We don't have much side chop to contend with. We just follow the coast with the wind right up your clacker, so can't comment on how the boat handles the bounce back etc.

Funny thing is, if a second hand one showed up here you could probably sell it for more than you bought. They are that scarce.

Would I buy one. If I had the money, probably. But I really like my carbon elite and the best thing about the elite s, is that everyone is selling their old elites and you can pick them up for next to nothing now.

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6 years 3 months ago - 6 years 3 months ago #25630 by Skiwalker
Hi Rob, I'm curious as to why you are on the Evo II and not the Carbonology Zest you had. In a youtube video you once commented that you preferred the Zest?

Looking forward to your review of the S.

Edit: It was actually on this forum where you rated the Zest. But I do recall seeing a video where you got it to run really well on a downwind.

Thanks

1.Fenn XT
2.Think Evo 2
3. ...
Last edit: 6 years 3 months ago by Skiwalker.

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