V8Pro or SR? Bluefin S? Pretty new, fewer options...

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4 years 1 month ago #31553 by firtree
I do hate to start another this or that thread, but I could use some guidance on the modest options available in the Pacific Northwest. I have some time in sea kayaks and an Epic 18X. I mostly paddle for fitness but would like to join some of the local recreational races and try some of the winter downwinding available on the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Within driving distance are a new V8Pro Performance and a new Gen 2 SR Advantage that fit in my price range. There is also a Fenn dealer not too far away. Used, I can find an S18S Excel (G1 I think), a V8 Performance and a V10 Sport Gen2 Performance. I am in my mid 40's, weigh 100kg and am about 1.8 Meters tall. I can only have 1 boat (says the boss) and I may keep it stored outside and covered at a club I belong to on a large local lake.

Thoughts? The SR is very well priced and if it is still available this weekend I am tempted to go for it. Alas, my knowledge largely comes from these forums and I don't want to overclass myself and waste the summer swimming instead of paddling.

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4 years 1 month ago #31555 by robin.mousley
I'm not familiar enough with the Stellar boats, but I have a couple of thoughts:

- V8 Pro or Bluefin; both are used by buddies who love them. The V10 sport is perceptibly tippier than the other two.
- If you look after it, whatever boat you get should have good resale value, so don't agonise too much about going for a more stable boat; you can always sell it and upgrade later.

And finally:

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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4 years 1 month ago #31556 by Dicko
Take the SR if it is well priced. I had a performance lay up v10 and it was heavy. They are all good boats, but the gen 2 SR is a good mix of stability and speed. The Stellar's tend to be lighter in similar construction. If the SR is cheaper spend the extra money on a really good paddle.

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4 years 1 month ago #31557 by eh.haole
I'm like you a longtime sea and river kayaker from the PNW, and then I bought a Stellar SR Excel as my first ski. It's very light and responsive, plenty stable for anyone with some kayak experience and quite good at catching and surfing whatever swells you can find. A great first ski coming from regular kayaks. In weird conditions like pushy cross-chop, most of the noise passes under the SR hull pretty smoothly, which is not always the case for touchy performance surf skis with more creative or advanced hull features. There are faster ski models out there if you don't mind capsizing a bunch while learning how to deal with them.

Anytime outside of summer you could get surfable wind-waves in the lake, sound or strait on a storm front but you'd want a hi-viz PFD w/ reflectivity, wetsuit, ski-specific leash (you may easily lose the ski in fun winds without one), waterproof cellphone case/baggie and/or marine radio, strobe, paddling crew and plan of course

Haolewaiian kook & part-time stability tester

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4 years 1 month ago #31558 by Fath2o
Well, I would love to get my hands on second hand SR for a good price.
SR not as stable as V8pro or Bluefin, but you should be able to easily adapt with a little more effort/time. (I would prefer Excel lay up.)

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4 years 1 month ago #31559 by Cerca Trova
I cannot comment on the Bluefin as I have not paddled one. Yet for the last 7 years I have had an SR G1 and then a G2. Currently I have a V8 Pro Ultra that I use when conditions call for a stable ski. After time trialling both extensively the SR is the faster ski, on flat to moderate conditions. The V8 Pro is the better ski in big conditions. Both are stable, more than needed.
I mainly paddle a V11 and the Vadja Next 43. Yet when conditions call for a Big water ski the V8 Pro comes off the rack.
Either will be a great choice!

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4 years 1 month ago #31561 by Newbflat
So I was just timed out while replying and lost a long rant about people recommending skis that are too advanced for people. Why are people recommending intermediate skis to essentially beginners?

I won’t go into it again but just say .... if you’re wanting to really learn downwind paddling here in the northwest as quickly as posible and go out when ever it’s blowing and be safe, have fun and be fast...then buy a Bluefin, V8, S18s, Ace, Cruz...whatever, but do not go straight to an intermediate ski.

Of all the variables in your overall downwind speed, your skis potential speed is the last thing that matters. Stability is EVERYTHING, then downwind skills, then the skis handling, then speed. All of those things trump ski speed by a LOT..

Do yourself a great favor and get a beginner/entry level ski and you will learn way faster, have more fun and be safer. And you will have a ski that fits in the FSK racing class for sound races (Bluefin excluded, I think).

The SR is a big step up. It will restrict your earning speed and when you can go out plus who will feel comfortable going out with you in the cold northwest waters. Plus you will be slower in the SR for a long time over a beginner ski. I have an S18s, SR and a number of other skis... just get a beginner ski and don’t look back... then thank me later.

There is a lot of peer pressure in this sport to get a skinner and faster Surfski. Where you are with skills and what you want to do, you will be nothing but hindered in an intermediate ski. You might be slower for years depending on how much you go out in conditions than in a beginner ski. Any stability issues will make all the things that actually make you fast harder to learn. When all those things are firmly in your pocket (good stroke, solid stability in your ski in conditions, solid downwind skills)... only then will a faster ski make any difference for the better, until then you will be slower.

Disclaimer: I’m most likely the guy selling the S18s in Seattle. I’m not trying to sell you my ski, but I am trying to get you into an appropriate ski for what you said you want to do and your suggested skill level. Definitely go try a Bluefin...

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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4 years 1 month ago #31562 by pprin
firtree... If you want to try out a V10Sport Gen 2 just let me know, we can meet on Lake WA (I am in Kirkland) and you can join me in a workout (I usually paddle a gen 1 V10L now).

Others in the area are far more experienced and can weigh in, but I have been paddling around Lake Washington on both boats for 2 years. I am older than you (51) and had less paddling experience prior to jumping into the V10's. For the lake, either boat is now fine and the Sport feels rock solid even when the wind kicks up so don't sell yourself short. We don't necessarily have the big swell that others on this forum get - unless you plan to hit the coast. I paddled through the winter on the Sport and didn't have any days where I was intimidated by the chop on the lake. Puget Sound is a slightly different story but I am getting there.

The more boats you can try out on an extended paddle the better.

-pprin

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4 years 1 month ago - 4 years 1 month ago #31563 by Atlas
I’m reluctant to say you must do this or you mustn’t do that. However, I wholeheartedly agree with Newbflat’s well considered response.
I came to ocean / surf skis at the age of about 40 after 15 years or so of sea kayaking. I was not an expert but I had a bomb proof roll and enjoyed rough conditions. I was surprised at how different these sports were. I’d generally tried to avoid following seas in my kayak because they made me uncomfortable and here I was now chasing swell. It was fun but far from easy at first. I learned pretty quickly that you just have to be stable. Nothing else matters if you are constantly worried about capsizing. I tried a few skis and settled on a Bluefin.
Any of the skis you have named will be (potentially) faster than a kayak going downwind. If you want to get out in proper downwind conditions you really need stability. This is not the time or place to be getting used to a ski that is above your ability. You may never understand this until you are out there in big, rough conditions a couple of kilometres from shore, floating in the water beside a boat that is too much for you. It is an awful feeling I can assure you.
Although I’m pretty comfortable on intermediate skis in most conditions now, I still consider myself a low intermediate so I use my Bluefin (or my Think Zen) in really rough downwinders. They are such good downwind skis. They allow me to relax and just chase waves. I don’t have to think about stability. I regularly finish races in front of guys on “faster” skis when the conditions are rough and I have more fun doing it. A V8, S18S, Cruze or an Ace would be much the same. The right ski is the one you are comfortable and confident in. Given that you are looking to paddle downwind and you can only have one ski; it needs to be one you won’t hesitate to take out when the wind is howling and the waves are pumping. When the wind forecast is 30 or 40 knots there is no way I will take out a ski that I’m in the process of “growing into”. On the other hand there is no way I want to miss out on these conditions so I will grab a stable ski and have a ball.
Rob makes a point worth remembering: Beginner skis are the easiest skis to sell when and if the time comes to “upgrade”. Oh, and I just about wet myself laughing at that photo Rob. I love it!... And I’ve stolen it...

Current boats
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double, Nelo 600, Expedition Kayaks Azure

Previous boats
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club, Epic V9 Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV
Most with DK rudders
Last edit: 4 years 1 month ago by Atlas.

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4 years 1 month ago #31564 by firtree
This is great feedback, everyone, and much appreciated. Depending on how things land I may take a look at Newbflat's S18S. If that doe snot work out there are the other local options and I could consider driving up to Vancouver where there is a larger surfski scene. With only one ski in the garage, I should probably hold off on that SR for a year or two...

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4 years 1 month ago #31565 by zachhandler
I agree with Newbflat. If your goal is to downwind and play in rough conditions you will never go wrong in a beginner boat. I have a buddy who is a highly experience whitewater paddler and can also paddle <17” beam race kayaks on flatwater. He has a v10 and a v8 and he can downwind just fine on either in big conditions. But on a downwinder he almost always takes the v8. It is just so much fun for him and it is really not any slower. So you will never “outgrow” a beginner boat if you are paddling downwind. Even Boyan at tarifa surfski center in spain, who is arguably one of the most skilled downwind paddlers in the world, prefers a v5. As far as which beginner boat to get, i think they are all good from any of the brands. I am most familiar with the v8 and have never heard anybody complain about that boat or the v8 pro.

On the otherhand if it is flatwater fitness paddling that draws you more to the sport then you can make a good argument for the SR.

Good luck. Have fun. This is a wonderful adventure you are starting, and learning a new way to play in the waves will make you into a much better sea kayaker as well.

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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4 years 1 month ago #31566 by Dicko
Have I missed something in the last few years. When did an SR become an intermediate ski? I thought the SEL was an intermediate ski, the SEI was beginner to intermediate and the SR was the beginner model. Crikey, it was simpler when I started paddling. XT or gen v10 sport then a v10 or mako6. When you're differentiating between the stability of ridiculously stable skis, I think sometimes you need a little challenge. None of these skis should give you a problem after a month in the bucket...... unless you paddle in fairly extreme conditions.

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4 years 1 month ago #31567 by tve
I would agree with most of the above, but I'm in a similar situation as firtree in that I'm looking for an upgrade. I'm paddling a Nelo 510 (plastic) since january and I'm looking for something lighter and faster. I have been paddling in the open ocean 4x/week and it is just in the last couple of weeks that I can really get onto 3-4ft waves and apply full core power to accelerate onto the wave. Before that various problems would occur that resulted in me getting somewhat destabilized and thereby flooding the boat, for example, making too long a stroke or not sweeping the blade enough away from the boat. So for someone who does not get into waves regularly it's going to take even longer...

The reason I'm looking for a faster boat is that I don't tend to paddle alone. When I'm alone I couldn't care less how fast I'm going as long as I'm having fun. But the guys I paddle with have been in surfskis for over a decade and are sitting in V12's and at some point it gets old to always trail far behind. I'll never be as fast as they are, but there's slower and then there's s-l-o-w-e-r...

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4 years 1 month ago #31569 by zachhandler
Dicko your comment reminds me of the time someone asked greg barton to comment on the stability of the v14. He said sheepishly that he wasn’t a very good judge because all surfskis feel stable to him.

As far as the numbers go, SR has a 19” beam and v8 and bluefin are 21”. As far as SEL vs SES my understanding is that they are both elite skis but the SES is for smaller paddlers. Ian Black in capetown finishes with the elites in an SEL.

My thought on this is that the SR might or might not be a good first ski for firtree, but a v8 class ski will definitely be a good first ski, and he will never “outgrow” one if he is down-winding. I also think he will learn more quickly in the more stable ski.

I wish I had started on a stable ski. I was paddling K1 on flatwater so I started with a v12. Felt as stable as an aircraft carrier on the flat. But the first two years of downwind the only thing I learned was how to remount in big waves. The v12 feels rock solid in any conditions now, but starting on one set my learning back several years. Had I started on a v8, i would still be perfectly stable in a v12 today, but I would be much more skilled at it.

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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4 years 1 month ago #31571 by Newbflat
Well you have your skis mixed up Dicko. These days I see skis in 4 basic groups. Beginner, intermediate, advanced and elite. In the Stellar range the S18s is a beginner ski and is in the same class as the V8, Think Ace, Fenn Bluefin and Carbonology Cruise. In the intermediate class, Stellar SR, V10 Sport, Evo II-III, Huki S1-R, Fenn XT. Advanced..... SEI, V10, Fenn Swordfish S, Huki S1-xl, think Ion.
Elite ... SEL, V12-14, Uno-Max, Fenn Spark- Elite....etc. And yeah, there is over lap...At least that’s how I have them in my mind and experience.

Some things confuse me as one manufacturer says there ski is an intermediate ski while another manufacturer says there’s is an advanced ski but to me they are clearly in the same category. Like a V10 and the Swordfish. There is no standard to what these terms mean.

I have seen a lot of the ' well we didn’t need ridiculously stable skis back when I started'... or the .... ' that was a beginner ski when I was growing up and i did fine on it' sort of sentiment. Just because that was the way it was, or how we use to do it doesn’t mean that there weren't issues with the way it was done. It is Far easer to start in a beginner ski where It’s way easer to learn good stroke technique , the fundamentals of downwind paddling, build some fitness and be able to go out in some conditions early in your new sport. Struggling while everyone passes you and every trip because you wobbling all the time no fin. This could go on for a year or more in more boat than you can’t handle. Its a really a good way to make people loose interest in the sport.

There are a lot of people who just don’t have time or the loacation to paddle 3-5 days a week it takes to really progress fast. It might only be one day a week, or 2 days every other weekend... or they only can paddle really flat water every week but only make it to the sea once every month or two. You will never get good enough on an intermediate ski to actually have fun in a downwind if your not in a beginner ski.

This forum is filled with people who live by the sea, lots of them in warm water, have paddled for years and grew up in the 'sink or swim' era of ski development.
If it wasn't so hard to get into the sport in the past, there would be a lot more people in it now. Look at Hawaii... skis were all the rage in the 80's but there was a really steep learning curve to those tippy suckers. A LOT of people ditched skis in favor of OC-1's because the were way easer to jump in and have fun on... among other things.

When talking downwind and rough water paddling as far as I can see there are zero disadvantages to starting on a beginner ski. You learn the fundamentals much faster and will have way more fun doing it. Especially if you can’t devote lots of time to paddling.

Tve... while paddling around a heavy plastic ski is no fun and will slow you down a bit in a downwind (or anywhere), that’s not what is making you slower. If you’re basically a beginner and out paddling with people with 10 years experance, it’s not a lighter and faster ski that’s going to catch you up to the crowd. It’s technique, fitness, and power. A really good paddler in their V12 can switch over to a V8 and only be a couple of min behind best times in their V12. It’s not about the boat... You will go faster, in a lighter faster ski but only when everything else is in place... There is no short cut to catching up to the pack and you sure can’t buy your way there...

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Josh

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4 years 1 month ago #31572 by Newbflat
zachhandler is right...

Well you have your skis mixed up Dicko. These days I see skis in 4 basic groups. Beginner, intermediate, advanced and elite. In the Stellar range the S18s is a beginner ski and is in the same class as the V8, Think Ace, Fenn Bluefin and Carbonology Cruise. In the intermediate class, Stellar SR, V10 Sport, Evo II-III, Huki S1-R, Fenn XT. Advanced..... SEI, V10, Fenn Swordfish S, Huki S1-xl, think Ion.
Elite ... SEL, V12-14, Uno-Max, Fenn Spark- Elite....etc. And yeah, there is over lap...At least that’s how I have them in my mind and experience.

Some things confuse me as one manufacturer says there ski is an intermediate ski while another manufacturer says there’s is an advanced ski but to me they are clearly in the same category. Like a V10 and the Swordfish. There is no standard to what these terms mean.

I have seen a lot of the ' well we didn’t need ridiculously stable skis back when I started'... or the .... ' that was a beginner ski when I was growing up and i did fine on it' sort of sentiment. Just because that was the way it was, or how we use to do it doesn’t mean that there weren't issues with the way it was done. It is Far easer to start in a beginner ski where It’s way easer to learn good stroke technique , the fundamentals of downwind paddling, build some fitness and be able to go out in some conditions early in your new sport. Struggling while everyone passes you and every trip because you wobbling all the time no fin. This could go on for a year or more in more boat than you can’t handle. Its a really a good way to make people loose interest in the sport.

There are a lot of people who just don’t have time or the loacation to paddle 3-5 days a week it takes to really progress fast. It might only be one day a week, or 2 days every other weekend... or they only can paddle really flat water every week but only make it to the sea once every month or two. You will never get good enough on an intermediate ski to actually have fun in a downwind if your not in a beginner ski.

This forum is filled with people who live by the sea, lots of them in warm water, have paddled for years and grew up in the 'sink or swim' era of ski development.
If it wasn't so hard to get into the sport in the past, there would be a lot more people in it now. Look at Hawaii... skis were all the rage in the 80's but there was a really steep learning curve to those tippy suckers. A LOT of people ditched skis in favor of OC-1's because the were way easer to jump in and have fun on... among other things.

When talking downwind and rough water paddling as far as I can see there are zero disadvantages to starting on a beginner ski. You learn the fundamentals much faster and will have way more fun doing it. Especially if you can’t devote lots of time to paddling.

Tve... while paddling around a heavy plastic ski is no fun and will slow you down a bit in a downwind (or anywhere), that’s not what is making you slower. If you’re basically a beginner and out paddling with people with 10 years experance, it’s not a lighter and faster ski that’s going to catch you up to the crowd. It’s technique, fitness, and power. A really good paddler in their V12 can switch over to a V8 and only be a couple of min behind best times in their V12. It’s not about the boat... You will go faster, in a lighter faster ski but only when everything else is in place... There is no short cut to catching up to the pack and you sure can’t buy your way there...

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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4 years 1 month ago #31573 by Fath2o
Newbflat and Zach you make good points about beginner skis. Firtree says he has experience in an Epic 18x that looks equivalent to a V8. He would also like to race and only has room for one ski. He also sounds, like me, to be someone on a budget and/or at least price conscious. Unlike many on this platform that buy multiple skis every year.
Therefore, I believe the intermediate and relatively stable advantage lay up SR would be a good option for him.
I learned the hard way, self taught, on an unstable ski with no experience, and yes, it was frustrating and I developed some bad habits. I don't know that I enjoy paddling any less than someone who did it the smart or right way.

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4 years 1 month ago #31574 by firtree
Folks, this is great info and much appreciated. I think that I needed to get my head around the idea that this is a process, I should focus on having fun and worry about going fast later, and think carefully about my use cases. I want a versatile ski and I paddle alone most of the time, including in the winter. A more stable ski may not be sexy, but I think that it's an issue with me, not the ski. Why should I care what anyone thinks about the length of my ski? There are only about 50 people in Seattle who would even know! I'm going to get my butt kicked in any races, so this is not going to have a significant impact on that front, either...

Anyway, thanks for the continued suggestions. I am leaning toward the V8/S18S/Bluefin options right now. Ping me if you are in the PNW and are looking for a good price on a new SR Advantage and I'll share the location.

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4 years 1 month ago #31575 by tve
> It is Far easer to start in a beginner ski where It’s way easer to learn good stroke technique , the fundamentals of downwind paddling, build some fitness and be able to go out in some conditions early in your new sport.

Amen.

> Tve... while paddling around a heavy plastic ski is no fun and will slow you down a bit in a downwind (or anywhere), that’s not what is making you slower.

I disagree. I normally say that 80% of why I'm slower is technique&strength and 20% is the boat but at some point that's not quite true anymore. I often paddle with a buddy in a V14 on a lake and this morning I was able to borrow a V8 (performance layup) and I gained 0.5-0.75mph. Instead of cruising just under 6mph and sprinting 1/2mi at 6.5 I could cruise at 6.5-6.8 and sprint 1/2mi at ~7.2. I certainly didn't pick-up that 0.5-0.75mph in one week on technique.

At some level I don't really care how fast I go as I focus on fun and workout, but today the dynamics were very different. Normally my buddy just can't stay with me, I'm too slow, so he forges ahead and then waits. Today we were together the whole time. On the 1/2mi sprint he'd break away for the final bit, but overall the dynamics were more fun for both of us.

I also see a similar effect in modest waves. When I'm on the wave the guys in the V12's tell me "now stop paddling, relax, and let the wave carry you" and it just doesn't work: the moment I stop paddling the wave passes me. And I can see how their boat stays on it. I know exactly what they're talking about but I need much taller & steeper waves for it to work.

So yes, I totally agree that you can't just buy yourself more speed if your technique is crap, but at some point the better boat will be significantly faster and even if you don't care about absolute speed it can make a significant "social" difference if you paddle with others.

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4 years 1 month ago #31576 by eh.haole
Yeah construction matters, the very light carbon/kevlar/honeycomb builds will float on the water & waves with less regard to specific dimensions, as well as feel a lot more "corky" and sensitive to chaos and give a LOT less time to adjust to surprises and mistakes before it's a swim. Can vouch!

Haolewaiian kook & part-time stability tester

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