Upgrade to ??? From the Epic V7

2 months 2 weeks ago #33463 by Gage
Hey Guys,

I am looking to upgrade my boat from the epic V7. It has been fun to own and I will keep it for my wife who is really enjoying the sport as well. I have had some false starts purchasing unsuitable boats and would like some advice moving forward. 

I recently competed in my first ocean race (5km course), the V7 was slow upwind and I consistently got swamped in the downwind leg making runs difficult to catch. Hence why I am considering a new boat. I have also considered that I might just need more practice.....

Should I go for a Epic V8 or Fenn Bluefin S? or should I push myself a little and consider the Fenn XT, Epic V10s or Stellar SR? Is there a model/brand I have missed to consider as well (avail in Australia)? Advice  please!

I am starting some coaching also to get off to the right start!

James

Currently Epic V7

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2 months 2 weeks ago #33464 by robin.mousley
Having just spent some time on the Fenn XT S, I'm confident that while it would probably feel more responsive than the V7, the stability should be well within your grasp.

If you can, get hold of a demo boat and paddle it.

If you do buy it, I'd recommend putting an elliptical rudder on it.

It's a really fun downwind boat.

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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2 months 2 weeks ago #33465 by Dicko
There was a time when a Fenn XT was considered THE beginners boat.
You went from a plastic to an XT. You just got on, pushed out to sea and had fun. You fell off a couple of times.. They were a piece of cake to remount and within a month you were so comfortable you were thinking about your next ski. We all survived.  Too many choices now days. 
The XT is a great ski to learn on, because it is faster than a plastic, tough as nails, catches runs like a real ski. When the time comes to challenge yourself again, they are easy to sell.
Paddling is a circus trick that takes years to learn. The fun is in the challenge and sense of achievement.
The XT will different, but I would be surprised if it took more than a few weeks for you to feel comfortable.
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2 months 2 weeks ago - 2 months 2 weeks ago #33466 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Upgrade to ??? From the Epic V7
I can't speak to the XT. I can only say that you should do everything possible to try out some boats before you buy.
In the end it's a personal decision. Given that you're racing, you are likely to want to continue improving and put in effort to learn better technique, etc. So I would recommend a boat that challenges you but is not impossible.
I remember paddling away from the beach in flat water in boats where clearly 80% of my energy was spent on balancing: that wasn't going to be productive! I would say that in easy-to-moderate conditions you should be able to paddle while focusing on form but being challenged on stability a number of times, including a number of near misses or falling in. Then you can use the new boat when safe and the old when conditions are big until you improve. But if you start with a boat where you can't focus on form at all when conditions are mild it will be hard to improve.
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2 months 2 weeks ago #33467 by Dicko
Just a quick aside on the XT. I bought and sold mine 12 years ago. It was old when I bought it. I still see it hanging on the side of the house, exposed to the elements, of the guy that bought it. Still gets used. That's the sort of longevity I like in a ski.

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2 months 2 weeks ago #33471 by kwolfe
You could also add to that list V8 Pro, Think Zen, Nelo 520 and Stellar SR.  I agree with most and try what you can.  The V8 should be a little bit quicker given the weight difference however I would agree that if you are planning on racing more, get out of your comfort zone a tiny bit.  Worse case, you still have the V7 for really crappy days.

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2 months 2 weeks ago #33472 by MCImes
IMO, your next step is dependent on your aspirations and how much learning curve you care to tackle. I would say another 51cm+ boat wont feel much different or faster to you, even if its a lightweight composite layup. 

Assuming that: you want to push yourself but still be able to paddle in decent conditions, I'd put my vote in for a 48cm boat like a XT, SR, V10S, Zest, Evo, etc. Personally, I dont like the way Epics and Stellar's surf, so my first votes go to a Fenn XT-S or possibly a Carbonology Boost. I have an old XT and enjoy it very much. I have never paddled the Boost but after researching it a lot, most people say it surfs very well. 

If you have average or better natural balance and a moderate desire to improve, a 48cm boat should be comfortable on flat water almost immediately (within a week or 2). I'd westimate a month or 2 to be comfortable in medium conditions (medium-big waves, but not confused or multi-directional) and probably a year or 2 to master the boat in hectic conditions (like bi or tri directional swell, reflected waves off cliffs, swell and wind at steep angles etc). 

I was never in love with Stellar's huuuuge buckets, so if you demo a SR, make sure you paddle it in realistic conditions. the repeated bucket swamping ruined that boat in my eyes. Also the pointy nose of Epic's have a tendency to nose dive into the leading wave. For this reason, I have focused my search on Fenn and Carbonology boats, as I feel they surf a wave better than many others.  

Like other have said, demo as much as you can. I'd start my search with a Fenn XT or Carbonology Boost, and also try any other 48cm boats you can get your hands on.

Current Boats: Swordfish S
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
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2 months 2 weeks ago #33473 by d0uglass
I did things backwards and started on an advanced boat and switched "down" to a Stellar SR generation 2. 
The rough water conditions that had been a disaster for me on the advanced boat were fun and relatively easy on the SR. Not so easy as to be trivial, but easy enough to let me focus on developing my form, catching runs, etc. 
I think the SR at 48 cm wide would be a safe bet for a switch "up" from the v7; enough narrower to feel significantly faster, but not so narrow as to be impossible. If you are worried about making a 6 cm decrease in width, you could get a Nelo 520, which would be just a 2 cm decrease in width from the Epic v7, but would be lighter. 

Stellar SEI 1g
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2 months 2 weeks ago #33474 by Epicpaddler
After paddling an Epic v8 pro and racing for one season, I'd avoid the v8 and maybe even the v8 pro since you've mastered the v7. I'm not familiar with the other brands, but  a 48cm boat makes sense. I race my v8pro mostly on flat water and get smoked by everyone else racing v12-v14's etc. I'm working on improving my technique and consistently paddle about a 9 min mile. Better sometimes when racing. I have beaten folks racing v10's and similar boats, but the elite guys have the skills, stamina, and balance to go fast for a longer time. I can usually only hang with the big boys for a mile or two.
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2 months 2 weeks ago #33479 by CrabStick
If you feel that your downwind skills are progressing well and you don't mind a few months of challenge and frustration you could go straight to an XT and it will serve you well as you progress over the next few years.
I'd also try out the BlueFin and expect that you will have more fun sooner and wave-catching skills are likely to progress faster. You won't have to think so much about stability and can turn and power-up exactly when you want to without the wobbles interfering. Don't just be satisfied with surfing down some waves......really try to feel the push when you get in the power zone behind the steepest part of the wave in front and keep looking ahead for the next opportunity. You will have no trouble selling it if you outgrow it. I can't imagine selling mine though as so fun and relaxing to paddle in almost any conditions and good safety margin for paddling alone, shark risk (yes, I am in Perth!), and less mishaps getting out through the breakers.
The Stellar SR is pretty good with surf 9inch rudder but I think it had too much volume for my 72kg. Boost LV is really fun and maneuverable but not as easy in bigger downwind as the BlueFin for me yet.
Don't go under 48cm!
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2 months 2 days ago #33558 by Topender
I went from a V7 to an SR Multisport and at the same time got a cheap SEI which was located in a different city as I was spending time in two different places. Give it 2-3 weeks and you can handle an SR no worries and if you can handle the SR, the SEI isn't much different.
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2 months 2 days ago #33560 by SpaceSputnik
I was agonizing over the same question recently as my V7 was beginning to feel less and less challenging on the water and more challenging to lug around (not the kinda challenge I was looking for :D)
Settled on a used Think Evo II in performance. Haven't received the boat yet and looking forward to that and the deep freeze to let up.
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2 months 2 days ago #33566 by Gage
Hey Guys,

Thank you all for your feedback, I thought I would relay my story so far.

I have been in contact with a local Paddler/Dealer Tim Altman, who has been amazing in looking after me for both coaching and is assisting with demoing some boats. I have paddled the Fenn Bluefin S and I am confident in that boat regardless of the conditions. I have paddled in the surf, screaming downwind and river conditions with complete confidence. The Bluefin S is a remarkable boat for beginners and I feel I will outgrow it very quickly. 

Tim has offered to allow me to Demo the Stellar SR (Advantage) next, which I am very much looking forward too. My initial research says it will be a good boat to challenge me a little more and quite competitive in races for an intermediate boat, not to mention the fantastic build quality. Could I get more feedback from fellow paddlers on the difference between the Layups in regards to the Advantage and Excel? any notable stability differences and speed advantages? I am leaning towards the Excel Layup.

Regards, James  

James

Currently Epic V7

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1 month 4 weeks ago #33608 by CrabStick
The lay-up can make a noticeable but not huge difference to the primary stability or initial twitchiness of the Stellar SR. I demo'd the advantage and then bought the Excel with immediately apparent difference. Same issue a couple of years later with the Swordfish which was really comfy in mild ocean conditions in the Vac glass but had to focus much more on stability when bought the carbon hybrid. It's worth being aware of when upgrading.

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