Swordfish S and Carbonology Zest

2 months 2 weeks ago #34597 by Rod Thomas
Has anybody compared the Swordfish S with the Carbonology Zest? I currently paddle the former in fairly brisk downwind conditions and wonder if I'd cope with the latter. The dimensions seem about the same. Issues would stability and remounting.

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2 months 2 weeks ago - 2 months 2 weeks ago #34599 by Ronbo
I've owned both and really like both (hybrid for both).  I'm 90kg with intermediate (at best) balance.  My view is that the Zest is a little faster and catches runs a little easier.  No free lunch though, as it's also a bit less stable.  I would call it a little more advanced than the Swordy, but much less advanced than an Elite.  I've found both really comfortable and easy to remount.  The Zest is also higher volume ski the bucket is slightly wider.

Here are some photos of the Zest, Swordy (this photo not the "S" version, so rudder placement would be different), and Boost laying next to each other.


 
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2 months 2 weeks ago #34601 by robin.mousley
Also owned both, as well as the Think Evo II.

In fact I went from the Zest to the Evo II to the Swordfish S.

At 80kg, paddling primarily downwind, I find the Swordfish S has just the right volume.  The nose shape means that I don't get flung sideways going upwind in waves.  The nose dips just a touch more than the Zest/Evo II but not so much that it bothers me, although I have a wave deflector installed.

The Swordfish S is perceptibly more stable than the other two.  I paddled both the other boats long term and liked them, but right now the SF is the boat for me.  Stable, nimble, easy to remount.  All good.  My two fastest Miller's Runs were both on the SF.

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 #34602 by Gage
Hey Guys,

I'm looking to test paddle a Swordy this week or next. I'm on a Stellar SR right now and I'm able to use it in virtually all conditions. How big a jump is it stability wise?

Thanks Guys!

James Gage

Epic V7
Stellar SR Gen 2

Visit my Youtube Channel to see my Paddle Journey
www.youtube.com/channel/UCfairb1ym574SYY...Q?view_as=subscriber

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2 months 2 weeks ago #34605 by MCImes
I went from a SR to an old XT to the SF-S. I think the SR is one of the most stable 48cm boats out there. It has a pretty big flat spot that gives strong primary stability. The SF is certianly a step down in stability, but if you can handle the SR in all conditions (sloppy or multi directional/ reflected  waves) you will probably be ok on the SF. The SF has surprisingly good secondary stability for a 45cm boat, but you will notice less primary compared to the SR

You might fall in a few times and may need to start in small to medium conditions for a little bit while your butt learns the new boat, but you should be able to adapt without too much trouble assuming average skill/talent. 

One thing that helped me transition to the SF a lot is that both the XT and SR had a very large bucket which meant my butt could slide to the low side of the seat when leaned hard, which would result in a brace or swim. The SF bucket is tight on my hips which helps the boat-body interface remain connected and increases the perceived stability when leaned hard. 

I have 100x more fun on the SF compared to the SR, so i think you will enjoy it. 

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
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 5 days ago #34676 by Gage
Hey Guys,

Just following up on my previous note....

Have a Swordfish S on loan from my local agent (Tim Altman) and had my first paddle yesterday.

Thought a quick review for anyone who is interested. I'm a Beginner (less than 12 months paddling) weigh 92kg and i'm 182cm, i paddle 2/3 times per week, even in winter. Regularly train with Crossfit, so I feel like i'm fitter than most. Firstly the boat is much less stable than my Stellar SR (dah). I knew it would be less stable and will require much more time in the saddle to feel comfortable. Secondary stability seemed ok but let go quickly. Really struggled in the cross chop with my balance and Downwind my technique let me down as the Swordy is far less forgiving.

I decided on a baptism of fire and did a downwind paddle on the local Bay to see if I could handle it. First 10km were great, nice clean runs and only a couple of spills, which was totally expected. Catch's runs much more easily and linking runs seems a breeze. It will be much faster when I can master it!

Remounting the Swordfish is harder than I expected, but still able to get back in with relative confidence. Usually got back in first or second go. 

I ponder weather I might be better served going to a less stable 48cm boat first or persevere with the Swordy. Perhaps I just expect too much of myself and need a few more runs in flatter conditions to get used to the boat.

I made a little video of my first paddle  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fodXGTd78w !

Thanks again guys!

James Gage

Epic V7
Stellar SR Gen 2

Visit my Youtube Channel to see my Paddle Journey
www.youtube.com/channel/UCfairb1ym574SYY...Q?view_as=subscriber

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2 months 4 days ago - 2 months 4 days ago #34679 by Watto
Ballsy video, great stuff. Have owned and paddled in all sorts of conditions 30 knots plus SR, SEI, SES Stellars and Swordfish (but not owned). 

No, stick with it absolutely. Sorry bro it's not the boat, it's you. Yes Swordy without question harder to remount compared to any of the Stellars - give me the 41.6cm SES to remount in the wildest conditions over the Swordfish with its deeper bucket any day. Your actual question is problematic though:

 I ponder weather I might be better served going to a less stable 48cm boat first or persevere with the Swordy

The SR  you paddled previously is 48cm and more stable than the Swordfish.  

While SEI more stable in all conditions than Swordfish and also easier to remount, all round I think the Swordy's a better boat and worth persevering with. As to falling out, well fell out of my very stable Nordic Kayak Squall twice the other day waiting for a mate, reason, sitting idle the right hand paddle blade was behind me (my feet in the boat, waiting in side chop) and i was being slack. When cross chop lifted me sideways into a gully there was no chance for any brace forwards or backwards. Your video suggests same. At 1.10.00 your blade is up (shadow), you've leant right to (too far) to paddle forward stroke and I reckon your paddle well past your hips behind you. You've put yourself in. Also suggest maybe not enough leg drive giving you power and inertia, perhaps tentative in a new boat. Second spill at 1.17.00 again nothing going forward, bit dead in the water, made yourself victim, need to be powering on. At 1.19 .00 third spill are you feet controlling the boat enough? You should be kicking down with the right leg, right hip dropped. Look also later in 1.19.00 paddle angle. Suggest you need to paddle way out to the side of the boat consciously in the rough especially, paddle becomes an outrigger. At 1.26.00 maybe hips (as well as lack of effective brace) not doing enough - PRACTICE  will solve this.

Persevere and just keep at it for sure but think about what you're doing. Given how you've ended up having to swap boats, make haste slowly, think you fcked up there. 

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2 months 4 days ago #34680 by wesley
Watto, I just got my Swordfish S a few weeks ago. Review coming.  Could you be more specific on what makes Swordfish better overall than SEI? Do you mean SF is better downwind? Better seating. Just curious on your thoughts. 

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.
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2 months 4 days ago #34681 by Gage
Hey Watto,

Thanks for the feedback mate! Wesley, bought the SR on your reviews, thank you and keep up the good work.

I have no doubt it's me! I have lots of work to do. I'm working with a local paddling group to get better and I have only been paddling about 6 months. It's a great community here and I certainly don't mind being told I'm the problem :-). I just thought it might be interesting for people who are not already experts to see that it takes time and perseverance to wreak the rewards. As I got tired my stability and remounting ability started to leave me.

Getting back in the SR after the swordfish was like remounting a old (Girl)friend and was rock solid for the rest of the paddle :-)

While I have your attention, there are 2 methods i see for remounting. Oscar advocates a 'Side Saddle' approach and I see other advocate laying forward, throwing the back leg over and dropping into the seat. Which is your preferred method and why? I was using the Side saddle method and my buddy lays forward and throws a leg.

Kind Regards, James

James Gage

Epic V7
Stellar SR Gen 2

Visit my Youtube Channel to see my Paddle Journey
www.youtube.com/channel/UCfairb1ym574SYY...Q?view_as=subscriber

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2 months 4 days ago - 2 months 3 days ago #34683 by Watto
Hi Wes. Not long parted with my SEI , fantastic boat. In fact largely into Stellars through your site surfskiracing maybe seven or eight years ago now - haha and here's Wes asking Watto about boats. The irony!

The positives of the SEI (Gen 2) as you have identified in your reviews and comments, which I endorse, are its great speed vs stability ratio, an intermediate boat  with beginner-like stability. Also boat is planted in the water, has a brilliant seat (I padded mine out a tad), comfortable, good seat height to feet relationship, incredibly easy to remount, light-as (my Excel just under 11.5kgs - or under 25 lbs), solid build, excellent finish. Footplate adjustment good but some better out there (was originally streets ahead but since been surpased. My current boat NK Squall 58 takes only a few seconds to change.)

Negatives: boat slaps a lot going into chop, large cockpit volume (not as bad as SES), pearls readily - that is quite wide in front of cockpit and holds the water on steep drops (not to same extent as SR) , also  wide at the catch relative to most if not all other intermediate boats. Probably biggest negative was manoeuvrability or lack of  when the swell picks up. Noticeably slow to turn on the flat this becomes frustrating when wave size picks up and you you want to change direction, or conversely don't want to change direction and boat broaches in really big stuff (my bad sometimes not having enough speed up).  Much of this addressed to a degree with DK rudders however relative to many other boats, not an SEI strong point. 

As for the Swordfish I won't offer flat water data though I have some to compare due to lack of consistency of testing given wind, tide, chop variables if not compared at the same time. Swordfish feels marginally less stable and for me noticeably different/harder to remount having a deeper bucket.  Cables and adjustment up to awhile ago archaic. Non-carbon layup (Excel equivalent) heavier than SEI but cheaper by about AU$400. Catch is narrower, boat front narrower, cockpit volume less. Boat feels more manouevrable and I've heard from those paddling with a DK rudder, even better. I think it gets onto runs a little better (maybe not pushing as much water front end). Think Swordfish may have marginally more rocker. Doesn't seem to pearl as much or at least slow the boat as much in doing so. (By the bye, have heard that the latest Stellar SEL is a flyer, gets onto runs well in mid stuff but still not as manouevrable as Swordfish S and Fenn Elite S.)

I haven't paddled Swordfish enough in a wide range of downwind conditions to provide other than impressions. I think number of people paddling them attests enough to that. Certainly the NK Squall 58 a superior boat in all regards in all criteria I have considered above compared to the latest Gen 3 SEI (handrails at side). Looking forward to some downwinds here as winter at the moment albeit balmy however we don't get the SW winds for downwinders. Hope that helps some. 
Edit: Re "NK squall 58 superior in all regards" last para above - I would modify that - reckon the finish of the Stellars is superior. Only a minor quibble but bucket of NK in the light you can see sanded surface (you can't feel it though), compared to the polish of Stellars. Only a minor point. I'm a finicky bastard and believe in attention to detail; you do something, you do it properly. Maybe a bit piddling though.
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2 months 3 days ago #34692 by Watto

While I have your attention, there are 2 methods i see for remounting. Oscar advocates a 'Side Saddle' approach and I see other advocate laying forward, throwing the back leg over and dropping into the seat. Which is your preferred method and why? I was using the Side saddle method and my buddy lays forward and throws a leg.

Hi Gage - wouldn't call myself an expert by any stretch, learning curve still on the upper. Sidesaddle my preferred, SR in particular easy with its relaxed (not steep and sharp edged) bucket shape. One particular advantage of this method I find, especially in big or sloppy-choppy conditions, is that your body is never completely upright until you are under powering and paddling. Once on board cowboy style I've found that unless paddle readily at hand you can topple over downwind side from oncoming waves or chop. I'll take my entry from an upwind side, call it LHS, and adopt standard practice of right hand rear of bucket RHS, left hand with paddle around about 3/4 down the hump forward and head pretty much in line with rear end of hump. In other words plenty of room to twist and drop my backside square in the bucket. I don't kick a lot but as Oscar and others suggest break it all down into three steps..

Step 1 I pull myself up so boat maybe 45 degrees or steeper and levering with left front hand and pulling with my right with a bit of a kick pull push myself up and across the bucket face down, chest across boat. Boat now almost flat in the water maybe 20 degrees. (BTW all this can be done in one action pretty much but on a rough day doing a remount step it through consciously.)

Step 2, important, lever yourself up above the bucket with both hands, like a push up. Look at your right (rear) arm, it should be around 90 degrees at the elbow - you're in the middle of a push-up after all. Now I twist my body and pivot my backside into the boat leaving my legs out (or sometimes just one leg) all this steep in one action.

Step 3 and most important so you don't become a human rotisserie, lean upper body back in line with you legs - that is your legs are still out of the boat on an acute angle to side of boat. By leaning back you have stability; boat likely to be almost side-on to wind and waves at this point. For me its then paddle up as soon as I am leaning back with legs out, then one leg in (right leg) ready to brace in this case on the RHS downwind then swing in left leg and off you go. What I stress when coaching this (beginner or less stable mates) is importance of rear angled lean, rather than trying to sit perfectly upright. This something you can do even in the tippiest Stellar SES in big water.

A further advantage doing it this way is if you are a bit knackered, once paddle in hand and with both legs half out of the boat - you're leaning back on an acute angle to the boat - you are counter-balanced and can take a breather before you get going or waiting for that big swell to roll under/break over you. Try it and post how it went. 

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2 months 1 hour ago #34701 by robin.mousley

While I have your attention, there are 2 methods i see for remounting. Oscar advocates a 'Side Saddle' approach and I see other advocate laying forward, throwing the back leg over and dropping into the seat. Which is your preferred method and why? I was using the Side saddle method and my buddy lays forward and throws a leg.

So here are a couple of the best paddlers in the world, remounting at the start of a relay race in Mauritius a couple of weeks back.  In front is Hank McGregor (sidesaddle), behind him is Matthew Fenn (straddle), behind him is Brendan Rice (sidesaddle).



I'm a staunch advocate for side-saddle.  As Watto describes, there are common basics to the method with some variation in the details.  I find that the details make a surprising difference to the ease of remounting - and that I need to practise them reasonably often so that I don't lose the muscle memory.

For me the sequence goes like this:
  1. Setup: I hold the other side of the bucket - with the paddle along the rail with my rear hand - so if I'm on the left hand side of the ski, that's my right hand.  The boat is tilted towards me, and my forward hand is gripping the rail closest to me.  The boat is generally broadside to wind and waves, I'm on the windward side.  Never try to remount from the leeward side!
  2. Remount: Push with my forward hand, and swivel so that my backside lands in the bucket, both legs still over the side - to windward.  The great thing about that is that, especially in a strong wind, you're balanced and stable.  You can pause and get your breath back.
  3. Now you take your paddle in both hands and you can take a stroke before even lifting your legs into the boat.  But by having paddle in both hands, you can brace.  If you find yourself sitting on the side of the bucket with the boat tilted to one side, an easy way of centring your bum is to lean back; your bum automatically centres itself.
  4. Lift legs in and paddle away.
However, I've found while this is really easy and reliable in wider boats - I paddle the Swordfish S mostly - it is definitely more difficult in narrower boats like the Fenn Elite (or the Allwave DNA that I paddled last year).  For me, the sidesaddle was definitely still easier though than the straddle - the moment you sit up in the straddle remount, you're highest in the seat with both legs over the side, and you're at your most unstable.  

Anyway - that's my 2c.  

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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1 month 2 weeks ago #34778 by downwinda
I just picked up a Zest at the Gorge, it was just too good of a deal to let pass by!  I had originally thought about getting a lightly used Vega after the race, but it wasn't available, and would have cost me double what I paid for the slightly more used but still in good condition Zest.

Prior to this I've been on a Vault, and my two previous boats were original Swordfish and Gen 1 V10 Sport.  I'm a bigger guy at 6'4, 205 lbs (193cm, 93 kg) so I was a good bit over the weight limit for the Vault, but I liked its flatwater speed and small bump surfing ability.  Once the waves got too big it became a very wet ride with water coming over the sides and swamping the cockpit more often than I'd like.

I liked the Sport, but felt its surfing ability wasn't that good, and I liked the Swordfish in the surf but didn't like the flatwater speed.  Being an inch narrower than the Sport, I expected the Swordy to be much faster in the flat, but that was not the case,  

The Vault was clearly much faster in flat than both the Sport and Sword and close to or faster than the Sword in small bumps.  Once it got bigger the Sword has the edge for sure.  The Vault is considerably less stable than either the Sport or Sword.

I took the Zest for a downwind paddle the day after the race at the Gorge, and liked it but I was really worried about the flatwater speed.  Its primary stability is low, probably lower than the Vault, but the secondary is real good, and you can lean it way over without going in.  Patrick Hemmens offered me such a good deal on the boat that I figured I'd just buy it and use it for a while and if I didn't like it I could at least sell it for what I got it for, or even make a bit of a profit!  Note that Carbonology is not a well known brand here in the US, so they don't sell as easily as most other brands.

When I got back home to Bellingham there was decent wind and bumps in the 20 mph range.  Perfect conditions to get some runs in the bump on the Zest, except there are a ton of weeds and all I had was an elliptical surf rudder on. D'oh!.  So while I felt it surfed well, the weeds really held me back on speed.

I have a bunch of old rudders sitting around, and I found an old weedless from a Tempest OC2 that I used to own.  Five minutes with a flat file and a couple washers later and it was a perfect fit for the Zest!  Since there was no wind the last couple days I took the boat to my nearby lake for a flatwater push.  To my surprise I had the same time as in my Vault, something that I didn't expect!

This morning the wind is back, so I'll head out to the bay with my weedless to see what the Zest can do without weeds dragging me down.









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1 month 2 weeks ago #34802 by s513649
Hi Rob, I’m struggling a bit with side-saddle remount in the Swordfish S, any thoughts, cowboy remount? Keep well, Steve

Paddling a Swordfish S Hybrid, always paddle solo in the Noth Sea, all year long. Experienced, PE2EL, Scottburgh to Brighton, Pirates to Salt Rock, ‘Dusi, 50 miler etc, but still slow and tippy!

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1 month 2 weeks ago #34808 by robin.mousley
I replied in detail on one of the other threads, but personally I don't like the cowboy/straddle method, having watched one of my buddies struggle with it over the years, frequently swimming multiple times per incident!

But hey, if you can make it work for you, then I wouldn't say that it was "wrong"!

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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