Epic V9 Ultra test paddle

4 weeks 1 day ago #39063 by CrabStick
Background: I was looking for a new boat for rough or more technical downwind paddles in Perth, Western Australia. My Fenn Swordfish S hybrid has been great last few seasons and I became comfortable enough in it that I just wasn't getting any use out of my BlueFin so I sold it last year.
When it's rough and steep or when the wind drops a bit I still have moments in the Swordy when I can't get good strokes in or can't weight the boat how I would like. That feeling comes down to my skill level, and possibly to a boat that has a little too much volume for my 73kg. Hence the idea that a more stable boat would be a fun option and I had been hearing great things about the V9.
Test Paddle: I borrowed a Demo boat and only went for a 50 min spin on the river so these are only initial impressions and were not even in the desired conditions. The ultra (red tip) was very light. I think Will (local Epic rep) said it was just under 11kg which felt right but don't quote me on that figure. Really easy to carry in one hand with side handle.
The bucket was significantly more comfortable than the Swordy for me and a huge improvement on the V8Pro in shape and security. It seemed to be good at keeping me centrally positioned even though it was wider than my usual bucket set up.
Paddling position was good, none of that paddling uphill sensation you get if seat too low. Hump nice and low so not in the way for leg drive.
Acceleration excellent as expected for a shorter lighter boat than I'm used to. 
Surfing on boat wakes was easy and great fun with very good resistance to broaching. Even with standard rudder it held it's line really well at a moderately high angle to the wave. It responded nicely to weight shifts and had great manoeuvrability.
Where it surprised me was it's stability. Much higher than I expected in both primary and in the limited amount of secondary I needed when playing around on intersecting boat wakes.
Speed could not be usefully measured when in mild current on a short paddle but subjectively was similar to Swordfish. One thing I noticed was that the speed was higher on the Garmin than I expected from the effort going in, both with and against the current. Flat water speed doesn't really concern me as the aim is downwind paddling fun and perhaps a better safety margin in the ocean. Remounts should be easy. Build quality and fittings excellent. Bailer drained very fast and it was intuitive to use the foot control on my first attempts. Foot plate solid and easy to adjust length.
Overall it was a very positive first impression so I've ordered one and container is arriving within a week hopefully. My first Epic as a long time Fenn paddler! Will and Vanessa have been great to deal with and give useful information without doing any heavy sales pitch.
I'll be sure to update once I get in the ocean and get a few downwinders in. Can't wait.
 

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin S, Swordfish S, Fenn Spark S
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV

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4 weeks 1 day ago #39065 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
Good to read, been thinking of one of these to replace my ageing V10S gen1, as a rough water back up to my V10 gen 3. I guess it would have a similar "in bucket" feel as my V10. rare as hens teeth second hand though atm

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4 weeks 1 day ago #39066 by Atlas
Replied by Atlas on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
The V9 sure is a nice ski and will suit a lot of paddlers looking for a relatively stable boat for downwind conditions. It is superior to the V8pro for catching runs because it has more rocker so it doesn't nose dive as bad as the V8pro. Having said that I've just sold my V9. I prefer the Carbonology Sport Boost LV X as my rough water / downwind ski.
We're all different.

Current skis:
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
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.

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4 weeks 7 hours ago #39069 by CrabStick
Replied by CrabStick on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
Hi Atlas, does the X version differ much from the original Boost LV? I had the original LV and it was a really fun agile boat. Caught waves easily but I liked it better with a bigger rudder to help hold a diagonal line across a wave. The main reason I didn't stick with it was a tendency to nose dive which must have been related to it's bucket position / volume distribution. This really helped to teach me to stop paddling sooner and try to stay on top of the wave but I still found myself having to not just lean back but sometimes push myself right back up the back of the bucket to prevent a nose dive on a steep wave. It also made it harder to jump over small waves to get one ahead. The Swordy is pretty good at this and I'm told the V9 really excels at it.
We certainly are all different and so are our local paddling conditions.

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin S, Swordfish S, Fenn Spark S
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV

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4 weeks 6 hours ago #39070 by Salty Frog
Thanks for taking the time to review this. I'm very interested in the V9 & curious about the Think 6 too.

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4 weeks ago #39076 by Atlas
Replied by Atlas on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
Hi Crabstick. Yes; the original Boost LV really needs a big aggressive rudder. The X has the rudder 100mm further forward. This has made a big difference. It is even more manoeuvrable and much more resistant to broaching. I'm only using a 7" 30° rudder even in rough, choppy conditions. I have a downwind specific rudder for big conditions though. The bucket is even more comfortable (for me) than the original. It does still have the same tendency to nose dive though. Like you I have learned to try to stay high on the wave and I've become very active with my body position. I find it's not so much how far I lean back but how fast I lean back. If I'm sliding too fast down a big wave or I want to jump onto the next run; I lean back hard and fast just as the bow looks like it's about to go under. It's almost like pulling hard and fast on the handle bar of my mountain bike when I want to jump an obstacle at speed. This tends to keep the bow from diving. I also use a good wave deflector which helps enormously. I am very happy with the low volume bow because it is so resistant to cross winds which I often encounter. It's a compromise but it works for me.
In pure downwind conditions; the V9 is brilliant. Even in rough conditions it just skips from wave to wave like a champion. There are obviously plenty of "faster" skis but I can't always apply full power when I need to in such boats. The V9 is buoyant and really confidence inspiring which makes it surprisingly fast. I still needed a wave deflector in proper downwinders. Not that that is a problem. If the bucket was not loose and uncomfortable for me I would have kept it. I can't be arsed with padding buckets out unless everything else is perfect. If the bucket is comfortable for you then I'm sure it's the right ski for you.
If this bloody COVID 19 hadn't turned up I'd be heading over to Perth in November for my sixth Doctor. I love paddling over there. In fact I just love hanging out over there. I usually head down to Mandurah for a few days after the downwind week and do a few Cut Runs with the local crew. I then head down to Busselton for the Ironman or the half if I haven't been training properly. Not last year though. And not this year either damn it.

Current skis:
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
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.

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3 weeks 6 days ago #39078 by Epicpaddler
I think the Epic v9 would be a great boat for that. I did a race yesterday and I wish I had a boat like the v9. It was so rough the local Epic dealer (who had his choice of any boat in the fleet) switched out a v8pro for a v8! I was shocked since I was paddling my v10g3. There were times where I was throwing brace strokes and not generating as much power as I could have on a more stable boat like the v9. The v8 guy beat me by a couple of boat lengths after a long battle, but ultimately came down to him having the more stable boat and applying full power.

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6 days 23 hours ago #39156 by CrabStick
Replied by CrabStick on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
Yes, for any long or rough paddle I'll definitely be more comfortable in the V9 and quite likely faster too.
Conditions haven't really picked up in Perth yet but the brief periods when wind gusts up well (eg 16 knots) the V9 is a blast and 1km intervals between 4.00 and 4.05 which is pretty good for me. I am really looking forward to bigger conditions in it.
In really light downwind (like 11-12Knots) the Swordy probably gets a bit more push from the available runners but I'm still getting a feel for the V9 so positioning on the small waves is not yet coming naturally.
Nice that you have experienced a few different paddling spots here Atlas. Busselton is a whole different ocean experience with hardly any groundswell in Summer, Mandurah gives runs parallel to coast so can be really clean and relaxing, and perth can be pretty technical with the angles and intersecting waves involved. There's some excellent mountain biking over here too if you're ever here in cooler months. I'd be happy to point you in the right direction but don't expect me to be anything but a liability on the climbs!

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin S, Swordfish S, Fenn Spark S
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas

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6 days 6 hours ago #39157 by Nordy
Replied by Nordy on topic Epic V9 Ultra test paddle
"Flat water speed doesn't really concern me as the aim is downwind paddling fun and perhaps a better safety margin in the ocean". 
Very True. It makes a great downwind boat, but don't let that low number on the side of the boat fool you into thinking it's slow. 
My paddling partner (AKA - big bastard) averages 12kph on the flat in his 14kg, black tipped V9 and he wouldn't blow out a candle doing so. It's all about the engine. :-)

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