Intermediate skis: Knysna Blu, Evo2, Swordfish....

6 years 9 months ago #18714 by Sam_Atlas
Does anyone have any experience with intermediate skis, especially the Swordfish, Genius Blu and the Evo2?

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6 years 9 months ago #18718 by Kayaker Greg
Yes quite a few of us paddle a Swordfish, what do you want to know?
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6 years 9 months ago #18719 by Markmyword
I have an EVO 2 and could not be more happy with my purchase. When i was looking i tried the Swordfish and while i am sure it is a great boat and as is evident that lots of people love them, it just wasn't for me. No logical reason just didn't feel right. When i went to try the EVO 2 i was apprehensive to say the least as personally at first glance i didn't like the look of it. But once i got a paddle of it, well it was truly like the fog lifted and all of a sudden it was the perfect boat for me. The cockpit was the perfect fit and for me it had just the right amount of challenge without being excessively difficult. So what i am trying to say is, don't ask other people about ski's go and paddle them yourself if you can as one persons trash is another persons treasure.
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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #18723 by Sam_Atlas
Thanks for your replies. I actually feel the same way about the looks of the Evo 2.

It is actually quite difficult for me to try an intermediate ski because of distance, so I have to rely on reviews and recommendations.

I am asking about these skis in particular because they are all around 6.2 metres long and have a 45-48 cm beam. Since I am larger (105 kg, 190 cm) I am guessing that these skis would be better choices than, say, a ski that has a length of 5.80.

I also suspect that these skis' performance is similar. However, what I would like to know are the small things about the skis: finish, fittings, durability, comfort and making adjustments. Also, are there any details that you love about the ski?

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6 years 9 months ago #18728 by andy y
dear paddlers ---thanks for the topic---i'm in the uk, a recreational /aged/6'2''/105 kgs paddler seeking a new ski ---i believe an intermediate boat is best me ----the review by rob of the evo ii was really good/daryl from think has been very helpful but it would be good to hear others views---especially re the evo ii or knysna genius clk ---many thanks from uk

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #18730 by Kayaker Greg

Sam_Atlas wrote: Since I am larger (105 kg, 190 cm) I am guessing that these skis would be better choices than, say, a ski that has a length of 5.80.

I also suspect that these skis' performance is similar. However, what I would like to know are the small things about the skis: finish, fittings, durability, comfort and making adjustments. Also, are there any details that you love about the ski?


I know a guy that would be at least as heavy as you, possibly heavier and he paddles the EVO 2 and still swims quite a bit. But I think the EVO2 suits a bigger guy better than a Swordfish perhaps.

For me at 72kg the Swordfish does not feel like a large volume ski (like my Stellar SEL does) and the only complaint I have is the hump is too far forward for me and I've had to make a seat to push me forward a couple of inches although at your height this would not be an issue.

Finish? The seam looks a little rough and the scupper covers are a bit agricultural and can do some with some fairing to the hull, not a hard job to do. The bung to let water out falls out and everyone tapes over the hole instead of using the bung, I just use a sticker, looks good and not an issue.

Fittings? Yesterday I trimmed a little off the foot strap, there was a tail that was a bit long and it has damaged the tendon on the top of my right foot causing a painful cyst when I pull back on the strap, I've had to change my technique slightly and not pull on that side until it heals. I've also put a couple of my Stellar velcroed foot strap covers on for added comfit. I've moved the grab strap that was mounted on the port side of the cockpit to the middle of the top deck as I used to occasionally strike it with my paddle. Both easy modifications to make. When I first started paddling the Swordfish I noticed that there used to be a large gap under the footplate where my heel used to push into and get a bit painful after a while, I was going to fill it with something, now I don't notice it at all for some reason.

Durability? I have the Carbon Vacuum and durability has been excellant, no leaks or any damage suffered to date. Footplate is sturdy, steel cables for rudder faultless.

Comfort? Every ski I have ever had I've had to make my own seat for comfort and a better paddling position. The Swordfish was not different. Epic were the worse for me and I had to sell my V10L as I just couldn't get that right, my SES is the closest for comfort, my Swordfish took a long time to get the comfort right but I got there in the end. Many don't like the Swordfish for comfort where as Think seem to have a lot of happy customers in the comfort area.

Adjustments? Adjusting the footplate is easy with an allen key that stays with the ski, however its not micro adjustable like my Stellars are and I ended up making the micro adjustment with my seat position.

I also replaced the Fenn Sharkfin rudder with an Orka Surf rudder, I much prefer this rudder.

What I love about the ski is its a bit smaller than most of the elite skis, its very stable and catches small runs easily, I don't feel its particularly fast but a lot of that is probably just me. Its not the perfect ski for me, thats yet to be made. I also think its fantastic value for money here in NZ compared to the other brands that are available. However the new models coming in at the end of the month I notice that there has been a price jump.

For your size I think the EVO2 might be the better option but I have not paddled one so you can only try for yourself of get some other opinions.
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6 years 9 months ago #18747 by Stew
A lot of opinions and reviews will be a little biased towards what a paddler has chosen for his own craft. In many cases we have seen contributors on here harp incessantly about a brand, only for them to change tune completely when they change to another, and then harp on about their new brand. Take what you will from reviews, the best ones are probably independent ones where the paddlers have no emotional attachment through their forking out of cash to purchase their new baby. The best bet at the end of the day is to try get out there and try as many skis as you can. Then you know you've settled on the right craft for you, and won't ever have any doubts. Enjoy the testing, because you can learn quite a bit in this time on what different boats have to offer and how they handle etc. Fun times!

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6 years 9 months ago #18748 by Ranga
Unbiased reviews are quite difficult to come by as generally everyone will have their choice of brand, even a retailer, he will push what he sells or what sells for him regardless of brand quality.

I just find it strange when people have to make all these modifications to new skis, basic stuff and still believe they have the best built skis, new rudders, foot boards, straps, accepting a hole in the boat as a legitimate drain? and the list goes on...

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6 years 9 months ago #18749 by surfski dude
The problem is some people just can't go and try out many different skis depending on where you live. I live in the triad area of NC and I would need to drive five or six hours just to try one brand of ski. Choosing a car is easier than choosing a ski around here. I really depend on peoples reviews and hope they are honest when they post there review. I know you shouldn't base your purchase on a review but sometimes you have no choice if you can't demo one.

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6 years 9 months ago #18750 by zachhandler
True that surfski dude. In minnesota we are 3 hours from an epic dealer, 12 hours from a stellar dealer, and 24 hours from think/fenn/vajda/huki/nelo. So if you want to compare a few different skis you could easily blow your entire new ski budget just traveling around to try a few boats on for size. Sometimes it makes more sense just to do the best research you can, order a boat sight unseen, and accept that if it doesnt workout you will have to turn around and sell it.

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6 years 9 months ago #18753 by mckengmsurfski
Surfski Dude, not sure where in the triad you live, but our hanger where we keep our skis is just outside of St. Matthews, SC, which is less than 4 hours from Greensboro. It's not right around the corner, but in the US surfski world, it's not that far either... We carry 2 brands of surfskis (Think and Vajda) and have all models available to demo, as well as 2 brands of paddles (G'Power and Jantex). If you wanted to try some different skis and get in a late season race at the same time, you could come to Lake Marion, SC for the Northshore Cup on Nov. 9th. We'll be there with the Think and Vajda surfskis to demo and I'm sure the other paddlers would be happy to let you try their skis as well.

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6 years 9 months ago #18761 by Dale Lippstreu
I currently have a Swordfish and paddle a lot with Rob (Mousley) who is currently paddling an Evo2. Rob loves the Evo and is definitely a lot faster in it downwind than in the Swordfish. He also says that he finds the stability of the Evo better in choppy water. One thing to note however is that this is after fitting an elliptical rudder with a profile similar to the Epic surf rudder which he feels improves the handling of the ski quite dramatically.
I have not paddled the Evo much but the little that I have indicates that it has less primary stability than the Swordfish but the secondary stability is nothing short of phenomenal. Based on our experience gained over the past year I would recommend the Evo over the Swordfish.
As to finish I would regard both as pretty good but I must point out that Rob’s Evo was built by Carbonology in SA so may not be the same as the skis available to you. My Swordfish has an epoxy glass vacuum lay-up and I have to say that I have been very impressed with both the quality of finish and the toughness of the laminate.
With regard to Stew’s comments around subjectivity let me declare my bias; I have had several V10’s over the years including an Ultra Elite which I regard as the finest ski that I have paddled. As brands go my preference lies with Epic with the only downside being that their skis tend to be a bit more fragile. I am however told that this has improved of late. I am waiting my new V10 which is due to arrive in SA in 2 days time.

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6 years 9 months ago #18763 by stephenchrisolivier
Replied by stephenchrisolivier on topic Intermediate skis: Knysna Blu, Evo2, Swordfish....
Like most, I tend to stick with the brand I'm used to. Othe :ohmy: than Hammerheads early on, I've paddled Fenn singles and doubles. I currently paddle a Mako XT, partly because although I'm experienced I still twitch, and mostly because I always paddle alone in the North Sea off my home in Scotland. Conditions range from benign to smallish runs with some cross-chop. Bear in mind I want to minimise falling in, because it is properly cold, particularly in winter, and I'm always alone, with no other water users in sight. Any thoughts on an upgrade from the Mako XT?

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #18773 by TaffyMick
Hi Stephen,

I upgraded initially to a carbon vacuum Swordfish. A great boat that will pick up a run in a bath tub. My problem having a large arse was that it was way too cramped in the bucket for me to rotate properly and therefore affected my catch, drive and stability (spent a lot of time in the water). Very difficult to remount given my ahem, generous size in the waist and gluteus maximus!

This being the case I sold the Swordfish and bought a new Epic V10 Sports in the performance lay up. To me it was the perfect upgrade. Very comfortable and stable in rough offshore conditions, even in severe cross chop and tidal races.

As a bonus in your paddling environment the bailer when closed will keep your feet dry. Get water in over the side, open it up and at >8kph it will quickly drain with a satisfying "gurgling" sound. Just kick it shut with your heel when drained and viola, dry foot well again.

By the way, I also have a Fenn Blue Fin that I use in the surf and that my wife uses from time to time. Brand loyalty is nice... but what is best for you is what you must always aim for.

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1
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6 years 9 months ago #18797 by robin.mousley
Hmm.... I've paddled all three boats extensively.

My current favourite is the Evo II.

My buddy Dale and I have been going at it hammer and tongs in our Tuesday Series here in Hout Bay; we've had three races so far and the score is currently 2-1 in my favour!

Here are a couple of notes:

Swordfish: wonderfully stable, easy to remount, easy to use. I have an epoxy vacuum glass version and it's light - about 13kg. Well built, I've had it for over two years and it still doesn't take any water.

Evo II: I have a hybrid boat built by Carbonology Sport. It has a carbon deck, vacuum glass hull so it's light (shade under 13kg) but the glass hull is more resistant to dings than carbon. It's a touch less stable in some conditions than the SF, but it's a different kind of stability - and in really rough water it actually seems easier to handle than the SF.

Genius Blu: relatively heavy - around 15kg I think, it's a glass boat.

On flat water all three boats are much of a muchness in terms of the speed that I can get out of them. Dale and I often end up dicing (well, really, every time we paddle) and given that he's been in the SF for the last two years, he's been a great mark to measure my speed against.

We recently paddled in Hout Bay on a rough day - winter swell rolling in, so we did a series of ins and outs. I was on the Blu.

Going into the wind and waves, I found the Blu extremely comfortable and felt that I was powering away from Dale. But going downwind, Dale was able to catch the runs and stay on them much longer than me and he dropped me by miles. On the other hand, on Millers Runs last season, the Blu was my pick; I felt that on the bigger runs I had an advantage in terms of manoeuvrability plus I felt that it didn't dip its nose to the same extent as the SF. (I weigh about 85kg).

When I got the Evo II some 8 months ago, I liked it, but it seemed a little prone to broaching. I also found that it wondered somewhat when I was trying to slipstream other paddlers. And in the messy chop in Hout Bay I found it difficult to catch diagonal runs that we often get on the round the cans courses on Tuesday nights.

About 3 months ago I finally got a big Orka elliptical rudder for the Evo II. It transformed the boat; going downwind I'm much faster. Example: we did a Millers Run on Sunday (11.75km) and while I usually beat Dale by a minute or two, I got to the beach 4min ahead of him. This has been consistent whenever I've paddled the Evo II. When on the SF or the Blu, I can usually stay ahead of him, but not nearly to the same extent, and he has taken me on occasion.

A couple of weekends ago, also while I was on the Evo II, we paddled in Hout Bay on a choppy day. We went out to Vulcan Rock about 3km offshore, then back across the bay and home. In the rough water I was able to pull away with ease, and coming back with the runs, there was just no contest, I clearly had a significant advantage. Back on the flatter water however, we were neck and neck again.

Paddling behind an 88ton catamaran in Hout Bay, the Evo II without the big rudder was a handful and I struggled to stop it broaching; with the big rudder, it's an absolute joy.

Last night we had our race in Hout Bay - out to Vulcan and back. The water was very flat; there was little energy in it and it was difficult to get any advantage. I did beat him, but only by a minute.

So yep, given the choice of the three boats, I'd take the Evo II. On flat water I don't feel at a disadvantage, but on choppy or downwind conditions, I enjoy the Evo much more.

In fact I'd go further and say that in downwind conditions, the Evo II is one of the most fun boats I've ever paddled. It's easy to use in that it's stable; it responds really well to the big rudder, and is really hard to broach - and it's manoeuvrable.

Having said all that, my new shape V10 Ultra is sitting in a container off Durban Harbour as I write this. I paddled one briefly in Mauritius and thought it pretty much as stable as the Evo II. So I cannot wait to paddle it in our Tuesday Series races and see whether the speed really is significantly better...

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 9 months ago #18803 by Rod Thomas
Thanks Rob a great comparison. I paddle a Vault. How would that compare in the intermediate line-up?

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6 years 9 months ago #18804 by robin.mousley
Dale and I paddled the Vault a couple of times (I did a fairly hectic Millers Run) and I have a couple of friends on Vaults.

Unfortunately my arse is not compatible with the Carbonology boats and I tend to get rubbed raw.

On the flat we thought the Vault appreciably faster than any of the three boats under discussion, but we also thought it appreciably tippier.

Nick, one the guys who owns a Vault, regularly thumps me on flatter water in Hout Bay, but finds the Vault a handful on a Millers Run - when I usually thump him. Granted he doesn't do nearly as much downwind stuff as me, but it's the tippiness factor that mostly finds him out in big conditions.

When I did the Millers Run, I did a near personal best time, but I also found the boat a handful from a stability perspective. At my weight (85kg) I found it quite a wet boat too with the nose dipping and water coming over the deck into the cockpit.

For me - I would rate it somewhere between the other intermediate boats and the elite boats, both in speed and in tippiness.

The boat that we tried was, like all of Hein's boats that I've seen and paddled beautifully finished and felt rigid and strong (and light!).

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 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #18805 by Ronbo
As a sub-intermediate paddler, I would agree with Rob's comparison of the Vault and Swordfish.

I have paddled a Vault (hybrid, green stripe) for the last 18 months and love it. It took some skill improvement for me to grow in to it and I mostly paddled protected water. Sydney Middle Harbour, Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (flat), Broken Bay, etc. I'm pretty comfortable in those conditions, but struggled a bit with stability as I spent more time in the ocean. My goal after this weekend's Hawkesbury race is to build my skills and get in to open water races.

A few weeks ago, I paddled a carbon Swordfish and felt substantially more relaxed and stable in the ocean than on my Vault. I immediately purchased it and that's now my open water ski.

I've now evolved in to a two ski strategy. My Swordfish for larger conditions (which don't have to be that large at my present skill level), and my Vault for protected waters when I want to go a little faster, or am spending long hours in the bucket.

As my skills improve, the threshold in conditions between when I paddle the Swordfish or Vault will shift up. Long term, I might be trading up the Vault to an elite level ski and keeping the Swordfish for bigger conditions. I would then have a speedy ski for things like the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (would love to break 10 hours), and a more stable ski for rougher conditions.
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6 years 9 months ago #18810 by Dale Lippstreu
I transitioned from intermediate to racing skis about 10 years ago and over the years followed advances by buying what I thought to be the fastest ski at the time. About 2 years ago Rob pitched at one of our local races with a V10 Sport and beat me against the run of form at the time. The next week I switched to the V10 and beat him. After series of races swapping between high performance and intermediate skis and between a V10 Sport and Swordfish we both wound up buying Swordfishes. Our general conclusion is that the losses we were suffering due to lower hull efficiency were more than compensated for by increased stroke efficiency. If I recall correctly the decision between the intermediate alternatives was based more on price and availability than a strong preference of one over the other.
2 years on the lower speed of the Swordfish has gotten to us and we are both waiting on new V10’s. The hope is that the stability will be similar to the Swordfish and the speed competitive with a high end ski. The skis will arrive next week so we will soon find out.

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6 years 9 months ago #18824 by MaxB
Dale & Rob, I'm keen to hear how you find your new V10's compare to your Swordfishes.

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