Kai Wa'a Surfski

9 months 1 week ago #35154 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Well I put my money where my mouth is and I now own a Vega. I have done 4 downwinds so far. My overall impressions are unchanged. The ski is simply amazing downwind. It turns effortlessly and when bridging forward to the next wave it has amazing speed. It is very stable for an elite ski. The rigidity and lack of weight are noticeable when a sudden punch of acceleration is needed. It has a deep bucket, but remounting is easy and I can sit side saddle with feet in the water without problem. As far as the ineffective retractable bailer goes I removed the internal mechanical bits and glued in the included straight tube so it now functions as an effective single venturi that sucks air (very loudly) at about 6.5 mph. It drains plenty fast and I only notice the noise on flat water. I think the loudness of the venturi might have something to do with the stringerless  prepreg monocoque construction acting as a sound box. When a paddle hits the side of the boat it makes a high pitch very loud "ping" that is different than any other ski I have been in. On flat water the speed is good, but ergonomically I prefer the higher seat position of an epic or think ski. I have very stiff hamstrings and so I am sensitive to seat height. Downwind I never notice the seat being lower, maybe because the ski is (hopefully) pointing downhill most of the time. 
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto

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8 months 2 weeks ago #35228 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Can anyone compare the Vega and a V10 (gen 3) in downwind conditions?

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8 months 2 weeks ago #35248 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski

tve wrote: Can anyone compare the Vega and a V10 (gen 3) in downwind conditions?


I have a friend who owns both. From what he has told me they both surf great but the vega surfs better. The wider tail on the v10 gets pushed around a bit more on steep waves. The vega seems to intuitively find the correct line better. The v10 g3 has more powerful high seat position. 

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8 months 2 weeks ago #35255 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
@zachhandler, thanks for posting! Makes sense and not surprising. Bummer about the seating position, having a 550 M/L I don't think I want to go down again...

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4 months 1 week ago #36036 by Encino
Replied by Encino on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski

pnwpaddler wrote: I was talking with Kai at the Gorge. He has plans for two more skis that will be wider than the Vega, using the same design but simply stretching it out (sounds like these will come sooner rather than later). The bailer will be switched to a DeBrito, and it sounds like he is aware that the foot board is not ideal either, so possible changes there too.


So anyone have any news pertaining to the hinted at new skis from Kai?   

Thanks....

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4 months 1 week ago #36038 by downwinda
Replied by downwinda on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Kai has the new Vega Flex in production now.  I think it's around 18 inches wide and very stable for that width.  I've only heard a direct review from one person and it was very positive.

I'll see if I can find his review and post it.  

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4 months 1 week ago #36039 by downwinda
Replied by downwinda on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
OK, so I found the review from Michael Wood:

Aloha from Kauai. Took delivery on a Vega Flex two weeks ago and wanted to share my experiences so far. First let give my paddling background so you know where I am on the paddling curve ,and how appropriate my comments may be for you. 
Been paddling skis 8 years, OC1 5 years, paddle year round, split between PNW ,Gorge,and Kauai. Paddle ski/OC 50/50. On mainland paddle Huki S1R (glass/carbon 25#) and Ares. On Kauai Swordfish S (Carbon hybrid 26#?)and Ares. My passion is downwind paddling. I'm a decent intermediate paddler on the high end of barnacle age category. I paddle to chase bumps, will do a race only if decent downwind. 

So why the Flex? I knew Kai Bartlett was trying to create a ski that surfed more like a one man (OC1). I love surfing my Ares and knew if he could create a ski that had some of those features I was in.
Specs: 18.25" wide x 20.5'  long  22 lbs full carbon
It's a beautiful ski with sleek lines. Has a blunt bow, more volume forward of footwell ,behind bucket,and reduced volume and profile in stern. Comes with a cover. Has same self centering rudder, easy foot plate adjustment as original Vega. Generous bungees forward of footwell and on deck behind bucket.
The footwell is lower volume so less water to drain and gives you solid contact on your lateral lower legs for better stability in bigger conditions. But still big enough for my 12C feet and future booties in PNW. Has single venturi drain.
The bucket is all around comfortable with slight curve on bottom  .I'm tall and skinny so have padded out on sides only for hip contact not for comfort  need or sore spots as on my other skis( sacrum rubbing). Those with more normal or generous hip/butt/thigh combinations will find plenty of room . The hump is moderate allowing good rotation.
One good thing about the Flex is it's very easy to remount. The gunnel is 1" lower than the original Vega and is about 1.25" wide in the bucket area. Which means it doesn't dig into your groin or upper thighs as you pull yourself up out of the water. Also due to it's good primary and secondary stability you can sit side saddle very easily. I did practice remounts in lots of choppy sloppy conditions and never felt sketchy. 
Paddling the Flex I felt solid in the  bucket with no initial twitch that I've experienced in other 18" skis. She definitely surfs more over the bumps than digging in, and once you drop in she runs further than I've experienced in my other skis. I noticed I didn't need to power up as hard nor as long to drop in nor apply strokes as soon while looking for the next bump. I found myself waiting longer letting the Flex run without losing speed. Similar to my Ares. So I'm surfing with less overall effort which is useful. Like the Ares did for me I'm thinking the Flex will help me improve my surfing efficiency and linkage.
This is my first experience paddling a full carbon stiff  22 lb ski so some of the less effort feedback may be due to that feature.. Also because the Flex surfs more over the waves she's a dryer ride. The few times I've buried the nose she pops up faster than my other skis. So far I haven't found a wave deflector necessary. 
I swamped the cockpit a few times surfing across some troughs and the single venturi drains very well. The rudder is an 8.5" elliptical like with a horizontal bottom. In some very big technical conditions I had plenty of rudder bite and never got broached. Which may also be a function of the low volume tail section and more volume forward. For PNW and Gorge a weedless rudder will be useful. 
Overall the Flex feels nimble and playful,easy to surf bumps, change direction, lay over on her rail, loads of fun. 
Due to the surfing characteristics, excellent stability for an 18.25" ski,and ease of remounting the Flex should appeal to a broad range of ski paddlers. 
I don't have any flat water feedback but I'm guessing the Flex can hold her own with the top intermediate skis.
Hope this info is useful. 
Aloha 
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas

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4 months 1 week ago #36041 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
And here's the word from the man himself:

We now have our Vega Flex out on the market. It’s 20’6” long and 18.25” wide. Similar width to a V-10 sport. So far we have gotten great
reviews on the performance of the Flex. We lowered the gunwales a bit
for easier remount and played with the bucket
slightly to allow wider paddlers the fit. The bucket also still holds
the smaller paddlers just as well. 

We didn’t go with the debritta self bailer just because of leak issues and assembly. We just have a streamline Venturi cover over
footwell drain. The footboard is the same but we have done some things
to it to better the set up. 

The Flex is 21-22lbs stock and can come in a Pro version that is 17lbs. The seamless construction we use is very durable and can handle
just as well if not better than most ski brands out there.

Kai Bartlett
Kaiwaa Canoes
808-368-6333 


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 months 1 week ago #36049 by Encino
Replied by Encino on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Thanks for the responses Robin and downwinds....that's exactly what I've been waiting to hear....  
I've ordered a Think Evo for delivery this spring,  but looks like I'll be having to start saving for a Kai Wa'a Flex for next season....I think I've become hooked on surfskis in one year (acquired an Epic V10 g3 last year and couldn't get out in it enough, what with  work getting in the way...)
Love this sport and everyone involved in it!

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4 months 1 week ago #36050 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Does anyone have a photo of the self-centering rudder mechanism on Kai's boats?

I'd be really interested to see it.  I carry a bungee emergency steering system in case of rudder line failure, but it requires going to the back of the boat, unleashed, to install it which isn't ideal in big conditions. 

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 months 1 week ago #36051 by downwinda
Replied by downwinda on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
You can't really see the self centering mechanism on the rudder.  Essentially it is a spring housed in the yoke that attaches to the rudder shaft.  When the rudder is turned side to side, the spring returns the rudder to neutral position.  It's strong enough that it won't bounce around in waves, but not so strong that you need to exert any extra pressure on the foot pedals to turn the boat.

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3 months 2 weeks ago #36226 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
This seems like an awesome ski. The dealer I bought my Epic v8 pro  from just started carrying the Vega line to compliment his Ozone Outrigger line up. Unfortunately, he is located in the midwest US and I'm on the east coast. According to the Ozone website only 4 Vega flex skis are in the US and all are located with him. I'd love to demo one to see how it does on flat water. My dealer offered to meet me in Tennessee to try one out. It's about a 9 hour drive for each of us. The specs indicate that the vega flex is similar in dimensions to the Epic v10 sport. I like the idea of a full carbon 20LB ski for the same price as a red tip Epic. 

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3 months 2 weeks ago #36231 by mickeyA
Replied by mickeyA on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
Would we still be able to refer to you as “Epicpaddler” if you no longer are an Epic paddler?  Something to consider.

Epic V12, V10Sport, Fenn Tarpon S, Swordfish S, Stellar SE, Fenn XT, Twogood Chalupski, Findeisen Stinger spec, Huki S1-X, Burton wedge2, Fenn Tarpon

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3 months 2 weeks ago #36232 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Kai Wa'a Surfski
:)

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