How long do you give a new ski when demoing before writing it off ?

3 months 3 hours ago #34009 by uk gearmuncher
I've been trying out a new ski for the last month. I paddle a couple of times a week for a couple of hours each time. 80% of my time is on flatwater or light chop and I'm loving the ski there. Full power all of the time and no bracing. However, I have put three sea paddles in and struggled to get 50% power down on those. My question is, how long should you give a ski when you trial it before you have to admit its too much ski ? Is three paddles on rougher waters too few ?

(I'm aware of the 'stability before speed' thing but I feel like this ski is on the cusp and a brilliant design and build. However, my difficulty in rough water is an issue - even if its only for 20% of the time. 

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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3 months 1 hour ago #34010 by MCImes
It kinda depends on how you want to use the ski. Do you intend to race on the ocean? If so, thats a deal breaker - get a more stable boat. If you just play on the ocean, then you can probably grow into it over time. Practice technique on flat water and push yourself in the ocean knowing you will fall out. Its a whole different story if you are trying to be fast on the ocean in the short term. 

I forget exactly where you are in the boat and skill saga. I see your last post references paddling a 550L? is that what you're referring to? for my weight/height/butt, I thought the SF-S felt more stable (deeper secondary) than the 550 so a different boat of the same beam may yield a different result. But plenty of people love the 550 as well so we cant exactly blame the boat. 

Another thought - how rough is the ocean? Ideally you could find some water (maybe just inside a breakwall or a part of the ocean that has clean linear swell) that pushes your abilities but is not unmanageable. 
Can you take it out in some conditions that are rougher than the flat water but calmer than the ocean that causes you so much trouble?  If you are dealing with 2+ directions of swell plus reflected swell plus wind chop, almost any boat can feel like a handful. Finding a semi-sheltered area may be what you need to build stability skill in a tippier boat. 

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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3 months 18 minutes ago #34011 by uk gearmuncher

MCImes wrote: It kinda depends on how you want to use the ski. Do you intend to race on the ocean? If so, thats a deal breaker - get a more stable boat. If you just play on the ocean, then you can probably grow into it over time. Practice technique on flat water and push yourself in the ocean knowing you will fall out. Its a whole different story if you are trying to be fast on the ocean in the short term. 

I forget exactly where you are in the boat and skill saga. I see your last post references paddling a 550L? is that what you're referring to? for my weight/height/butt, I thought the SF-S felt more stable (deeper secondary) than the 550 so a different boat of the same beam may yield a different result. But plenty of people love the 550 as well so we cant exactly blame the boat. 

Another thought - how rough is the ocean? Ideally you could find some water (maybe just inside a breakwall or a part of the ocean that has clean linear swell) that pushes your abilities but is not unmanageable. 
Can you take it out in some conditions that are rougher than the flat water but calmer than the ocean that causes you so much trouble?  If you are dealing with 2+ directions of swell plus reflected swell plus wind chop, almost any boat can feel like a handful. Finding a semi-sheltered area may be what you need to build stability skill in a tippier boat. 


yep, it’s the Nelo 550. It’s a great boat and I’m persevering with it. I’ve been lucky to have been given a long loan of it. However, I would do a couple of races  a year ideally and I couldn’t do it on this. My other consideration was ‘downshifting’ to a V10 sport as I find my v8 pro too easy.

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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3 months 3 minutes ago #34012 by MCImes
If you only do 2 races a year on the ocean, I would personally just accept a year of swimming and slow going on the ocean and grow into it. Are you trying to win the race or just challenge yourself? I like having a boat that is slightly above my ability. I think a boat 1 step above your abilities is good (leaves room to grow and pushes you) but 2 steps above your abilities just leads to constant swimming, reduced enjoyment, technique breakdown, and missed paddling days (due to conditions too big for your skillset in a given boat). 

You'll have to decide, is the 550 one step or two above your abilities? Technically its 2 steps down (as is 50cm V8, 48cm V10S, or 46cm 550) but depending on how much challenge you are willing to accept 2 steps may be ok. 

If you think it would take you more than 1 summer to get comfortable in the 550, you may consider a 48cm boat to bridge the gap. 

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 4 weeks ago #34013 by tve
The questions I would ask are: are you having difficulties remounting and do you look forward to learning to "master" this boat?
When I upgraded to my 550 a little under a year ago I went swimming at least once during every outing. Didn't bother me because I find the boat super easy to remount. The joke going around was that I remounted faster than I fell off. Took me 4 months 'til falling in became rare. But then later in big conditions I had another falling-in streak. (And it would not cross my mind to say that I've mastered the boat!) I must say I enjoyed every bit of all this 'cause I could follow my improvements outing after outing and I never had a "shit, I might not make it back in" moment. (Touching wood right now...) I took part in a race in high wind conditions a few months back and I fell in towards the end. Cost me one place, oh well... I could have come in last with my old ski instead :-).
If you're not sure you can always remount the 550, very different story, or if the water temps are such that falling in is nasty...

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2 months 4 weeks ago #34014 by uk gearmuncher

tve wrote: The questions I would ask are: are you having difficulties remounting and do you look forward to learning to "master" this boat?
When I upgraded to my 550 a little under a year ago I went swimming at least once during every outing. Didn't bother me because I find the boat super easy to remount. The joke going around was that I remounted faster than I fell off. Took me 4 months 'til falling in became rare. But then later in big conditions I had another falling-in streak. (And it would not cross my mind to say that I've mastered the boat!) I must say I enjoyed every bit of all this 'cause I could follow my improvements outing after outing and I never had a "shit, I might not make it back in" moment. (Touching wood right now...) I took part in a race in high wind conditions a few months back and I fell in towards the end. Cost me one place, oh well... I could have come in last with my old ski instead :-).
If you're not sure you can always remount the 550, very different story, or if the water temps are such that falling in is nasty...


That's good advice - thanks. I probably have to remount once per session and only on the ocean part of the paddle (never on flat or chop). The remount is easy and in conditions I would typically be racing in eventually. If you don't mind me asking, what was your boat prior to the 550 (in other words, how big a jump did you make ?). It is a boat I genuinely enjoy using and its incredibly well designed. Going to a V10 Sport would bring much faster success but feels so vanilla to me. Mind you, at least I'd be fear free in larger conditions and could probably race that now.

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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2 months 4 weeks ago - 2 months 4 weeks ago #34015 by uk gearmuncher

MCImes wrote: You'll have to decide, is the 550 one step or two above your abilities? Technically its 2 steps down (as is 50cm V8, 48cm V10S, or 46cm 550) but depending on how much challenge you are willing to accept 2 steps may be ok. 

If you think it would take you more than 1 summer to get comfortable in the 550, you may consider a 48cm boat to bridge the gap. 


On even remotely roughly waters, its two steps. On flat and chop its not really a step at all. Plus, it's not to say I'm constantly falling off (I'm not - probably once per 90 minutes) but I can only apply 50% power and probably am bracing at least once or twice every 5 minutes.

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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2 months 4 weeks ago #34016 by PSwitzer
I say if you enjoy paddling on the ocean, you will quickly be frustrated if you can't lay down full power and practice good form on the open water.  The other guys have a good point about enjoying the learning process, but you know what's really REALLY fun?  Linking bumps and surfing your ass off!  And you can't do that if you are at all tentative in the open water.  With a less-stable boat in open water your reflexes will not be trained properly for attacking the conditions.  

If you find the Sport comfortable and secure, go with that- it's plenty fast on flat water and even an expert would lose zero time in races on the ocean compared with the 550.  To improve your balance you can just pad it up to raise your center of gravity.

I paddled my first season on a dirt cheap Fenn Millenium, having fun and falling in most races, then finally saved up enough money to get a used Sport, had even more fun and actually learned how to surf on the thing.

Remember, it's not the falling in that slows you down the most.  It's the fact that when slightly unstable, you are hitting a perfect stroke 0% of the time, especially in clutch moments when it matters the most, like when on the crest of a wave, allllllmmmost dropping in....

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2 months 4 weeks ago #34017 by uk gearmuncher
By the way, another option I have is just to keep the V8 Pro I have (black tip) and I have access to getting hold of a cheap black tip G2 V10. Yes, that's more advanced but is there any value to getting a tippy boat in for training purposes whilst you keep going with what you have ? The only thing I don't like about that is the carrying round of the black tips - having used a couple of light boats recently, its been really nice. 

Is the V10 Sport really a step forward from the V8 Pro ?

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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2 months 4 weeks ago #34018 by robin.mousley

It’s a great boat and I’m persevering with it. I’ve been lucky to have been given a long loan of it. 

Given that you have the 550 on long loan anyway, I'd persevere with it - as long as you're having fun.  Give it another couple of months and see how you progress.  But if it's taking away the joy (or gees as we say here) then go back and have some fun on your V8 Pro.

For me the 550 was a little bit of a handful in comparison with the Swordfish S, which is what I've been paddling for a year, and which suits me perfectly.  I used to paddle an Elite, but eventually I realised that my feet got sweaty as we were driving to big downwinds for a reason: even though I knew I could remount pretty easily (and had done so many times), I was always nervous paddling out to the start of a big Miller's Run.  And my times and race results in the Swordfish are better in every way - I've improved my Miller's Run PB twice in the last year.

But then - I didn't have the 550 on long loan, the owner was kind enough to give me a go, but wasn't in a position to let me have it for any length of time (which is why I didn't do a review on it either, I like to have review boat for at least a month).

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 4 weeks ago #34021 by Fath2o
I went through the whole process with a Fenn Elite. After a year and a half or so I realized that I am much more comfortable and faster in an intermediate (plus) boat.
I am getting ready to sell my old SA built V10 that I have had for years. Just don'y have any more interest in paddling it out of the harbor. I'm guessing I would really enjoy a light V 8 pro now. At 58 I have to admit I am not paddling much due to arthritic issues. My lifestyle has caught up with me.
Good luck!

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2 months 4 weeks ago #34022 by tve

If you don't mind me asking, what was your boat prior to the 550 (in other words, how big a jump did you make ?).

Prior boat is a Nelo 510. I did ~50 sessions in the 510 over 4 months, all open ocean. Then upgraded and it took another 50 outings in the 550 to get to the point where I didn't fall in at least once per outing. Worst situations for me were heading into waves at an angle. I timed the purchase with the summer calm season, so there were no wild conditions to miss out on. Those came later...

I think PSwitzer has a good point about laying down full power. I don't have the feeling that the boat held me back in terms of developing better technique but everyone is different and has different goals/priorities. It did take me a dozen outings in big conditions to get to the point where I could apply full power in "clutch moments when it matters the most, like when on the crest of a wave, allllllmmmost dropping in", as PSwitzer says :-).

My conviction is that in the end what matters most is how you feel in the boat. In the 510 I always struggled with a sore bum, even with pads. In the 550M/L I sit perfectly for a long time without any pad. I also really like the raised seating position, which does add to the twitchiness a bit and the 550 M/L is more twitchy than the "plain 550" IMHO. I tried a swordy and it's too much boat for me (160lbs) plus I slosh around in the seat. It's just a no-go for me. In the flat I love the 550's speed and feel and in waves the maneuverability is great. The only time I look with some envy at fellow paddlers is in shallow swell that you can just catch for a short ride before it passes under you, there their V12 clearly stays on the wave with a bit less effort and for longer. There was a podcast posted a few months back with an interview of Kenny RIce and the topic of best boat came up. The only thing he mentioned were the ergonomics, nothing about boat performance.

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2 months 4 weeks ago - 2 months 4 weeks ago #34031 by Henning DK
I don't know your paddling skills, but I think it might be rewarding to focus not only on time on the water until you master the 550 in waves, but try to put more attention to you paddling technique in waves, specifically.
Focus on a smooth entry, putting weight on the paddle blade (really essential for stability in waves), and rotating properly at all times. Practice in medium conditions, when possible.
Just a thought - but working on wave technique issues could make your time on the water more interesting and possibly improve the handling of the 550 one step further or faster.
BR, Henning - 550 paddler

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2 months 4 weeks ago - 2 months 4 weeks ago #34034 by uk gearmuncher

Henning DK wrote: I don't know your paddling skills, but I think it might be rewarding to focus not only on time on the water until you master the 550 in waves, but try to put more attention to you paddling technique in waves, specifically.
Focus on a smooth entry, putting weight on the paddle blade (really essential for stability in waves), and rotating properly at all times. Practice in medium conditions, when possible.
Just a thought - but working on wave technique issues could make your time on the water more interesting and possibly improve the handling of the 550 one step further or faster.
BR, Henning - 550 paddler


Thanks. I'm finding that challenging but your suggestion may give me a good change of emphasis.

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34040 by Henning DK
Only do what you feel for - having fun comes first :-)

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34041 by uk gearmuncher

Henning DK wrote: Only do what you feel for - having fun comes first :-)


This is probably the best advice here and yet the hardest to see objectively. Why is it we hanker for faster and faster ski's just as we've got comfortable in our previous one ? You look at something like Epics speed comparison and realise you're going to spend a year falling in, just to hopefully get an extra minute on your 10k time.........

Previous Boat Journey: Gaisford spec ski, then Fenn Bluefin, then Epic V8 Pro, Now a Epic V10 Sport and a Nelo 550L coming in soon.
Recent Demo's: Epic V10 G3, Nelo 550L, Epic K1t

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34050 by tve

You look at something like Epics speed comparison and realise you're going to spend a year falling in, just to hopefully get an extra minute on your 10k time.........

True, but I believe this misses the point that the difference between skis is more significant in waves.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34051 by zachhandler
I started on a v12. On flat water and small waves i was rock solid, as i had some experience in k1 already. But on the bigger waves where i wanted to learn to downwind i was a disaster. The first season all i did was tip and remount. The second season i could stay in the boat for a little bit longer between remounts. The third season I could stay in the boat for a whole downwind run, but that was all i could do. The prior 3 seasons had been simply learning to survive in a ski, and I had almost no understanding of how to properly catch and ride a wave, and linking waves was completely out of the question. Basically, starting in a overly tippy boat set my learning back by 3 years. And that was when I was 30 years old and incredibly fit and motivated. Now in my 40s with kids and sore muscles I would take even longer to accomplish what I did in those first 3 years and it would probably set my learning back 4 or 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun floundering in the water and challenging myself. But it would have been more fun in a more stable boat, when i would have been catching waves from the get go and actually learning how to surf. 

As you may have seen on my recent post about maui, i did a 26 mile downwind race there in a v8. The extra stability allowed me to really look around and read the waves early, and as a consequence it was the fastest i have ever paddled downwind. 

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34055 by Steve Hansen
When I read on the forum about people having balance/tippyness issues, the first thing that comes to my mind is: How old is this person? Reason I wonder is that as we get older sometimes we become less flexible and sometimes our balance becomes worse. Two things you need to paddle tippy boats.For instance your chance of mastering an elite surfski in the ocean at 65 is probably less than if you are in your 30s, 40s or 50s. And then some people are just not coordinated period. I have a story that Zach will appreciate because I know he is a cross country skier. About ten years ago a friend who is one hell of a runner and paddler expressed an interest in cross country skiing. I was pretty excited.  I thought  to myself, I'm going to take this guy under my wing and unleash this aerobic monster on the  local cross country racing scene in the senior division. Problem was he had balance issues and could never get past it. End of fantasy.

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2 months 1 week ago #34162 by SpaceSputnik
A couple of semi-cooked thoughts from a fairly new paddler approaching 50.

Maybe the fact that we lose balance with age means that we actually should paddle tippy-ish boats more to counteract the process (within the safe parameters of course). Not crazy, "fall out every 5 strokes kind", but "i feel slightly tentative" type. I certainly feel like an elephant on ice sometimes in my newly purchased  Evo, but usually at the beginning of a paddle and towards the end then I get tired. In-between seems pretty productive.

Flexibility maybe a factor, but really how hard is it to keep it up with regular stretching? I am more flexible now than 20 years ago. Same goes for fitness. You need to keep it up, a lot of "age issues" is no more that muscle atrophy that crept up over time. We have a paddler/coach here in his 70s, he will give young guys a run for their money. Big O is another example.

In regards to "too much boat" and "not enough boat". Even though changing over from a V7 to the Evo in a relatively short time frame is not easy, I feel that this boat teaches me things V7 never could. It actually has a glide that provides a pretty tactile feedback for the quality of my strokes. My gps reflects the quality pretty quickly too so in combination I learn things by seeing what is supposed to work actually working. In a V7 learning feels harder as you are lacking the feedback. The boat seems to respond to sustained application of brute force and not much more. It can get really frustrating when you do things you are supposed to do to no appreciable effect. Sure I can spend a whole day to it and eat a 3 course dinner without falling out but do I really improve. In some ways I suppose, but overall it's a big question for me.
But then, I have been known to derive pleasure from acquiring skills perhaps more than an average person. It's just not fun enough if I am not working towards some sort of improvement. If I was looking for Zen past-time, I would go surf a V5, not tame a tippy torpedo in the flat. We all have different vices....

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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