Black-nosed Epics: tougher, more durable than red-nosed. Myth or reality?

7 months 3 days ago - 7 months 3 days ago #33517 by leolinha
Most people I know seem to believe that the type of construction used in black-nosed Epics ("performance" construction) yields tougher surfskis, which could take more punishment on the water as well as off the water. Also, most people seem to believe that red-nosed Epics ("ultra" construction), even when treated very carefully, are not supposed to last as long. The key word here is DURABILITY.

Is it really so?
What does have the biggest influence on toughness and durability after all?

Epic says that red-nosed surfskis are less resistant to impact against solid objects, but are "stronger on the water" (meaning, perhaps, that they are stiffer, not tougher). They implicitly say that red-nosed and "elite" (white-nosed) surfskis are less durable than the black-nosed ones; they use to state this explicitly a few years ago. But a few people seem to believe that all Epic constructions are built to the same standard, the only difference being the price/weight relation.

I would like to see other people's opinions and experiences on this!

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7 months 3 days ago #33518 by Ranga
All Epics are built to the same standard, which is very different to the construction and materials used. Not unlike say a car manufacturer, many different models but the same quality standard.

The Performance is more impact resistant to put it another way, It has a more solid honeycomb than the Ultra hence more impact resistance. To keep the weight down you use as little material as possible as this is just weight. The Performance uses a particular type of honeycomb that requires more resin than the Ultra's honeycomb hence it is heavier and the type of fabric it uses is also slightly heavier and a bit cheaper but heavier. Generally the more money you spend the lighter and stronger the fabric gets, not for impact resistance though, that is very different.

On the water there is a difference as well, the Ultra is a bit stiffer due to the fabric used, not so much the core as they are similar thicknesses, the fabric on the Ultra is thinner but stiffer and lighter, but not as impact resistant. Both constructions use the same internal structure and the same epoxy resin and the same heat curing procedure.

Basically it all boils down to the external final fabric layer and the impact resistance of the core used that makes one more durable than the other.
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7 months 3 days ago #33519 by nwsurfskier
I had a blue tip V10S, it was heavy and durable. Currently have a red tip V10 it's much lighter and still very durable. By durable I mean it can bang onto the racks when loading, bump into objects and not dent etc. It has scratches, but none through the gelcoat. I got used to the Epic durability then bought a Fenn Swordfish S hybrid layup and love it. However it is not nearly as durable as the Epics. It easily dents and the gelcoat is so thin it easily scratches. 
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7 months 3 days ago #33520 by MCImes
This makes sense - Per epics website, performance has an infusion grade foam core which is probably similar to this:  compositeenvisions.com/soric-sf-2mm-infu...ore-50-wide-964.html

Versus the ultra with its Nomex honeycomb core like this: 
compositeenvisions.com/dupont-nomex-honeycomb-core-material/

Like Ranga says, it would make sense that the closed structure of the foam core would have better puncture resistance than the open structure of the Nomex honeycomb. 

Ranga, I'm going to pick up a Swordfish S, probably the Glass Vac layup. How would you rate the Fenn Glass Vac durability compared to other layups?

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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7 months 3 days ago #33521 by Scode
I have a Fenn Elite SL in the glass vac lay-up  that I have thrashed for the last 7 years. Its been on big downwinders and in and out of the surf zone almost daily during the summers here in Australia. From my experience I have found it to be very durable. Its still going strong. Cheers
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7 months 2 days ago #33522 by kwolfe
I've had both layups.  One in a V8 and the Ultra in my V14.  From my experience, the performance layup can take a bit more banging around without and noticeable dings or dents.  Actually it could take a pretty good beating.  The ultra is pretty durable for what it is but definitely not as tough.
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7 months 2 days ago #33524 by Epicpaddler
I have a black nose Epic v8pro. It is pretty tough. My dealer said the same thing most folks have said here: the construction of the both red and black nose boats is strong and durable, but the black nose can handle the bumps and bruises more.  I also have a full carbon Necky Chatham sea kayak that is light and stiff, but didn't fare very well falling off the roof of my car onto the grass. The lighter boats might be stiffer, but are probably more brittle. 
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7 months 2 days ago #33525 by PSwitzer
Can't speak about the black tips, but I've had an ultra v12 for close to a decade and have been really impressed by how it handles all kinds of insults on and off the water.  Built in 2009 and slightly heavier than the original v10's and the new v12s.  I've dropped it on concrete, no problem, just a scuff on the gelcoat.  Got washed right onto coral reef grinding the bottom from bow to cockpit, barely took on water, paddled it to the clubhouse and repaired watertight a day later.  Caught inside an overhead reef breaking top to bottom, sent over the falls to the dark scary place, eventually emerged from the washing machine next to my unblemished bloat, no fuss.  Pitchpoled in deep water, again going to the dark rumbly place, again no damage.  And countless regular type wipeouts in softish waves going through reef passes.  

Not a fan of the foam core rudders however, if I had a time machine I would order a custom rudder right off the bat.
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7 months 1 day ago #33528 by Dicko
  1. I have a mate with a current model  black nose v10. It is the only boat (of the 50 or so he has carried on his racks) that I have ever seen dent. Four big dents right where the rola racks support the ski. Not sure if this is normal, but I've never seen it before. Is it a one off? Did he over tighten the straps? Why has it never happened on another ski?  It made me reconsider buying a ski in the same layup.

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7 months 14 hours ago #33533 by MCImes
My guess is he over tightened. I have always been weary of the 4 rigid pad style cradles with ultralight boats. I typically think of using those with a heavier sea kayak.

The Goodboy style V bars are more typical racks for skis and K1's. You rarely hear of damage from those

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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6 months 4 weeks ago #33534 by Dicko
My guess is the construction is just not as strong as other skis. When you've had 50 skis on the same racks with no damage, something is not right. More skis get damaged by not being fastened securely than over tightened. I use the same racks.  All my mates use the same racks and have done for a long time. We all drive long distances to paddle and not one has ever dented. That's probably a 100 different ski's over 1000's of trips and not one has ever dented. So it's not user error. I'm just saying I would be reluctant to buy that layup. Maybe it is a one off boat with issues. Oddly enough my mate bought the ski after it was repaired, so if he has any further issues I'll let you know.

Having said all that , I'd buy one tomorrow if I had the money, but only in the lighter layup. Best ski I've paddled in a long time.
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6 months 3 weeks ago #33577 by leolinha
Thanks for all who answered this topic so far.
As I said first and confirmed here, most people seem to believe that black-tip
Epics are tougher, although the red-tip ones can take a lot of abuse too.

I currently own a V10 Sport "elite" (full carbon layup). In another thread, as I had just bought my new ski and was still highly impressed by it, I said that you never regret buying the best, that the elite layup is not fragile etc. By now, however, my ski already went to the repair shop three times and I am not so excited about it anymore.

I am seriously thinking about exchanging my carbon V10 Sport for a black-tip V8 PRO (the Epic dealer offered me that deal).

In my city I am the only surfski paddler. I live in front of the beach, but there is no bay here; I have to handle the shore break everytime I get in and out. I would feel a lot more confident in a more robust boat. The downgrade to a V8 PRO is motivated by its side handles, absent in the V10 Sport, which I think add value and comfort, as well as off-water handling safety, since a black-tip Epic is reasonably heavier.

Almost all my paddler friends have advised me to NOT doing this, saying that “you will lose performance”, “you will regret exchanging a superior boat for a cheaper one”, “you will lose resell value” etc. Those guys come from a very competitive background, they live on a bay and paddle on V10 - V11 - V12 - V14 kinds of skis. They paddle in groups most of the time and one can notice that group feeling in which anyone considering a change from, say, a V10 to a V10 Sport would be immediately regarded as a “loser”. They cling to seconds, everybody wants the fastest boat at any cost.

But I think that these concerns are somewhat exaggerated. Talking about performance, for example. There are many posts in this forum regarding boat comparisons like V10 Sport vs. V8 PRO. Also, many posts addressing the “light boat vs. heavy boat” question. If we take all that for granted, we must believe that a carbon V10 Sport must be considerably faster than a fiberglass V8 PRO. However, my previous boat was a regular black-tip V8 (not PRO) and from my own experience I can say that my speed gain was subtle, although I have been paddling my carbon Sport over a year now and feel pretty comfortable in all conditions. That being said, I believe that the speed difference between V10S and V8P, whatever the layup, should be marginal.


Even the differences in weight and stiffness seem overrated to me. We are not talking about a rotomolded boat like a V7; a fiberglass V8 PRO should weight 15 kg, what is by no means too heavy. And a relatively short ski like a V8 PRO in fiberglass is not much less stiff than a full carbon, as Greg Barton himself says:
A stiffer surfski will be faster.  It does not flex as much under speed and the rocker profile will remain consistent when weighted with the paddler.  But there is a point of diminishing returns.  For example, there is a larger performance gain moving from a plastic kayak to a composite, but less gain moving from a medium stiff composite to a super stiff composite kayak.( http://www.surfskinews.com/tech-travel-archive/2016/12/21/wes8tmay2zn41nedrck1aami2ac808 ).

Anyway, I am very inclined to accept the deal and give away my used black V10 Sport in exchange for a brand-new black-nosed V8 PRO, believing that, in doing so, I will get more durability, confidence, comfort and stability for a negligible loss in performance.

Is there something I am missing here? Any reason for not doing this that I didn’t think of yet? Any comment will be appreciated!
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6 months 3 weeks ago #33581 by Epicpaddler
I'm the wrong person to ask as my only surfski experience is with a black tip v8pro, but I think its a great well made boat. As for speed, I couldn't tell a huge difference between the v8pro and the v10sport. The jump to the v10 was more significant. If you are happy with the deal, that's all that matters. I'm sure financially it's a downgrade, but performance wise I don't think it's as big a hit as some make it out to be.
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6 months 3 weeks ago #33586 by tve
@leolinha: What happened that caused your ski to  need repair?     
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6 months 3 weeks ago #33615 by leolinha
@tve: First repair - after a couple of friends in an OC2 t-boned me, almost one meter behind the cockpit. The result was a soft spot and I actually praised the boat after that, it could have been much
worse.

Second repair - after I nose-dived at the beach, coming out through the surf in an unusually calm day (and therefore not paying much attention). The impact was light as I was already bailing out, and the result was a tiny hole in the nose that didn’t even leak. But somehow, my paddle hit the deck in front of the cockpit and made a soft spot there.
Third repair - After several weeks, that impact spot on the deck became soft again, all by itself, without any new hits. Again it went to the repair shop, this time they told me that they made a bigger repair, to make sure it won’t get soft again.
As you see,all accidents involved impact against solid things - my fault. However, none of these hits were too strong. I had a black-tip V8 for almost 4 years and I can tell, that boat was a tough bastard, it took many more paddle hits and also survived a nose dive in the sand that was much harder, but
left nothing but a mark in the black decal on the nose. Apart from this and some minor scratches, I sold it in perfect condition. I am not sure it would have been unscathed after that OC2 hit though… But it could handle a paddle hit anytime.

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6 months 3 weeks ago #33616 by leolinha
@Epicpaddler: You said that the black-tip Epic V8 PRO was your only surfski experience, but you also said that you didn't notice a huge difference between V8P and V10S, and also mentioned that the jump to the V10 was more significant. I'm confused! So you indeed have experience with other skis after all. Could you ellaborate more on the difference between V8 PRO and V10 Sport, please?

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6 months 3 weeks ago #33619 by Epicpaddler
I've tried the other boats, but I own and race the Epic V8 pro (black tip). I was hell bent on getting the v10 Sport after trying one a few times. When I compared both on the same day (on flat water) I couldn't tell much difference. I liked the v8pro for the carry handles and it felt great in the cockpit. The v10 I tried had amazing glide and felt faster, but I could not paddle at full power without falling out. After paddling for a year I think I'd like the v10 more for flatware racing. I'm not sure how it would be on the confused bay where I paddle most often. This is my first foray into surfskis after paddling sea kayaks for years. I didn't realize how much I would like it, especially racing.
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6 months 2 weeks ago #33628 by leolinha
@Epicpaddler: the first time I tried a V10 Sport ultra (on flatwater) I fell in love with the boat. Previously I had paddled only my Epic V8, but the V10 Sport felt almost the same stability-wise. At that time I thought: a boat which is (theoretically) so much faster but is almost as stable, what could possibly go wrong?
Then I bought my V10 Sport elite and went for my first paddle with it, getting out through the surf. However, it was a big surprise, since all that stability I had experienced on demo day was gone. I capsized three times before I finally managed to get through the breaking waves, and the rest of the paddle was not so pleasant either. The boat really required my full attention. It took me many months to feel comfortable in it.
The lesson that I learned: to feel the stability difference between two ski models, you have to paddle both in waves. I bet that, when conditions get really really messy, it will be possible to notice a significant difference in stability between the V8 PRO and the V10 Sport.
My carbon V10 Sport is the ideal race boat for my ability level, since almost all the races in my region are on flattish water or mild conditions. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that a fiberglass V8 PRO would be the better boat for my regular paddles (through the surf, messy waters, long paddles, boat wakes etc.). But that leaves me with a dilemma: having the ideal boat for racing, or having the ideal boat for the conditions in which I have to paddle in a daily basis? I love to race, but I race only 4 to 5 times a year... I can't afford having two skis and I don't have extra storage space. It seems that going for the tougher, more comfortable boat is the wisest decision.

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6 months 2 weeks ago #33630 by Epicpaddler
I think that's the dilemma many of us face. I went by the "stability for ability" mentality when buying my first ski. It has served me well. The area that I paddle is is mixed up waves,tons of large boat wakes, and current. Most of my races I've done were on rivers or relatively flat conditions. I'd love to have a super fast boat just for racing, but I doubt I could paddle it anywhere else based on my present ability. As my balance and conditioning improve maybe I'll be able to master a faster narrower boat in challenging conditions.  It's also tough being the only guy paddling a "beginner" boat at the races for your ego. Someday I'll be racing at the front of the pack in an elite boat, but I'll enjoy my v8pro until that time comes.

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6 months 2 weeks ago #33631 by leolinha

Epicpaddler wrote: I think that's the dilemma many of us face. I went by the "stability for ability" mentality when buying my first ski. It has served me well. The area that I paddle is is mixed up waves,tons of large boat wakes, and current. Most of my races I've done were on rivers or relatively flat conditions. I'd love to have a super fast boat just for racing, but I doubt I could paddle it anywhere else based on my present ability. As my balance and conditioning improve maybe I'll be able to master a faster narrower boat in challenging conditions.  It's also tough being the only guy paddling a "beginner" boat at the races for your ego. Someday I'll be racing at the front of the pack in an elite boat, but I'll enjoy my v8pro until that time comes.


Oh, how well I know that feeling! Being the only guy on a V8 in a race where everybody else is on V12's and such.
I remember my very first race being the only "beginner" ski. To add insult to injury, I capsized just minutes before the start in front of everybody, because one guy asked me to start his GPS tracker that he couldn't reach because it was attached to his footstraps (I lost my balance as I tried to approach his boat sideways). Later on I found out that he was paraplegic. We became good friends ever since!

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