Fenn Surge - Update

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:57 | Written by 
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The Fenn Surge during its first race in Cape Town.  Mark Keeling paddling, leading Dawid Mocke...! The Fenn Surge during its first race in Cape Town. Mark Keeling paddling, leading Dawid Mocke...! Credits: John Hishin, Cape Town Sports Photography

Why the new boat? "The demand initially came from Europe," said Travis Smith of Fenn Kayaks. "They wanted something suited more to flatter conditions and short, wind chop."

Questions, Questions...

The photos published by surfski.info of the new Fenn Surge generated plenty of interest: Who is the boat aimed at? Is it a replacement for the Spark, the other low volume Fenn ski? Is it a high-end racing boat? Is it for women? So many questions!

So I called up Travis Smith at the Fenn factory and quizzed him on it.

Fenn are well known for their low-key approach to marketing… so I wasn't expecting extravagant claims about the new ski, and sure enough, no extravagant claims were made.

"It seems to be going well," was as much as Travis would say. "Matthew Fenn (Keith's son) has been paddling one since December and won our local series (in East London) on it.

"He usually paddles the Spark but has been enjoying the Surge. Conditions during the series were mostly moderate or flat and he hasn't paddled it in a big downwind yet."

Mark Keeling

Mark Keeling rounds the leeward buoy, ahead of Dawid Mocke

Compared to the Spark

The SURGE is not intended to replace any of the other skis. The closest design in the Fenn line-up is the Spark, which is essentially a low-volume version of the popular Elite design.

But, says Travis, the Surge, although its nose has a cut down shape, actually has more volume in front of the cockpit than the Spark, which has less volume and more rocker.

 SurgeElite SparkElite S
Length (cm) 582 644 644
Beam (cm) 42.5 41 43
Height (cm)  * 34 36
Seat Width (cm) 37.75 37 38.5

*I'll update the Surge height when I get it.

"The boat was shaped by Keith last year," said Travis. "The process took about 5-6 months."

It's obvious to speculate that the ski would suit women, being relatively short and low volume. "We'll see," said Travis. "We're looking forward to getting feedback from the paddlers in Cape Town."

The initial demand may have been from Europe, but the biggest order so far has come from Australia, said Travis.

First Cape Town Race

The boat was raced in Cape Town at the Seadog series in Fish Hoek. Conditions were mild - a gentle breeze that seemed to blow in all directions, with a tiny bump running on the "downwind" leg.

The boat was paddled by Mark Keeling who ended up third just behind Dawid Mocke and Kenny Rice who won the race. Mark wouldn't be drawn on the ski's performance (after one race!), having been training mostly on K1s in the last couple of weeks.  

Fenn Surge

Mark Keeling dicing with Kenny Rice early in the race

Fenn Surge

Keeling (L), Rice and Dawid Mocke charge towards the leeward buoy.

It was clear that shorter ski is agile and turns sharply.

And a close third behind Mocke and Rice clearly isn't a bad result!

Click here for the Fenn Kayaks website


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