Review: Epic V11 Elite

Monday, 03 September 2018 15:42 | Written by  Sune Wendelboe
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The Epic V11 Elite The Epic V11 Elite Credits: Sune Wendelboe

[Editor: Sune Wendleboe (engineer, photographer extrarordinaire and mad keen surfski paddler) has owned no fewer than 27 surfskis in the last few years.  He recently took delivery of an Epic V11 Elite and in this article shares his impressions of the sleek black paddlling machine...]

Unexpected Delivery 

April, sunshine, the beginning of what was to be the most awesome summer ever recorded in Norway.

The Norwegian EPIC dealer called me to inform that my V11 Elite 2018 had arrived on time. Totally surprised, as I had learned from experience that containers don't arrive when they should(!), I rushed to the store and picked it up.

First impression was wow! The finish is really good. I’ve had a lot of Epic boats including Elite boats, even a pre prepeg V14 Elite and a prepeg V14 GT. The new Elite sits somewhere between the GT and the old Elite in weight, but clearly outshines the GT and is more stiff and solid than the old Elite. This is not a thorough technical review about nuts and bolts, but just a few of my personal observations about paddling the ski this summer along other of my surfskis.

Spring

Spring scene in Norway...

Taking Care

I’ve been careful with the V11, but have bounced the boat around a bit. It doesn’t have a scratch (not deep scratches anyway!).  It's inevitable that the black finish will get a load of hairline scratches, just like a black car, live with it, or get another layup.

After 500km in it there’s nothing indicating that it should be prone to soft spots or structural issues. Maybe 500km is not a lot compared to its life expectancy, but compared to the V14 GT that actually came with soft spots, this is in another league.

Flip flops

The finish is great!  (Flip-flops optional extra!)

Short, but Proportional...  and very light

It looks good; it’s short, but proportions look right and the white interior gives it a smooth feel and looks very exclusive.

I live 1,5km from the beach and used to have a little wagon I could strap my skis to and push them down to the beach. This winter was fierce, rubber tires and ball bearings froze and the little wagon broke down after rolling 2000km. So now I carry my boats to the beach and welcome the very light V11, lighter than my Swordfish S carbon and my Think Uno Max 3rd  Generation Ultimate. Light enough for the beach hike to be a breeze.

At the beach

Is this Norway?  At the sunburnt beach...

Ergonomics and Seat

On the water ergonomics feel a bit like the new V12 (that I had along two older V12 Ultra/performance). The seat should be the same EPIC shape but I don't think that it is: the V12 pinched my butt a bit, not the V11. I could literally use it as my desk chair.  

I for one know how difficult a good fit can be and have had many frustrations with later Nelo and NK models to mention a few. But if like me you’re comfortable in the bucket of a V14, V8pro, old V12, Fenn Swordfish, most older Nelos and all things Think I’m sure you’ll like the seat of the V11. I did not like the gen 1 V10 though.

Try your boat before buying…

Handling

In chop: Out there it’s very different from the new V12, much more responsive, easier to turn. It just feels more lively and fun. When I posted the first images of the boat Uli Gwinner wrote that he really liked in in chop. I wondered how much better than me he must be, as I came from the V12 and initially found the V11 way more twitchy in the rough. It is. After a few rounds though, hips started recognizing the movements of the boat. It feels rock solid in chop as long as you follow its movement.

Chop

The boat is solid in chop, once you get used to it

Wake riding

About to turn onto a ferry-boat wake

The short version is: I totally love how the boat handles. This is THE boat for me at my current level. It seems fast, I LOVE it in the short Oslo runs and the summer power boat chop – meaning 1-2-3 ft intersecting waves from all directions all summer + wind waves reflecting from steep cliffs.

Being nimble is important in our steep choppy waters, and this boat is just that! Turn, accelerate, go!

Windy Conditions

In late summer we’ve had  a lot of good winds, ranging from 9-20m/s mean wind speeds. On a few occasions I’ve been surprised on the water as the wind suddenly kicked in. Normally I’d head back and opt for my Swordfish or even my V8Pro for these forecasts, but I was surprised to learn how the short V11 just sailed on. It rolls, but you get used to it, and I’ve had some fun days in it.

Comparisons

All this is a personal issue and might be little value to others, so I’ll try to compare the experience to other boats:

  • The Oscar-era Nelo560 I owned was much the same, lively, fun, fast and wild but not too wild, but destroying my buttbones. Perhaps the Nelo is a bit more twitchy – but only by a few points.
  • My old love the great THINK Uno Max is a paddle bus, a fast bus for sure, faster on flat and in small chop. When conditions get big I don't enjoy it as much as the V11.
  • The V14 (of course) is a tad more unstable, but the biggest difference though is that it’s much more easy for me to manoeuvre the short V11 in waves – letting me catch rides and runs moments after I see them.

Summer

Summertime... and paddling is easy...!

Horses for Courses

We get short steep waves in Oslo. I wasn’t too fast in my V12 in Oslo, but I was very fast in my V12 when I got home to the long fast predictable runs in windswept sandy Danmark. The V11 is an Oslo / Sune boat and I love it.

In Summary

I like it so much I’ve ordered the new V10 Elite 3rd generation as well. Did that a long time ago, and sometimes I wonder if I really need it now that I’ve become one with my V11.

I’ve owned 27 surfskis, I’ve liked quite a few, fell in love with maybe two or three, but it’s the light nimble V11 that I want to paddle when I get home from work these days.

So is this useful for you? I don’t know. For reference I’m 44, started paddling at 37, at 38 Boyan told me my technique probably couldn’t get worse even if I tried, at 40 I went to Fish Hoek to paddle Millers run with Nikki Mocke in 15ft+  (figure rising every time I tell the story) swell and waves and loved/hated it. Normally though I paddle anything from flat, small runs and lighter downwinds at 10-26kt winds in Oslo and Denmark, and paddle 5 times a week for fun, fitness, friendship and sometimes for competition.

Downsides?

Yeah, but not too many. The paddle bangs against the sides of the boat now and then, and the lid on the rudder house expands in the heat and gets stuck. EPIC has informed they’ll fix that though. The hairline scratches are not pretty on a jewel like this – but inevitable.

Now that our awesome summer is ending or has ended, the autumn winds are slowly brewing and I’m looking forward to comparing the V11 to the new 3rd Gen V10 in the months to come!

Art pic

I’m not suggesting that you rush down to your dealer and buy a V11. You might be way past my skill level or you might find the ski way too much to handle. All I’m saying is that finish and construction are first rate, the ski is very light and solid. I find that it handles very well in short steep confused as well as larger runs and surfs very well. Feels rock solid on the runs and doing good upwind despite being light, although it surely doesn’t have the directional stability that my Think Uno owns.

Biggest difference being that the V11 turns on a dime making paddling downwind while picking between emerging waves very fun. Don’t know if / don't think that it’s faster than speeding on a straighter line in a V14, but you get a very satisfactory feel for the water in the V11. Haven’t tested it in fast long runs where my Think rules though. But – it’s surely an Oslo / Sune boat for now!

Sune Wendelboe, Oslo, August 2018

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