Review: Epic V10 Surf Ski

Wednesday, 07 December 2005 14:34 | Written by  Dale Lippstreu
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The Epic V10 has been in production since the beginning of 2005 and has generated huge interest both in South Africa and the rest of the world.  

Its fundamental characteristics are:

  • Length: 21'4  (6.5 m)
  • Width:  17-1/8"  (43.5 cm)
  • Weight:  33 lbs  (15 kg)  Ultra Carbon 28 lbs.  (13 kg)

Review of the Reviewer

Let me record at the outset that I am a middle order paddler.  If you are looking for the opinions of a top-flight competitor then pass on immediately – this evaluation is not for you.  My sole qualification for writing this review is that in the six years that I've been paddling surf ski, I have made it my business to try pretty much all the skis out there.  

I have owned a V10 for about 6 months having bought it as a replacement for a carbon Fenn Millennium which in turn I paddled for about 9 months.  The switch was motivated by the fact that despite a lot of perseverance I just could not settle into the Millennium and battled to control it downwind. A brief trial in a V10 convinced me that that it was time to give up and move to fundamentally more stable ski.

Paddling the V10

Two things become immediately apparent when taking to the water in a V10.  The first is comfort – it has by far and away the best seat of any ski that I have paddled and it seems to suit a lot of backsides because I have heard this comment from just about everyone who has tried a V10. 

The second is the reassuring stability of the ski with a very good balance between primary and secondary stability.   In my experience primary stability can be a bit of a liability in rough conditions but there is a “sweet spot” and the V10 seems to have found it.  If you ask me to locate the V10 on a “tippiness” scale I would say somewhere at the midpoint between the Icon/ Millennium/ Surf 70 grouping and Mark 1.

The nose of the ski is very narrow (2cm narrower than a Millennium at the foot wells) and has concave “cut-outs” in the deck to further reduce hull interference in the paddle stroke.  This really works for me as I have a tendency to smack the sides with my paddle when the going gets rough.

A paddle in the ski quickly reveals its good points; both into and with the wind, the ski is hard to beat. 

Downwind:
The extra stability helps to ensure that you can get those crucial powerful strokes in efficiently when paddling onto runs and the large volume tail gives the lift required to launch down the face.  The deep volume bow gives more than average protection from burying the nose. 

Upwind:
Into wind the V10 is hard to beat as its narrow “deep vee” nose penetrates the chop with a minimum of slamming.  Its extra length does however count against it when things get very choppy as it tends to push through rather than rock over high frequency wind chop.   

Crosswind:
All of this can be a bit of a liability in cross chop and windy conditions.  The large volume nose creates a lot of windage and can be handful in strong cross winds.  Also the large volume in the tail causes it to “wash around” a bit when the runs are quartering from one side but I have to confess that I have seen other V10’s do very well in these conditions. 

General comments

The overall appearance and finish of the V10 is excellent although I have heard that build quality was a little erratic in the beginning.  I believe that the original plug was shaped by CMC machine and this is reflected an exceptionally “clean” hull and deck i.e. no waviness at all.  The ski is laid up using epoxy as opposed to the usual polyester resin and is available in a carbon and standard lay-up.  The materials and lay-up techniques used make for a very light ski – in fact my standard lay-up version ski comes in at almost the identical weight of my carbon Millennium (13.2 kg). 

The ski has a single foot well with a very clever adjustment mechanism which allows the leg length to be changed without the need to adjust the steering lines.  While this might be great from a resale point of view the reality is that most paddlers set up their ski once and never use this facility again.  The price one pays is that even in the case of a reasonably large paddler one is left with a large volume in front of your feet.  This is a decided liability in rough seas as the area captures a lot of water which can sometimes accumulate faster than the baler can cope.

[Editor: Dale has modified his V10 with a custom faring (see photo, below) over the front of the cockpit.  This has given him a more solid anchor for his rudder pedals; provides a watertight compartment and has done away with the open volume that used to be in front of the rudder pedals.  The faring is made from a balsa wood/carbon fibre sandwich and the ski is slightly lighter overall with the faring than with the adjustable rudder pedal assembly.]



Great care has been taken in terms of design and choice of materials to keep weight down but this does make for a slightly fragile ski.  Nowhere is this more evident than the rudder shaft which is prone to bending with a minimum of force.  Pursuing a group of skis through a kelp bed was sufficient to bend my rudder and put me out of a race last week.  I was not surprised to hear that Oscar Chalupsky had to stop to straighten his rudder in one of the World Cup races. 

V10 showing cockpit faring (Photo: Rob Mousley)

Overall

The V10 introduces a new choice to paddlers looking to buy a top-end racing ski.  I believe that it is at least as fast as the Millennium & Icon and definitely quite a bit more stable.  This stability may not count for much in the case of Elite paddlers but for vast majority it adds to performance. 

The price of the V10 (pitched – in South Africa - at R10k or R11k if you want short term delivery) will however be an issue for many paddlers.  It will be interesting to see how other manufacturers react in light of the fact that Epic seems to be backed up with orders the price notwithstanding. 

What I like about the V10
  • Weight – moving the ski off the car and to and from the water is a pleasure (provided the wind is not blowing – see below)
  • Stability
  • Comfort – the best seat in the business
  • Finish
What I don’t like about the V10
  • The adjustable foot plate – the foot well holds more water than the baler can cope with quickly
  • The baler – not the best
  • Off the water handling in the wind – the large volume nose makes the ski very difficult to carry in the wind
  • Steering – the steering is very direct due to the high hinge point of the rudder pedals and high aspect rudder
  • Fragility (especially the soft rudder)

 


 


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