Surfski.info Review: V10L

Tuesday, 12 September 2006 20:45 | Written by  Dale Lippstreu
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Finish and appearance

Epic lifted the bar by introducing computer aided design and a CNC machined plug for the first V10.  The new Ultra skis have lifted it further.  The vacuum moulding process and nomex/honeycomb laminate totally eliminates the waviness or "oil canning" which is usually present in GRP products laid up by hand.  There is a small amount of waviness remaining in the seams but no doubt somebody will solve this as well in the not too distant future.

 

At 9.8kg the ski feels absurdly light.  People picking it up generally burst into laugher which attracts others to try the same and the mirth continues.  If nothing else the ultra ski makes for good entertainment.  Carrying the ski to and from the beach is also a real pleasure.

Epic delivers its Ultra skis with a handy cover bag which is a good idea because I am told that Nomex does tend to "print through" after a while if exposed to the sun for extended periods.  I cannot however understand why the bag has a Velcro closure as it is way less efficient than a zip.

 

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Changes

The V10L was introduced as a low volume version of the V10 aimed at the lighter paddler.  The volume reduction is however limited to a lowered foredeck with the hull and aft deck unchanged.  Other noteworthy changes include:

  1. The seating position has been moved 5cm further forward.  I understand that the underlying logic was a lighter paddler = a smaller paddler = a paddler with shorter legs.  Whatever the reason I think that this is an improvement even for paddlers who might be a little larger than intended for the ski.
  2. The rudder has been moved 6cm forward and a new elliptical rudder with 25% more area has been introduced. 

 

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The new rudder has an elliptical shape and is mounted some 6cm further forward

 

 

 

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New rudder (L) compared with the old
 

Paddling the ski

There is no question that the Ultra ski is more twitchy than the standard version.  I put this down to a stiffer hull (less flex makes for a higher centre of buoyancy) and less inertia due to less weight.  The twitchiness however affects only the primary stability and the reassuring secondary stability of the standard V10 is largely unchanged.  On balance the ski is still noticeably more stable than the "pre V10" generation of skis.

Downwind

In my view the greatest strength of the V10 is running downwind particularly when the runs are small.  The V10L surprisingly extends this advantage and I put this down to both the stiffer hull (less rocker) and the more forward seating position.  No doubt the lighter weight of the ski helps acceleration as well.  If conditions got quite big I think I would be inclined to pull out my standard V10 as I think it would be less prone to burying it's nose.  I do however need to point out that at 94kg (207lbs) I am most probably at the upper end of the recommended weight range for the low volume ski.

In reviewing the V10 one of my few criticisms was that I battled to keep the ski running true in big downwind conditions.  I put this down to the large tail volume.  The V10L is definitely more manoeuvrable and controllable on runs and I suspect that both the new rudder shape and location are the cause of this.   I plan to fit the new rudder to my standard ski as soon as I can get my hands on one and it will be interesting to see the difference.

Into wind and chop

The more forward seating position is quite noticeable into wind in that the ski tends to penetrate into the chop better.  It is however wetter when conditions are big enough for the nose to bury.  During a race last weekend I was quite surprised how I managed to catch and overtake my usual markers into wind and the difference was so great that I can only assume that the ski had quite a bit to do with it.

Cross wind

The V10L tracks exceptionally well and does not wallow or wash around.  I find it a bit wetter than for example the Millennium or Mako6 and put this down to lower cockpit sides.  The more forward location of the seat position has however resulted in reduced footwell volume ahead of the footplate which means that cockpit holds a lot less water when flooded. 

Manoeuvrability

One of the things I enjoy most about the V10 is its directional stability - it tracks as if on railway lines. This is probably due to the fact that it has much less rocker than most comparable skis.   Directional stability is of course closely correlated to manoeuvrability and some people have criticised the V10 on this ground.  The changes in the rudder configuration of the V10L have moved the new ski more in the direction of manoeuvrability but is still tracks well. 

Are ultra skis worth the money?

When I first considered buying an ultra ski my friends suggested that I would do better to loose 7 kg rather than try throw money at the problem.  There seemed to be some logic in this argument but I was persuaded by Oscar Chalupsky that the dead weight of the ski is far more difficult to overcome than ‘live" body weight.  I am not sure of the science behind this but the results of the two races I have done in the ski to date seem to bear the argument out.  In fact the difference seems so marked that I would prefer to evaluate the results over a longer period before I make definitive claims.

Should you by a V10L in preference to the larger volume version?  I would say the answer should be "yes" unless you weigh more than 95kg and plan to paddle regularly in big downwind conditions.

 

 

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Paddler's view of the low volume foredeck

Should you go for an ultra ski?  There is no question in my mind that the Ultra is faster but I am told Nomex is quite fragile and difficult to repair once damaged.  Some of the paddlers I know who have carbon sandwich skis keep a standard GRP ski for training purposes and you may wish to consider this option if you are thinking of going the ultra ski route.  I have opted to keep my standard V10 for regular use but have to say that having given the Ultra a few light knocks I am quite impressed with its durability    

What I like about the ski

  • Astounding finish & weight
  • The new rudder location, seating position and lower fore deck
  • Very good all round performance with truly exceptional into and downwind performance.

What I don't like about the ski

  • The cover bag which should be zipped and made of a lighter material.  Patting down 6.5m of Velcro is a hassle and the bag is feels nearly as heavy as the ski (good for UV protection but very bulky)
  • The new decals are of poor quality and are delaminating and falling apart.  This may seem trivial but in the absence of material issues to complain of I might as well raise this one.

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