Epic Kayaks and V10 Move

Thursday, 12 January 2006 17:13 | Written by 
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(By Dale Lippstreu)

Rumours have been circulating in the surfski paddling community for some time that Epic Kayaks was shutting down its operations in SA and moving production to another country. 

Oscar Chalupsky on the Epic V10
Oscar Chalupsky paddling the V10 in Hawaii

 As an interested party (V10 owner) I thought I would approach Oscar Chalupsky and get the information first hand.  Oscar was as communicative as ever and this is what I learned. 

 

Production of Epic products is indeed moving abroad and production at the Durban factory has in fact already ceased.  According to Oscar the move was motivated by difficulties in achieving consistent product quality and a need to scale up production capacity dramatically.  He is reluctant to disclose the location of the new factory (pointlessly in my view given that the rumours are so rife) but says that he expects the first container of skis ex the new factory in SA at the end of February.

Going forward Epic products will be distributed in SA by Oscar and sold through appointed dealers.  The intention is to produce a fuller range of skis to cover the broader requirements of the sea paddling community by adding:

  • The V10Sport - essentially a slightly shorter and wider version to be introduced as a direct competitor of the Fenn XT.  Oscar predicts that it will be only 4% slower than the existing V10 and dramatically more stable than the XT.  While one must make allowances for marketing hype the success of the current model suggests that his claims should not be dismissed out of hand.
  • The V10L - a lower volume version of the V10 aimed at the lighter paddler.  The only difference will be reduced volume achieved by a lowered deck.  
  • A V10 double is also planned but this should only be expected in 2007.  

The range of lay-up options will also be broadened by introducing a cheaper standard construction ski.  While final pricing and specifications have still to be worked out Oscar supplied the following indicative information:

  • Base model lay-up weighing 15-17kg. Pricing has not been set, but Oscar says that he has every intention of supporting the South African market at prices not dissimilar to competitors.
  • Standard lay-up weighing 12.5 to 13.5Kg which will be similar to the current base model to sell for around $2495
  • High Spec lay-up weighing less than 10kg to sell for around $3295

Clearly these prices represent a dramatic increase in the cost of skis but Oscar takes the view that if cyclists are prepared to drop $3500 (R20k+) on a bicycle why should paddlers be any different?  This is most probably true but I cannot help recalling that I paid R3,200 (about $550) for a state of the art racing ski 5 years ago.

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