Review: Red7 Surf70

Wednesday, 06 September 2006 22:11 | Written by 
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ImageSome time ago Red7 announced that they'd redesigned their entire range of surf skis and had added a couple of models to it.  They said that they'd made extensive use of CAD systems in the redesign to make the skis both faster and more stable.

The first demo models arrived in Cape Town and we were quick to take the Surf 70 out for a test run in Hout Bay.

 

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(For a larger image click here)  

First Impressions

Heavy, man!  The demo ski weighed in at 21kg.  But I'd been warned that this ski was one of the first out of the mould and that it wasn't representative of a production model.  The "real thing" should weigh in at around 17.5kg in glass lay-up and around 13 kg in a lighter Carbon Kevlar version. 

The rudder pedals are fully adjustable and easy to use.  The system is tried and tested - it's the same as on the Robberg Express and the Epic V10.  I found the footplate quite flimsy but I believe this has been beefed up on the production skis.

The rudder is mounted quite a bit further forward than on other skis and I was keen to find out what difference this made to the steering. 

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To me the cockpit felt similar to the V10 - and had the same unfortunate effect on my coccyx.  This probably means that most others will find the cockpit comfortable - I know of only two other people in the world who, like me, find the V10 cockpit uncomfortable! 

Paddling the Surf 70

I paddled a Surf 70 the first time in the ARB Surf Ski World Cup in Durban after I broke my ski the day before.  Pete Mote kindly stepped in and offered me one of the two demo 70s that he'd brought up to Durban.  The flat conditions meant that I couldn't tell very much about the ski but I scored a B-grade time, the best result I've achieved yet in a long distance race.  So for me, on flat water at any rate, the ski seemed fast. 

But what about choppy conditions?

The day I took the 70 out in Hout Bay, the southeaster was blowing hard and the bay was covered with white caps.  In those conditions Hout Bay presents a perfect testing ground - you paddle across the bay into the wind and sharp chop then you turn around and come back surfing downwind. 

My paddling buddy Dale Lippstreu was with me, paddling his V10.  We have a similar paddling capability and speed, and intended to swap skis in an effort to make some basic comparisons.

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For a larger image, click here

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For a larger image, click here

Steering on flat water 

We launched and warmed up in the harbour, taking some time to compare the steering of the Surf 70 and the V10.  We paddled in line with Dale ahead of me and then turned together with full rudder.  The Surf 70's turning circle was significantly wider than the V10's. 

Incredible Stability 

The first thing that struck me as we left the harbour and entered the rough water in the bay was how incredibly stable the 70 is.  How stable?  It's significantly more stable than either my Mako 6 or the Epic V10. 

I had a couple of other paddlers try it out and the consensus was that it approaches the stability of the Fenn XT. 

This fact alone should make the ski appeal to a broad range of paddlers.

Upwind in the 70

The 70's hull is quite flat underneath and just in front of the cockpit - this is part of the reason for the amazing stability of the ski.  The flatness of the hull has the side effect though that it tends to slap on the water quite noticeably when going upwind. 

Does this affect the speed at all?  Difficult to say.  The V10 cuts through the waves more smoothly and quietly going upwind and Dale felt that the V10 was faster.  I wasn't so sure. 

The 70 tended to dig its nose into the oncoming waves occasionally and the water would run along the deck and wet the paddler.  I suspect that this behaviour was partly caused by the abnormal weight of the ski as I didn't notice the same thing on a lighter 70 I paddled a few days later in Fish Hoek. 

Downwind in the 70

To me an area where the ski really excels is going downwind.  It seems to pick up the waves very easily and smoothly.  (In the World Cup race too, I noticed that it seemed easy to slipstream other skis in the 70.  The folks at Red 7 claim that by contrast, the 70 leaves almost no wake making it difficult for anyone else to slipstream a 70!) 

But, given the wide turning circle, just how manoeuvrable is the ski going downwind?

The answer, surprisingly, is that the steering is excellent - the ski is exceptionally responsive and turns well so that you can chase the runs from one wave to the next.

Some days later I did a downwind run with ace paddler Dawid Mocke from Millers Point to Fish Hoek.  Dawid was paddling one of the new 70s - a much lighter one than the demo ski.  He too commented on how stable the ski is and how fast, particularly downwind.

Innovation - the power drain

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...bulb-like appendage behind the venturi
 

Just behind the venturi drain on the demo 70, there is a bulb-like appendage sticking out of the bottom of the boat.  This gadget causes the drain to be much more effective.  According to Red7, the venturi alone only becomes effective at about 10-12km/h.  The bulb causes the venturi to be effective from around 4km/h.

Teething Troubles 

When I took the ski out of the water at the end of an hour's paddling, I noticed water sloshing about inside; it had taken in about a litre.  I called Red7 about this and they confirmed that the first couple of skis had a problem around the rudder post - but they have since started using a different method of attaching the rudder shaft and the problem seems to be solved.  (It's interesting how so many new designs have this problem - the first V10s went through a phase of this as well.)

What I liked 

  • The stability, which means that the paddler can focus on putting 100% effort into moving forward even on choppy seas.
  • The speed - especially downwind. I believe this ski is just as fast going downwind as anything else on the market. It was difficult to get an accurate impression of its speed upwind.
  • The sturdy construction. My impression is that the ski is solidly built and strong.
  • The venturi "bulb" that enhances the drainage of the cockpit - it really works.

What I didn't like 

  • The demo ski. I believe that manufacturers should show off their best products, not their worst! This ski was heavier than normal and had various finish blemishes like a wavy seam. I think it's unfair to the product to use this as a demo.
  • The steering on flat water. This ski would definitely be at a disadvantage going around buoys for example.
  • The footplate which I felt was flimsy.
  • The seat. But I've had mixed feedback about the bucket and in any case a butt pad should sort any problems out. With that much stability you can pad up as much as you like and still be stable.

Overall

The extraordinary stability of the ski combined with its speed will be attractive to paddlers with a wide range of ability.

For more information:

Go to the Red7 website.


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