Monday 7 November 2011

The Epic V8, the Friendly Downwind'er

From about now & for the rest of summer, we're blessed in Sydney with a consistent 15-20kn Nor Easter which has mostly kicked in by early afternoon & gives us a fresh, slow moving sea to ride.
The weekend just gone gave me a brief opportunity while camping with the kids at Sydney's Bonnie Vale, to jump in the V8 for an hour or so & run some gentle downwind chop. 
Up to now when people come to try a V8 I always encourage them to try the V10 Sport as well, so they have both a comparison to the 'next' level up in competency, and also because at least half of the people who think they should get a V8 can probably very easily get into a Sport with a smidgin of instruction, and some dedication.
Why a Sport as opposed to a V8? Well, my story is that the V8 is based on a kayak hull, albeit a very fast kayak designed for the sea, and it doesn't 'run' like the narrower boats. That means the effort required in a following sea is obviously more in the V8 than the longer, narrower skis.
I took the V8 with me on the weekend so the kids & adults could have a play, but a decent blow came up around midday so I decided to go out & test my theory.
I didn't think there was a better way to make my point than by demonstrating an entry level ski in what are pretty user-friendly conditions.
The V8 is aimed squarely at people getting into the sport, and this sort of fun following sea is a fantastic way to learn the art of paddling downwind. It was manageable, fun & the hugely reassuring stability provides the best education you can get in your quest to work out how these craft work in the environment for which they were designed. 
So, does it 'run'? Well yeah, in the sort of conditions it was designed for, it runs like a mustang, so my theory has some serious flaws (surprise surprise…!)
Sure, it would be found wanting for pure speed on the longer, more technical ocean swells & bigger developed seas, but by the time you're ready to head out into that stuff you would have a whole lot more in the toolbox, & probably also a narrower, faster boat more suited.

I made about 4 runs of 2km out & back across the expanse of Port Hacking, each time turning & running back to Mainbar on the 20knot breeze & tiny little wind waves. 
You can see from the video how little input was required to keep the ski on a run in these conditions, sometimes running for a minute without much more than the odd burst to hold position.

My eldest daughter Kiri certainly thought it looked like fun, & insisted on coming for a paddle. She's becoming quite a little adventure junkie, and thought the best part of the whole thing was catching the waves into shore & then getting bashed around in the shore break!
As for the V8, well despite a welter of new designs aimed squarely at the market it has singularly created, demand continues to far outstrip supply. Our next stock lands in about 3 weeks & isn't expected to hang around for long. Check our Epic Kayaks page for details.


  1. Mark,

    As a relatively new paddler and a V8 owner it was interesting to read your thoughts on the V8 versus the V10 Sport.

    I have been paddling for about 6 months and prior to purchasing the V8 I took the V10 Sport and V8 out for a test paddle.

    The V8 is, as you know, incredibly stable and almost anyone can get in it and go. The V10 Sport was a little more tippy and I could see that with perseverance and time I would become competent in it.

    After much umming and ahhhing I chose the V8. The reason being that as I was starting out there would be times on the harbour when I would value stability over speed. This week has been a great example.

    I was out on the harbour Thursday and Friday afternoon this week in about 30kmh winds. It was great fun but I had to contend with, what I consider to be, pretty choppy water with the added complication of several large harbour craft and sailing boats (large and small) trying to run me down.

    Being on the V8 just gives you the confidence that as long you stay calm and keep paddling you won't have a problem. It may not be the quickest but I'm not having to worry about staying upright.

    I plan to migrate to the V10 sport within the next 12 months but as I approach 50 I'm quit happy being on the V8 and working on paddling technique. That's not to say that age has slowed me down it just gives me more perspective.

    20 or 30 years ago ego and bravado would have demanded that I buy a V10, a Sport would have been to soft. How things change.

    For me the V8 is great and I couldn't agree with you more about it being a blast down wind. I get outrun by the guys in spec ski's but right now I'm just there to have fun.

    Kind Regards


  2. G'day Griff,
    It sounds like you made a wise choice, there is a saying after all that the right ski is the one that is right for you! If you stay keen and keep at it you'll be paddling a sport before long, but the V8 is without a doubt the best boat out the to learn in a reassuring craft, without sacrificing the characteristics of a real ski.
    Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

  3. Im about to buy a V8, but considering the small price between v8,v10,12, its tempting getting the v12 right away, my ego wants V12 ! But i prob end up wit v8 club. Maybe learn it out in the ocean before i consider the elite ski v12 ultra :)


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