Thursday 9 June 2016

First Impressions - The Epic V8 Pro

The sport of surfski is booming. People who have never envisaged themselves at the helm of one of these sleek ocean machines are discovering en masse just how accessible & inclusive the new, user-friendly designs are. 

That inclusiveness is built on the bedrock of stability, and there is now a whole genre of stable, easy-to-remount designs out there for new paddlers to enjoy.

Epic led the way with the V8, the first of this batch of stable skis, and the rest of the market has developed their own slant on the idea, so now there is a terrific choice available.

Epic's latest offering, the V8 Pro, has a unique set of numbers and the promise of bridging the gap between entry-level & intermediate-level skis.

At 5.7m, it's still short enough to fit into most garages, and the 50cm beam is a significant slimming down on the voluminous V8's 55cm width.

We took delivery of our demo on Wednesday, and were eager to get it out in some wash & waves to see what it had to offer.

The 'missing' 5cm of beam had me convinced there'd be a drastic change in stability, after all it's only 2cm wider than the intermediate V10 Sport. So, Rob & I suited up for a crack on some fun, fast little waves at our favourite surf spot to see what the V8 Pro had to offer.

It only took half a dozen paddles strokes to work out that the stability was there in spades. The extra 20cm of waterline may have something to do with that, but this is among the most stable skis I've paddled. That 20cm makes it glide in comparison to the V8, and the smaller overall wetted area gives it a very similar feel to the longer & narrower V10 Sport.

The seating is typically Epic, but the boat has a slightly lower-volume feel to both the V8 & V10S, and Rob noted that my 95kg had it trimmed lower than normal. This may mean it has broader appeal for the smaller paddler but we'd probably need to get a few of our lighter mates into it to be sure.

Our testing day was one for the pool room, the remnant groundswell from the Stormageddon event that had shortened Sydney's coastline by as much as 50m in some spots. A slight offshore wind had some fat, friendly & fun waves running 200-300m along our favourite break.

The video above shows the ski cruising along in these very cool little waves, the acceleration, manoeuvrability & stability all working nicely. I think 5.7m is a great length, still short enough to manoeuvre, easier to handle on & off your roof, long enough for some waterline speed, maybe not the blinding acceleration of the elite skis but a damn sight more accessible to the average paddler. It's a also a much better starting point for an ambitious beginner than an intermediate ski. It'll essentially remove that doubt about buying an entry-level ski, and then quickly outgrowing it, which is a very common concern for new paddlers who have a better-than-average aptitude for the sport.

If you've been wondering about a step up from your V8 to the V10S but haven't quite been able to make the leap, then this boat is such a logical step. It feels like a V8 with a lot more glide, and  as such requires way less effort to push through the water, and as far as ocean paddling goes it also turns more instinctively. As a second boat for flat water guys not willing to take their fast ski onto open water it fits the bill, and wouldn't be out of it's depth hunting down a sub 11 hour time in a long distance race like the Hawkesbury Classic.

We have a demo here at our southern Sydney store. Get in touch if you'd like to give it a crack. 

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