EPIC V11 Elite review

April, sunshine, the beginning of what was to be the most awesome summer ever recorded in Norway. Magnus from my Norwegian EPIC dealer wrote to inform me that my V11 Elite 2018 had arrived on time. Surprised, as I have learned from experience that in general surfski containers never arrive when they should. So I rushed to the store and picked it up!

p001But that’s not very difficult dad!

First impression was wow! The finish is really good. I’ve had a lot of EPIC boats including Elite boats, even a pre prepeg V14 Elite and a prepeg V14 GT. The new Elite sits somewhere between the GT and the old Elite in weight, but clearly outshines the GT and is more stiff and solid than the old Elite. This is not a thorough technical review about nuts and bolts, but just a few of my personal observations about paddling the ski this summer along other of my surfskis.

p002Finish is great! Ready to go with flip-flops mounted in front.

I’ve been careful with the V11, but have bounced the boat around a bit. It doesn’t have a scratch, ok not deep scratches anyway – actually the black finish will get a load of hairline scratches, just like a black car, live on, or get another layup. After 500km in it there’s nothing indicating that it should be prone to soft spots or structural issues. Maybe 500km is not a lot compared to it’s life expectancy, but compared to the V14 GT that came with soft spots, this is just another league.

p003Looking good!

It looks good. It’s short, but proportions look good and the white interior gives it a smooth feel and looks very exclusive.

p015A crisp bright green spring rapidly turned into the warmest ever Norwegian summer

I live 1,5km from the beach and used to have a little wagon I could strap my skis to and push them down to the beach. This winter was fierce, rubber tires and ball bearings froze and the little wagon broke down after rolling 2000km. So now I carry my boats to the beach and welcome the very light V11, lighter than my Swordfish S carbon and my Think Uno Max 3rd  Generation Ultimate. Light enough for the beach hike to be a breeze.

p004At the burnt off beach

Ergonomics: On the water ergonomics feel a bit like the new V12 (that I had along two older V12 Ultra/performance). The seat should be the same EPIC said. It’s not, there might be a slight difference in the mold as the V12 pinched my but a bit, not the V11. I could literally use it a my desk chair.

p005Wake coming up!

I for one know how difficult a good fit can be and have had many frustrations with later Nelo and NK models to mention a few. But if like me you’re comfortable in the bucket of a V14, V8pro, old V12, Fenn Swordfish, most older Nelos and all things Think I’m sure you’ll like the seat of the V11. I did not like the gen 1 V10 though. Try your boat before buying…

p014Einar Kjerschow testing the V11

Handling in chop: Out there it’s very different from the new V12, much more responsive, easier to turn. It just feels more lively and fun. When I posted the first images of the boat Uli Gwinner wrote that he really liked in in chop. I wondered how much better than me he must be, as I came from the V12 and initially found the V11 way more twitchy in the rough. It is. After a few rounds though hips started recognizing the movements of the boat. It feels rock solid in chop as long as you follow its movement.

p006Choppy day

The short version is: I totally love how the boat handles. This is THE boat for me at my current level. It seems fast, I LOVE it in the short Oslo runs and the summer power boat chop – meaning 1-2-3 ft intersecting waves from all directions all summer + wind waves reflecting from steep cliffs. Being nimble is important in our steep choppy waters, and the boat is! Turn, accelerate, go!

p007Windy surf

In late summer we’ve had  a lot of good winds, ranging from 9-20m/s mean wind speeds. On a few occasions I’ve been surprised on the water as the wind suddenly kicked in. Normally I’d head back and opt for my Swordfish or even my V8Pro for these forecasts, but I was surprised to learn how the short V11 just sailed on. It rolls, but you get used to it, and I’ve had some fun days in it.

p009Early morning paddle

All this is a personal issue and might be little value to others, so I’ll try to compare the experience to other boats: The Oscar-era Nelo560 I owned was much the same, lively, fun, fast and wild but not too wild, but destroying my buttbones. Perhaps the Nelo is a bit more twitchy – but only by a few points.

p010My wife prefers her own ski

My old love the great THINK Uno Max is a paddle bus, a fast bus for sure, faster on flat and in small chop. When conditions get big I can’t enjoy it as much as the V11. The V14 (of course) is a tad more unstable, but the biggest difference though is that it’s much more easy for me to manoeuvre the short V11 in waves – letting me catch rides and runs moments after I see them

We get short steep waves in Oslo. I wasn’t too fast in my V12 in Oslo, but I was very fast in my V12 when I got home to the long fast predictable runs in windswept sandy Danmark. The V11 is an Oslo / Sune boat and I love it.

p011Cooling off with my wife on one of those 35C Oslo summer days

I like it so much I’ve ordered the new V10 Elite 3rd generation as well. Did that a long time ago, and sometimes I wonder if I really need it now that I’ve become one with my V11.

I’ve owned 27 surfskis, I’ve liked quite a few, fell in love with maybe two or three, but it’s the light nimble V11 that I want to paddle when I get home from work these days.

So is this useful for you? I don’t know. For reference I’m 44, started paddling at 37, at 38 Boyan told me my technique probably couldn’t get worse even if I tried, at 40 I went to Fish Hoek to paddle Millers run with Nikky Mocke in +15ft  (figure rising every time I tell the story) swell and waves and loved/hated it. Normally though I paddle anything from flat, small runs and lighter downwinds at 10-26kt winds in Oslo and Denmark, and paddle 5 times a week for fun, fitness, friendship and sometimes for competition.

p012Ready to go!

Downsides? Yeah, but not too many. The paddle bangs against the sides of the boat now and then, and the lid on the rudder house expands in the heat and gets stuck. EPIC has informed they’ll fix that though. The hairline scratches are not pretty on a jewel like this – but inevitable.

Now that our awesome summer is ending or has ended, the autumn winds are slowly brewing and I’m looking forward to comparing the V11 to the new 3rd Gen V10 in the months to come!

p013

I’m not suggesting that you rush down to your dealer and buy a V11. You might be way past my skill level or you might find the ski way too much to handle. All I’m saying is that finish and construction are first rate, the ski is very light and solid. I find that it handles very well in short steep confused as well as larger runs and surfs very well. Feels rock solid on the runs and doing good upwind despite being light, although it surely doesn’t have the directional stability that my Think Uno owns.

Biggest difference being that the V11 turns on a dime making paddling downwind while picking between emerging waves very fun. Don’t know if / dont think that it’s faster than speeding on a straighter line in a V14, but you get a very satisfactory feel for the water in the V11. Haven’t tested it in fast long runs where my Think rules though. But – it’s surely an Oslo / Sune boat for now!

Sune Wendelboe, Oslo, August 2018

http://www.surfskipaddling.com

 

 

 

 

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