Ok…I,ve narrowed it down to 3 “beginner”, “stable” surfskis…which would you choose and why.
The V8 and Stellar I would get whichever one I could get cheaper. No clue about the Fenn.
paralysis by analysis
(speaking for myself, because I’m thinking about a ski or fast kayak also.
I already have an expedition-worthy kayak. It is not fast but it’s great in conditions. But I could use a faster kayak.
OTOH how much faster is it really going to be than my current boat, and will it be different enough? Most of my paddling is day paddling.
Fenn or Epic
Fenns tend to have a narrower cockpit and foot well. If you are big or have big feet go with the Epic. I didn’t paddle the bluefin but looking at the hull it should surf like a dream like the rest of the fenn boats.
The big races around here with 40-50 skis will be mostly a mix of Fenn and Epic with a some Huki and Think.
Think also has the Eze and Big Eze.
Huki has the SR
Stellars might do well in flat conditions but they have overly large foot well and not very good drainage.
ski vs. kayak
flat water cruise speed is about 6.5-7 mph in a ski vs. 4-5 for a 18’ kayak. Taking the ski out is like going for a run vs. the kayak is like going for a hike. Not much room on a ski for more than a water bottle and some snacks.
Where skis really shine is going with the wind, catching and riding down wind waves it’s not uncommon to be going 8-10mph. In big open ocean swell 15+mph is not unheard of. That’s screamin fast in a kayak.
(non-beginner) Skis take some commitment to paddle but you start getting out in some conditions and it’s worth it.
I am leaning that way
So far I haven’t felt like I need a faster kayak on expeditions. It might be nice. But it probably wouldn’t be THAT much faster.
you’re the limiting factor
I had a QCC 600x, pretty quick for a touring kayak. Bought a WSBS Thunderbolt (21’x18") and was ready to set the water on fire. Afterall, everyone with boats of this caliber claims to cruise at 7mph and sprint to over 10. Wrong!
I’m not saying it can’t be done, there are obviously paddlers that do it, but it takes a tremendous amount of training and technique to get it done. I paddled my Thunderbolt hard 2-3 times/week for at least an hour. Heart rate around 160 the whole time. Also some longer and slower runs mixed in. My technique was greatly improved as was my physical condition. However the best I could do was average just over 6.5mph on a 7 mile course on flat calm water. I was never able to spring much over 8mph.
For reference, at this point I could keep my QCC 600x at just over 6mph on the same course.
But, there is a tremendous potential for speed in these boats. If you can develop the technique and strength there’s a lot of speed to be had. But don’t think it’s easy, it’s not.
One of the biggest differences is in shallow water. You don’t feel the shallows slow you down near as much in a long skinny boat. I now have a Epic V8 for when I want to exercise on the water and that was the first thing I noticed.
It’s the paddler much more than the boat. Don’t expect a quantum leap in speed from getting a faster boat.
Alan is correct, it’s the Indian not the arrow. if the boat is in the same category, make the best deal on the boat that fits. faster boats doesn’t mean faster times. I’ve beaten West Side Darts in a River 81, and beaten thunderbolts in an EFT.
spend time in a boat you feel safe in and gradually work your way up the list
Greg Barton could beat a lot of guys in elite boats in a British sea kayak