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Submitted: 09-17-2007 by talqinpaddler
I'm not really sure about the rating (8/9/10), since I have no real good comparison and my objective and the stage I'm in reaching it might be unfair to the boat. Thus, also the review is not about me, I'd bother you with my story so you can judge for yourself.
I did K-1 racing as a teenager and did not sit in a kayak for 20 years after that (earning me a lot of overweight: ~210lbs/5'11"). About 3 years ago I bought a plastic Necky Looksha VI which I loved from the first day and still pet when I walk by although I hardly paddle it anymore. The Looksha is a nice play and training boat that is reasonably fast for a boat in its class but almost right from the beginning I realized I could take it out any distance (5 to 20 miles) on any day (flat or up to 3ft waves) on my flatwater lake and my cruising speed would always be almost exactly the same ~5mph.
Eventually, I rediscovered my love for the sport and wanted to do fitness training in a fast boat ... or better: I wanted the fastest boat on earth. I quickly realized the real fast boats have seats that are only fitting people that are in good shape. Trying to buy a fast kayak in Tallahassee Florida (preferring used) was not easy. I made multiple up to 400 miles trips to test paddle fast boats (e.g. WBS EFT). A week before I went on my trip to Florence, I did not even know what a Surfski is. When I read about the long trophy list of Oscar and Greg and any possible review I could find, I thought I give it a try.
I was lucky when I test paddled the boat the first time (05/27), the sea was what the guys down there call flat (2 ft long stretched waves). First of all, I fit and felt comfortably in the seat! The boat felt very tippy to me but I could paddle it for about 6 miles without falling in right from the beginning. Later that day, I learned how to re-enter the boat from the deep water right there on the beach. That exercise can wear you out quickly but once you find out what works for you (eventually I could do it fairly easily from the side) it is easy at least in calm weather and it made me feel real good to know, falling in would be no problem (in contrast to my Looksha that I never fell out of but I also never bothered to learn how to roll).
Back on my flatwater lake, I could paddle the boat about 6 mph (over 6 to 12 miles) within the first 2 weeks. To be honest, I was hoping for more but started to realize the operator factor and the fitness level was more important than I hoped for.
Shortly after I got my first wing paddle, my first GPS, and the forward stroke DVD. I paddled my new boat as much as I possibly could while working full time (2..3 x 12miles and 1 x 24miles each week). It took me from 05/27 (the first time I set in a surfski) til 07/25 to manage to average above 7mph over my "best pick" 5miles on my 12 miles course (without any current but tailwind and up to 18" tail waves). I just remembered on one of my first trips on the lake, I hit a stump in the water and my rudder (~7") bent with no effort and hit a hole in my nice new boat. This was my first fiberglass job (I actually went for the easier fiberglass putty). I never put the extra big rudder back on and replaced it with an 2" stainless steel rudder (which works fine on my flatwater lake).
During the next 6 weeks (until I wrote this review) I had to interrupt my training for a couple of weeks and I did not catch up with my best time yet (7.08 mph over 5 miles on 08/08). I started focusing more on technique since I realized I'm not using the wing paddle to its full potential. I realized I'm to fat for the boat as is and I'm plugged in the deep seat plus have this hump under my knees that there is really no way to execute any hip rotation with leg work.
Thus, two weeks ago I built me a seat pad that raises me up about 3". Now, I have much more clearance to execute better technique the boat however became more tippy again. I paddled the new seat pad for about 60 miles since I built it and eventually fell in the water (the second time for about 500 miles). Last week I paddled the boat with the 3" pad in the worst condition my lake ever offered: a very strong (Florida) wind with about 3ft waves that hard and short in a row that my boat nose was submerged regularly and my paddle was only hitting air within my reach ... this was the ultimate test for my rudder and the seat pad. I saw myself already in the water many times but miraculously managed to stay in the boat (with my feet out in the water at least onces). The small 2" rudder worked fine until I got parallel to the waves ... I had to wiggle myself out of this position with sweep strokes the rudder did not seem to help any.
Anyway, that is my story so far, I felt I paddled the boat enough to write a review. I love the boat ... I'm a little frustrated that I find it hard to unlearn my old paddling technique and to learn using the wing paddle properly in the V10 quick enough. However, I might be a bit spoiled and impatient.
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