Submitted: 07-22-2009 by red_pepper
My Epic 18 Endurance is a 2003 fiberglass boat I purchased 2 years ago to start racing in USCA Sea Kayak class. One reviewer described the boat as ugly, but I think it's one of the prettiest sea kayaks out there - I suppose it's all in the eye of the beholder! At any rate, I really have to divide my review of the boat into two parts - quality and performance.
On the performance side of the equation, I don't think you can find a better overall sea kayak. It's fast, efficient, sprightly, tracks well, turns well, and is quite comfortable for long hauls. It's easy to surf wakes and waves, and always feels comfortably stable, exhibiting great secondary stability. It lean turns superbly for such a long boat, and with the rudder you can really whip it around. I like the Sealine rudder system - the boat responds almost instantly to rudder input, and it's easy to adjust and use. Overall, the boat feels like a sports car to me.
As to quality, this boat leaves a lot to be desired. The gentlemen who owned the boat before me was a fanatic about protecting and caring for his boats, and I've always stored my boat indoors and taken good care of it. Nevertheless, the gelcoat has spider cracks all over the place and the seam tape is coming off. I've also had to replace the Sealine rudder pedal system in the cockpit area - the original pedal adjustment housing was plastic, and cracked. The new housing is aluminum, and appears to be very durable. The hull is soft, and I have some indentations in the hull from where the boat rides on the saddles on my rack. I believe mine is somewhat heavier than listed as well. On the plus side, my hatches are easy to use and seal pretty well. One stays completely dry, while the other will leak a little.
In spite of the quality irritants, I really like the boat. I bought a QCC 700XL last year, intending to replace the Epic 18 Endurance with 700XL, a much higher-quality, made in the USA boat. As it turned out, I sold the QCC and kept the Epic. The QCC was beautifully made and very solid, but it had a "big boat" feel compared to the sprightly feel of the Epic, plus it was slower (GPS confirmed numerous times over the same course) and less comfortable (part of that was the after market back band, but I didn't like the seat as well either). Looking at the two boats side by side they looked pretty similar, but a close examination shows the Epic possesses a sharper entry on the bow and exit at the stern, along with some other subtle differences that add up in the water.
I've since moved into a Thunderbolt for racing and rarely paddle the Epic anymore, except in winter, but I've loaned it out to a friend's son to get him started into USCA marathon racing, and he loves it as well.
A great boat, with a few caveats.