This morning, I took the ski out on seas more mild than wild; but still enough rollick for fun. The Futura II is terrific--better than I remembered; and just right for me: good looks, good speed, good stability.
I hadn't planned this, first morning on a new boat, but I was even able to perform a rescue, i.e assisted re-entry. A less experienced buddy in his Necky Chatham broached in the surf at the harbor mouth, coming in, and was in the water for a bit while I maneuvered close. He was tired and worried by the time I got to him; but the Future II held its own against swell and the chop roiling about. I was able to get to my friend's boat, help right it, hold it and encourage a tired guy to hoist himself in, pump his boat out, etc. and proceed--successfully this time--through the harbor mouth. The Futura and I solid all the while.My husband and I had ordered identical Epic V10Ls for racing and paddling around the mountain lakes in Montana where we live. We knew the V10Ls would be tippy but I was not able to successfully keep my boat upright for more than a few miles nor when the water was choppy on our lake (which is most of the time.) He does fine on his but I was really struggling and feeling pretty frustrated.
Nice start to a long log of journeys and adventures.
We searched for alternative surf skis that would be more stable but not sacrifice too much speed for the adventure and paddle triathlons that we do. The Futura II seemed like a good solution and we took the gamble to make another boat purchase. The gamble paid off with a fast, stable, comfortable paddling experience.
I am 44 years old, 5'9" and weigh 140 and the Futura II is a very comfortable fit. In addition, I have a fused spine (seven different spine surgeries) that make sitting in a boat awkward and painful, but the add on seat is very comfortable and provides my back with enough support that I can paddle the Futura 2 pain free.
Vince Darwood was very helpful with all of our questions and helped arrange for shipping the surf ski with a boat shipper to our far off corner of Montana.I will be the first to state emphatically that I am extremely hard on my equipment. Here in the North West, the elements and environment can be even harder. In other words, if your equipment fails then you can be in serious trouble. With that said I own, paddle and race 3 different Futura models and have never experienced any problems associated with poor quality or craftsmanship. These boats are very well constructed and tough to boot. Case in point: I was surfing ferry wakes in the Puget sound in my wife’s Futura II, and ran up on a submerged piling, flipping me and the entire boat clean out of the water (did I mention that I am hard on my equipment?). After getting myself patched up my attention turned to the boat. Aside from having to bend the rudder back into place and some scratches in the clearcoat there was nothing wrong with the boat. I expected some water in the hull from being upside down in the surf for a ˝ hour or some cracks around where the rudder pin enters the hull…nothing. This boat is awesome! I recently had the opportunity to share this experience with the owner of Futura at a kayak symposium. He actually offered to trade the boat out if I found any structural damage. Now that’s putting the customer first!
Bottom line, if you want a want to own a Surf Ski crafted by a company that is as serious about quality as it is to its commitment to customer service then I would hands down recommend a Futura.I have had my first Futura II about two years and my second one about four months.
The good: The Futura II was far more stable than I expected. I have had friends with little kayaking experience have no trouble paddling it. Capsize recovery is by far the easiest of any SOT I have paddled. The light weight of the carbon kevlar setup makes it very easy to carry to the water and helps make it fast once you get there. This is a great design for those just wanting a high performance SOT or those looking for a beginners surf ski.
The ugly: Too many problems with quality. On my first Futura II the hatch seal joint used electrical tape to seal it. When I unwrapped the kayak the electrical tape was already coming off. The eyelets for the deck bungees and thigh straps were not properly secured. The hatch seal leaked badly (even after replacing the electrical tape with a bicycle inner tube patch) and despite trying many different things I was never able to get it to seal well. The hatch was slightly too big for the hull opening and this made fixing it difficult. My second one had a rudder that locked up shortly after I started paddling it and it had bad leaks in the pockets where the rudder pedals go into the hull. The hull could take on seven quarts of water an hour through those leaks. While the repair sounded easy it has taken most of the summer and two different shops to fix it. I have spent more time trying to fix these problems than paddling the kayak.
It is really sad that a design this great comes with so many problems. These kayaks are not cheap and I really expected better quality for the money. I would have given the Futura II a much higher rating but spending months fixing manufacturers defects have really taken their toll. This is truly a case of buyer beware. You may get a flawless boat or you may spend months fixing problems. Until Futura gets serious about quality control it is tough to recommend them.Prior to purchasing my carbon fiber kevlar Futura II surfski, I tried at least twenty different boats. Each was either too tippy, too heavy or too slow. I contacted Vince Darwood and arranged to try some of his surfskis. I was pleased with the time, energy and concern Vince took in helping me pick out the correct surfski. I chose the Futura II because it immediately felt right. I have been thrilled with the purchase of this surfski. In a word, it is pure FUN! Because of its stability, I've been able to paddle consistently all winter. With some minor adjustments to outer wear, I've been comfortable in even some very wet, windy and icy conditions. In the past, I was threatened by bad conditions. In this surfski I view challenging conditions as an exciting adventure. In early February I entered the Cow Paddy Pageant at Valley Ford. I finished fourth overall and covered the twelve mile course in two hours and three minutes-- not bad for a 68 year old man. I was really impressed with the performance of this boat. I could maneuver it easily and keep the power to it even in the wind and chop. The boat is certainly a confidence builder. It's comfortable and my legs and my butt do not go numb as I've experienced in other boats.
I've been paddling this boat now for about four months. For me, I believe it is a perfect combination of speed, comfort, maneuverability and stability. In my opinion it is certainly boat for all seasons. Besides this, it is a beautiful sight on the water.I've really enjoyed paddling the Futura II this past year. I started out on flat water and worked up to 20 knot winds and 3 foot waves. I finally had to roll off the boat to practice getting back on because I've never capsized. Incredibly stable for a surfski.
Just finished the Eagle Classic paddle race on the Colorado River north of Austin, TX. The race was 14.5 miles in length, upstream. I used the Futura II and an Epic mid sized wing paddle. Elapsed time was 2 hours 26 minutes. That was a new course record. I only wish I'd started racing before turning 56 years old.
As a new paddler expect to average around 5 mph for a few months. As your strength builds that will increase to an honest 5.6 to 5.7 mph. My average cruise speed for up to 8 miles is around 6 mph. Sprint speed is between 8 and 9 mph. Surf speeds have been over 10 mph. If you are cruising at 4.5 mph, don't expect to do much sweating.
I bought my Futura II used and wanted it for developing balance, more speed than my sea kayak, and just open air cruising fun. It does all three very well.
I now do leaned turns on the edge and have pushed the Futura to its limit. I'm sadly selling it and moving on to the Futura Inferno. I may fall off the Inferno!!
When footwell drain venturis are added this will be the perfect surfski to learn on and play on.
For what this boat has given me and what it's built for, I rate it a hearty 10 of 10.