172 lb. Paddler Ready to Upgrade from V7: V8 Pro or V10 Sport?

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5 years 6 months ago #32410 by TheJRM
Hello everyone,

I purchased an Epic V7 a year ago, proceeded to paddle it through the second half of last summer and through October before putting it away for the winter. I made some significant progress on the boat over the course of those 3 months and started paddling again this past May. As the summer progressed, so did my training, and I started getting more structured and started racing at my local race series.

After one training race, which went pretty well, I entered my first "real" race about one week later: The Blackburn Challenge, here in my hometown of Gloucester, MA. I ended up doing pretty well in that event and just missed breaking the 3 hour mark (6.5 mph avg. for 19.5 miles).

I have continued to race the local Tuesday night series and have been working on my form and fitness all summer (easy to do when you are a teacher and have summers off!). My 1 hour, flat water, tempo pace is now up to 6.8 mph and my normal/everyday paddles average right around 6.5 mph. I'm intentionally seeking out rougher water in order to continue developing my stability in the rough and learn how to catch waves.

The V7 has been awesome and I'm keeping it for the long haul. The boat was money well spent and I'll keep it as a loaner and for my wife and kids (when they are older) to use.

Stats: I'm just under 5'11", and weigh 170 - 172 lbs (78 or so kg). I competed at a pretty high level as a triathlete, but put that to rest 9 years ago. Although I am new to paddling, I have always been super active year round and enjoy maintaining a fairly high degree of aerobic fitness.

I'm absolutely loving surfski and am excited to keep training, racing and learning. I feel that it's time to upgrade my boat, as pushing a 55 lb. plastic ski around (and carrying it to and from my training grounds) every day isn't quite ideal. I feel that I'm really missing out when it comes to catching waves; trying to accelerate my current boat takes a lot of effort and I end up missing runners quite frequently. During races, the entire field leaves me in the dust during in-water starts as well.

I have a great relationship with my local dealer, so I'm only interested in Epic surfskis. My objective for next year is to break 2:50 at Blackburn (assuming decent conditions) and to start racing a lot earlier in the season.

I have paddled the Epic V8 Pro on flat water, and found it to be just a little more "tippy" than my V7, but nothing I didn't adapt to within 2 or 3 minutes. It accelerated faster, and, based on the data from my Garmin, seemed to be about 10 - 12 seconds/mile faster than my V7 over a 1 hour steady state paddle. I'm sure that it would have been even faster in the chop or a downwind run of course if I were stringing runners together and hammering hard in the ocean.

I feel that the V8 Pro would be an easy upgrade and one that would let me start racing right out of the gates without worrying about stability getting in the way of things. This is a big concern, as I won't be doing much paddling over the winter given my location (New England) and races start in April. Although I have a pretty strong aerobic engine, I would rate my overall degree of stability as being down in the novice class (but improving weekly!).

So that leaves the V10 Sport. I plan on testing that next, but worry that it might be too much boat for me, given my weight, especially in the rough. That being said, I would also think that it would make the inevitable transition to the V10 a little easier as well.

If I were rich, I'd just buy a V8 Pro and a V10 and skip the V10 sport altogether, but that's not happening.

So... for those of you who have experience with both, given my stats and objectives, which would you recommend: Easy step up to the V8 Pro or go with the V10s?

Thanks in advance for any perspective people are willing to share.

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5 years 6 months ago #32411 by Epicpaddler
Sounds like you mastered the V7 pretty quickly. I went from a 17' sea kayak to an Epic v8 pro with no issues. I tried the v8, v8pro, v10 sport, and gen2 v10. I found the v8pro and the v10 sport nearly identical performance wise. I felt like the bucket on the v10 sport was slightly larger then the v8pro. I liked the carry handles on the pro. The glide on the v10 was insane, but I fell out once during an aggressive attempt at sprinting. The v8pro is rock solid in everything I've paddled in. If you've successfully completed the Blackburn in about 3 hours you might want to try a v10. Oddly the v10 blacktip felt more stable than the redtip. Maybe my core was just smoked after demoing so many boats. Good luck in your search. I've had my v8pro for about a month and I love it.
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5 years 6 months ago #32412 by TheJRM
Thanks man! I have to carry my boat about 100 yards/meters down my street and a steep, rocky hill that leads into the Annisquam river (I live right on the Blackburn course). The handles are another big plus to the pro as I have to shoulder my boat down to avoid smashing it along the way.

Did you do any gps testing between the sport and V8 Pro? The Epic speed comparison charts seem pretty accurate to me, and they claim only a 30 sec. difference over 10k between the 2 boats. I wonder if the V8 Pro would be slightly better for a 170 lb. paddler too as people tell me that the V10S is a higher "volume" craft.

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5 years 6 months ago #32413 by TheJRM
p.s. And, yes, just missed breaking 3 hours at Blackburn: 3:00:20.

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5 years 6 months ago #32416 by Trab3113
Impressive work with the V7.

Demo the V8P and V10S against each other in several sessions in various conditions. Be thorough and get a good feel for each with several hours bucket time and GPS for numbers. That way you have empirical data and your subjective "feel" to get the right boat for you at this time.

FWIW I got bested in a race today by 2 minutes by a more experienced paddler in a V10S while I was running a SEL. I've paddled that V10S and find it quite quick with a higher, drier feel to the bucket. I think the V8P has about the ideal bucket and I never think about stability in it. Fortunate to try an elite V8P a few weeks back. 8.3 mph out of the gate into the wind. Again, just opinion and I'd have a conundrum making the same decision. Get enough paddle time in each to be sure when you pull the trigger. You'll still be faster than the V7 regardless, and smiling whichever boat you go with.
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5 years 6 months ago #32419 by TheJRM
Thanks man. Sounds like a good course of action. If these boats weren't so expensive, I wouldn't be be obsessing so hard about the decision. At $3k - $4k, however, I want to make sure that I get it right.

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5 years 6 months ago #32420 by Epicpaddler
Wow. Both of you guys can get those boats moving!

I've sprinted in my v8pro to 8.8 mph, but only for a few seconds. My cruising speed is about 6 mph. I was hoping it would be closer to 7. Since this is my first surfski and I've only paddled it for a few weeks I guess I have lots of room for improvement..

To the OP- If you have a cool Epic dealer, try as many boats as you can in the conditions you usually paddle in. Surfski's are still pretty rare where I live and most people have no clue what it is. My only option was to demo a few boats on a calm lake. Very different from where I paddle. My boat came all the way from Wisconsin, but I was happy to get it sight unseen.

Awesome work on the Blackburn. It was my goal to race the ski there this summer, but it wasn't delivered until July 28, so I just missed it. I have my first race, a 13 miler on September 8th. If all goes well I'll do the Lighthouse to Lighthouse the following weekend.

I didn't compare GPS stats on the v10s vs v8pro. Both paddled great, but it was my first time ever paddling surfskis so my perspective is very limited. I think you'll like either ski.
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5 years 6 months ago #32422 by mcnye1
One other thing that you should do prior to making your boat choice is to look at the race classification rules for the races that you plan to participate in. There are basically three sets of rules here in the US (Sound Rowers, Modified Sound Rowers and USCA), but some races make their own rules. Blackburn uses the MSR but adds a SS20+ (surfski over 20"), so the V8 is SS20+ while the V8Pro and V10Sport are HPK. Under USCA, V8Pro is Touring Class and V10Sport is HPK. Your Epic dealer should know better which classes each of the boats fall under. For rough days, paddling a V8Pro in the HPK class against all the elite boats may be ok, but on a flat day it will be like taking a knife to a gun fight. I raced the USCA Touring Nationals last year, and the V8Sport dominated because it was the longest boat that fit in the class rules.

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5 years 6 months ago #32423 by feeny
I have a v8pro now and love it.

I found the v8pro to be a little less stable than the v10s! And, at < 165lbs, I found the v8pro to be a more suitable boat. The handles are awesome too, I still can't understand why more skis don't have them. There's a bit more on this here: www.surfski.info/forum/19-boats/18814-v8-pro-vs-v10-sport.html

I found it to be about the same speed as the v10s. I can hold in the 7mph range in the v8pro over distance and sprint it up to the 8+ range, though I can't hold it there for too long.

Of course, it's all different in the rough stuff, certainly at my level I have far more to learn about the ocean, reading the swells and chops, than I might gain from any boat choice. Pick one that I can comfortably stay in! Nothing beats being able to confidently get the power down in all conditions, and the confidence that comes with knowing I can always get back into my boat, too.

I guess if you are going to be doing mostly flatwater or light conditions, any of the v8pro, v10s and even the new g3 v10 (awesome boat, quite stable, too!) would be fine. If you're planning on hitting 3m swells in 25 knot+ winds, maybe see how you go with the v7!

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5 years 6 months ago #32424 by TheJRM
Thanks guys!

Feeny: Outside of the occassional surf session, all of my paddling will be in relatively flatter ocean conditions; i.e. nothing bigger than 1 - 1.5 meter waves. We get plenty of chop and wind, but big downwind conditions are rare around here.

I guess what it all comes down to is whether I should go with a safe choice like the Pro and then pick up a V10 the year after next or buy the V10 now, put my time in/adapt while racing my V7 or a borrowed V8 if need-be.

If only money grew on trees...

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5 years 6 months ago - 5 years 6 months ago #32428 by Stefanus
The V10 is a very different boat to the V10 Sport and the V8 Pro. It is quite a bit longer than the V10 Sport and will be much more unstable. In rougher water the V8 Pro is very stable, and not much slower than the V10 Sport even on the flat. I would not advise going straight for the V10. I would think going from a V7 to a V10 is a big jump. Go with the V8 Pro, or V10 Sport. In time you can sell it and upgrade if you feel the need.
Last edit: 5 years 6 months ago by Stefanus.

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5 years 6 months ago #32435 by SpaceSputnik
6.5 mph in a V7...man I got work to do!

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5 years 6 months ago - 5 years 6 months ago #32454 by TheJRM
Had another Tuesday night race tonight. This is my first season racing/training, and although I can move along okay (all things considered) on race day in flatwater, once it gets rough, I go from focusing upon racing to "surviving." Tonight was one of those nights. Once we made the turn and started paddling downwind with the waves coming at us at a 20 - 30 degree angle (not to mention the odd boat wake or refractory wave!), I was bracing quite often and almost capsized a couple of times. I tried a V10 sport out in the protected waters post race and felt very unstable in it. I would have spent the entire race bracing and swimming had I attempted racing in it!

So... although the V8 Pro certainly seems plenty stable in super flat water conditions, I'm sure that it'll keep me plenty challenged when the going gets rough next year. After tonight's race, it's clear as day to me that if you're in a boat that won't allow you to paddle with max effort every stroke, you're going to be a lot slower than you would be in a more stable craft. My aerobic engine is my best asset, and if I can't put that to good use, I'm not going to make any boat go very fast!

So... V8 Pro it'll be for next season. Until then, I look forward to spending plenty of time over the course of the next few months honing my rough water skills in the V7!
Last edit: 5 years 6 months ago by TheJRM.

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5 years 6 months ago - 5 years 6 months ago #32456 by SpaceSputnik
Interestingly at this point of my first season in a V7 I find myself craving both rough water and a longer narrower boat. It's an interesting mental excercise of connecting the foot plate with paddle blades and pushing through the mess. I came to realize that these are the only contact points that I really need as long as I don't perceive my
the boat as a source of static stability. It's really just the plate, blades and my upper body with eyes on the horizon. Did an open water crossing in wind and chop a few days ago that would have scared me at the beginning of the season. Admittedly poor planning being in a position to have to make such crossing, but I just punched through it with zero issues.
Last edit: 5 years 6 months ago by SpaceSputnik.
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5 years 6 months ago #32459 by TheJRM
Interesting perspective! Will try to visualize that next time out in the rough. Thanks!

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5 years 6 months ago #32460 by SpaceSputnik
You are welcome. Hope it helps in some way.
I feel that I am getting to an upgrade point as well, sooner than I expected. Tempted to skip the V8 Pro and get into a V10 Sport. Will see if a used one comes up during the cold months. Thinking of keeping the V7 for excursions in weedy backwaters and such.

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5 years 6 months ago #32467 by Epicpaddler
Glad decided to go with the V8pro.

I had my first experience getting dumped out of the boat yesterday. I paddled out into 3-4' wind driven chop that was also mixed up with some current. Almost every other wave plowed over the bow and into my lap. When I turned for the downwind run, I was surprised how many times the bow submerged. Once I had some good momentum and was surfing trying to link runs I got high centered on the crest of a wave and it completely flooded my cockpit. The added weight shifting around tossed me right off. Remounting was quick and easy, but it surprised my because up until then I never had a twitch or hint of being out of control.

I still can't imagine how some of you guys can paddle a steady 7-8 mph. I thought for sure after some incredible surfing my speeds would have been above 7 if not 8. Instead it was still only about 6 with a few bursts of 7+ mph.

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5 years 6 months ago #32469 by TheJRM
Conditions play a major role man. What you're describing above does not sound like fast conditions at all! I'm sure that you'd be significantly faster in flat water conditions. I was able to paddle the V8 Pro at a very steady 6.7 mph (3 hour race pace effort) when I tried one out about a month ago. That was in a fresh water lake. I'm sure that I would have been even faster in salt water (increased buoyancy). Conversely, I'm sure that my paces would have been significantly slower in the conditions you were dealing with.

FYI: I have an Epic V10 on loan for a while. Took it out for its first cruise today and was pleasantly surprised by the stability and ease of remount. Covered 8 miles in sheltered salt water river at a good clip (6.9 mph avg). I couldn't believe how much less effort it took to cruise at those speeds (estimated 3 hour race pace). What impressed me most was the upwind speeds I was seeing when paddling against the outgoing current: 6.5 mph. I did an out and back x 6 loop where 50% of the paddle saw me paddling against the wind and current. I was easily .5 - .7 mph (about 1kph) faster than I would have been in the V7 at that effort. There is absolutely no way I'd be able to paddle the boat hard, or keep from capsizing, in true ocean conditions at the moment though. I'd be bracing and swimming non-stop. Interestingly, the V10 seemed just as stable (to me) as the V10 Sport. I LOVE how much tighter the bucket is over the V7.

I might have to figure out a way to pick up a V10 as my flat water/training boat and a V8 Pro as my rough water/racing boat. I can see how paddling the V10 is most definitely going to help me to develop better balance and paddling form. Time to clear out the gear closet and see what I can sell!!!

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5 years 6 months ago #32473 by Epicpaddler
Interesting observation about the v10. When I demoed one (after never having paddled surfskis before) it felt twitchy just sitting still. Once underway the balance wasn't so bad. I did get dumped once. The thing that impressed me was kind of like what you were saying. The glide was sweet and the effort to cruise above 6mph was easy. There's no way I could paddle a v10 yet in the 3-4' chop and mixed up boat wake I paddled in yesterday. I'm happy the v8pro is my first ski. Every time I go out I feel like I improve a little bit.

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5 years 6 months ago #32498 by wesley
Janda, I thought you might have gone for a more stable intermediate ski like the V10 Sport or even the Stellar SR 2G which is what I would have urged you to do since they are the most stable except Swordfish. It would not have taken you long to adjust to the stability and then you would be winning all those Tuesday night races and the New England races, though I know it would be frustrating at first until you over came the difference in stability from the V7 to V10sport. You could have easily but a very big rudder on the V10 sport to help with stability. At some point in the V8 Pro especially at a flat water race, you will wish for a faster ski despite your HUGE engine. In that case you could have just put a 4 inch rudder on the V10 Sport and won those flat water ocean races too. One ski for all conditions. Having said that, as you know most of us have one flat water ski, and on ocean ski. Plenty of used skis on my site for not much money.

You are way too good of an athlete, one of the best in New England, have access to the water, have a great training group to be in the V8 pro for long. Nothing to do with that ski, you will do well in it too. You next transition(the V8 pro is a transition ski for you) will be a smaller one from the V8 Pro to a intermediate ski and then you can go for the surfski record in Blackburn. How cool would that be! Home town paddler breaks Blackburn Record!! Hope to see on the water. Super job at the Blackburn in that V7! You rocked it!!

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.
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