Vajda Makai 43 Elite vs Epic v11 Elite

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3 years 9 months ago - 3 years 9 months ago #37173 by aaronmac
Epic V11 vs Vajda Makai 43
Why a v11 and Makai 43.
Like most paddlers, I am searching for the best boat for my ability in our conditions. As far as ocean skis go, these boats are similar on paper: both 5.8m long, 43cm wide and about 9-10kg. 

Brisbane River
For context, I am a 5’8” intermediate paddler, about 80kg and paddle 3-4 times a week on the Brisbane River,  the whole year round.
The tidal river has a 2.0m variation, has lots of swirly water created by bridges, ferry terminals, rocks and private jetties. There are also many small craft (tinnies) that accompany rowing boats, and our local citycat ferries that create smallish-medium wash.
In winter we paddle in the dark and also get a bit of wind driven wave. So at best we have mirror flat conditions, and worst, swirly, dark, windy and choppy. We also have logs and the odd Bull Shark to bump into (or perhaps they are just soft logs).
Many in our group have owned K1s over the years, but only the very advanced paddlers seem to enjoy them in our river, especially during winter. Most of us choose an advanced ski that we can remount if needed.
So I am seeking a fast, light ocean ski that works in those conditions. 
V11 Elite
Over the last two years I have paddled an Epic v11 and more recently a Vajda Makai 43.
Both boats are fitted with small weedless rudders, as hitting logs with a large rudder does not bode well for hull integrity.
The V11 is a very good boat for our river. It’s light and looks a bomb! It has a very rounded hull, both laterally and longitudinally (rocker) so it moves around a bit.  I found this great for providing feedback on my paddling stroke when on smooth water and especially when turning a marker, in our case a large rock, during a race.
However in swirly water, especially near pylons, I’d get moved around a lot and find it hard to wash ride. The v11 was harder than other boats to handle in the swirl and I put this down to rocker. It could be offset by a larger rudder, but this has other issues in our conditions. 
The ample rocker meant it picks up small runners very well, and I could keep up with faster paddlers when wash riding. However, it’s not a fast boat compared to the older nelo ocean skis, k1 or the v14. Build quality was pretty good. The seat was comfy, I liked the footplate, and it has a nice low hump to allow for good leg drive.
The black elite finish looked awesome!
Makai 43
The Makai, feels quite different to the v11.
This is probably explained by the hull shape. When looked at from below, the Makai 43 has a smallish flat bottom section, with soft chimes merging to steeper sides, when compared to the v11, which has a more more rounded lateral cross section.
The Makai 43s flat bottom section is narrower that a Think Uno but wider than a Nelo 560 (from memory) which explains why the primary stability sweet spot feels pretty good for me. I felt I dropped off the primary in the Nelo 560 very easily (but I am not the best paddler).
For comparison, when i put the Makai in the same place on the roof racks as the v11, I need to move the racks in about one cm. So it seems lower volume in general, but marginally.  
I feel in the Makai 43, that I can hold it in that primary sweet spot most of the time and as a result feel my average speed is a little higher compared to the v11. The lack of rocker contributes here as well, especially in the swirl, as the Makai seems to run straighter in swirly water. I think this results in a more effective catch, so I feel more confident and get more speed. 
The seat on the Makai took some getting used too. It’s not uncomfortable, it just has a steeper back than the v11. I think the v11s shallow rear seat angle let me push into the back of the seat to help lean forward,  but if I do that in the Makai I get a bit chafed, so I need to adjust my technique.
The M43 seat hump is marginally taller than the v11, but it’s not a problem, I still get good leg drive.
The de Brito bailer is also much easier to use with your feet than the Epic bailer.
I find in the Makai I have the footplate set about 4 notches from the shortest setting. So if you are shorter than me, you may want to check if you fit you before buying. That said i think the rails may actually slide rearward to suit shorter paddlers (not sure though).
The build quality on the Makai is a a fair bit better than the Epic. You can see this in the paint finish, around the bailer and rudder, as well as the quality of the paint and the carbon in the footplate. The vajda has spring return pedals that are really nice. From the boats I have seen, the only ski I feel that is comparable to the Vajda, for build quality, is the Nelo 560, but I must admit I haven’t had them side by side. That said over the last 15 years, the quality of all boats has improved a lot. 
Overall speed
It’s best I don’t try to quantify the speed results too much, as we rarely get two rivers the same. To date I am perhaps 0.1-0.15 kmh quicker on flat water in the Makai, or a few less heart beats per minute. But as summer kicks in I’ll try and get to our local reservoir and see how the Makai compares speed wise to the v11.
The Resi has no tidal effect and I have some better data from the v11 over 3km course so I should be able to compare. 
Summary
I’d probably struggle in either a Makai 43 or a v11 in a proper downwind race. However, I think the Makai 43 is the a better ski l for our Brisbane river conditions for my skill level.  
I have Owned a few boats. Fenn Mako, Nelo Ocean Ski II, Nelo Quattro (K1), Vajda Spirit (K1) and v11. I have also borrowed other to test, V14, Vajda Next, Stellar SES Nelo 560 (Gen 2). I am not sure how many paddlers have conditions like ours.
Both are good, but the Makai is a better boat for me. 
Last edit: 3 years 9 months ago by [email protected]. Reason: Added some formatting to break up the text and make it easier to read!

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3 years 8 months ago #37233 by zachhandler
Thanks for the great write up. So little is written about these boats online, other than than the standard marketing language put out by the manufacturers, than any contribution like this makes a real difference for people trying to figure out what boat to test or buy. And of course in areas where surfski is less popular, trying is not an option and one simply has to read every word written about a ski, arrange shipping, send off a rather large check, and hope the ski is a good fit when it arrives. I had never actually heard of the new short vajda before reading this. Vajda has virtually zero surfski presence in north america. They sound like good boats, and all the k1 paddlers i have know with a vajda really sing their praises relative to the excellent nelos that dominate the race scene. I am a believer in short boats for lighter paddlers, smaller waves, and freshwater with its steeper tighter wave pattern.  I wish i could try the vajda. I have certainly noticed what you have about rockered boats. If you want a boat that turns, rocker is great. But if you want a boat that tracks straight and stable through sloppy water, low rocker is better. 

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
The following user(s) said Thank You: aaronmac

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