The Epic V10 GT: An Incredible Engineering Accomplishment!
My new Epic V10 GT arrived mid last week and when I got home from traveling late Thursday evening, it was all I could do to not take it out on the water. But with dreary weather and daylight fading I settled for just taking it out of the wrapping and holding it…. for a very long time…. with the GT, you tend to forget you are holding anything.
Friday after work would be the maiden voyage. Thankfully there was just enough wind and we quickly headed straight for our home away from home this summer, South Beach, in Leland. Rarely a crowd, easy access to the water, and guaranteed surf able waves if there is any amount of wind.
I made a few minor adjustments to get the GT dialed in with the new micro adjust foot rail system and soon I was off. My first reaction, coming from paddling the V10 Ultra all summer, was that the GT was definitely more lively. Heading upwind into the 2 foot waves, it was reminiscent of paddling the V12 Ultra upwind. Then I quickly reminded myself that stability is all about the stroke and within minutes I was flying upwind with heels locked in, strong leg drive, a nice tempo cadence, and not missing a single stroke. Once I “tuned in and turned on” the GT came alive and was right there with me on every stroke.
I paddled straight out 3 miles (Garmin track) before turning around for the downwind run back to the beach. Except that by this time the wind was really starting to die off, so while I had decent surf able waves, I didn’t have much wind to boost me onto them. Not to fear, this is where the GT shines and also where this boat might just lead you to believe you have super human powers. It is so reactive and so quick that I found myself often trying to overtake waves I had no business overtaking. Nine times out of ten, the GT would get me up, over, and through the wave, but as many of you know, that doesn’t always leave you in a good position and in the right rhythm of the waves.
On Saturday the Southwest wind was picking up solidly and I knew it would be a great opportunity to try a downwind run that I’ve been eyeballing for the past year. The maiden voyage the night before confirmed for me that I was every bit as stable in the GT as I was in the Ultra and I didn’t hesitate to launch out into a solo downwinder where I would be 5 miles off-shore (not something I typically have the nerve for, but with onshore wind, warm water, cell phone, leash, pfd, etc.. I felt quite safe). It was probably the best downwind run I’ve ever had. The wind wasn’t blowing crazy hard and I was again paddling in the evening with a fading wind at my back, but this was a perfect run. After paddling a short .75 miles out off the beach I turned right and had an almost straight 10.5 mile downwind run to Leland. I was pleasantly surprised to check my Garmin at the end to see that at 8.2 mph, I had just recorded the fastest overall downwind average I’ve done.
The next morning the wind was blowing once again, this time more of a direct South wind which sets up nice small runs on West Bay. Although I was a bit tired from the night before, this was just too good to pass up. I had my ever patient and understanding wife and kids drop me off in town and I proceeded to fly down the bay to the launch at Hilltop. This time I was in quite a bit smaller conditions, with just 1 1/2 – 2 foot waves versus the 3 1/2 footers from the night before, but nevertheless, my 8.1 mph pace was the fastest time I’ve ever recorded on this stretch that I’ve done many times.
My observations on the GT
- The weight is simply mind boggling. You really do think you are super human carrying this boat around. Even after a long downwind paddle twice the distance I usually go, it was effortless to pick up the boat out of the water and carry it up hill in the sand (it always is right) to the car.
- The stiffness of the hull makes this boat accelerate like nothing else. It gives you the confidence that you can put it anywhere at anytime.
- I’m not certain if it is the stiffness or lightness or both, but with the reactivity, you have a better feel for the wave in downwind and as a result I found myself getting longer runs by better using body language to stay on the waves. I didn’t record any new records for max speed, but definitely felt I got some of the longest runs I’ve ever had
- If you are a nervous and timid paddler, this boat may not be for you, at least out in waves. You have to have a strong, clean stroke and be ready to fully own the boat. It is not made for passive paddling.
- The boat is so darn light you need to use extra caution securing it when it isn’t in use. I heard from Erik Borgnes that while en-route to take the maiden voyage of his new V10 GT, a huge wind gust blew it off his truck (he had it bungeed in the v-bar racks). Fortunately the boat seemed to survive in pretty good shape, which is a testament to the strength of the materials. But of the moral of the story is always use a safety strap on the v-bar with this boat.
I know there has always been and will continue to be a lot of debate over whether or not lighter / stiffer boats are faster. My experience last weekend is far from scientific by any means, and I do feel both my forward stroke technique and downwind skills are still steadily improving, but back to back PRs is pretty impressive. Whether it is me or the boat, I know those were some fun downwind paddles, so whatever it is, I’ll gladly take it and look forward to many more!
Wait, There’s More
Since I first wrote this review, the PRs have continued. In my second week of paddling the Epic GT, I won my first race ever with Greg Barton chasing close behind. Okay, he was in a V7 and it was a small exhibition race, but I’ll take it. The same weekend I got out in some wind (nothing major) and paddled my fastest mile ever, a 9.5 mph average pace.
A week or so after the above I went out for a short 3 mile time trial and beat my previous best average speed by four tenths of a mile an hour. So I went from a best pace of 7.5 to 7.9 mph. It may not seem like a lot, but for anyone who regularly paddles with a GPS, you know, this is very significant