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Surfski Gear Review - Epic V5 (Plastic)

Thanks for checking out our 6th surfski review. This post will make direct reference to the previous articles found at www.k2nonlinepaddleschool.com/gear-reviews

All input is appreciated so we can continue to structure these better! Currently we have Boat Specs, Measurements, Stability Rating, Remount Rating, and Flatwater Testing.


I am 5ft 6 (167cm) and 140lbs (63.5kg) slightly above the intermediate skill level as a reviewer. I typically fit in all boats without issue but have a good general idea of a paddler being too big for a given vessel based on club members using boats.


The Epic V5 has been a boat that I have been very keen on doing a gear review on. Primarily to fulfill my own personal curiosity in regards to the influence of length on the overall hull speed as well as feel how nimble a short boat can get. At 14ft/4.25m in length theres always been a fascination with understanding when the hull length begins to noticeably diminish the speed potential and balancing out the off the water convenience to that loss in performance. The polyethylene layup, like discussed in the other plastic surfski articles, is nearly indestructible at the cost of being nearly double the weight of the carbon layup. We will discuss the implications to brand new paddlers and its overall fit/role as a surfski within the line up of other boats.

Epic V5 Plastic Specs

14 feet long x 23.6 inches wide (4.25m×60cm)

Bucket Depth 9 inches 22.9cm

Bucket Width(Highest point) 17 inches wide 43.2cm

Bucket Width (Lowest point) 10 inches wide 25.4cm

Footplate length (Longest setting) 41 inches 104cm

Footplate length (Shortest setting) 29 inches 73.7cm

Heel Depth 9.5 inches 24.1cm

Hump Height (highest point in cockpit) 5inches 12.7cm

Boat weight for testing - 49 pounds 22.2kg

Overstern Pop-up Rudder 10inch/25.4cm


(Used 10in/25cm increments to get a better proportional outline since the boat is so short!)

Outline Measurements from nose

10 inches from nose - 5 inches wide 25.4cm/12.7cm

20 inches from nose - 8 inches wide 50.8cm/20.3cm

30 inches from nose - 11 inches wide 76.2cm/27.9cm

40 inches from nose - 13 inches wide 101.6cm/33cm

50 inches from nose - 15.5 inches wide 127cm/39.3cm


Outline Measurements from tail

50 inches from tail - 21 inches wide 127cm/53.3cm

40 inches from tail - 18 inches wide101.6cm/45.7cm

30 inches from tail - 15.5 inches wide 76.2cm/39.4cm

20 inches from tail - 11.5 inches wide 50.8cm/29.2cm

10 inches from tail - 7 inches wide 25.4cm/17.8cm

Cockpit/Bucket Area

This bucket is very interesting with its shaping. It is tied for the widest opening at the top of the bucket at 17in/43cm, but it narrows off into 10in/25.4cm at the bottom. It does not fit great for my personal sit bone shape, as I have rubbed some of the skin off while paddling. No issues with any other Epic shape so far. What makes it interesting is the opening at the top seems to accommodate larger sized paddlers but inside the bucket itself there is not nearly as much room. Everyone has different sit bone shapes so this does not mean it will be an issue for you. But, don't be deceived into thinking because the boat is wide, that the bucket is proportionally as wide or wider than other narrower boats.

The footwells feels similar to the V8Pro setup, the footplates come very close for shorter leg length paddlers but still has a wide range for leg length. At 41 in/ 104 cm at the maximum length this may not be far enough for long legged paddlers sitting posterior in the bucket, but should fit the majority of paddlers sitting upright. The footplate itself easily adjusts with two pop in pins which is also standard in the epic lineup. Water bottle storage in the center right above the bailer. Great bailer design to easily open and to quickly flush water from a swamped cockpit.

Quality of Life Details

The carry handles on the bow and stern are very ergonomic. You really rely on these handles being comfortable with the boat being heavier. The center carry handles are metal bars that are very sturdy for lifting the heavier construction. The handles can dig into your hands when carrying it suitcase style by the side, but its easier to hoist overhead when you can make a full fist with your hand. The Nelo 510 had cutouts in the hull for handles that distributed weight on the hand nicer when holding it by the side, but made transitioning overhead trickier. This boat comes equipped with the overstern rudder but has the understern option avaiable . Two allen key locks screw together on a yoke to pinch the rudder shaft, same system as the other epic lineup. There is a rear hatch with a cover that is pretty spacious at 10 gallons/ 46 liters of space. The cover is secure with a bungee to add to the security. No front hatch opening only bungees beyond the footplate.




Stability Rating: The stability surprised me with this boats specs and its initial feeling. You would assume it is "more" stable than the V7 but it doesnt immediately feel that way. I believe the shorter length does contribute to a more unstable boat overall more so than the small difference in overall width. I would mark the two as about the same stability. What that means, is you can put the majority of first timers into this boat and have absolutely no fears of falling unless they are larger sized paddlers. It seems like many paddlers over 6ft3 end up with this boat and have major stability issues, in part due to pushing to the maximum weight capacity sooner than boats 3-5ft/1-1.25m longer. For smaller paddlers the V5 likely feels slightly more stable, but for larger paddlers the V7 would be more stable.


The overall width is usually a great indicator of stability but there are design choices that can make it more or less tippy and this boat leans into less tippy in most regards. This boat keeps a lot of its narrower outlines in the front of the boat but becomes very wide through the tail. The wider tail is what gives it such a great stability rating and feel. This also engages great while surfing to lift the tail sooner as well. The hull underside like many epic boats is mostly rounded which helps with its glide but is always a little less stable than a flat bottom hull. The balance of the width and outline help offset the rounded undersides instability to bring together a very beginner friendly boat.


(With all surfski your height, weight, age, current skill level and paddling environment will influence how each boat feels and that dynamic will continue to move back and forth on a spectrum forever. These ratings will give some insight into what the boats shape will do for rating as we begin comparing them to other similar model widths with different outline measurements. We will work towards numerical ratings as more reviews are completed to compare boat to boat on stability.)

Remount Rating: Great boat to learn remounting thanks to the relatively high seat position, wide rails, and wider tail outline. The handles are a little intrusive while remounting but can be easily avoided if you are mindful of them. Having protruding carry handles are great off the water but can easily scrape the side of your body while remounting. You do have to manually fall out of the boat since it seems near impossible to actually flip over at my, weight/size at least.


(Like Stability Ratings, we will rate remount ratings boat to boat as we complete more reviews.)


Flatwater Testing Overview: For all tests ongoing we will be using the format of 3 miles 4827m at a specific stroke rate. This lake has the same water depth annually for consistency, and the course is marked by 4 buoys that do not change position making it easy to run different boats on the course for cross analysis. The Stroke Rate goal is a submaximal 45SPM(This denotes double strokes, so 90SPM single strokes) with a margin of error for 1SPM 44-46spm. Noting boat weights and rudder sizes as potential future differences amongst similar shaped boats. This serves as a good general guide on boats that vary dramatically in width, but will also be fun to see how similar width boats compare and factoring in the outline measurements towards that.




Flatwater Testing - For this test I had to change some of the parameters. In all honesty, 90SPM/45DSPM of the standard test would have likely given me a heart attack, so I adjusted the strokes per minute down to 80SPM/40DSPM. The real issue with the higher stroke rate is you can only hit those numbers by "cheating" the stroke and removing the blade too early. The boat produces almost no glide (comparatively to other surfski) and each stroke takes longer to complete because of this lack of momentum stroke to stroke. Although it is not a direct comparison with stroke rate to stroke rate, the adjustment helps play into the boats behaviors to make it perform better, rather than force the boat to respond to input it is not designed for. That all being said, it moves well enough to represent the world of surfski in a proper manner, as this shape and design is still likely faster than 99% of sea kayak shapes. Comparing it to other surfski it is by and large the slowest boat, at a whopping 40s/mile slower than the plastic V7. For example that margin is more than what seperates a V7 to an 18in/46cm wide carbon surfski for myself. The biggest hinderance in the performance seems to be the length more so than the width. Getting to such a short length, the hull is not working with the paddler to maintain its glide through the water and it becomes a real battle keeping the boat moving. Maneuverability is amazing, the 180 turns and 90 turns were instantaneous with immediate response. Taking wider strokes on one side to help with the turns has a direct impact on steering quicker which is a nice feeling for pushing around turns faster.



Final Thoughts: I can not imagine too many scenarios where the V5 would be the perfect choice for boat purchase. It seems to be a great entry for sea kayakers to get into surfski with its compact shaping that is more akin to those boat styles. But, the amount of performance gained from boats 3-4ft longer seems to outweigh every downside. Longer boats (surprisingly) weigh the same in both the plastic and carbon style layups. Can be equipped with oversterns and hatch systems. And the difference in length for maneuverability in tight paddling scenarios is often overcome by the user. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3gs6IOUvw)

Let me know your thoughts on the V5 and its place within the surfski spectrum that cant be accomplished with a slightly longer variation like the V7/V8!




Thank you all for checking out the article if you have any questions about boats or our online coaching feel free to message anytime via Live Chat or my email Robertnorman142@yahoo.com Youtube.com/@K2NOPS


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3 Comments


Sharon Page
Sharon Page
Jun 23, 2023

I have a 14-foot Stellar S14S, which is very similar to the V5. You mentioned that there's not a good reason to get this rather than a longer boat. But one good reason is to be able to compete in the "recreational" class. Here in the Midwest, at least, races usually have an unlimited class for sea kayaks and surf skis and a "recreational" class for boats under 15'. I'm 58, new to kayaking and have had numerous wrist/shoulder/knee surgeries. I don't want to be in a race category full of 30 year old experienced racers in 20' surf skis. That's why I chose my 14' boat. I'd rather place in the rec class than come in last in the unlimited…


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I paddle a V7. I'm in contact with Brett in South Africa who paddles a V5. We have modified both of our skis for fishing. I would think it'll be easier for Brett to get a rod into or out of the flush mounted rod holder behind the seat than I can do it due extra width of the deck. He has more space for a fish finder & a hatch in the front too. I realise that this isn't a usual surf ski issue, but worth noting as others may wish to convert a surf ski for fishing. Good article, thanks

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Patrick, Do you and Brett find those boats easily stable enough for fishing or is pulling in a fish tricky enough that you have to pay close attention to balancing in the boat? I used to scuba and free dive from Ocean Kayak Scupper kayaks in the Pacific and I'm wondering if adding a tank well would open a whole new market for them.

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