This is our first plastic surfski review and we hope to add in more varied models in the future. All input is appreciated so we can continue to structure these better! Currently we have Boat Specs, Measurements, Quality of Life, Stability Rating, Remount Rating, Flatwater Testing and Final Thoughts
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 Spirit PRS 570 is a plastic composite surfski. These layups are nearly indestructible with a very high durability exterior that also flexes tremendously while retaining its original shape.
The trade off in this durability is the boats weight which comes in around 55lbs. This weight and added boat flex will impact its overall speed which we will discuss in the Flatwater Testing. This model is used primarily as an "adventure" boat within our club setting and will be our first benchmark in assessing the performance differences from a similar width carbon surfski (Epic V8Pro) which we reviewed before. The factory pop up rudder allows this boat to traverse any treacherous river conditions and survive shorebreak with ease.
Spirit PRS 570 Specs
18.7 feet long x 19.6 inches wide (5.70m×50cm)
Bucket Depth 8inches 21cm
Bucket Width(Highest point) 17 inches wide 43cm
Bucket Width (Lowest point) 12.5 inches wide 31.75cm
Footplate length (Longest setting) 42.5 inches 108cm
Footplate length (Shortest setting) 30 inches 76cm
Heel Depth 8.5 inches 21.6cm
Hump Height (highest point in cockpit) 3.5inches 8.9cm
Boat weight for testing - 54 pounds 24.5kg
Spirit Overstern 6 Inch 15.25cm
Outline Measurements from nose
15 inches from nose - 4.5 inches wide 38cm/11.4cm
30 inches from nose - 8 inches wide 76cm/20.3m
45 inches from nose - 11.5 inches wide 114cm/29.2cm
60 inches from nose - 12.5 inches wide 152cm/31.75cm
75 inches from nose - 15 inches wide 190cm/38.1cm
Outline Measurements from tail
75 inches from tail - 18.5 inches wide 190cm/47cm
60 inches from tail - 16.5 inches wide152cm/41.9cm
45 inches from tail - 14.5 inches wide 114cm/36.8cm
30 inches from tail - 11 inches wide 76cm/27.9cm
15 inches from tail - 6.5 inches wide 38cm/16.5cm
The footplate starts around 30inches/76cm and adjusts to 42.5in/110cm which fits a wide array of paddlers. The "hump" height is fairly high comparatively to more modern surfskis with the single footwell for the legs. Looking at our measurements for heel depth and hump height puts a portion of the boat in contact with your calves. For myself this makes the footplates a few inches further away so 30in/76cm is too far away when it would typically work in a boat without this high point in the cockpit. The bucket has a lot of space and is easy to rotate in. The rails on the side of the boat are only 1 inch / 2.5cm as the bucket is 19inches/48.25cm wide leaving 17 inches/43cm for sitting which is extra spacious as most boats have 16inches/40.5cm.
Quality of Life Details
There are carry handles on the bow/stern/center of the boat which are rubber+fabric fastened by two screws. These degrade over time but are simple to re-install. The bailer system uses a suction system powered by heel drive to drive water from the footwell out through tubes. This can be irritating if excessive sounds bother you with the constant squishing the sections make. The footplate adjusts very easily similar to the Epic system pull pins. To give proper tension to the pedals you need to use a screwdriver to loosen a clamp on the steel cable and move it to match the new plate position. This is simple but can be tedious if changing the footplate constantly since it involves tools. The factory pop up rudder has held up well over time only needing to be tightened to the hull every few months. Photos below showing everything described above.
Stability Rating: This model is a sporty beginner boat in terms of primary stability. With the higher seat position this will give many paddlers an immediate challenge since the higher position moves the hull side to side quicker. This is counteracted slightly with the extra weight of the boat as well as its larger tail size. This boats tail outline matches other models 2in/5cm wider which makes it slightly disproportionate to its widest point and it's outline widths. This isn't quite in the realm of an intermediate surfski but it's close. The secondary stability is a little more forgiving but the high seat position can help you find water for a swim quickly.
As we have more boats to compare and create a numeric stability rating we can come back and assign a value to the stability, but for now this boat is "more tippy" than the 20inch 51.5cm V8Pro we have reviewed.
(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: Thin rails and a high seat means this is a very forgiving boat to remount into! Reminiscent of a spec surfski which are designed to easily jump in and out of. The center handles don't seem to impede access to the bucket as you are transitioning into the boat. The extra weight of the hull means the boat is less twitchy as you throw your weight around. More hull weight takes longer to move essentially, and those twitchy boat movements during remount are the typical culprits for falling again!
(Like Stability Ratings, we will rate remount ratings boat to boat as we complete more reviews. For now this boat is "easier to remount" than the reviewed Epic V8Pro.)
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 - Speeds with the plastic surfskis will always suffer comparatively to the fiberglass/carbon counterparts. The extra weight of the boat is one factor but the amount of flex within the hull itself is the other contributor. The energy transfer from the paddle stroke is lost through the hull as it flexes. Compared to the recently tested V8Pro in the carbon layup which is a little wider of a boat, it ends up being 33s/mile difference. Testing more plastic boats will give better boats to review against but for now we have a good gauge of performance difference from a 27lb/13kg carbon boat to this 54lb/23.5kg model. The narrow outline of the nose is definitely efficient in the flatwater setting. That extra tail width can be felt as the boat struggles to find its glide comparatively to its widest point. The higher seat position is great for additional leverages on the forward stroke, very ergonomic. The overstern rudder doesn't have the same control as the understern and as a result the sharper turns take longer to navigate.
Final Thoughts: Part of the purpose of this article is to demonstrate some major differences between carbon and plastic boats. Each have tremendous strengths over the other to consider and ultimately your paddling skill level, environment, goals and seriousness are all contributing factors. Dealing with a lighter vessel off the water is nice, but slamming into a rock at full speed with zero damage is also nice! 33s/mile is a lot but it's also not a lot depending on your point of view. As we progress with reviews we can look at plastics vs plastics more closely but this serves as a cross over comparing different layups to get started.
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