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  • Kenny Howell

What's your Number?

Updated: Apr 4


From the V5 to the V14, Epic has your number. But what do these boat model numbers represent, and why do we use them? How do you choose the best number for your skill level and needs? With 15 different surfski designs in the Epic lineup, it may seem overwhelming at first glance. We decipher the meaning behind the numbers and reveal some historical design secrets along the way.

Epic Kayaks utilizes a unique number system that makes it simple to identify key characteristics of each surfski, with the lower numbers signifying the more stable and easier models for relative beginners to enjoy, while the higher numbers are assigned to the models with greater hull speed (which is only achievable if the paddler has the skill to handle the narrower, tippy boat!). Each numerical increase represents a potential step up in terms of speed, as well as changes in stability, and a paddler’s goals and expectations.

While all Epic surfskis have evolved from a racing pedigree, with speed and efficiency as the primary design objectives, the V10 series and higher numbers are considered best for advanced paddlers and require extensive experience to handle on the ocean. If your dream is to win a World Cup downwind surfski race, chances are your number is going to be the V12. If your favorite kind of paddling involves cruising on a lake or easy river – and you want a comfortable, stable, lightweight, and efficient craft – then your boat number will likely fall between the V5 and V8. The lower model numbers are also very versatile designs, capable of handling a wide array of environments, and they have brought joy to many paddling enthusiasts of all stripes.

Each Epic surfski model is unique enough to fill a specific niche for a certain paddler type and paddling conditions. You want to choose the number that is just right for you and gives you maximum fun and the best results on the water. If you like to paddle in different environments – exposed open coasts, as well as shallow, rocky rivers – then acquiring more than one Epic surfski may be the best approach in the long run. Test paddling will help in your decision making, too, so be sure to contact the Epic Expert or nearest dealer to schedule a demo. In the meantime, check out our full lineup here.

The Epic Surfski Lineup

The boat numbers will help you determine the best surfski for your ability and needs.

V5: The most stable Epic surfski and very maneuverable at 14’ long, with stability equivalent to many recreational kayaks on the market, the V5 has a very efficient hull shape and all the great ergonomic features of an Epic surfski, including a narrow “catch” at the bow to improve your forward stroke technique . Go farther with less effort and enjoy the ride! Available in rotomolded polyethylene, and two lightweight composite constructions, Performance or Ultra. Check out this video of the rotomolded V5 performing in all conditions:

V6: Stability is very similar to the V5, with more speed and tracking due to the 16’ length. Noticeably faster than a traditional sea kayak, the V6 is a unique surfski/touring design. It includes perimeter safety lines, and hatches fore and aft for storing camping gear – although many V6 owners primarily paddle on day trips, enjoying the boat for its comfort, efficiency, and versatility. The rudder is a kickup design preferred by touring aficionados. V6 photo album here:

V7: At 17’ long, the V7 is as step up from the V6 in terms of hull speed, and a bit less stable with a 21.25” beam; however, the weight of the rotomolded polyethylene construction gives the V7 a solid feeling in the water. A super fun all-around rugged surfski, capable of navigating shallow rivers and beach breaks, with the economy of a rotomolded kayak. Check out this video review of the V7:

V8: The surfski that changed the world forever when it was introduced in 2010, as it allowed paddlers without previous training to experience the thrill of surfski like never before – thanks to its stability and streamlined design. At 18’ x 21.25”, stability is very similar to the V7, while the composite construction and longer waterline provides a lighter, faster boat that can handle all conditions with ease – downwind paddling, open water crossings, and calm water cruising. Many experienced paddlers will opt for a V8 when facing challenging ocean conditions, as it is a safe and exciting boat to paddle downwind. If your goal is to get into fitness paddling, the V8 is the go-to surfski to have fun, go fast, and get fit! Check out the V8 in action here:

V8 Pro: A step up from the V8, the V8 Pro is ideal for anyone who may find narrower models too tippy for their liking. It can be too big a jump for many paddlers to go from a V8 to the V10 Sport. The 20” beam provides enough stability that some beginners are comfortable with the V8 Pro as their first surfski, depending on their goals and preferred paddling environments. More stable than the V9, the Pro is considered “best in class” at some racing events, with many podium finishes at the hugely popular Chattajack Race on the Tennessee River. 19’ has long been a “magic number” in surfski length (being the required length for Surf Lifesaving “spec” skis). Check out the V8 Pro in action here:

V9: Nearly as stable as the V8 Pro with a 19.3” beam, the V9 is optimized to excel in downwind surfing. It achieves that and more, with superb maneuverability due to an increased rocker profile. Stability is between the V8 Pro and V10 Sport. The 19’ length gives it plenty of hull speed and glide – while you feel relaxed and comfortable in a perfect, ergonomically designed cockpit with a lower “hump” under the legs to improve leg drive. Quite possibly the best all-around surfski design ever. In the short time since the V9 was released in 2020, it has become the favored boat for many intermediate flatwater racers and endurance athletes across the USA. Salli O’Donnell won the women’s solo division in the grueling 260-mile Texas Water Safari with her V9 this year. The V9 is fun, fun, and more fun! Check out the V9 in action here:

V10 Sport: Introduced in 2006 as the second surfski model designed by Epic following the original V10, the V10 Sport is intended for “advanced intermediate” level paddlers. The Generation 2 model was released in 2013 to provide a touch more stability and slightly longer waterline. It is more stable than the standard V10, without compromising much hull speed. Experienced kayakers new to surfskis can generally handle the V10 Sport in calm water, although they typically will benefit from a more stable boat like the V9 in rough water/downwind conditions. With long rails to adjust the footboard length, it can accommodate very tall paddlers (up to approximately 6’7”) and has ample room in the hip section. A favorite surfski for many intermediate to advanced paddlers wanting the perfect combo of speed and stability. Check out some wild and fun downwind action in the V10 Sport:

V10: The original V10 - Epic’s first surfski introduced in 2005 - set a new standard for elite competition models - a revolutionary boat with more stability and speed than was previously thought possible, thanks in large part to the computer aided design. Greg Barton and John Dixon collaborated to engineer a very fast hull shape that twice won the Molokai Challenge in the hands of elite competitors, as well as allowing mere mortal paddlers to excel on a true racing ski. The name “V10” came from John’s CAD data files that he shared with Greg; “Version 10”, as that particular file was named, ultimately became the design chosen for production. The number concept took hold with consecutive designs as they were released, and so Epic now uses the “V” designation for all its surfskis, with different numbers to differentiate each models. Now in the Generation 3 phase, with similar stability across all three iterations, plus improvements in downwind handling and cockpit ergonomics, the V10 continues to shine for skilled paddlers who want as fast a boat as they can handle within this stability range. The V10 is a legend around the world and keeps on giving legendary performance in all-conditions. Check out this beautiful video of the V10 in action:

V10L: The “L” is for Low Volume, and the V10L is optimized for lighter paddlers weighing up to approximately 165 lbs who are comfortable with the V10 stability, and want a fast, competitive surfski. It also accommodates a range of paddler heights (4’10” to 6’2”). At 20’2” x 17.3”, the V10L has the narrowest width at the “catch” section than any other Epic model.

SLS10: The SLS signifies “Surf Life Saving” and is built to meet the spec requirements for a highly demanding sport as it is practiced around the world. Greg Barton and Australian surf lifesaving champion Clint Robinson collaborated to design the SLS10 and produced an amazing craft that excels in the most punishing ocean environment – the surf zone. Normally used only by athletes competing in surf lifesaving events. Stability is comparable to the V10 Sport, but more maneuverable with the classic 19’ length required for “Spec Skis”. Only available in the requisite 18 kg. (39.6 lbs) construction. Check out the SLS10 in action here:

V11: In a class of its own as an elite 19’ surfski, the V11 is a nimble stallion capable of winning a downwind race, offering skilled paddlers a quick-maneuvering boat for dicing in technical wind waves. The 16.9” beam makes it a definite step-up from the V10. Further optimized for downwind conditions with high sides at the hips to provide a drier ride, the cockpit incorporates a lower hump to improve leg drive and stability. Plenty of volume and leg room for a wide range of paddlers (5’1” to 6’5”). More info:

V12: Looking to be a competitive downwind racer? Ready for a step up from the V10, or similar model? Look no further. Now with the Generation 3 edition, the V12 has redefined the art of downwind surfski design. The unique hull and bow shape help the boat “pop up” at bottom of a wave, while also shedding water and reducing the effect of cross winds. Expert paddlers report feeling more stable on the V12 than the V11, due to the greater length and volume of the V12. Faster than the V10 in flat water, maneuverable like the V11, and with the hull speed to catch ocean swells with ease, the V12 will leave other boats behind once it is pointed downwind! Length: 20’4” Width: 16.9” See the V12 in downwind action here, with a design discussion from Greg Barton:

V14: The gloves came off while designing this racehorse. Arguably the fastest surfski on the market, and not intended for the faint of heart. Faster than the V12 in flat water for elite paddlers with perfect stability skills, the V14 has a very narrow bow that cuts through wind and chop – but only if you can handle it! The Elite construction weighing just 24 lbs. moves like greased lighting on the water. Length: 21’ Width: 16.9”

V8 Double: When Epic released the V8 Double, we expected that paddlers would enjoy it on mostly flatwater or moderate downwind paddling conditions. Then it quickly became popular with professional coaches and experts introducing others to thrill of extreme downwind surfski adventures, thanks to its great stability and overall ease of use. The Generation 2 V8 Double has more rocker and volume for even better handling downwind. Stable enough (like the V8 single) that average paddlers can jump in and have fun, and with the desired performance for an expert to take a non-paddler out to open water. Also suitable as a tandem for parents wanting to introduce their kids to surfski. So many ways to have fun with the V8 Double! Without a doubt, best in its class. Length: 22’ Width: 22.4”

V10 Double: Like the V10 single, the V10 Double surfski was designed to be as fast as possible, within a certain stability range. Suitable for one expert and one novice in moderate conditions, great for two experts in advanced conditions, or two advanced/intermediate paddlers in moderate conditions, but not suitable for two novices (beginning paddlers would be better on the V8 Double). The V10 Double is an extremely fast boat and has won many races in the double surfski division!


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