Ed Long (surf kayak coach /England surf squad member) Steve Bowens
Height - 5ft 10 Weight – 77kg
Alex Read (England surf squad member)
Height – 5ft 8 Weight – 80kg
– 5ft 11 weight 76 kg (4th World Cup 2006, also a surf kayak coach)
Dave, Ed and Alex are all from Marjon university surf kayak and part of the England surf kayak squad competing at the world surf kayak championships. .
Incidentally Ed, Dave and Alex had skived off lessons from Uni to bum around Spain surfing so if any of there lecturers are reading this don’t except any excuses about not having enough time to do there course work.
Location: Bakio beach Northern Spain
Surf size: head high/3ft
Surf type: steep and fast, onshore windy.
The Valley and Mega were also surfed by our testers on the legendary Mundaka wave, which is a steep, committed down the line barrelling left.Valley Rush
Our rrp prices are:
£1195 - This gets you a full Kevlar/carbon boat with a Vacuum bagged foam-sandwich hull for competition levels of rigidity
£1395 - This is our full team-spec. construction, Full Epoxy, full Kevlar/carbon, vacuum bagged foam sandwich deck and hull.
Technical advisor Sean Morley
Ski like position, Alex (shortest tester) found this boat to be a bit big for his frame, easy to get in and out of boat, block of foam for back rest comes with selection of foam for custom fitting. There were mixed views on the foam block for the backrest as some liked it and some preferred an adjustable belt fitting.
Very dependent on the colour, some colours did make the boat look a little old fashioned. But some colours looked really good. Valley produces boats in both standard colour scheme and in retro style glitter, as you desire.
Down the line speed 5/5
Hold a very high line on the wave giving confidence to make the sections. There was a lot of debate over which was fastest down the line between the Rush and the Fusion and it was decide that the Rush was marginally ahead.
Holds speed and accelerates through the turn, lots of drive off the fins, Ed mentioned that there is a danger of getting caught out by flying off the back of the wave until you get used to its personality.
This is possible but needs to be encouraged with a lot of pre rotation. With any boat design speed will come at the sacrifice of manoeuvrability, this does not mean that a fast boat will not be manoeuvrable but it will need specific techniques to be able to throw the boat around. The Rush will carve hard and produce lots of spray but it will not be as easy to throw the boat around in the pocket as the Reflex 07.DB Fusion 77
Technical advisor Nathan Edes
The RRP for the Fusion is:
800 for glass fibre and diolen.... check spelling!
1000 for epoxy, Kevlar Carbon construction
1300 for epoxy, Vacuum Bagged, Kevlar Carbon with foam core: AND a set of Carbon Fins.
By far the most comfortable boat prior to customised fitting all testers thought that they could spend many hours at a time in the boat, central pillar of foam is pre cut to allow more room for feet, locked in feeling to allow positive feel and easy to get into/out of, the one we tested had a moulded seat which would make it a little more difficult to customise paddleing position but it is available with a foam seat allowing a greater degree of customisation.
The graphics on the latest designs help to make the boat look streamlined. Although this boat was considered to be the least aesthetically pleasing Ed reckoned that his good looks meant that any boat looks good on his shoulder. Joking apart Dave Brown has really helped the original looks of this boat with the addition of funky lines and colours.
Down the line speed 4.5/5
There was thought to be little difference the Rush and the Fusion, the Fusion has excellent directional stability giving it a “point and go” feel. The large edges allow this boat to be pumped up to speed and fly down the line. This boat also has the largest hull surface area, this combined with its speed makes it really good for floaters and moves above the wave.
Positive acceleration out of the turn, very big rails creating a great deal of grip. This boat gives you feeling of pulling lots of G’s when turning on a larger wave.
This boat is designed for carving and speed as such it is a little uncomfortable in the set-up, which we were using to be slashed around. It may be that by moving the fins forward and perhaps using a smaller central fin that this characteristics would change but this would be at determent to its down the line speed.Mega Reflex 07
Various constructions from £895
Technical advisor Darren Bason
This boat needs more time than the others to personalise so that it is comfortable, the central foam pillar is solid and thus leaves little room for your feet. We all found this boat to be the least comfortable to sit in for long periods of time but with a personal fitting could be made to be more comfortable. It is also worth remembering that this boat is the lowest volume and as such the benefits of having a low volume boat will make the comfort task much harder for the manufacturer.
This was voted as the sexiest of surf kayaks on the beach by testers. Boat comes in standard colours or in retro glitter as you wish.
Down the line speed 3.5/5
This boat is built to turn not go in a straight line. This does not mean that the boat is slow and all testers considered it to be considerably faster than all older models of surf boat of a similar size, a good example of this is when Edu had his Reflex and Neutron (bigger faster boat) sitting next to each other on the beach prior to the world championship HP finals in surf which was peaking at double overhead he picked up the Neutron to surf in these conditions.
This boat wants to be slashed from side to side rather than carved, this style comes from Darren Bason’s influence on the design of the boat. The boat will also carve well but does not hold the speed through a drawn out turn to the same extent as the others.
This boat really wants to be thrown from side to side, spitting spray at your competitors.Overall:
Overall all the boats tested were very impressive in there performance, it was felt that each design was very much influenced by the style of paddling personified by the technical adviser, Darren Bason is a very busy surfer, always throughing the boat aground on the wave and using his large amount of strength to ensure he generates lots of speed on the face of the wave when he wants to make the section whereas Nathan Edes style tends to be fast and hard carving often trying to get the boat in the air and Seam Morley who comes primarily from a ski background tends to again have a fast down the line style with hard carving turns throwing spray high in the aid.
As to which boat is best, there is no answer, if you want a boat to go fast and carve hard taking it to the air there is very little in it between the DB and Valley but if you want slash and tear the wave apart then the Mega is the one for you. You might like to consider the type of break you normally surf on and what you will be using the boat for. The days of competition surf kayakers having one boat for all contests is coming to an end!
We all really enjoyed testing these boats and found it most informative to try out different boats, my advice if you are thinking of getting a new surf boat is to try out as many different types as possible (ensure you do this on a typical UK beach as all three boats tested were destroyed by either taking a lip drop into the sand on a heavy dumping beach or colliding with a Bask local committed on the legendary Mundaka wave!)
In short if you want to go fast and get air then the Valley or DB are the one for you, if you want to throw your boat around in tight turns then the Mega is hard to beat.
Thanks to the manufacturers who put there boat forward and who travel all over the country to provide demo boat for people to try at surf comps and demo weekends.