FENN SKIS

The range

Fenn produces a whole range of skis, from very stable skis suited for first time paddlers through to top end racing skis.

The Blue Fin is the new entry ski. Anyone should be able to just jump in and paddle, very much like a plastic sit on top kayak. The big advantages over the plastic boats are lighter weight, a very efficient built in rudder and of course higher speed because they are much longer than most sit on tops.

The XT falls into the same category as an intermediate multisport boat. About half of absolute beginners can stay in an XT (although very wobbly) and the other half will go for swims. Most beginner paddlers take a few hours to become comfortable in an XT.

The Swordfish is probably the best ski for many competitive paddlers. It feels like a top end ski but has lots of secondary stability. Itís a bit like having trainer wheels, not much inherent stability when level but becoming more stable when it starts to lean.

 

The Elite range of skis is aimed at the top end paddler. There is the standard Elite, Elite SL, Glideand Spark. Stability wise there is not much difference between these 4 skis, with the standard Elite maybe slightly more stable than the others.

 

Then there is the LS designed and manufactured to meet Australian surf lifesaving standards, as well as two double skis, the Elite double and XT double

Blue Fin

The Blue Fin is an entry level ski. Itís perfect for learning to paddle, and also as a recreational ski for those who donít get a chance to get on the water very often.

Feedback from the Blue Fin is that is really is a ski that a total beginner can jump in and just paddle away. Over the years I have found that many novices found the XT challenging, and were put off by numerous swims during their first attempts to paddle it. The Blue Fin changes all that, even the first paddle will now be a pleasant experience.

Length: 5.9 metres

Width: 530 mm

XT

This is an intermediate ski, a bit of a challenge for total novices but usually mastered after a few days of paddling.

Length: 5.9 metres

Width: 480 mm

Swordfish

The Swordfish is an intermediate/advanced ski. Read what real paddlers have to say about the Swordfish here.

Here are my views:

In flat water itís slightly slower than the top end skis but not by much. I can easily stay with other paddlers at my level while sitting on their wash, but it requires a bit more effort paddling next to them.

The big surprise is surfing. It is absolutely superb in big downwind conditions, especially when it gets a bit technical. The manoeuvrability and extra stability in steep messy waves makes it the most fun ski Iíve ever paddled. In these conditions the Swordfish is just as fast as or faster than any of the other top end skis.

Seats are personal, what one person loves another will hate and the other way round. For me the Swordfish has the most comfortable seat of any ski Iíve paddled.

Length: 6.1 metres

Width: 450 mm

Elite

The Elite is my favourite ski in big conditions. It just loves big wind swell, the bigger it gets the better the boat performs and the more fun it is. The rudder is very forgiving, instead of just letting go as was often the case with older skis it gives the paddler lots of warning when pushing the limits. The ski is very good at diagonal surfing, conditions often experienced at the Takapuna Beach series races.

Length: 6.4 metres

Width: 430 mm

Elite SL

The SL is superb in ocean swells. It has a very high top end speed which is necessary for ocean swells which often move along at more than 20km/hr.

Length: 6.45 metres

Width: 425 mm

Elite Glide

The Glide is the latest top end ski from Fenn designed for the top end paddler. Itís quick but in some conditions a bit twitchier than the standard Elite.

Length: 6.44 metres

Width: 425 mm

Elite Spark

The Spark is tiny. Itís supposed to be for short paddlers only but I can just get my 6Ē3 with long legs to fit. Itís great into the wind and has the classic Fenn surfing feel, picking up little bumps really nicely. It handles big ocean swell really well, but with an all up weight (ski plus paddler) of 95kg water starts coming over the sides when jumping waves in large, steep wind swell.

Length: 6.44 metres

Width: 425 mm

LS

The LS is the new Fenn surf lifesaving ski. It comes standard with adjustable footrests and is available in a deep or shallow seat version. If conforms to Australian SLS specifications and is available in NZ with or without the SLSA approval label.

Looking at the evolution of ocean racing skis (which originally started off as spec skis) adjustable footrests are bound to become a standard feature of SLS within the next few years. For small clubs that can only afford a few skis, three adjustable Fenn LS skis which anyone can paddle cost the same as two fixed leg length skis that one a few paddlers can paddle.

I took the deep seat LS out at the Mount in some big conditions and was amazed at its stability. The nose looks really small when paddling in the ski, but it never ended up diving underwater, the nose is not pointed like the ocean racing skis but widen quickly to give lots of nose volume.

Weight

Fenn surskis are handmade and there is always a small variance in weight. In the old days the variance could be up to 2kg, but in the last few years Iíve found that weights between skis of the same construction generally do not vary by more than a few hundred grams.

Actual average weights of skis in the last container for different constructions were:

Full carbon (grey finish): 10 to 11kg

Hybrid (grey finish): 12 to 12.5kg

Vacuum glass: 14 to 15kg.

Glass: 16 to 18kg.

Adjustability

All new Fenn surfskis have adjustable footrests, the doubles are even adjustable both front and rear. Most skis will accommodate paddlers from about 5í5 up to 6í6.

 

The Elite Spark is designed especially for shorter and lighter paddlers.