Jan 29 #25940
Aloha from Kauai. Took delivery on a Vega Flex two weeks ago and wanted to share my experiences so far. First let give my paddling background so you know where I am on the paddling curve ,and how appropriate my comments may be for you.
Been paddling skis 8 years, OC1 5 years, paddle year round, split between PNW ,Gorge,and Kauai. Paddle ski/OC 50/50. On mainland paddle Huki S1R (glass/carbon 25#) and Ares. On Kauai Swordfish S (Carbon hybrid 26#?)and Ares. My passion is downwind paddling. I'm a decent intermediate paddler on the high end of barnacle age category. I paddle to chase bumps, will do a race only if decent downwind.
So why the Flex? I knew Kai Bartlett was trying to create a ski that surfed more like a one man (OC1). I love surfing my Ares and knew if he could create a ski that had some of those features I was in.
Specs: 18.25“ wide x 20.5' long 22 lbs full carbon
It's a beautiful ski with sleek lines. Has a blunt bow, more volume forward of footwell ,behind bucket,and reduced volume and profile in stern. Comes with a cover. Has same self centering rudder, easy foot plate adjustment as original Vega. Generous bungees forward of footwell and on deck behind bucket.
The footwell is lower volume so less water to drain and gives you solid contact on your lateral lower legs for better stability in bigger conditions. But still big enough for my 12C feet and future booties in PNW. Has single venturi drain.
The bucket is all around comfortable with slight curve on bottom .I'm tall and skinny so have padded out on sides only for hip contact not for comfort need or sore spots as on my other skis( sacrum rubbing). Those with more normal or generous hip/butt/thigh combinations will find plenty of room . The hump is moderate allowing good rotation.
One good thing about the Flex is it's very easy to remount. The gunnel is 1” lower than the original Vega and is about 1.25“ wide in the bucket area. Which means it doesn't dig into your groin or upper thighs as you pull yourself up out of the water. Also due to it's good primary and secondary stability you can sit side saddle very easily. I did practice remounts in lots of choppy sloppy conditions and never felt sketchy.
Paddling the Flex I felt solid in the bucket with no initial twitch that I've experienced in other 18” skis. She definitely surfs more over the bumps than digging in, and once you drop in she runs further than I've experienced in my other skis. I noticed I didn't need to power up as hard nor as long to drop in nor apply strokes as soon while looking for the next bump. I found myself waiting longer letting the Flex run without losing speed. Similar to my Ares. So I'm surfing with less overall effort which is useful. Like the Ares did for me I'm thinking the Flex will help me improve my surfing efficiency and linkage.
This is my first experience paddling a full carbon stiff 22 lb ski so some of the less effort feedback may be due to that feature.. Also because the Flex surfs more over the waves she's a dryer ride. The few times I've buried the nose she pops up faster than my other skis. So far I haven't found a wave deflector necessary.
I swamped the cockpit a few times surfing across some troughs and the single venturi drains very well. The rudder is an 8.5“ elliptical like with a horizontal bottom. In some very big technical conditions I had plenty of rudder bite and never got broached. Which may also be a function of the low volume tail section and more volume forward. For PNW and Gorge a weedless rudder will be useful.
Overall the Flex feels nimble and playful,easy to surf bumps, change direction, lay over on her rail, loads of fun.
Due to the surfing characteristics, excellent stability for an 18.25” ski,and ease of remounting the Flex should appeal to a broad range of ski paddlers.
I don't have any flat water feedback but I'm guessing the Flex can hold her own with the top intermediate skis.
Hope this info is useful.