Elite S – Austin Kieffer’s impressions – feelings – sensacion
Austin Kieffer’s interesting feelings on the Elite S : « FENN has really made something special »
“Bridging the gap between the extreme elite boats and the intermediate boats and the best racers in the world are absolutely making it fly”
Warning: This is not a review; this is a love story.
I am sure there are many people who can tell you a great deal about design differences: the changes to the hull, the placement of the rudder, the width, length, or weight. For me that has never mattered much. What I find matters are three things: 1) How does it feel on the flat water?2) How does it handle in the wind and waves? 3) Who is racing the boat successfully?
How does it feel on the flat water ? STABLE, COMFORTABLE, and FAST
New designs all seem to be so radical these days. Sharp lines, thin boats, extreme hulls, and boat makers trusting in the elite athletes to handle them. The Elite S is something different. It is stable, shockingly so. When I sat in the S for the first time, I thought I had grabbed the wrong boat. I actually got out to check the boat sticker and make sure I hadn’t accidently grabbed a Swordfish (the intermediate FENN boat). Before I even took a stroke I was thinking, “a boat this stable cannot be fast.” I actually took the Hybrid demo boat right out for some short sprints to test my theory. I clocked a max speed of 19.9km/hr (12.3mph). That speed was on par with my best in my lighter and “faster” Carbon Glide. I was blown away. Clearly, this boat was able to find the sweet spot between speed and stability.
My guess is the speeds have something to do with the phenomenal cockpit. I have always felt very comfortable in FENN cockpits, but again, the S is something special. The bucket is not as deep as other Elite designs and the hump has been significantly reduced. The whole set up is less confining and allows for optimal rotation, leg drive, and lower body power. Combine the ideal ergonomics of the new cockpit and a significantly more stable platform and the S is capable of really firing it up on the flat water. It’s stable, comfortable and can still go fast in the flat, but for me it’s not about the flat water. I am not looking for a K-1 that rockets in the flat, but hardly stays upright in big conditions. The one thing that REALLY matters is, how does it handle in the wind and waves?
How does it handle in the wind and waves ? LIKE A DREAM!
This boat was made to surf. It is like no other surfski I have ever paddled. And it’s not just about sitting on waves (which the S will happily do). What makes this boat fast is how it carries speed, how it links runs and continues surfing from one wave to the next, and how well it handles when you need to make a jump forward. The S seems to have a natural shape for holding the speed in the waves. It balances easily high up on the tops of runs and with only the slightest body movement it will surge forward, almost of its own accord, carrying, even gaining speed as it practically guides itself into the next opening. It longs to surf and will spend the whole downwind with the bow downhill. And when you need to make a move (jump a wave or paddle between waves), it all comes back to stability. You waste absolutely no energy balancing. Just sit up strait, drive the boat with optimal strokes, and skip ahead of your competition to the next wave. I know that this is a bit on the short, effusive side for a boat review, but honestly, if I continue I will just start waxing poetic about this boat. If my obsession isn’t abundantly clear, I will say it plainly. I love this boat. It makes every session a joy and an exploration of the boat’s capabilities. Every time someone asks me about the boat I have a new anecdote of its excellence from my last paddle. If you don’t believe me, just look at the top athletes racing the Elite S !
Who is racing the boat successfully ? THE WORLD CHAMP!
The S somehow defies industry trends. It’s not radical, tippy, or challenging to manage in the surf. It is a boat that is bridging the gap between the extreme elite boats and the intermediate boats and the best in the world are absolutely making it fly. The reigning World Champion, Cory Hill, paddles the Elite S. He won the Doctor on the S, he won Molokai on the S, and he won the World Champs on the S. But it’s not just Cory Hill who is finding success in the new FENN boat. This year alone, Dawid Mocke, Michael Booth, and Mark Anderson have all paddled the Elite S to spectacular podium finishes in World Series races.
The FENN Elite S is flying to podium finishes around the world and changing the paddling of surfskiers everywhere. If you are looking for a new boat, look no further than the Elite S. It is most certainly the boat for you!