I did K-1 racing as a teenager and did not sit in a kayak for 20 years after that (earning me a lot of overweight: ~210lbs/5'11"). About 3 years ago I bought a plastic Necky Looksha VI which I loved from the first day and still pet when I walk by although I hardly paddle it anymore. The Looksha is a nice play and training boat that is reasonably fast for a boat in its class but almost right from the beginning I realized I could take it out any distance (5 to 20 miles) on any day (flat or up to 3ft waves) on my flatwater lake and my cruising speed would always be almost exactly the same ~5mph.
Eventually, I rediscovered my love for the sport and wanted to do fitness training in a fast boat ... or better: I wanted the fastest boat on earth. I quickly realized the real fast boats have seats that are only fitting people that are in good shape. Trying to buy a fast kayak in Tallahassee Florida (preferring used) was not easy. I made multiple up to 400 miles trips to test paddle fast boats (e.g. WBS EFT). A week before I went on my trip to Florence, I did not even know what a Surfski is. When I read about the long trophy list of Oscar and Greg and any possible review I could find, I thought I give it a try.
I was lucky when I test paddled the boat the first time (05/27), the sea was what the guys down there call flat (2 ft long stretched waves). First of all, I fit and felt comfortably in the seat! The boat felt very tippy to me but I could paddle it for about 6 miles without falling in right from the beginning. Later that day, I learned how to re-enter the boat from the deep water right there on the beach. That exercise can wear you out quickly but once you find out what works for you (eventually I could do it fairly easily from the side) it is easy at least in calm weather and it made me feel real good to know, falling in would be no problem (in contrast to my Looksha that I never fell out of but I also never bothered to learn how to roll).
Back on my flatwater lake, I could paddle the boat about 6 mph (over 6 to 12 miles) within the first 2 weeks. To be honest, I was hoping for more but started to realize the operator factor and the fitness level was more important than I hoped for.
Shortly after I got my first wing paddle, my first GPS, and the forward stroke DVD. I paddled my new boat as much as I possibly could while working full time (2..3 x 12miles and 1 x 24miles each week). It took me from 05/27 (the first time I set in a surfski) til 07/25 to manage to average above 7mph over my "best pick" 5miles on my 12 miles course (without any current but tailwind and up to 18" tail waves). I just remembered on one of my first trips on the lake, I hit a stump in the water and my rudder (~7") bent with no effort and hit a hole in my nice new boat. This was my first fiberglass job (I actually went for the easier fiberglass putty). I never put the extra big rudder back on and replaced it with an 2" stainless steel rudder (which works fine on my flatwater lake).
During the next 6 weeks (until I wrote this review) I had to interrupt my training for a couple of weeks and I did not catch up with my best time yet (7.08 mph over 5 miles on 08/08). I started focusing more on technique since I realized I'm not using the wing paddle to its full potential. I realized I'm to fat for the boat as is and I'm plugged in the deep seat plus have this hump under my knees that there is really no way to execute any hip rotation with leg work.
Thus, two weeks ago I built me a seat pad that raises me up about 3". Now, I have much more clearance to execute better technique the boat however became more tippy again. I paddled the new seat pad for about 60 miles since I built it and eventually fell in the water (the second time for about 500 miles). Last week I paddled the boat with the 3" pad in the worst condition my lake ever offered: a very strong (Florida) wind with about 3ft waves that hard and short in a row that my boat nose was submerged regularly and my paddle was only hitting air within my reach ... this was the ultimate test for my rudder and the seat pad. I saw myself already in the water many times but miraculously managed to stay in the boat (with my feet out in the water at least onces). The small 2" rudder worked fine until I got parallel to the waves ... I had to wiggle myself out of this position with sweep strokes the rudder did not seem to help any.
Anyway, that is my story so far, I felt I paddled the boat enough to write a review. I love the boat ... I'm a little frustrated that I find it hard to unlearn my old paddling technique and to learn using the wing paddle properly in the V10 quick enough. However, I might be a bit spoiled and impatient.
The V10 is (according to testing) about 2-3% faster than the Makos on flat water. This makes it VERY fast on the flats. To go faster on the flats pretty much requires a flatwater racing boat. What also impresses me is how fast this hull gets upweather. Downwind it just flies with so little effort.
With me paddling, it is about 7-8% faster than my Epic Endurance on flat water, and much faster up weather. The hull cutouts allow a closer entry, allowing a more powerfully applied stroke. The stability is noticeably better than the Millenium, and way better than a Speedster. There is a very significant advantage for this boat in chop and rough water over the previous generation of fast surfskis.
Weight: The V10 seems to make the stated weight of 23-25lbs. I haven't put it on the scale, but it is lighter than any of my other surfskis by a significant margin.
The rudder is effective, and easy to use. In following seas, the boat seems to track a bit loosely, though. The seat is pretty low, and needs padding up. I am 6'3" and 240lbs, so am about the size this boat appears designed for.
Build Quality: The quality is excellent. The boat is assembled and manufactured with a very high degree of precision and attention to detail. The smooth finish and fit are really great. There are no waves or ripples in the hull like hand made products.
The adjustable footbrace is a welcome feature. Adjustment is pretty easy, and the foot rest is adequate. Molded footwells are obviously more solid, but less versatile. Deck bungies are a nice feature - why don't other surfski maker include these? My boat came with a bag included, which is nice to use when transporting it.
In short, this is a very fast boat with significantly more stability than the previous generation of fast surfskis. It gives up surprisingly little on the flats to K1s, and can handle the rough with much more confidence than previous hulls like the Makos or Speedsters.
If you want to go fast in a wide range of water condition, this is definitely a boat to consider, especially for the large athlete. There is also a low volume version, the V10L for athletes not sized appropriately for the full sized V10.