These boards are the absolute Holy Grail of wave riding - from both a performance and a construction point-of-view. The flex in these boards is second to none, enhancing the whole ride. Using a closed-cell Styrofoam with a bamboo stringer, the board is then handglassed in two stages – first on the bottom, then the top. This method is time consuming, but the results are superb. Xelerator claim to be the first kiteboarding company to have used this technique back in 2006 and you can see a video on their website in which they drive over the board with a 1.5 ton pick-up truck; showing once again, it’s all about the flex. These boards are for high-performance riding and are extremely durable. The Epic 2011 custom wave board comes with a warranty unique in the kiting industry for these types of boards and are hand-shaped according to the customer's spec. They also do an all-round line of fun surfboards, called the Surf.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Epic really does look the business. No fuss, just a very clean, no-nonsense tough little surf machine. It feels solid in your hands, but isn't heavy. It also feels quite thin and when you realise what the conditions are mostly like here in Cape Town where they're manufactured, you can understand why. The Epic rides very smoothly under power. In fact, the more power you give it the better it gets and at 6'0'' the board we had felt right at home powered under medium-sized riders at 70-ish kilos. If you're a heavier weight, you should perhaps look at a bigger size, especially if you want to ride in lighter conditions.
This is an outstanding all-round board, working strapped in bigger waves and strapless for the fun, smaller smack-it-up stuff. Super manoeuvrable and easy to throw around, slide out or simply drive around at the top of the wave, the lovely thin rails allow you to really dig in a tight turn and also edge hard at the bottom. The generous width also makes a wider, stable turn a pleasure as well. The rocker is fairly flat, so the board gets up and going nice and quickly for its dimensions and allow you to use the wave's power nicely, but that relatively thin quality allows it to really be easily controlled in the mental winds we had here with very little bounce.
You can really hammer it around the breaks up and down, in and around the sections. Many riders also ride in this style back home where we're from in the UK on the south coast for example, which is like a lot of places that rely on wind swell around the world, which only really starts kicking up to a decent size when it's properly windy. The Epic would be right at home there. Like a surfboard, the accessories are kept simple and with no-fuss. The windsurf style straps were met with mixed opinion, some love these style of straps that give you just enough support to hold the board on your feet, others might find it strange at first without the support you'd be more used to if you're coming from a twin-tip. These are easily changed if you want to though and the other nice thing is that the boards have a nice bit of grip on the deck for gybing, so there's no need for wax.
At this size, the Epic was better ridden with plenty of power in the kite, when it becomes a real kitesurfer's kiteboard who wants to ride hard and fast. Perfect for driving through quick turns and smacking the top hard and fast. Super light and fun, this board has a really playful character and charges in anything up to over head. In the big stuff, you'd want something more substantial, but for most of us, it's an ideal shape for realistic kitesurfing conditions. Great stick.
This is probably one of the most easy to ride allround surfboards in powered up conditions.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
You'll want a bigger one for the marginal days.
Whatever takes your fancy. Speak to Fred, he'll sort you out, but says that their most popular sizes are between a 5'10'' and 6'2'' – depending on if you want to ride with a lot of power in the kite or with as small a kite as possible. They also come with a full year's warranty, confident stuff. We rode the 6'0'' x 18'' x 2''.
This test is in issue #50