Until recently, most manufacturers completely underestimated the size and purchasing power of the recreational ski market. There are hundreds of social paddlers with no desire to contest dices or race series – they simply want to get out there and enjoy the ocean on a stable surfski.
Epic got in there with their V8 and more recently the Fenn Bluefin, and both have hit the ground running. The Carbonology Sport Cruze is right in that market now as well, using the reputation that Hein van Rooyen has earned for high quality finishes, durability in a light construction and elegant high-tech fittings.
The Cruze is 5,5m long – that’s shorter than the Fenn XT and the Bluefin (both 5,9m) and roughly the same size as the V8 (5,48m). True to this genre of ski, it’s flat and wide, the Cruze measuring 56cm behind the seatwell (Bluefin 44cm, XT 49cm and V8 56cm), making the V8 the best equivalent in terms of dimensions to the new Cruze.
The finish is brilliant, as we have come to expect from Carbonology. The test boat was their standard Vacuum Epoxy lay-up, weighing an impressive 14kg. This is what they do best.
It has a broad seatwell but the footwell is comfortably narrow. Adding to this thinking is a higher than average hump under the knees which contributes to minimising the area that can take on water and removed via the bailers. The bailers are a pair of the super-efficient bullet bailers which is now the industry standard.
Add to this light, strong and direct full carbon pedals on a fully adjustable vertical pin rack, a watertight hatch ahead of the pedals and below the breathable rubber bung plug, carbon rudder and carbon steering assembly hatch – the outfitting is excellent.
The handles are also top notch – rigid plasticised handles at the nose and tail and two soft-cover handles at the knees and at the exact midpoint of the boat weight-wise, make it a breeze to carry single-handedly.
On the water it is extremely stable and it has just enough rocker to make it lithe under pedal steering. As it’s a broad boat it takes some effort to get her up to high speeds, but this is somewhat offset by the light weight, so it’s not a major hurdle.
There is obviously an advantage to having a wider, high volume deck, front and back, when punching out through surf. The Cruze lives on top of the white water making it very manageable. The large wetted surface area behind the seatwell make picking up swell and runs easy, but cleverly the design includes a sharp V instead of a flat spoon tail shape. This really helps the boat track in surf swells and on runs.
The bottom line is that this is a fantastic recreational ski and an ideal ski to get started in. For the more experienced paddler, this is a ski to jol in: play in the surf, barrel it etc.
Critically this is a versatile ski that has serious potential as a multisport craft, especially for those who are not hot paddlers and battle when conditions (wind and swell) are against them.
Review by Dave Macleod
Originally published in the July/August 2013 issue 60.