($1,895 in fiberglass on core mat/$2,395 in fiberglass-carbon-Kevlar composite/$3,395 vacuum-bagged in Nomex honeycomb core-Kevlar; epickayaks.com)
L: 18′; W: 22″; D: 13″; 40 lbs./35 lbs./29 lbs.
Epic’s first surfski, a 21-foot racing machine called the V10, was designed to be the fastest all-around ocean kayak in the world. Arguably, it was, especially when either of the designers—Olympian Greg Barton and 11-time Molokai champ Oscar Chalupsky—sat in the bucket. Fast, but useless to even seasoned sea kayakers who floundered in rough water like a drunk on a slippery dance floor. Enter the V8: Marrying the hull from its 18X sea kayak (the one Freya Hoffmeister used in her 8,845-mile paddle around Australia) and the sit-on-top deck from its latest, fastest ski, the V8 is swift and stable and, better yet, allows you to paddle in rough water without fretting about the dreaded C word (capsize). “The cutouts on the deck allow you to place the blade closer to the hull, which makes you think the boat is narrower than it is,” one tester said. There’s also built-in bow and stern handles, a drain in the foot well, water bottle holder in the cockpit, and bungee cords behind the seat. By far the fastest boat we tested, it has a responsive under-stern rudder and is dynamic enough to allow you to surf the 2- to 3-foot runners that litter the Hudson like day-old newspapers in Central Park.