The stated goal of BallOfSpray ski reviews has been to describe more than to judge each ski. The reader is left decipher to the comments and decide if a ski might fit their skiing or not. The Denali is an unusual ski so this will be an unusual review. It may read as disjointed, disorganized, contradictory and schizophrenic so let’s clear the air: the Denali C65 is one of the best skis ever reviewed on BallOfSpray.
Traditionally skis are either described as fast or slow. Skis described as slow typically require more physical work and more technical skills to get wide but turn more dependably at the ball. Fast skis are less work and get wide more automatically but often require more skills and finesse at apex. World records have been set and pro events have been won on both fast and slow skis.
In the last few years, a few skis have blurred the lines by being both fast across the course and turning automatically at the ball. The Denali C65 resets the bar as far as what possible in terms of fast and slow. The C65 is as fast as any “fast ski” from the ball to the wakes, and it bleeds speed as quickly as any “slow ski” from the wakes the ball. This ski is the best example of the merging of these two paradigms. One of the results of these attributes is that the skier will rarely get slack at the ball.
When a skier is at their best, the C65 is as smooth as any ski reviewed previously. On a more normal day when a skier makes typical mistakes, the C65 allows the skier to throw caution to the wind, pull hard, and then crank turns to get a score.
To quote Brooks Wilson, “The only thing that stayed the same is the name”. The 2018 Vapor is an entirely new ski design from Radar and the third major redesign of the Vapor.
The first generation of Vapor (2014-2015) was appropriately compared to Italian sports cars. It was fast and provided extreme performance to the skier who could handle it. The second generation of Vapor (2016-2017) had all of the performance of the previous version but with much more sophistication and polish. The new 2018 version has at least as much performance of the previous versions with an additional level of refinement.
The ski turns effortlessly and makes as much speed as any ski on the market but perhaps the most important attribute of the new Vapor is balance. This ski makes it easy for the skier to keep flowing in the right direction.
Ball to the wakes:
From the ball to the wakes, the 2018 Vapor holds angle and creates speed with surprising little skier effort. Part of this is the result of the ski carrying substantial speed through the turn. Skiers may find that they can take more passes per ride with less fatigue on the new Vapor. The lack of strength required is one of many factors that translates into more overall control and calm skiing.
Wakes to the ball:
Gaining width on the course is practically automatic. The ski flows out from the center of the course quickly and rolls up on edge at a rate that will surprise you the first time you feel it. This contributes to a tip down attitude approaching the ball. These same attributes also come into play after apex and result in more speed after the ball.
The inherent balance of the ski makes it easy for the skier to stay centered on both feet and flow through the turn. When the skier starts to initiate the turn, the ski quickly carves a tight arc and heads toward the wakes with surprising speed.
During the review period, ski adjustments were focused on getting the Off Side turn right. My personal technique flaws required me to tune the ski so it would not overturn Off Side. Once the fin and bindings were set for Off Side, I put the tools away and just skied.
On Side turns on the Vapor are basically fool proof and automatic. Provided that the skier does not do anything frightfully stupid, the ski is going to turn when it is asked and create plenty of angle. Previous generations of the Vapor required more front foot pressure to turn On Side. Skiers should always strive to be forward at On Side, but this ski will forgive you more then most if you do not.
One of my personal skiing flaws is that I rotate my shoulders more than I should, and I push into the exit of Off Side. The stock “long shallow” settings are perhaps superior to “short deep” for some skiers, but the ski worked much better for me with “short deep” settings.
The 2018 Radar Vapor is a ski that just works. The 2016-2017 Vapor was a classic, and the 2018 Vapor is even better.
Official Radar settings https://www.radarskis.com/finsettings/
Final Review Settings 29 15/16th /.776 / 2.507 / 6.863 / 9
The Raptor is the best high end ski you have never seen. Designed by many time German National champion and coach, Willi Ellermeier, the Raptor is different. It is fast. It turns very sharp. It is not for the faint of heart.
The ski is available in 65.75” and 67.5”. The below review reflects the 67.5”.
General Feel: The Raptor wants to follow an early line as opposed to other skis that work best with a less aggressive path from ball to ball. The ski turns extremely hard and makes a lot of speed, but it is also relatively forgiving to skier mistakes.
Many of the best skis on the market in the last 10 years require the skier to temper aggression. Conversely, the Raptor will accommodate skiers who ski with a style that is more “hammer down”. The ski will accommodate calm technical skiers as well.
Toe Side (Off Side) Turn: Off Side Turns on the Raptor are extraordinary. When the skier is in the center of the ski and rolls the ski in at apex, the Raptor feels like no other ski. The ski turns hard and fast but without the feeling of tail slide. The tip stays down and the ski carries more speed than expected back toward the wakes. These turns are dependable and consistent. The ski is relatively forgiving to skier weight distribution. If this ski has one trademark attribute it is the Off Side turn.
Heel Side (On Side) Turn: Heel side turns on the Raptor are also sharp and fast. Much of the review period was spent searching for fin settings to make the On Side turns as good as the Off Side. With the final settings used for this review, as the rope got shorter On Side turns became less flowing and often resulted in a moderate amount of slack at the hookup. I am hesitant to further criticize the On Side turns because I suspect better settings could make a world of difference. At just less than 185 pounds, I am at the bottom of the practical weight chart for this ski.
From Ball to Second Wake: The Raptor seems to always leave the ball with a lot of angle and hold it to the wakes. This ski makes as much speed toward the wakes as any ski on the market.
From Second Wake to the ball: The caveats noted above about how the ski performs at On Side should perhaps be addressed as how the ski casts out and then slows down. This ski carries a lot of speed all the way to the ball. At Off Side this extra speed is manageable and even to the skiers advantage. At On Side this means it takes a little more finesse to get the ski to arc back in on the ball. As noted above this may simply be a matter of fin settings or perhaps the ski is best for skiers weighing in at 190 pounds or more.
Conclusion: This ski is marketed as a 67.5”, but with the front binding at 30.5”, I would find it comparable to a full 68 inch ski. It is a big fast ski that turns on a rail. If this was the ski I was to ride for the rest of the year, I feel confident I would find better settings and put up scores equal to my best.
Best Settings as of the end of this review 30.5 / 2.515 / 6.895 / .830
The 2017 Radar Senate Lithium is an easy to ride mid-range ski with all the technical prowess of an elite high end ski. Radar took their top of the line Vapor and widened it two tenths of an inch to make the Senate. The result is a ski with the technical wizardry of the Vapor but even more forgiving and better suited for slower boat speeds.
During the review period I rode the Senate at 30, 32 and 34 MPH. At 34 MPH, I was able to run 32 and 35 off, but when I slowed the boat down to 32 and 30 MPH, I discovered this ski’s sweet spot.
The Senate is a surprisingly fast ski. In this case “Fast” means that the ski makes speed without a lot of effort by the skier and it also means the the ski carries that speed through the the turn. The result is more skiing with less muscle fatigue.
The Senate turns very well on both sides, and the off side turns are remarkably fun. The Senate delivers long flowing pre-turns followed by snappy turns without requiring perfect technical skills from the skier. The extra width of this ski just makes everything easier.
For a day on open water or casual buoy chasing, there is no better ski on the market then the Radar Lithium Senate