xt

 

The original Nano One was a truly groundbreaking ski. It was not a particularly fast ski, and it was perhaps not the ski of choice when trying to ski as smooth as possible. What the original Nano One did was that it forgave the skier for committing otherwise unforgivable mistakes at the ball.  Once the skier got to the apex of the turn, the Nano One was practically magic. The result was not the prettiest passes possible but scores beyond what was expected.

The Nano OneXT has the same shape as the original Nano One with changes to the rocker and to the bevels. The result of these seemingly small changes is a substantial change in speed and in smoothness, along with the effort required to get wide. With the right inputs, the XT can provide extremely smooth and flowing passes.

Off Side Turn & On Side Turns: The XT turns unusually symmetrically. On both sides, the ski works best when the skier is in a neutral stance and with understated movements.  With refined technique, the ski will carve a tight fast arc at the ball line. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this ski is how much water speed can be maintained through the turn. With more aggressive/impatient skiing, the ski will change direction quickly but will lose water speed resulting in hard, frantic skiing.xt-2

From the ball to the wakes: This ski creates the right amount of cross course speed when the skier is centered and does not create extra load.  Additional load is simply unnecessary, and with this ski, leads to less consistent results on the other side of the centerline. The skier needs to set angle, maintain stack and trust the ski. No more & no less.

From the wakes to the ball: To get the most from the XT, the skier must keep his or her shoulders level and weight centered when approaching the ball. If the skier can resist the temptation to move forward or backward of center on the way out of the ball, the ski will arc out and back with an amazing lack of drama.

Conclusion: More than any other ski reviewed to date, the XT holds speed from the wakes to the ball and back to the wakes. The result is less effort spent accelerating and decelerating. The possible downside is that excess speed created in a moment of panic is harder to bleed off. In terms of set up and skiing technique, the XT is finicky, but if you give this ski exactly what it requires, it is fantastic.

Ellie Camaro

I recently have had the honor of being sponsored by CAMARO. Joining a team that produces some of the most prestigious wetsuits on the market has been a huge honor. Before becoming part of the team, I had heard from others about the amazing quality and performance of these suits. This seemed unrealistic, taking into account how thin the wetsuit material is. However, when I finally got the opportunity to try them out for myself, I was awe-struck.

The Modetec Titanium wetsuits are among some of the products that I received from CAMARO. The first thing I noticed about this suit was how warm I stayed even after my initial jump into the water. A lot of wetsuits take a while to provide warmth because the water seeps in and then you have to wait for your body to heat it up. This is not the case with the Modetec. Wearing this suit is like armor against the cold water. Though the Modetec suits are tight fitting, they are by no means restricting. Like a second skin, they allow you to breathe. Not only are these wetsuits phenomenal at retaining heat while allowing flexibility, they also stand out in appearance. Because of the sleek, silver neoprene look, my Modetecs have been pegged as my "super" suits.

Ellie Camaro 2

 

vapor

The Radar Vapor is the 4th completely new ski from Radar Skis since the company was founded by Herb O’Brien in 2007. The color and graphic design cues for the Vapor invoke the image of a Lamborghini super car, which after considerable thought I believe is misguided.  The cars built by Lamborghini are known as overly aggressive machines with excessive horse power best driven by only the most skilled pilots. On the other hand the Vapor is one of the most refined and user friendly skis on the market.

The Vapor is an all new shape but the best elements of past Radars can be found in the ski. The consistency and speed of the Strada; the astounding on side turn of the RS-1; and the angle of the MPD can all be felt in the Vapor.

The widest spot of the Vapor’s silhouette  is farther forward than previous Radar’s making it appear wider, but this is an illusion. The new shape results in additional support under foot as the skier approaches the ball. As a result the skier feels comfortable moving their weight forward as they approach the apex.

From the wake to the ballvapor-2

If the Vapor had to be described by only one attribute, it would be that the ski consistently puts the skier on a path that is wide and early. Poor handle control or other unfortunate technique by the skier is inexplicably forgiven on the way to the ball line. Somehow the ski just gets the skier in front of the ball.

The Vapor is a fast ski but the path to the ball line does not feel stressful or frantic as it might be on ski whose stability had been compromised for speed. To the contrary, the Vapor offers ample stability affording the skier a feeling of calm that is generally only found in slower, deeper riding skis.  

From the Ball to the Wake

The Vapor takes and holds a lot of angle from the ball to the wake. Should the skier do something silly at the ball, the Vapor can easily be repointed across the lake.

Off Side

For a skier who applies ample front foot pressure before the apex of the turn, the Vapor carves an aggressive but controlled off side turn. The radius is short but not so fast as to put the skier out of position. In this mode, the skier will exit the ball with substantial water speed and angle. The Vapor’s off side turns are not only the key to a big score, they are also pure slalom fun.

At longer line lengths or at slower speeds, skiers will find that they can ski with a more neutral weight distribution and still benefit from most of this skis off side attributes.

The design of this ski (and the settings used for this review) requires that the skier not approach the ball with a combination of low roll angle* and insufficient front foot pressure followed by an attempt to drive forward and turn all at once. This will cause the ski to stall. In other words, to turn off side smoothly on the Vapor the skier needs to drive forward and arc in early. The dynamics of short line skiing are such that this behavior is only a problem when the skier is early and drawing a path parallel to the boat.

vapor-3On Side

On side turns on the Vapor are incredibly dependable. The turn radius is tight and the rotation smooth. One way or another, the ski will exit the on side with buckets of angle. A wise and skilled skier will easily take substantial speed and angle back to the wakes. With less tact and more aggression, the Vapor can easily be made to turn very hard and point seemingly straight across the lake. It is pretty much idiot proof.

Conclusions

Provided that a skier is comfortable engaging the front of the ski early approaching the off side turn, the Vapor is perhaps the smoothest and most refined ski on the market today. It does not do anything particularly radical. It is not the fastest, nor the hardest turning, nor the most unforgiving or the most forgiving ski ever, but the Vapor simply makes it easy for the skier to link fast turns back and forth across the lake and around a great many balls.

Quirks

This review is based on my experience skiing on a 67” Vapor with bindings at 29 15/16 and the fin set at 2.47 /6.885 (tips)/ 0.765 (head of caliper)/ wing 8 degrees. I also took a few rides with the fin set at 2.451/6.895./ .730. This second setting eliminated the need to be as technical at the off side, but then on side was not as automatic. If I was to ski on Vapor for another few months I would certainly explore these alternative settings further.

*Low roll angle = ski riding flatter in the water and less of edge

vapor-4

 

a3 review-1The HO A3 is the third generation of HO's "Angle" series. The original theme of the "A" skis emphasized angle over speed. The A3 breaks with this theme by generating substantial speed and angle. The result is the most aggressive slalom ski to ever come from HO. Skiers at all levels may find success on this ski, but those with an extra measure of technical skill will be rewarded with something more.

The A3 is one the best ski tested to date in terms of getting a few more balls after a major skier mistake. When the skier has thrown caution to the wind in pursuit of one or two more balls, the A3 does not disappoint.

Off Side
The A3 delivers an explosive Off Side turn. More than most skis on the market today, the A3 requires that the skier move their weight forward of center early in the pre turn and that they keep their shoulders level. Skiers who can do this will find that the A3 initiates the arc back to the inside early and then finishes the turn quickly with amazing angle. Skiers who approach the off side with less front foot pressure will find the ski changes direction more abruptly.

On Side
On side turns on the A3 are not as distinct as the off side turns. Skiers who approach the on side with weight forward will find smooth and fast turns. Skiers who have ride farther back into on side will find a smooth but less radical on side turn.

From the wake to the balla3 review-4
Through the edge change and out to the ball line, A3 is comfortable underfoot. The ski is stable enough to impart confidence and allow the skier to adjust their stance approaching the ball. Width is achieved without exceptional technique or effort.

Conclusions
Personally, I only run 38 off occasionally. I ran more 38s on the A3 than any other ski ever reviewed but I also found my skiing to be not as smooth and consistent as I would prefer. To ride this ski smoothly requires a calm and skilled skier. Once you reach your hardest pass, the A3 may be the ticket to the one or two that balls you usually can't reach.

For skiers working at less demanding passes the A3 is much more user friendly. I loaned the test A3 to a friend who had only run 28 off once in this life. He ran 28 his first ride on the A3. The aggressive nature of the A3 may give skiers at 15 to 28 off the kind of angle that is generally not experienced until 32 off or shorter.

Quirks
The 2014 A3 is very sensitive ski in terms of fin and binding set up.
The metal flake in the red looks awesome in the sunlight.

a3 review-7

The above photo is 6 ball at 38 off at Banana Lakes

ConnellyThe first two generations of the Connelly Prophecy were fun to ride and a joy to review because they were unique. The first generation ski was a challenging ski to master with radical tendencies. The second generation ski was substantially more user friendly but still not to the tastes of many shortline skiers. The 2013 ski is the third generation Prophecy, it is the best ski Connelly has produced in 20 years, and one of the very best skis I have ever reviewed.

 

General Feel:

The Prophecy flows from ball to ball on easy passes and then displays remarkable forgiveness for skier mistakes at the limit. There are some skis on the market today that feel great for easy passes, but do not deliver when things get hectic. There are also skis that feel awkward on easy passes,  and then come to life when the skier nears their limit. The Connelly Prophecy feels good underfoot from your first pass to your last. This ski gives the skier everything they need to reset their expectations.  

Many modern skis get additional stability by being wider. The Prophecy is a more traditional shape and archives stability by sitting deeper in the water. A byproduct of this stability is that the skis attitude, or tip height, is constant throughout the course.

Toe Side (Off Side) Turn

If there is one attribute that defines this ski, it is the way it turns the off side. When you reach apex and begin to move to the inside, the ski simply changes direction. With some skill and patience it will carve a smooth tight arc to the inside. If pushed, it will snap around at a remarkable rate. Either way will result in massive angle back to the wakes. Skiers who excel at keeping their shoulders level will be rewarded with addition angle and control.

The off side turn is fast and the angle is acute but the turn is not sliding or unstable. The Prophecy delivers a nearly foolproof off side turn.

Heel Side (On Side) TurnConnelly-2

The on side turns are somewhat rounder and more flowing than the off side turns and are still fast and the result is massive angle. The Prophecy can be made to turn on side without a lot of front foot pressure, but the ski tends to lose water speed if you do so. With at least moderate front foot pressure approaching the apex, the ski will flow back to the inside with ample water speed. 

Conquer

In a field of skis that all look and perform similar, the O'Brien Conquer stands out like Metallica at a jazz festival. The silhouette of the Conquer is made up of bold straight lines. The forebody is broad and straight. The tip is angular. The Conquer is blissfully different. The Conquer’s width and flat rocker equates to an unusually stable ski that produces crazy width and speed. Perhaps no other ski can get a skier from one side of the boat to the other as fast as the Conquer. The attitude of the ski is relatively flat and very consistent heading to the first wake. From the wakes to the ball, the Conquer gets wider and earlier in front of the ball than any other ski tested to date. The ski flows out and in front of the ball while maintaining extraordinary stability. The fact that the ski is so comfortable underfoot at this point allows the skier to be in better than normal position. Off Side turns on the Conquest are sharp and fast. The ski snaps around from wide as opposed to carving back. Sometimes the ski needs to be pushed a little to initiate the rotation and then it simply changes direction all at once. Pushing this ski too hard at Off Side will result in a radical turn and a frantic exit from the ball line.

Conquer

QuestMay12SkiWest-0915-2The D3 Quest is an all-new ski for 2013. The development process of the Quest may have started with the D3 X7 but the final product is a completely different ski.

In a field of super aggressive, fire breathing slalom skis the Quest is the most predictable and refined high end slalom ski tested to date. As opposed to being the most radical, the Quest has the right amount of the speed, angle, stability and aggression. Not radical does not mean pedestrian. In this case, it is quite the contrary. The Quest is a world class short line slalom ski.

As with many design attributes such as stability, too much or too little can make skiing more challenging. The Quest is stable enough off the wakes to allow the skier to feel comfortable and confident, but is not over stable at the expense of aggressive turns. The Quest offers a very tactile feel underfoot. In combination with other attributes this stability makes the skier feel comfortable and able stay more centered over the ski.

“Off Side” turns are dependable and consistent. Compared to other skis in the same class the Quest is perhaps less sensitive to weight distribution. Because of the ski’s basic stability the Quest makes it easier for the skier to be in better position through the turn (*). The arc from apex to hookup is crisp but not abrupt. If the skier is patient with their free hand at the end of the turn the Quest will arc far back inside the ball line for even more angle. The basic attitude of the ski is not overly tip down but is consistent.

“On Side” turns are practically indistinguishable from “Off Side” turns. Skiers who are not  as centered going into their “On Side” will find that the QuestQuest-3 is quite tolerant to this technique flaw. (*) If needed the “On Side” turns can be pushed fast and hard with only a little tip rise as a consequence.

Because the finish of the turn is calm, the amount of angle the Quest establishes can be deceiving. The one thing this ski does in extreme is create angle, but it does so without making the skier feel out of control.

The overall balance of the ski means that skiers will find it easier to be centered and to be stacked from the hook up to the wakes.  

From the wakes to the ball seems to be the one segment where the Quest is especially sensitive to fin and binding settings. With the right settings the Quest draws a very wide and early path to the ball. The ski is surprisingly tolerant to technical errors by the skier *. With the fin a little too far back and /or the bindings too far forward the skier will be faced with the odd experience of being very early and narrow at the ball.

Quirks: In comparison to other skis, the Quest is very sensitive to binding and fin settings but forgiving to skier indiscretions.

*Insert the obligatory “all skis work better if you ski with good technique”

Quest

Below is a video review of the Trailer Valet Multifunction Trailer Tongue Jack. It took about 15 minutes to install the Trailer Valet to the trailer. If I had read the instructions it would have taken less than 5 minutes. For maneuvering a trailer in tight spaces or moving a trailer a short distance without a vehicle with a tow hitch the Trailer Valet the perfect solution.  

 http://trailervalet.com/

Below is the an official (and more accurate) video about the Trailer Valet

The Wakeye camera mount is in my opinion the Cadillac of camera mounts. The build quality of the carbon fiber and aluminum mount far exceeds expectations. The system accommodates GoPro, iPhones and traditional video cameras. For more details see http://www.wakeye.com/

All I really care about is what does the video look like? Below is some footage I shot yesterday. I think the quality of the video is excellent. My skiing could use some work. 

 

The goal of a pylon video mount is to film a skier as smoothly and accurately as possible – hands free. A photographer with some experience and attention to detail will always do a better job. Since you cannot always depend on your boat crew to know the difference between video camera and a ham sandwich, a pylon mounted video mount comes in pretty handy. Also, if you want your observer to watch you ski, you do not want them looking through a camera.

The more accurately the mount tracks the skier, the more the camera can be zoomed in without the skier moving out of the frame at the ball.

To fairly compare the mounts ability to track the skier, I used a camera with zoom fixed at 120 degrees. This is too wide of an angle for skiing analysis but allows for a fair comparison of the mounts. As you will see, each mount delivers relatively consistent results in terms of tracking the skier.

The typical problems with a pylon video mounts is not staying centered on the skier at the ball and excessive camera shake after the ball. Both of the units in the below video handle camera shake extremely well and tracked the skiers consistently. At approximately 4 times the cost, the Wakeye is more accurate at tracking the skier. The Ski-Doc mount is inexpensive, simple and gets the job done. Which mount is best? You will have to decide for yourself.

There are many more feature differences not addressed here. Visit the two web sites for more information http://theskidoc.com/ & http://www.wakeye.com/

The first skier is @Rico shot with the Ski-Doc Camera Mount. The second skier is @CharlieSkiWest shot with the Wakeye.
NOTE: The numbers on the video do not represent an angle or anything other than a reference point.

 

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