Think Ion – The Next Step Up

on Jul 24 in Downwind, Equipment, Ion, Skis, Surfski, Think by

This interview was done by Chris Laughlin of North Coast Kayaks, with Daryl Remmler, Think Kayak Inc’s CEO and product designer. Thanks to Chris for allowing me to publish this great article on the new Ion here.Iontop




As the surfski market continues to grow and evolve, the manufacturers are not only refining their existing products, they are developing new designs to fill specific niches.

Paddlers are constantly improving their skills and reevaluating their own abilities, along with their expectations of their boats. To stay in touch with their customers, the boat builders have started to offer more options than ever before, filling holes in their lineups and making sure paddlers of all skill levels have a boat that suits them best, no matter the conditions.

Daryl Remmler of Think Kayaks has spent the last few seasons fine-tuning his company’s surfski lineup, upgrading the popular intermediate class Evo to the current Evo II, and the elite level Uno to the Uno Max. He rounded out the line with the Think EZE and most recently the Big EZE, both aimed at the entry-level/beginner market.

Still, he saw an opening between the Evo II and Uno Max. The Uno Max is an elite level boat, extremely fast but more of a challenge stability-wise in ocean conditions. The Evo II is a great all-around boat in the intermediate class: fast, stable and very comfortable. For ocean conditions, the jump up from the Evo II to the Uno Max can be a tad severe for the average paddler, and hence the Think Ion makes its debut in 2013.

The Think Ion is targeted towards paddlers ready to try something more aggressive than their intermediate level ski, but want a slightly easier learning curve than the Uno Max offers in open water conditions. Daryl took some time to tell us more about the Think Ion, and how he sees it fitting into the Think range of boats.

Think Ion:

  • Length: 21’1” / 642 cm
  • Width: 17.5” / 44.5 cm
  • Athlete: 166-275 lbs / 75-125 kg
  • Performance: 34 lbs / 15.5 kg – Fiberglass/Coremat/Epoxy/Vacuum
  • Elite: 28 lbs / 12.5 kg – Interwoven Carbon & Kevlar/Honeycomb/Epoxy/Vacuum

Daryl Remmler: The Think Ion Surfski

North Coast: It seems the Ion was designed specifically to be a more manageable elite level boat for mortal paddlers in open water. Was this the main goal when conceptualizing the new Ion – a boat for ocean paddlers looking to step-up from the Evo II, but not ready for the slim waterline of the Uno Max?

Daryl: Yes, that pretty much sums it up. The step from an Evo II to an Uno Max is pretty significant. In many cases paddlers do transition directly into the Uno Max, but for others, they don’t have the luxury of putting in the hours needed to make that jump. The Ion is still a very high performance boat, but it offers more secondary stability than the Max does, making it a more forgiving transition to an elite level boat.

North Coast: Do you expect Elite level paddlers, such as Sean Rice, to consider the Ion for some of their racing, particularly events that might have wild downwind conditions?

Daryl: I think the Ion will appeal to a certain group of elites, in particular bigger paddlers, or those who focus on downwind paddling. This is certainly not the only thing the Ion does well, but I could see some elite racers choosing the Ion for this reason. As for Sean choosing the Ion for some events, it’s too soon to say. In general, the elite guys are very in-tune with their chosen craft, and they know how to maximize it in any conditions they encounter. In Sean’s case, that has been the Uno Max.

North Coast: Is the stability significantly less than the Evo II? For open water and rough seas, how would you rate the learning curve when moving from an Evo II to the Ion?

Daryl: It was very important to us to make sure the Ion was a step up in performance from the Evo II, which I consider to be the best boat in it’s class. In order to do this, we had to give away some of the primary stability found in the Evo II. The Ion does have significant secondary stability, which is what an advancing paddler needs when conditions get difficult, AND you get a boat that is fast.

There is certainly a transition when moving from an intermediate to advanced boat. I think paddlers should prepare themselves for an adjustment period while they figure out how a new boat responds. It’s not something you get dialed on your first paddle.

North Coast: How much flatwater speed does the Ion give up to the Uno Max? For flatwater and small sea conditions, do you still feel the Uno Max is your fastest boat for the intermediate and advanced paddler? Or do you look at the Ion as the better choice for intermediates – while the Uno Max is best for the very experienced and elite?

Daryl: There are many answers to that question, and those answers ultimately depend on the engine. The Uno Max is slimmer with low rocker, and it is the fastest boat currently available. It is an elite boat, so naturally not everyone will be able to handle it in difficult conditions. The Ion is slightly wider, and has more rocker, so it was not designed to win a drag race against an Uno Max. Nothing will. The Ion is an advanced paddlers boat, but more approachable and more forgiving. The rockered hull loves the waves, and she’s very quick. The Evo II is ultimately the correct boat for an intermediate to choose. It’s really important to have a platform that lets you paddle hard AND technically correct before moving into an advanced boat.

North Coast: What are some of the highlights of the new Ion? What aspects of its design make it unique when compared to Think’s previous models? Is the cockpit completely new, or based of the Evo II/Uno Max?

Daryl: I would single out the rocker line as a highlight of the Ion. It’s beautifully quiet when heading upwind, and razor sharp when running with the swell. The cockpit is the same as the Evo II; a choice we made based on its excellent comfort and great ergonomics. Any boat only performs as well as it’s engine, so we put a lot of thought into making sure the athlete can maximize their abilities.

North Coast: If you there is one boat in the Think lineup that works as the best all-around choice for the majority of paddlers for all conditions, do you feel the new Ion fits the bill?

Daryl: The Ion is a great addition to the Think line-up, and I feel it is a logical step up for many paddlers coming from an intermediate ski. That said, the Evo II is the best boat for the majority (read intermediate), of paddlers if they need one ski for all conditions. It’s quick enough to hang with the fast boats when a good effort is put in. It has incredible secondary stability in difficult and confused conditions (when you need it most!). It flies downwind when the winds at your back, leaving many elites in her wake. That is a tough combination to beat!

I think the largest group of paddlers on the water after the intermediates is the sub-elites, or advanced paddlers. This is where the Ion will find its home, as these paddlers have a well-developed skill set. They’re looking for a ski that will let them use those skills to their full potential, and here the Ion shines!