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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 ball
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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