Fast skis are wonderful in the way they sprint across the course for a nice, early approach to the next ball. But there are usually two tradeoffs for this easy acceleration. Fast skis are more likely to arrive at the next ball with too much speed riding precariously high in the water, and their flat rocker profiles require a lot of smear to achieve tight turns. High-speed, sliding turns are simply less reliable than the turns of slower, deeper riding designs that have more rocker.
Enter the 2018 Radar Vapor, the mullet of slalom skis. And by “mullet” I don’t mean “making a disturbing fashion comeback;” I mean all business in the front and party in the back. While accelerating, most of the any ski’s tip is out of the water, so from the boots back, the Vapor’s design delivers fabulous acceleration. Then when the front of the ski gets driven into the water through the pre-turn and turn, the Vapor’s tip goes to work in a way that is somewhat unique among current water skis—if the skier knows how to use it.
At rest, the new Vapor has significantly more tip rocker (upward bend) than the previous model. So the more the skier loads the tip in the pre-turn, the more braking effect there is. This ski has a huge set of brakes if the skier has the skills to approach the ball with the water breaking more than eight inches ahead of the front boot.
Then as the skier drops into their maximum lean around the ball, 2 G’s of centrifugal force load more rocker into the Vapor’s soft tip (one of the softest tips ever delivered on a modern ski), so less smear is required to deliver spectacularly tight turns. Here again, the water-break needs to be about eight inches or more ahead of the front boot to deliver this mind-bending turning power.
Admittedly, using the Vapor’s tip this aggressively takes a fair amount of talent, power and courage, but it’s there for the taking for intermediate to advanced skiers who understand how to work it.
This all sounds wonderful, but what about the rest of us mere mortals who are still sneaking up on the tip; a ski capable of delivering such high levels of tip pressure can be skill testing. Here again, this unique design delivers. So long as the skier isn’t stuffing too much tip into the water, the Vapor is “merely” a fast, great turning ski with the potential for even higher performance as technique progresses.
Knowledge is the key to getting the most out of this ski—regardless of skiing ability. I you understand how the 2018 Vapor’s tip works, you can strive to tailor its performance to your current needs. Want a quick, nimble ski that doesn’t require a ton of effort? Ride your Vapor with consistent balance over your front foot and it will deliver in spades. Need a big set of brakes and crazy-tight turns for those last few colors on your rope? Just move further forward on this ski to fully unleash the beast.
... Your ski should be your dance partner, not a wrestling opponent