It may not be totally new, so perhaps it’s best to say that the 2016 Uno Max is the updated or modified version of Think’s preeminent race surfski. No matter what you call it, the Uno Max is a High Performance Ski that checks all the boxes for the category. At a published weight of 24 pounds (for the Ultimate) it’s light, and when weighed, the ski actually weighs in at just a hair over 23 pounds. It’s fast; after two weeks on the water my best 10k time trial has been redefined and in general it seems that the Uno Max is giving me a consistent .5 -1km/hour increase in speed with no appreciable addition of effort. Of course, as a HPS it has the stability that makes your core cry for relief and increases the frequency of those refreshing little swim sessions that we all love to hate.
So there you have it. A high performance ski that has all the qualities that you expect and isn’t lacking anything. Short and sweet right? Well, let me be honest, as a beginner or immediate paddler, at best, considering the purchase of a ski like the Uno Max left me asking the singular question of; why? Sean Rice, Kenny Rice, Jesse Lishchuk, Teneale Hatton, and Mackenzie Haynard are all world class paddlers and can push the Uno Max to its full effect. But what does this ski offer for the less gifted or more challenged paddler?
If you’ve ever done a clinic with Jesse Lishchuk than you’ll probably remember his focus on feeling the paddle and feeling what’s happening with the ski. This concept resonated with me and has become a big part of my paddling. So going to the Uno Max was less about speed and performance and more focused on increasing the feel or sensitivity of the surfski. Don’t get me wrong though, the speed and performance aspects are nice too.
Simply put, the Uno Max is exceeding my expectations. The ski is allowing me to feel and experience aspects of paddling that until now have seemed just out of reach. For instance, the speed is there, you feel it the moment you get in the ski. In fact, this is the first ski that has allowed me to feel the sensation of the boat lifting with each stroke. While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s a level of feedback that has significant implications on paddling technique and ultimately, speed.
The other standout feature of the Uno Max is acceleration. When the paddle catches, the ski moves and the initial response is immediate, without hesitation. Without a doubt, the weight of the boat is a factor but the position and fit of the bucket contribute as well. The bucket feels just slightly forward and the fit is snug with no pads. Like a good pair of running shoes, every brand has a unique fit and for me, at 6 feet and 185 pounds, the Uno Max is a great fit with no modifications needed.
The word that keeps coming to mind when thinking about how the Uno Max handles is “scalpel”. The ski is precise and responsive to every input. When you steer it points, when you lean it tracks, and it answers to whatever you give it from the paddle. Most importantly, you feel everything. Where this really shines is when catching runs. My first time out with the Uno Max made me feel like I blithering idiot. It seemed impossible to get on the runs and to be honest, it frustrated me immensely. Luckily, the second day out in the bumps turned into a fantastic experience.
What took me some time to figure out was that, given the acceleration, the responsiveness, and immediate reaction of the Uno Max, all my inputs needed to be dramatically scaled back. Once this clicked, it was astonishing, how easy it was to get on waves and place the ski where ever it needed to be. From my perspective, this is one of the best features of the Uno Max. However, what’s clear is that this is not so much a singular feature, as it is the outcome of all the features of this ski working in concert.
The Uno Max is a ski that will push you to grow and develop and at the same time, offer up greater sensitivity and feel for the ocean. In terms of quality, Think continues to deliver a product that is reliable and demonstrates a commitment to detail. Like any new ski, it pays to take the time to check every screw and give the ski a thorough “once-over” before taking it out for the first time. With no surprises in this area the Uno Max is proving to be a great surfski, even for we paddling mortals.
One final note: It would be remiss of me not to give a big thanks to Mark and Mark at Elite Ocean Sports for their patience and help. Likewise, Mike Canfield of Ocean Paddling Company delivered the ski to my doorstep which was both unexpected and greatly appreciated. Like most paddlers I’m paying for all my equipment and have no sponsorships so the service, responsiveness, and commitment to product are aspects that I appreciate and will keep me coming back. Thanks guys."