Builder Offers Technology at Value Price
Epic Wakeboats has been building wake boats for nearly 12-years. In 2011, they decided to move their manufacturing facility from Southern California to Vivian, La. Now, Epic is filling a niche in the bay boat market with their new 22’ 6” Epic 22SC.
“California’s unfriendly business environment drove us to look elsewhere for a plant location,” says company co-owner Gary Smith. “The South was a natural choice. There’s a great labor force here and the work ethic is second to none.”
Smith admits they weren’t looking to get into the bay boat market initially. After seeing what was available, however, they pondered a move.
“Bay boats were available in white, white or white, with dated hull technology from the early 1960s. We saw an opportunity to offer our advanced tow-boat technology and creative freshness to a stagnant market – and folks have responded,” Smith says. “We sold our allotted inventory for 2013 by April 1.”
Technology Drives Brand
Epic has been building resin-infused wake boats since their inception, so their expertise in the intricate process is extensive. Unlike traditional hand-laid fiberglass hulls, which are laid wet, the Epic 22SC resin-infused hull is laid up dry, with layers bonded via a proprietary agent.
Various laminates are used during the hull build-up, depending on the geographical location in the layout, structural and weight requirement. The 22SC is different than the handful of other resin-infused hulls currently on the market. Unlike traditional bi-axial laminates, a honeycomb matrix laminate and tri-axial fiberglass matt are used to encourage superior resin migration when placed under suction.
Once laid, the hull, deck and lids are sealed airtight in polyethylene and pulled under negative pressure, pulling the resin throughout the once-dry matrix then condensing and compacting structural materials into a solid core. Excess resin is suctioned off, leaving little waste resin (and weight) behind. The result of this specialized resin-infusion process is optimal laminate-to-resin ratios yielding high-strength coefficients and an uber-durable vessel.
The economy-of-construction is demonstrated in a dry weight tally of just under 1,800 pounds; representing a weight savings of up to 600 pounds over comparably sized bay boats.
Keith King, owner of Mississippi’s Ocean Marine Group, an upscale boating conglomerate, was one of the first dealers to join the Epic distribution team. “The Epic 22SC caught our eye with its uniquely aggressive hull design,” King says. “It’s a radical departure from typical bay boats; it’s designed, oddly enough, for both speed and a very dry ride. An additional benefit is the boat is an extremely stable fishing platform with its wide beam.”
After looking into the brand further, King discovered the exceptional value the Epic brand offered. “On the Gulf Coast, bay boats are very, very popular – they’re also very, very expensive. The Epic offers our customers top-shelf features and some of the best quality-of-construction in the boating industry, all at entry-level pricing.” King continues, “Once folks see the boat in person and the exhaustive laundry list of features, they’re shocked at the bottom line. We’ve sold every one we’ve gotten our hands in a matter of days.”
Epic District Sales Manager Jim Hill, a boat manufacturer’s representative for 35-plus, says he’s never witnessed such fervor over an introductory product. “These are down times economically, yet the Epic factory is backordered on their 2013s. The plant has hired a consultant to come in and help streamline manufacturing and get more boats built. The level of amenities on these boats is unparalleled compared to any other bay boat at any price – bar none.”
Where performance is concerned, the Epic 22SC shines. Powered by a 150 hp outboard, the lightweight fisher achieves an astounding 50 mph. As one might imagine, fuel consumption is maximized due to the light hull weight. For those searching for raw, unadulterated performance, however, the 22SC is rated for a 250. Rigged as such, the boat reportedly registers a blistering top end in the mid to high 60s (depending on options and rigging).
Consumer pricing is ultra-competitive too. Package pricing for the Epic 22SC, 150 hp four-stroke and aluminum tandem axle trailer falls right around $32K. At this price-point, the 22SC is $15K-$20K less than comparable rigs.
Resin-Infusing Environmentally Friendly
Beyond the economy of manufacture, a secondary benefit to resin-infused molding is the minimization of the evaporation, or sublimation, of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. Through encapsulation of the resin and subsequent fumes during application, the aromatic hydrocarbons are contained and cured. Resin-infusing has been estimated to reduce VOC emissions by as much as 90 percent over conventional boat building techniques.