A 49-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Echols has been known to arrive at a race in New England with a quiver of kayaks on his roof so that he can decide which boat to use after assessing the conditions, which in the summer on our coast range from flat to not that rough. He's typically the first guy to don his PFD, in fact, he's been seen getting out of his vehicle with it already strapped on.
Though he usually owns "just" nine or 10 racing skiffs at once, over the last dozen years (he's been paddling skis for five), he's hung more than 20 boats in his spic ‘n span garage. (Including his latest acquisition, an Epic V12, which makes him the first Yank not named Greg Barton to paddle the sleek new craft.) Call him exceedingly organized, call him a fanatic, call him a surf ski weenie, the fact remains: Wes Echols can compare and contrast surf skis as fluently as Simon Cowell can singers.
Given his quest for the perfect surf ski, Echols, who has also worked as a kayak instructor, is convinced of the importance of making informed choices when you're setting out to buy your first (or 2nd or 3rd or...) boat. "People need to buy the right boat for the paddling they plan to do and for the conditions they will be paddling in," he says.
Hence his desire to make Surfski Basics, an informational DVD for the beginner surfski paddler. Made with his paddling mate Mark Ceconi - a wry elementary school teacher from Ridgefield, CT with a serious paddling problem and penchant for bad puns -- their aim was to help the novice save time, money and, ultimately, aggravation. The DVD provides a solid introduction to the different types of skis and paddles, and explains how to remount and stay safe.
Wesley's Surfski Comparison Chart
In essence, Wes and Mark are the anti-Oscar's - mid-pack racers who leave the technical aspects of the forward stroke to the more decorated amongst us. While their informative, professional, high-definition DVD has no footage of mad South Africans dropping in on a 20-footer in Tahiti, and no rock ‘n roll sound track accompanies Clint Robinson shredding the ocean in Perth, their DVD is a valuable if earnest primer for those seeking an answer the burning question all novices and intermediate paddlers face: what boat is best for me?
To order go to: http://www.surfskiracing.com/