If Bill Gates and Hugh Hefner were out shopping for a ski together, they'd pick the same one as Wesley Echols. Well, maybe not, but when it comes to boats, Echols has the head of the technician and the soul of a playboy: at least he goes through skis the way Hef does bunnies.
We're constantly asked why there isn't a "How to start Surfski" DVD on the market.Well now there is one - and it's been put together by one of the best surfski paddlers and coaches in the world: South African Dawid Mocke.
Remounting your ski is an essential skill. Fall off in cold water offshore - you need to get back on that ski immediately before you get cold. Fall off in the surf zone - you need to get back on fast before the next set comes in.
And yet, how to remount is one of the commonest questions - especially from beginners. What's the "straddle" method? How does it differ from the "sidesaddle" method?
All good things are built from a solid base, and this is no truer than in our world of canoeing. The basics of the forward stroke are the most important part of a good technique because all the other elements fall easily into place after this. And a good technique not only allows you to paddle farther and faster with less effort, but makes you safer in the water and prevents injuries.
(By Rob Mousley, with input from surf ski paddlers around the globe. Grateful thanks to all who contributed.)
For the purposes of this Getting Started Guide, we'll assume that you've never paddled before. We'll also assume that you can swim and that you can hold your breath and dive under water (if you paddle in waves, you'll need to be comfortable in and under the water!) You've seen skis on top of cars, you've seen them on the water; it looks like fun.
It IS fun - and by the time you're at the level where you're capable of paddling a downwind run in 30kts of wind, it doesn't get much more fun…