What is your surfski story?

4 years 6 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #28856 by LakeMan
I'd like to hear your story about what and why you started paddling a surfski. You do not have to answer the questions below, they are just some ideas. I think giving your story will motivate others to get into the sport.

For example:
Did you paddle other boats first?
Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?
Why paddle something so challenging?
Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?
How difficult was it to start the sport?
Did you find balance natural or a trial?
What is the best ski you've ever owned?
Do you paddle alone or in groups?
Does your spouse also paddle?
Multi-skis or do you keep one?
Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?
Do you winter ski and why?

This is an open post. Write whatever would be helpful to those who read it. Thank you

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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4 years 6 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #28857 by LaPerouseBay
Replied by LaPerouseBay on topic What is your story?

"LakeMan" post=288
Did you paddle other boats first?

Oc-1, 18 months. Cheated on ama, sore all the time. Couldn't resist hammering. No risk other than tearing body to pieces.

"LakeMan" post=288
Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?

Fixed my sore lumbar, easy on shoulders. Super fun to downwind.

"LakeMan" post=288
Why paddle something so challenging?

Anything in life worth doing is hard.

"LakeMan" post=288
Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?

Very old V-10 sport. Wide bucket version of generation 1. Nice boat.

"LakeMan" post=288
How difficult was it to start the sport?

Brutal. Endless remounts. Constant terror downwind for 6 months. Then upgraded to a gen 1 V-10. Shitty technique extended for years. Still terrified, but had some fun glides. Should have started in a V-8. Oh well. 5 years in, technique now starting to come around. Had to stop charging and start over. Stability before ability cannot be overstated. Beginners - get coaching and do what they say or wobble around with no power forever. Been there, done that.

"LakeMan" post=288

Did you find balance natural or a trial?
[/quote]
I would have abandoned ski, but I had purchased the v-10 sport. 2 weeks of daily beatings, then a glimmer of fun - so continued beatings. Remounting is in my DNA now.

"LakeMan" post=288

What is the best ski you've ever owned?
[/quote]
They are all great if the bucket is comfy. It's not about the boat, it's the journey

"LakeMan" post=288

Do you paddle alone or in groups?
[/quote]
Select group downwind if time permits. Solo upwind/downwind - best training per unit time by far. Exceptionally rewarding too. Occasional social flat water stuff.

"LakeMan" post=288

Multi-skis or do you keep one?
[/quote]
V-10L, New V-12 arrives next week. Selling L if anyone interested. Like new, $2500 May get a V-8 pro for days when feeling beat down. Amazing boat. Super fun. Goes up/downwind easily. May be an excellent surfing boat too.

"LakeMan" post=288

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?
[/quote]
5-6x per week. Used to be 7 but 56 years is feeling like 36 to 76.

"LakeMan" post=288

Do you winter ski and why?
[/quote]
3mm vest 9 months of the year for me. I like heat. Daily hypothermia in winter for first 38 years

downwind dilettante
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4 years 6 months ago #28878 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic What is your surfski story?
Did you paddle other boats first?
I started competitively paddling North American canoes about 4-5 years ago. Specifically, the Wenonah V1-pro. Look it up if you don't know what it is. North American canoe racing is fun because it's a spec sport, so if you're faster or slower than someone, it all comes down to technique and training.


Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?
All of the above for me. I'm addicted to riding waves. Since most of my experience is on inland lakes, a big wave for me is 2', but I'm trying to make larger waves more common, as driving a couple hours to the ocean is in the cards this summer. I also do I for fitness, and I also enjoy the solace and zen of paddling solo. I also miss paddling tandem a lot. Not a lot of tandem skis by me. Too bad, tandem is my favorite.


Why paddle something so challenging?
I can thank my friend @zachhandler on the forums for taking me out On his v10 double on lake Minnetonka one day. The exact moment I was hooked on the sport was when we were riding behind a 40-50' yacht on their first wave, about 3-4', with them just below planing speed. The gps said 13 mph (that's about 22kmh for the metrics) and we were only paddling every 4th stroke to maintain position in the wave. At that moment, I decided surf ski was the coolest thing I had ever done. Many videos of Millers run, the Colombia Gorge and others have supported my belief since then.
As a decently balanced and well trained canoer, I had no trouble staying on the v10 double. We dumped a couple times, but I'll call that a win for my first time


Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?
I wanted a v10 sport, sr, or evo to start, butt money was very limited so I bought a gen 0 v10. I recently learned that it was 17.06" wide, not 17.7" like the more recent version. As such, I now assume it paddles like a current elite level boat, like a v12 or SEL.
I paddled it over the winter in a dry suit, and out of ~15 paddles, I swam 12 of them or so.
I could stay in the boat on flat water, but when I got fatigued I tended to fall out once or twice near the end of the paddle. Now I have a stellar SR and it's rock solid. I certainly needed the more stable boat to perfect my stroke on, and I will keep it for a rough water boat or loaner for friends. I almost want a boat with less primary stability to provide the feedback that the v10 did

How difficult was it to start the sport?
Only $ stood in my way after my first paddle. The rest is easy. Too bad most paddle sports have such a high cost barrier to entry. I surmise that's why cheap paddle sports are growing (SUP, Rec kayaks for <$1000) and expensive paddlesports are dying (canoe, sea kayak, surf ski, all over $1500)

Did you find balance natural or a trial?
Semi natural. I'm not afraid to fall out of a boat, so I just swim till I get it. I'll say 50% god given, 50% determination to improve


What is the best ski you've ever owned?
On my short list of 2, the SR is much more appropriate for my skill level. I'll be in a SEI, Evo, or V10 in a year or 2.

Do you paddle alone or in groups?
Mostly alone, because sadly very few people fitness paddle / race train in western mass.

Does your spouse also paddle?
She paddles canoes with me (North American canoes. Not those euro C2 things. Why does anyone paddle those? Also, get a bent shaft!)

Multi-skis or do you keep one?
Only 1 for now, but the fleet will expand as skill, space in the garage, and money allow. If I was a millionaire I'd have 100s of (human powered) boats of all types.

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?
1-2x per week in the cold season, 2-5x per week in the spring-fall

Do you winter ski and why?
Of course. I find it's unpleasant to paddle when the air temp is under freezing, even in a dry suit, so that's about my cutoff. but that generally only keeps me off the water 3-6 weeks a year.

I'll add 1 more question to pose;
Where do you paddle and on why type of water?
I paddle mostly flat water on the Connecticut river and Farmington River near Hartford CT or Springfield MA. I lived on Long Island sound for a year but sadly did not have a ski at that time. I paddled with an outrigger canoe club, but no skiing. I sincerely envy SA / AU style waves. We never see 6'ers except in a hurricane. It's a life goal of mine to go to SA for a week of millers runs.

Cheers to all
Marcus

Sent from my iPhone

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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4 years 6 months ago #28879 by kwolfe
Replied by kwolfe on topic What is your surfski story?
Did you paddle other boats first?
I paddled SUP for a few months before I got my first ski.

Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?
All of the above although mostly for fitness, fun and mental relaxation

Why paddle something so challenging?
I didn't find my first V8 challeging fortunately for me however my SEL makes me a better paddler. Plus I do like challenges.

Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?
I started with a V8 for 1 season, then to a V14, now an SEL

How difficult was it to start the sport?
I already had the fitness level and balance from other sports so while it took some getting used to, it wasn't a real big challenge until I hit the really tippy skis.

Did you find balance natural or a trial?
Pretty natural. I don't find myself fighting it.

What is the best ski you've ever owned?
Can't really say. I like my v8 because I don't have to think when I'm in it, however my SEL is faster and is helping me get better.

Do you paddle alone or in groups?
100% alone. They're really aren't any other surskis around me.

Does your spouse also paddle?
No she doesn't but she's thinking about trying SUP this summer.

Multi-skis or do you keep one?
I have a V8 and SEL. I would actually like to have a V7 because I live inland and would like to be able to to paddle some local creeks without worrying about rocks.

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?
About 4 times per week. Sometimes more if I get a morning and afternoon session in.

Do you winter ski and why?
Absolutely. I just enjoy it so much that unless the water is frozen or its really windy, I'll paddle with a 3/2 wet suit on flat water.

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4 years 6 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #28882 by SkiTutukaka
Did you paddle other boats first?

Not really apart from splashing about on plastic sit on tops which the neighbour who introduced me to surfski's called an "aircraft carrier".

Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?

Mostly for fitness followed closely with the mental solitude. And by mental solitude "I" take that as being able to find myself in places on the water where the light/scenery/wildlife or runners make me feel I'm experiencing something really, really special that apart from those paddling with me at the time, no-one else is remotely aware that cool shit like this happens.


Why paddle something so challenging?

Rode mountain bikes for years and came to the conclusion that while I still tried to ride as though I was 25, I didn't bounce like a 25 yr old anymore (more like a sack of spuds). A bad year had me breaking a collarbone in January and the other in November, got gun shy after that and the neighbour talked me into playing on his Fenn XT for a bit. After a very, very close encounter with an Orca, I thought this shit's pretty fun............. say no more!

Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?

After a couple of weeks on that XT I bought a second hand Stellar SES, we have a river nearby which is thankfully flat and many a mile was spent getting the basics together including tons of remount practice. Went out on the open ocean and got spat out numerous times every outing. Amazed that the other guys would be out with minimal layers whilst I had booties, longs, thermal under shirt, semi-dry long sleeve top and a neoprene skull cap. Mind, while they paddled the whole distance, I tried to swim at least a 5th.

How difficult was it to start the sport?

Reasonable 2nd hand market here (Fenn millennium will set you back 5-700 NZ $, got warned off em as newbies buy cheap, can't stay on top and flick cheap). Biggest thing I found was getting good information about equipment/boats etc or being able to trial same. Whatever you read about a ski's stability is pie in the sky based on someone else's possibly superior natural/learned balance in a ski. But, in my "opinion" there seems to be many more beginner craft now and a proper progression ladder through intermediate and onwards to elite ski's. The other thing that was a great help is having other local paddlers to get out with, practicing alone on the local river was beneficial but I have only been able to progress to big downwinders due to paddle buddies that were brave enough to take me offshore in fun conditions (I wasn't being brave myself, just didn't realise the danger these guys were putting me in :-)

Did you find balance natural or a trial?

Fairly well balanced and co-ordinated person but the SES just made me work! Loads of swims, always at the back and flailing around with the paddle in cross swell rebound conditions............. So after reaching a plateau and struggling to move any further, bought a Fenn Swordfish S in vac glass - brand spanking new baby!! had that new glass epoxy stink to it that just excited me in ways I shouldn't talk about on a public forum :-) Real progress from there on in.

What is the best ski you've ever owned?

2 yrs on ski's this May, had the SES and in Nov 15 bought the Swordfish S. The Fenn has loads of nice habits that lifted my skill level and I paddled it exclusively to build my toolbox, saving the SES for river or very flat ocean outings. Have started spending more time in the SES and would rate that as my favorite of the 2. It just fits my ass so I feel a lot "closer" to the boat than in the Fenn. I find the bucket of the Swordy just that bit too big that (for all the other great attributes of the boat) feels loose to me. Have recently had a short paddle of a Fenn Elite S and feels similar to the SES bucket............ nice!

Do you paddle alone or in groups?

Both, nice core group that paddles 2-3 times weekly with 4 boats regularly year round. Numbers fluctuate through the year with waka ama paddlers and other ski's but in winter, lack of light make it harder for those that work then have to drive to get wet. I will paddle alone 1-2 x weekly and try not to go out in bigger downwind conditions alone (gotta fight myself on that sometimes).

Does your spouse also paddle?

Nope, but has promised to give next summer a good lash.

Multi-skis or do you keep one?

2 x The Stellar SES in advantage layup and a Fenn Swordfish S in vacuum glass. And yes I would love both in either excel or Hybrid layups.

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?

Weekly 3 to 6 outings and I prefer to paddle at least 10km per outing.

Do you winter ski and why?

Yes, thankfully our winters here are mild (Northland, NZ) and the winds can get "interesting" over the winter.

Where do you paddle and what type of water?

Tutukaka Coast, Aotearoa New Zealand. Mostly open ocean with the occasional flat water paddle on the Ngunguru river. Some great downwind conditions up/down the coast and when able to get enough bodies together to charter a boat, either out to the Poor Knights Islands or boat out and downwind back to home. Well known local Tim Eves organises the Poor Knights Crossing race www.sportzhub.com/article/video--poor-knights-crossing.html

I'm pretty lucky, great water really close and a bunch of great people to paddle with! I love Surf ski's!!

My New Question
What paddles have you used and what is your favorite?


With the borrowed XT I also got a Fenn 1 paddle, it did the job (what did I know!) I then bought a paddle online 2nd hand that sorta looked like a Fenn 1, it was bigger (too big and poorly made).
I then purchased a Gara GP2, lovely paddle with a great entry, catch and exit but hard work for me in races over 12km and sprinting for runners towards the end of an outing left me limp for the next couple of minutes. Wanting a smaller paddle I bought a Legend C22 yet again another paddle chosen from write ups and it being a smaller version of the Legend Marathon which I had played with from another paddle buddy. I also played with a Bracha VII (nice but too big), Bracha IV (nice but my gara was nicer) and the Orka flex and Super flex (both nice but my gara was nicer).

Recently a friend bought a Jantex Gamma Rio medium minus, stupidly he let me borrow it for a couple of days, I dragged that out to a week and in hindsight am surprised he didn't kick my door down to reclaim it. OMG it felt perfect! just begged me to push, felt fantastic with a wonder balance, entry, catch and exit and on the 3rd paddle in as many days I realised 2 things. 1. It was slightly too big and 2. I wanted one! I've now had a Gamma Rio small plus with soft shaft for a week............... it's made a huge difference to my paddling. I feel more balanced, the catch is just where/how I want it to be and whilst I am trying for a , more efficient paddle stroke with lower cadence, I can spin that baby up big time to jump runners and just keep going!
My advice, try every paddle you can get your hands on and never buy a paddle you haven't tried for at least a couple of outings in the conditions you enjoy.

Feels like I've just written a book, Oh! and did I say I love Surf ski's!!

cheers
John Park
Skitutukaka

Yeah, Nah ........... maybe.

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4 years 6 months ago #28886 by LakeMan
Replied by LakeMan on topic What is your surfski story?
My surfski story has just begun. Well, sort of. I started canoeing in the 1960s as a kid and continued the pastime for 30 years. In the 1980s I purchased my first sea kayak which was like driving a corvette compared to the tractor-trailer canoe. The ability to paddle on both sides of the boat amazed me, so much to the point I rarely canoe anymore. Of course the sea kayak tracked better and was much faster. I was hooked. A lot of my free time was spent kayaking mountain lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. I also purchased an Aire inflatable kayak (not a cheap pool toy) to take on airplanes to places on the left side of the USA and other parts of the continent. What a fantastic kayak that was! Eventually I had a custom kayak built that had a fiberglass hull and a mahogany deck. It was long, lean and fast and absolutely gorgeous. It was the pride of the seven seas. Perfect for long trips due to its ample storage, lean beam for speed and comfortable for hours in the saddle.

Well, life changes as we all know and dead-lifting a 55 pound boat over my head to get it on the car became too much and with a wife and kids long trips were becoming less frequent. Therefore it was time to change boats. I’ve always been athletic and an outdoorsman, kayaking, soccer, baseball, skiing, mountain biking, road biking, caving, backpacking, etc so I wanted something that would challenge me, provide me with good exercise, clear my fogged brain and most of all would be fun. If it isn’t fun I’m not going to do it for long.

So, last spring (2016) I started researching kayaks and what was available on the market. I live right next to a beautiful lake and wanted a boat that was easy to carry and fun to paddle. A nice K1 was leading the pack of ideas and a sculling boat was running a close second. In my hunt for the perfect PWC I came across pictures of these skinny boats called surfskis (or was it surf skis?) so I followed the trail and started looking into them. (I spent the first 30 years of my life living on the beach but had never seen one of these boats. Back around 20 years ago I test paddled one in Charleston but thought it was just a skinny sit-on-top and never heard the name surfski. I never fell in the water so whatever model it was it had to be a beginner ski.)

Anyway, I started reading whatever I could find on the sport and found it had a loyal following yet was still relatively unknown. The manufactures of skis offered very little information (lack of proper marketing) so 95% of my information came from this forum and 3% from YouTube. I spent a few months reading everything on this site and then I joined to ask stupid questions (yes there are stupid questions). I made my decision and started my quest to find a surfski. First I had to sell my sea kayak (remember earlier I mentioned I had a wife?) then find the right ski. This took months but in that time I learned more about the anatomy of a ski and what to look for when I would bite the bullet.

Long story short I ended up with a Think Uno Max in the elite layup. I found the TUM very fast, extremely well built, surprisingly comfortable, half the weight of my previous kayak and so tippy that it gave me the honor of practicing my remount over and over and over… and over again. Thankfully the water in the lake is a comfortable temperature because otherwise I’d be miserable. Remounting the TUM is not easy so I’m definitely getting in my workout (yes I studied Wesley’s famous charts www.surfskiracing.org/surfski-reviews-updated-march-2012/ so I knew what I was getting myself in for). I do not race, I paddle by myself and make it to the lake one to two times a week. I will rarely have the chance to paddle salt water otherwise I would have purchased a wider ski. I’ve yet to meet anyone personally who has ever seen a ski before, in person or a picture of one.

I’d like to see the sport prosper. The beginner skis help advance the sport as would the manufactures doing more marketing. With the market flooded with kayaks and canoes I’m sure there are those that want the corvette of kayak but don’t know they exist. If you’re one of the hundreds that read this forum but do not join I highly recommend you get on here and ask questions, then get yourself a ski that fits what you are looking for and get paddling. And you don’t have to be in South Africa to do it. Even a lake in Kansas would be enjoyable in a fine surfski. And by far these are the nicest looking designs on the water.

That's my story in a nutshell. Hope it helps someone.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill
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4 years 6 months ago #28887 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic What is your surfski story?
Back in the mid eighties I was competing in So Cal beach lifeguard competitions. My main event was two man rowing dory. One of my team mates was competing on a Speed Ski "Challenger". It was redesigned from an unlimited ski and cut down to meet USLA specs. At the time it was a quite fast and comparatively unstable ski.
We were competing near Santa Monica CA. where my my mate won the surf ski competition. Mike Newman, of Baywatch fame, came in second. Well old Mike didn't like being 2nd and had a bit of a tantrum on the beach. He claimed my mate, Mark, should be disqualified cause his surf ski didn't meet USLA specs. So, Mike got his way and Mark was disqualified. Mark got a USLA spec ski and still beat Newman's ass.
So, What does this have to do my surfski story? Well, I bought Mark's speed ski for a great price and started paddling with no idea what I was doing. Of course my first time out (having surfed all my life) I
immediately went out and tried to catch some waves and broke it on the rocks. Whoops! Good thing I know how to fix stuff.
Anyway, I finally got good enough to venture offshore. Started doing downwinds and playing in the surf. The following summer I even started competing in USLA spec ski races. Of course nobody cared what I was paddling being in the back of the pack. They were just hoping I wouldn't run em over.
I paddled that ski for years. I was determined to break it in half just for the satisfaction of knowing it had nothing left to give. Didn't succeed though. So marriage, kids, carpal tunnel etc kind of put paddling on
the back burner and sold my ski.
Years of self abuse later I had knee surgery and wouldn't be able to surf for a while. I picked up a plastic SOT and started riding waves on it.
Boy! sure pisses off the surfers. Decided, you know what! I should get back into surf skis. I have three skis now.
Few weeks back entered the Malibu (8 mile) Downwinder contest with my son, a prone paddler. It is primarily a paddle board event to raise money for the junior lifeguard program. I got a buddy of mine, that I Introduced to surfskis, to sign up. Wow, now there were two surfskis in the race, cool. Well, yeah, I got first in my division. But I couldn't believe I got second overall. Lost out to an sup by 0:1:20. That kid, probably 35 years my junior, definitely earned and deserved it. He looked like he was digging for lost relatives in the rubble after an earthquake.
In my defense though, I did take an outside route around the kelp bed that added some distance to the course. Bet I got better runs though.
Thanks for letting me share my story.
Cheers and happy paddling!

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4 years 6 months ago #28901 by Fuyang Guy
As a Kid my Grandparents lived on the banks of the Umgeni river, and Oupa bought two kayaks for the grandchildren to paddle on. Their names, translated from Zulu were Hungry Crocodile and Farting Goat.
From there it was rescue skis, those were a lot of fun, rode a wave as well as anything and allowed us to get onto the water whilst on duty.
Then like many saffas, introduction to skinny boats was through river racing; slightly tweeked versions of older sprint boats abused through shallow rivers with grade 2-4 rapids.
Got into surfski paddling when a family friend offered to lend his double Chalupski to a very eager mate and me one well lubricated afternoon. Next morning we were out there; ended up breaking the ski that first session, but we were both hooked, The partnership lasted two double Hammer heads and a fenn double.
Stability has not been a big issue, because I started young I guess.
There was swimming involved, but fortunately Durban never gets cold.
I race skis, not always that well, but its what we do, everything is a race.
Went through a series of second hand paddles before I finally had enough to buy an Epic Small Mid. Still use it as my training paddle 14 years later. Race paddle is also an Small Mid, just a newer, slightly lighter one.
Best boat would have to be my V10L, as a little guy, it was the first ski that I felt really comfortable in.
Other half also paddles; at the moment we are spending a lot of time in a double in preparation for an upcoming race.
I have always enjoyed paddling in groups, and where possible in a double.
Groups push the competitive juices and/or make it more social.
Doubles just add an extra dimension of teamwork, fun and commitment.
Very fortunate to be in the industry so I have access to boats that I don't own, allows me to have horses for courses.
In season I'll try and get on the water 4 times a week, but as for winter, even Charleston is too cold to paddle.

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4 years 6 months ago #28940 by sandysan
Did you paddle other boats first?

When I was younger I paddled both sprint kayaks and sprint canoes, good enough to race but not good enough to do well. I think the last C-1 I paddled was a piece of art Struer Delta ( looking back I never appropriately appreciated how beautiful those boats were) and the last K-1 was either a wooden Cleaver or a glass lancer-X.

Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?

Fitness first, mental solitude second then perhaps racing later. For me there is something inexplicable about the feeling one gets in a boat after a good catch. I think I got my ski in hopes of rekindling that feeling. the jury is still out.


Why paddle something so challenging?

1) can't sink it. 2) wet remounts 3) to go fast. Actually #3 should probably be #1.


Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?

Elite, Nelo OceanSki L

How difficult was it to start the sport?

based on my experience, it wasn't so hard but I'm sure my current form leaves a lot to be desired.

Did you find balance natural or a trial?

natural, kind of like riding a bike

What is the best ski you've ever owned?

Only owned one so this is easy, don't see the current need to get another right now but i'm intrigued by the rotomolded ones.

Do you paddle alone or in groups?

right now alone, hope to get in with a group. alone because there is a river with good access I have to cross everyday where I will do most of my paddling but I've found other people in the area who paddle and would like to make meeting up with them something regular. But beating door to water in 15 minutes is going to be hard.

Does your spouse also paddle?

no

Multi-skis or do you keep one?

right now only one

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?

hopefully 5 times a week this summer, in the fall hope to keep it up but I recognize that that might not happen as much as I would like.

Do you winter ski and why?

Not yet, probably not his winter but I will start picking up all of the necessary gear and hopefully stretch out my fall paddling next year. how far it goes, not so sure at this point.

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4 years 5 months ago #28943 by robin.mousley
Did you paddle other boats first?

Nope, a buddy with expensive hobbies told me about this new "surfski" thing. At first I resisted having spent fortunes on windsurfing and other sports with him. Eventually we were on the beach and he happened to be there with his ski - an ancient old chalupski. I gave it go, got hammered in the surf going out but eventually made it. Clueless, I came towards shore, a huge wave picked me up, we pitchpoled, the rudder was smashed off the boat, I was pounded - and I was hooked!

Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?

All of the above. I enjoy racing, I'm usually in the top half of the fleet but we have a very competitive bunch of over 50s in our summer series so I'm usually racing against them (as opposed to the youngsters at the front).

I've found it an incredible fitness tool though. I supplement paddling with a little gym (usually 1-2 times a week in winter, less in summer). At gym I simply do high intensity sessions on the elliptical machine which I like because it helps with core. I listen to podcasts while I'm doing it!

Why paddle something so challenging?

To go downwind - downwind paddling is the absolute bomb as far as I'm concerned.

Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?

Beginner. I paddled a thing called a wedge (spec ski) for 6 months, owned an SA-built Molokai ski for 18 months, then bought a Custom Kayaks ICON, probably the tippiest ski on the planet. At the time, conventional wisdom said that all elite skis are tippy, harden up! I tried for 18months to get used to it, had one or two fun downwind races, but battled in rough water to the point where I thought I was useless, would never get better.

Then came the more stable skis in the form of the Epic V10 and the Fenn Mako6. I paddled a demo V10 for a couple of months and was stoked. For various reasons I ended up with a carbon Mako6 and I was off... Since then I've owned quite a few boats!

How difficult was it to start the sport?

I had a steep learning curve but was blessed in having a buddy who was mad keen to paddle and he made me go several times a week whatever the weather!

Did you find balance natural or a trial?

Quite a trial - definitely came only with practise.

What is the best ski you've ever owned?

I loved my Fenn Elite and have my Miller's Run personal best in it - but I always had sweaty feet at the thought of getting out to the rock at the start of the run from Miller's Point - the first 800m is across the wind and waves.

Right now I'm loving my Evo II - it's stable enough that I'm pretty much bullet-proof in all conditions. This summer I got within 50sec of my Miller's PB, so it's definitely a fast boat on the runs (of course I'm that much more skilled and definitely a lot more fit than when I scored my PB originally!)

Do you paddle alone or in groups?

Groups.

Does your spouse also paddle?

Nope. She's a farm-bred inland girl and doesn't like going out of her depth.

Multi-skis or do you keep one?

Right now I have the Evo II and an Epic V10 Double.

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?

As a rule, both days of the weekend and one or two more days during the week. In summer I try for a long paddle and a short paddle on the weekend, Tuesday night race, Wednesday tap, Friday race.

Do you winter ski and why?

Absolutely. It's seldom that you can't paddle in Cape Town, usually only when there's a westerly blowing. Otherwise, if it's flat we can paddle either in Hout Bay or Fish Hoek; if there's a cold front, it usually brings a northwester when we can either do a reverse Miller's Run or (if it's NNW) we can do a reverse Buffel's Run which is about 21km long... along some of the most beautiful coastline in the world!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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4 years 5 months ago #28944 by robin.mousley
Very cool topic! Thanks!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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4 years 5 months ago #28956 by feeny
Replied by feeny on topic What is your surfski story?
Something I wrote about a year ago, that explains my surfski story:

Paddling a ski is hard, they are bloody tippy things, it’s kind of like trying to learn to ride a track bike as a first bike, but on the ocean, in the waves and stuff. A gust of wind or a tiny bit of side-chop can send a paddler into the water quite easily and then they are even harder to remount once in the water. At my ripening age, this is pretty confronting. It all came to a bit of a head a few weeks ago, when I turned up for a 1:1 coaching session in some bad weather. We’re talking plenty of wind and what seemed to me to be ferocious, deadly seas…

My coach, says, “Mate, it’s a bit bumpy out there, so lets take the double”. Well, with the coach in the front, I managed to fall out of the back before we even got started, slicing a chunk of my ear with my paddle in the process, something the coach found quite funny. Anyway, eventually I hefted myself into the back and we’d barely gotten 100 meters out before I was shaking with cold, trembling with fear, and terrified that we’d get tipped and that I’d never manage a remount in those conditions. I actually started begging the coach to turn around and take me back. Thankfully, he wasn’t having a bar of it. He responded, “Mate, I can feel you back there, shaking like a trembling big wobbly rock. Now, I’m super stable, you just need to relax, and shadow me in your paddling. There is no way we are turning back, and let me be clear on this, we’re going so far out to sea, that I can’t even see our destination yet. So, just relax and start paddling”.

Right, that settled that. I just kept paddling, scared out of my wits the entire time . . . right up until we wiped out, maybe 3 or 4km off shore and boom, we’re both in the water. Funnily enough though, right at that moment everything just seemed so calm, as all the while prior we’d been battling the sea and heading right into that huge wind, so stopping felt very still, almost calm and peaceful really. Without any fuss I plopped myself back onto the ski and immediately relaxed, now that the worst thing possible had just happened and well, it just wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the impending doom I’d concocted in my imagination. Shortly after, we turned about and now had all that wind and sea at our backs. And we started surfing … and surfing … and surfing. I’d say we surfed over 2km straight on our way back, maybe more, linking wave and runner after runner all the way back to shore. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, such an amazing high, that for the next week, everything seemed ordinary and unfulfilling in comparison.

And here’s the most amazing part of all. I’m left contemplating how I’d just had such a brilliant experience, except, I actually begged (really hard) not to have it. Now, what does that say about me? Our sport has so much to teach me....

...which is why I am calling it transformational. I'm now in the water 5-7 days/week since :-)

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4 years 5 months ago #28957 by LakeMan
Replied by LakeMan on topic What is your surfski story?
Wow Feeny, that's quite a story. I felt exactly the same on my wedding day but the only difference is I'm still in the back seat.
All these stories have been interesting reads. I appreciate all that have replied here. I'm sure those that read this site but have not joined appreciate hearing why you do what you do. Thanks

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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4 years 5 months ago #29041 by PharmGeek
My surf ski story has not yet begun.

I am 34 years old, grew up paddling rec canoes, then in college a few kayak Rec rentals, after college more rec SOT rentals and desire to camp, discovered longer sea kayaks (sit in) and have been having a blast paddling my two poly sea kayaks in what little free time I find (full time pharmacist as is wife and we have two small kids ages 4 and 6).

Anyway - I discovered people on a fb page in these "skis" and was like "huh what is that?!"

Every SOT I've ever paddled were just barges - I loath the lack of glide and speed - just hate hate hate - all my local peers seem to have fun in those boats but I really cannot do it and love the feel, that glide and speed.

The surf ski seems to offer that same intensity and boy - I experienced a tad of this "downwind experience" in my sea kayak and now know that I'll love this aspect I think of this type of kayak.

I am land locked here in central Alabama - plenty of nice big lakes and rivers. I'm not crazy about the idea of white water at this point - performance paddling on my local waters and jaunts down to the gulf sound like a paddling experience I want to have or investigate!

Reading all these stories has me stoked.

I have naturally good balance - jumping into a sea kayak was easy for me after about 10 min of it feeling "different" - not sure how I'll fare ruined a ski....we shall see.

Just joined this forum today after googling this or that about surf skis and here I am.

Hopefully I'm not in over my head - I never let that stop me anyway :)

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4 years 5 months ago #29047 by LakeMan
Replied by LakeMan on topic What is your surfski story?
Welcome to the forum Pharmgeek. Your desire for the sports car of kayaks is the reason why most get into this sport. Read all you can and if you get a chance to try one out by all means snag it up. I live in upstate sc so if you're ever in the area you can take mine for a swim. Elite Ocean Sports in Charleston is a great place to demo and buy skis too. Kayak Trader in Georgia and Craigslist are a good place to check too. Both Elite Ocean Sports and Surfskiracing.org have classified sections. Shipping is available but it'll cost you. If you want to try mine out contact me through this post.
Keep is updated on your progress.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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4 years 5 months ago #29048 by robin.mousley
Yep, a very warm welcome to the sport PharmGeek.

You sound like the kind of person who will LOVE surfski paddling. I live for downwind, but the boats are fun on any kind of water. We did a 21km training paddle this morning and had headwinds, sidewinds and a bit of downwind (all very light) with some "runs" (ie surfable waves) on the last 9km leg home.

Point is that it's all good, no matter what the conditions are. The boats slice through the water and it just feels so potent whether you're powering your way upwind over the waves, spray flying everywhere or flying downwind at 25 or 30kph... (also spray flying everywhere!)

In my youth I sailed high performance racing dinghies and I get the same satisfaction from paddling.

You'll love it!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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4 years 5 months ago #29049 by PharmGeek
Hey thanks!!! I may give you a shout and head up to SC!

I figure likely at this point in July or August I may venture out and find ways to demo boats and possibly snag up one.

I won't hikack the thread further - I'll reach out with other questions soon enough :)

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4 years 5 months ago #29051 by LakeMan
Replied by LakeMan on topic What is your surfski story?
Thanks. We don't like hikakers on this forum. :-)

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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4 years 5 months ago #29055 by PharmGeek
Doh!! :) :) ;)

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4 years 5 months ago #29062 by Spacehopper
Did you paddle other boats first?

I hadn't been near a kayak since I was a kid, then (about 10 years ago) I became aware of SOT fishing kayaks and thought it would be a great way to get out on the water and catch more. After starting on a barge I moved up to a Scupper Pro (and did my 3* sea kayak on it) at which point I started to look around to see if I could do some competition. I found this site, but in the UK there is not much sea kayak racing and the little information on surfski seemed to suggest it had faded away already.

I forgot about it for a few years, bought a Stealth fishing ski, which was great at surfing and then saw the V8 and the resurgence in ski paddling it seems to have brought, so it was time to get involved.

Is this for fitness, racing or just for the mental solitude?


I'm not sure mental solitude as much as that 'in the zone' complete concentration that looking for the next ride brings. I get much the same from sailing but the ski has the advantage of simplicity and portability.

Fitness is also a big draw - I've probably the fittest I've ever been since I started paddling.

Why paddle something so challenging?

Because it's fun to learn new skills and push yourself.

Did you start with a beginner ski or jump into an elite?

I started in a V8 which was a perfect balance of challenge and reward.

How difficult was it to start the sport?

The lack of information was the biggest block, that and the fact that many of the dealers do email responses at geological timescales... It's quite a hurdle to take the risk of spending £2000 on boat when you're not sure if the sport will vanish in a puff of smoke.

I'm lucky to have a canoe club just along the canal from where I live and so the flatwater coaching there allowed me to get the basic skills down - after that it was fairly easy to learn solo in the V8.

Also, being a short (and short legged) paddler almost all ski cockpits are too long and the buckets too big.

Did you find balance natural or a trial?

It took work, starting in K1s - I can remember the dry mouth and wobbles from paddling the first stability 10 boat. After a few months of that the V8 was quite easy.

What is the best ski you've ever owned?

The V8 is still my favourite.

Do you paddle alone or in groups?

I started off alone, then got a mate from the club interested. We've now built it up (through inviting people from the club out as often as possible) to the point where we get at least 5 boats on the water on wednesday evenings and we've seen up to 16, now our friendly local Epic dealer has been bringing down a trailer of demo boats.

We've also just conducted a first 'Intro to Ski Paddling' for our local club, which has been 6 flatwater/sea kayak paddlers getting to learn ski paddling over 5 weeks.

Does your spouse also paddle?

Yes, she has a V6, for fishing and daytripping. She has been known to do the odd flatwater race in the V8 but spends most of it looking at the scenery...

Multi-skis or do you keep one?

Presently I have a V7 for rough water paddling. A Stellar SEI for calmer days and a Carbonology Pulse for flatwater racing. And the Stealth for fishing... :)

Daily, weekly or monthly on the water?


We paddle every wednesday evening on the sea through the summer and then whatever weekends are free the rest of the year. Flatwater training on the Pulse is all year round and can be 3-4 days a week (though a new baby is putting paid to this).

Do you winter ski and why?


Yes, there isn't that much difference between winter and summer in the UK, especially on the sea. ;)

We flatwater paddle even in the depths of winter and it's not unusual to start a training run in the pitch black and finish 16km with solid ice on the paddle shaft and deck.

Where do you paddle?

Flatwater - on the canal and river around Exeter.

Sea - Wednesday evening at Exmouth and then downwinds around various bits of open water around the South West of the UK.

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