Is surfski harder than it needs to be?

5 months 1 week ago #31279 by d0uglass
I'm about 8 sessions into learning surfski on a boat that I know is not ideal (2009 Epic v12). It's going as well as can be expected. I'm gradually getting more speed and stability in flat water, and enjoying the learning process. In rough coastal waters I'm an unmitigated disaster, managing only a few strokes between one broach and the next. I'm sure I'd be progressing faster on a more stable ski, but for now this used one was the only thing in my price range.

From my experiences, and from reading all about surfski here and elsewhere on the Internet, I'm developing a theory (which could be totally wrong) that surfski is actually harder than it needs to be.

Both new and experienced surfski paddlers seem to have very low expectations for user-friendliness of the equipment, which is both good and bad. (For example: we accept rudders that lose their grip right when you really need to turn, and cutting bows that instantly broach you if they touch the water during a wave ride.) Low expectations for user-friendliness of the equipment are good in that they lead to patience and sticktuitiveness. But they may also lead to stagnation in design; acceptance of poor handling characteristics of the boats that limits the conditions they're usable in and makes it so many years of constant practice are required to use them. This could limit fun, and limit participation in the sport. Could we be building surfskis that are still pretty fast in flat water, but much easier to steer and less prone to pearl or broach in rough water, ultimately making them faster in downwinders for 90% of people? I suspect so.

Coming from a SUP background I can contrast surfski shapes with the very downwind-friendly shape of my 14'x27.25" Fanatic Falcon board. The tail of the Fanatic is a pintail like a surfski, but the nose is blunt, voluminous, and generously-rockered, such that when it touches the water it creates lift, resists pearling, and won't catch and steer the board into a broach. Compared to my 14'x23" flatwater race SUP board, which has a surfski-like cutting nose and less rocker, like Fanatic is about 4% slower in flat water, but 400% easier in downwind conditions of any kind, including small, steep waves and bumps of mixed period and mixed direction like we typically get in the Gulf of Mexico. It catches anything and goes wherever you want it to go even with just a fixed fin. Seems like some of the Fanatic Falcon shape features could be incorporated in a longer, narrower sit-down surfski version that would be a lot of fun. They say the nose of a surfski isn't supposed to touch the water much when you're downwinding, anyway, so why not give the nose more rocker and a friendlier boof or surfboard style nose that would allow quicker recovery when it did touch the water?

Another area where I theorize that surfskiers have accepted too much user-unfriendliness is with rudders/fins. On this forum I read about what seem to be some successful experiments in improving rudder effectiveness with "caster" rudders, or with rudders where the forward section is a fixed fin (like a giant weed deflector) and only the aft part pivots. Also, seems like rudder foils that tolerate larger angles of attack would be real useful as standard equipment.

Curious to know your thoughts. Now I'm going to head out to the Gulf of Mexico for some masochistic broaching-crazy upwind/downwind balance/remounting practice in mild seabreeze chop.

2009 Epic v12

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5 months 1 week ago #31284 by Ranga
There is a much easier answer to your question, make your own high end racing ski yourself. You have all the answers, clearly "STABILITY BEFORE ABILITY" is not on your radar. In fact why not just use the SUP that is so good and just paddle it?

Funny, I raced the V12 for 3 years and did not have the issues you are having, maybe 8 sessions is not quite enough? Just a thought, but hey I could be wrong!
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5 months 1 week ago #31285 by d0uglass
Ranga- That's a good idea about trying to sit-down paddle one of the 14' SUP boards. I'd have to figure out how to rig up some kind of bucket seat and foot brace, but it might be a fun project that could help me work on my stroke.

How much experience on other kayaks did you have before getting the v12? I know it's an excellent boat for a better paddler, but it's obviously way beyond my current skill level even in flat water. It kicked my butt again today in the Gulf of Mexico as I attempted to do upwind/downwind intervals. Some people talk about linking multiple wave rides without paddling, but I was linking multiple capsizes without paddling.

www.strava.com/activities/1508624983

2009 Epic v12

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5 months 1 week ago #31286 by d0uglass
Oh- another thing I meant to ask is: Are surf lifesaving surfskis any easier to use (more stable less prone to broach) for newbies looking for a (relatively) quick route into upwind/downwind open water paddling? Or are they just tricky in a different way?

2009 Epic v12

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5 months 1 week ago #31287 by WingSuit
I see an Epic V8 for sale in Sarasota on CL. Might be the answer youre looking for.

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5 months 1 week ago #31288 by tve
Hey, if you're having fun fighting your v12, by all means keep going :-) You'll eventually get there!

However, if you're getting frustrated, try to get a beginner boat by all means. I started paddling my nelo 510 in january and felt comfortable in pretty much any condition the third week. I just did a 8.5mi DW this thursday in 4-5ft swell, 20kt wind coming from the side, and 2ft chop driven by the wind from the side. I went in 3x and didn't feel unsafe at any point in time. I'm planning to upgrade this summer, but I only really expect two things to get better by doing that: not lifting 40lbs onto the car and being able to keep up with the other guys a little better. I don't feel like I'm missing out on any fun because of being in a beginner boat.

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5 months 1 week ago #31289 by Ranga
Very bad advice, TVE.

All you will learn to do is to stay upright, NOT paddle properly.
Good advise from WingSuit, get a V8, learn to paddle properly on a stable platform.

As for paddling the V12, lets say about 30 years of paddling and for me still a bit of a handfull to master to the skis full potential. So be patient, get a stable platform to learn to paddle then move up to the tippier ski.

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5 months 1 week ago #31290 by tve
> Very bad advice, TVE.

Nope, I'm just not as rude as you are ;-).

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5 months 1 week ago - 5 months 1 week ago #31291 by MK
@d0uglass
don't start the process of flipping skis. yet. it can be addictive :)

is there anyone that surfs skis your water and can share some local knowledge?
Some water can be quite different i.e. on the lake I normally paddle, I need winds above 40km/h , and to ride on specific "channels" that generate proper "wave trains" where you catch run after run.

every ski is a compromise. at one end of the scale you have more volume, volume in the nose & rocker. at the other you have a less volume, thin nose & no rocker. somewhere in there are thrown in flat spots, swede hulls, deep seats & hard chines, etc to give a little more stability.

the voluminous end surfs well, but also can "surf backwards" when pushing over small bumps & going upwind

the thin nose version cuts through the small bumps, but takes a bit more to catch and stay on a wave

what I found was that the beginner boats made me lose interest (not alive enough) but i'd have been in a real sticky situation in my thin nose in a couple of the cold fronts I've been through...


personally I have ended up with 2 boats, each at the extreme ends of the scale


here are some suggestions:
  • avoid bracing - try to stay upright using forward stroke only
  • zero feather paddle for when you do need to brace
  • always paddle - fast when trying to trying to catch a wave & turning, slower when waiting for wave & coming off the back of one
do this every day for 3 months:
set 1: 20-50 (min 20 to failure, after 50, add sandbag etc for resistance to get back to 20)
rest: 10sec
set 2: 10 (max - should reach failure before)
end.

put arm close to outside long edge of bench, and grip with fingers, locking the forearm into the bench. lean back slightly towards your backside, this will engage the lat and complete the brace to take strain off your shoulders.

ensure to focus on good form reps, using just he obliques and hip




a couple of other notes:
  • you may battle to get good forward stroke form in rough water, it can demand lower arms & shorter strokes to avoid capsizing
  • if you still have a sore butt, try moving the foot pedals forward until the coccyx no longer contacts the back, and tighten the foot strap up to pull against vs pushing against the back of the seat - this will make the boat harder to balance though
sorry, I can only share some of my conclusions my current stage, I plan to do a report one day when I have it all worked out :)
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5 months 1 week ago #31295 by LakeMan
I would recommend practicing on flatwater as much as possible before going out in the Gulf. I found chasing boats and riding their wake to be excellent practice and it's a lot of fun. And the people in the boats think your crazy.

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

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5 months 6 days ago - 5 months 6 days ago #31297 by Newbflat
I’m just going to be blunt here, you are a novice in an inappropriate boat for your skill level and blaming the boat for your inability to paddle it correctly. You need to get a V-8 or something similar , do a lot of research and spend the next six months paddling it. There is nothing wrong with the boat. You don’t start out beginner Stand up paddler on a 24 inch board and send them on a downwind. Just as you don’t start in a V12 and expect not to fall out all the time. You are on too advanced a ski for your skills... it’s not the ski.


Stellar SR excel (gen2)
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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5 months 6 days ago - 5 months 6 days ago #31298 by MCImes
Hi Douglas,
Similar to you, I bought a Gen0 Epic V10. What didn't realize is that the gen0 is 17.1" max beam, or basically equivalent to a current V12.

I spent a winter paddling the boat as a complete novice. (in my dry suit) I swam probably 18 of 20 times out, and this is on the Connecticut river, which although is commonly windy, rarely had waves >12".

Although the "v12" was fun (when i was upright), it was clearly above my skill level, which i knew; I only bought it because it was dirt cheap. Following the good advice from this thread and lord Oscar, "stability before ability", I traded my boat out for a Stellar SR. The SR is much more fun because instead of looking at waves and figuring out where I would have to swim to remount, I chase any wave I can find and only rarely get dumped.

I can tell you from personal expwerience, I would have developed terrible form and not progressed as quickly keeping the "V12". Like others, I agree that its not the boat, its the paddler, and you should sell yours for something like a V8, V8 pro, or V10 sport, which you can decide on after a test paddle.

I guarantee you will have more fun.

Being a novince in a V12 is like taking your first driving test in a Ferrari Enzo. It wouldnt turn out well and you'd probably have more fun in a nissan 240sx, until you progressed skill wise.

So... get a 19-22" ski until you're bored of it in all conditions. You'll have much more fun!

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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5 months 6 days ago - 5 months 6 days ago #31299 by Impala
Hi Douglas,

starting surfski paddling on a V12 elite ski without prior race paddling experience is dead wrong. It is like you want to teach yourself riding and buy a nervous thoroughbred on which you try to do cross-country steeplechase - good luck with that. By paddling a tippy boat as a beginner, you are just taking the fun out of everything, get used to bad habits, and build an unproductive level of anxiety on open water.

Your suspicion is right: surfski is about fun, not self-punishment. Look what Boyan Zlatarev has to say about the topic (Surfski 600).

Get yourself a stable boat (still enough to learn on that one) and start having fun.

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5 months 6 days ago - 5 months 6 days ago #31300 by Jef58
I believe there is a misconception about paddling. Most sports people do recreationally, equipment is not the most important factor in how one performs. Cycling for example, most people can get a pro tour level bicycle and ride right off the bat. You may not be as fast as an elite pro, but you can still ride it.

Paddling a surfski, equipment/boat makes a huge difference in performance. It is very hard for athletic people to understand this concept since most of their previous activities weren't the case. I too believe it is normal to think like this and I'm not really knocking the OP for it.... there isn't a fast track to this particular sport no matter how athletic one is.

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5 months 6 days ago #31303 by LakeMan

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

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5 months 6 days ago #31304 by Watto
From another post but hey it fits in here

.

Yeah mate just jump on this for a fun ride, but hey don't whinge that it's not comfortable. Horses for courses :).
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5 months 6 days ago #31305 by d0uglass
I've definitely got my eyes open for a swap to something like a V8 if there's one in my area. In the meantime I'm going to see if my buddy who has a Nelo 550 will let me try it out to see how different it feels from the v12. That buddy has several months headstart on me in the surfski game and is pretty stable and fast now in the Nelo 550 (>11 kph averages in flat water, and can survive a downwinder with only a handful of capsizes). When he tried the v12 recently he capsized instantly, which I reckon is a strong sign that the v12 is a lot more difficult than my other options.

I like the "it's not like bicycling" analogy.

2009 Epic v12

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5 months 6 days ago #31306 by kwolfe
I started with a V8, then bought a V14, then SEL, then 550. I can tell you for sure that the 550 will add much wanted stability in your case. The SEL is probably close to the same as the V12 and the 550 had loads for stability and will enable you to concentrate on your stroke first.

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5 months 6 days ago #31307 by davgdavg
Just a quick question- When you say "broach" do you mean fall out/capsize/huli, or broach?

Broach is when the boat suddenly turns directions out of control. Normally when people on surfskis say broach on a surfski they mean you get flipped around almost 180 deg.

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5 months 6 days ago #31308 by LakeMan
Good question Double D. I had thought he was talking about a broach like this one...


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