Advice needed on surfski & shops

9 months 2 weeks ago #32793 by ysu
Sorry, long post.

My request for help is twofold, in short:

- Which ski would be best for me, considering I'm after speed, and pretty much flatwater only (mild waves at most) I'm inexperienced, but not afraid of learning.

- Aussie/Sydney/Central Coast kayakers: anyone knows good shops or events around here where I can test-drive surf skis on flat water? I just could not find anything. Some kayak expo would be great.


I'm a fairly beginner paddler, started last year in a Hurricane Santee 116 (as stable a kayak as it can get). I've found it rather limiting after about 6 months, so now I've decided to buy something else. Something fast.

I'm 47, 170cm, 68kgs. I live next to Ourimbah creek & Tuggerah lakes, (Australia) so I've got great weather and flat water most of the year. I've been out ~3 times a week for ~8 months, doing usually 4-6kms as a break from work in the day. Got a bit of technique now, I can edge a bit, but I've hit a brick wall in speed at around 6.5km/h in this kayak (sustained).

I do not intend to go onto sea, but I'd like to be able to go out in a bit choppier conditions, and/or other places (holidays are usually next to some bay area or river).

I know I should try out these boats before I buy...but here's the issue; trying isn't so simple, as I can't find any shops nearby for that. The nearest ones are in Sydney, that's a decent 2-hr drive, and last I asked about Stellar, stock is very limited and also some of the places are next to the ocean - not what I want for a test. So I'd like to know that if I'm going off to test something, I'm not wasting a day of my time testing the wrong kayak for my level.


p.s. I've looked around and I love the idea of a Stellar SR, but read it has a fairly large bucket - I'm thin, and I'd love to go fast (did I mention it?) so maybe a Stellar SEI - but it maybe too advanced? Or maybe even an SR is too much?

I've also seen a Vajda Hawx or Next and I love that one too. But which one is fitting?
I'm reading a lot about Epic kayaks too, they're probably good too. But again, which one?
Or something else?

I would like to patronage an Australian manufacturer if that's a decent option, I'm not blown away with the Hurricane's quality, and support is overseas - thus expensive to get anything here.

So please, any opinion is welcome, give me yours, thank you!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32796 by Dicko
Where to start.
If the waters warm and flat and you don't mind falling out for a month or two and you like a challenge and don't give up easily, considering your size, there are a couple of second hand options.
A good carbon Stellar SES is a rocket.
A carbon or hybrid Fenn Spark.
An epic V10L is an option, but is probably tippier than the top 2.
Buy a decent paddle with the money you save.
Look on Gumtree or Geartrade. There are often skis on local Facebook paddling pages.
Most of the beginner skis are big. (maybe we're all large when we start paddling).
The skis above are elite level skis but not to difficult on flat water given enough time.
Mostly they are the best skis for your size.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ysu

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32797 by ysu
Thanks mate.

Apologies, it looks like I forgot the most important thing; I do not want to capsize too often (at all if I can avoid). This is due to an ear condition I got. I can of course wear earplugs, but it's not a 100% protection.

Also: money is not a problem item, thankfully. I've got a full carbon paddle already, a $300 one, should I buy an even better one? (This was the top of the range in the local shop, and looks funky too ;) )

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32798 by MCImes
I would warn, I bought a 43cm ski for my first boat, only because it was dirt cheap and I made money upon selling it, and I knew it was an elite level ski that I would swim a lot in, but I bought it anyways.

I swam a lot. Like, 22 out of 25 times out with it, and I have pretty decent natural balance (enough to stay upright in intermediate boats with no specific training). I strongly do not recommend going from a 71cm flat water kayak to anything skinnier than 48cm. as soon an you go 1 micron skinnier than 48cm, you quickly go from "a 48cm intermediate boat that almost anyone could paddle after a couple months of practice" to "a 43cm elite boat that will take many months of 4+ times per week of paddling, dedication to balance training, and a ton of swimming" before its fun to paddle.

I would highly encourage you to look for a ~48cm boat (mayyyybe as skinny as 46cm like the Stellar SEI or Nelo 550 at the absolute skinniest, but even that isnt my first recommendation). Resist the urge to buy an elite level boat. If I were you, i'd buy something between 48 and 52 cm wide depending on how aggressive of a step you want to take. 52cm you will master in no time and you can just focus on form training, 48cm will take a little bit of work but not unapproachable, 46cm will require some regular paddling to get comfortable in, <46cm will be no fun for quite a while (unless you're paddling nearly every day or are naturally gifted with balance)

Even a 52cm boat will feel like a rocket compared to the barge you currently have. Trust me, swimming every single paddle is no fun. Its fun to get thrown off, but it should happen on your terms (i.e. venturing out into bigger water), not flipping on flat water.

Other reasons to buy intermediate
-You can add seat pads to add instability if you get bored too quickly
-Poor form is developed from excessive instability, best to get good form in your muscle memory before you have to unlearn bad habits
-the resale value of intermediate boats is better than elite boats (because not many people can paddle elite boats!) and if you buy used you can often sell for the same price you bought
-If you paddle alone, a safety margin of stability is advisable
-Swimming occasionally is ok, but any of the elite paddlers will tell you "stability before ability"!

Off the top of my head, I think an SR, Zest, XT, V8 Pro, V10 Sport, Evo would all be a good starting point for you. If you feel aggressive an SEI or nelo 550 may be on the menu as well

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
The following user(s) said Thank You: ysu

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32799 by ysu
Many thanks, it's good to hear experiences. Indeed I'd like to avoid swimming too much - as I wrote in response to Dicko. And I'm glad to hear you reckon an SR would not be too bad for a start, I was a bit afraid of that.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32814 by Bitemekaos
Hi Ysu I paddle at Chittaway as well and have owned three Stellars Sr, Sei and Ses all good ski's. You can call Ted at Fuzion Kayaks at Terrigal and he will let you test paddle any of the Stellars at Wamberal lagoon, not to far from home for you. Pro Kayaks on Narrabeen lagoon is a great place to go and test paddle different ski's give them a ring and they will be more than happy to help you make the right choice of boat for you to test. I paddle a bright yellow and blue Think Ion so if you see me on the water say hi and I will talk to you about local clubs like Central Coast Paddlers which run at Wyong River. Always good to chat too people who have years of experience to get good advice off. Good luck in your journey.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ysu

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago - 9 months 2 weeks ago #32815 by ysu
Very nice, thanks mate!
I'll most certainly look those leads up.

I hope to see you around - in fact I might already have, I seem to recall a kayak like that. :)

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32828 by Atlas
People learn from their mistakes but wise people learn from the mistakes of others. That's the beauty of this forum.
I agree with MClmes' well considered response.
You say money isn't a problem for you which is great. I can't see why you wouldn't buy the right ski now because you can buy another one in 6 or 12 months time when you are truly ready to upgrade.

A 2 hour drive is no big deal. I drove 10 hours each way last weekend to demo and buy my latest ski.
You'll have access to almost every ski on the market in Sydney.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32834 by HankL
Hi Atlas
I have a question for you. I am currently paddling a Bluefin S. It has a really hi fun facter,,but I have been wondering if the Zen might be as fun but a little faster. I see you have both. How would you compare the two.
Thanks

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32835 by owenw
Mate, go for an Intermediate class ski! Between my wife and I, we have 5 skis (Fenn, Stellar, Think and Carbonology brands) from very stable (Eze) to elite (SEL). I reckon you should give the Stellar SR and SEI a demo (Ted from Fuzion at Terrigal is your man); the Think Zen or Evo (Stew from Think Sydney is your man); Carbonology Vault or Zest (Brett from Australian Paddlesports); the Fenn Swordfish (Dean from Oceanpaddler). Best all rounder for you - IMO is the SR (in the Excel layup). Good idea to get in touch with the Central Coast Paddlers (Nick is the best contact) centralcoastpaddlers.org.au/

Life truly lived is full of risk; to fence out risk is to fence out life itself
The following user(s) said Thank You: ysu

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago - 9 months 2 weeks ago #32836 by Atlas
Hi HankL.
The short answer is that although the Bluefin was the first composite ski I bought; I don't think I'll ever sell it. OTOH I sold the Zen within 6 months (the website won't let me update my profile).
Suffice to say they are very different skis. As you know the Bluefin is just unreal in big downwind conditions (as long as you have a very aggressive rudder). I bought the Zen because like you I hoped it would be just as fun but a little faster. It is very comfortable (for me at least), it is beautifully finished and very well fitted out. It has a very flat hull which gives it heaps of primary stability but it has very little secondary. This would make it very confidence inspiring for beginners in calm to moderate conditions. However I found it hard to control in really rough, confused water particularly when dealing with steep side on waves. As you'd expect it is very manoeuvrable but it doesn't have great directional stability so I found it a bit of a challenge to surf big swells at much of an angle. It's a nice enough ski; just not for me. I've replaced it with a Carbonology Sport Boost LV.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 2 weeks ago #32838 by HankL
Thanks for the very complete answer. It sounds like the Zen would not be for me also. I'll take a look at the boost.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 3 days ago #32907 by ysu
Gents, I'd just like to say thanks for all the advice!

Ted (fuzion kayaks) helped me out with a demo SR, and I've found out quickly that I'm a bit too beginner for that :) Maybe next year.

So now I'm a happy owner of a white S18S Excel, which is still a bit of getting used to, but after 3 outings I'm already feeling much more comfortable in it, and what's really important; I can paddle without dunking (in the local quiet conditions at least).

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

9 months 3 days ago #32912 by Bitemekaos
Great stuff see you on the water!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

[help] gelcoat chicken skin (6 Posts)

2 hours 38 minutes ago
SpaceSputnik's Avatar

Action cam recommendations (11 Posts)

4 hours 36 minutes ago
Protected by R Antispam