Hello all (another newcomer post)

1 month 6 days ago #34507 by XLV
I'm located in Orange County, California and I'm just about to get started with my journey into surfski. I just started paddling this year on a recreational SOT and have logged ~40 trips, mostly in the ocean, and trips up to ~22 miles so far. I was hoping some of you could give me advice. I'm very safety conscious, I always carry a VHF radio and waterproof phone in the ocean, along with my whistle and obviously PFD. Are there any special safety concerns for a surfski?

I'm getting ready to order an Epic V5 (used) - although it's been a challenge so far to find one (anyone with a used V5 or V7 that you can drop off in SoCal, let me know).

I'm hoping I'll be able to quickly move up to 30 mile solo trips. How fast do paddlers tend to average over 6 hours (half upwind half downwind)? Is it reasonable for a beginner like myself to start thinking about 30-40 mile trips in a V5?

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1 month 6 days ago #34509 by mcnye1
Welcome aboard!  From a safety perspective paddling a ski is much like any other boat with a couple of exceptions.  The first difference is that you will need a leash that tethers you to the boat.  On a windy day, an unoccupied ski will move faster than you can swim. 

Secondly, you need to make sure that you can successfully reboard.  You won't want to carry your VHF or cell on the front of your PFD because they will interfere.  You will also want to have a good low profile PFD that won't interfere.  Some of the PFDs that are best from a floatation perspective are the worst for reboarding because the front floatation is so big.  There are several PFDs that are tailor made for surfskis (Mocke, Vaikobo) but they are not USCG approved.  These also have a pocket in the back which will hold a hydration bladder.  The last part of a bombproof reboard is to practice.

I don't think that it is unreasonable for a beginner to aspire for 30-40 mile paddles, but I am not convinced that a V5 is the right boat for that.  First of all, it is awfully short.  An 18' boat will be ~1 mph faster with the same effort.  The second consideration is comfort.  More than about 3 hours in a bucket and my bottom starts to protest.  On very long races, I am just as fast and much more comfortable in my fast sea kayak because the seating is much more flexible.  My "all day" pace in my 18.5' Wahoo FSK is something better than 5.5 mph.

The last suggestion is to get a wing paddle.  The Epic Mid or Small-Mid is a great place to start.  For really long distance, you are probably better off with the Small-Mid.    
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1 month 5 days ago #34510 by zachhandler
Leash from ski to body is the most important piece of safety equipment. I do carry vhf and cell phone in front pocket of my pfd. It does make remounting more difficult. On the other hand I had a friend die because his cell phone was on the ski, not in his pfd, and the leash failed and the ski blew away. Speed differences between various hulls depends on how fast you are going. At high speeds most resistance is caused by wave production and the longer skinny boats, which make smaller waves, are faster. At low speeds friction between water and the boat is more important than wave production in determining resistance of hull through water. I don’t know the exact transition point but i would guess that at 5 - 5.5 mph all the hulls are about the same speed and slower than that the shorter boats are actually more efficient to paddle.  
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1 month 5 days ago #34511 by MCImes
Welcome to the club! There's a guy that paddles out of Venice/MDR pretty regularly on the boards here, and if you have not checked out the Newport Aquatics Center, its definitely worth your while to visit. The NAC would also be a good place to post a boat wanted add. And for that matter get a lesson or two from one of the coaches there once you have some gear. A couple race series in the area as well. There are a few paddlers in the Ventura (me) and Santa Barbara areas too.

By 30-40 miles, do you mean paddling out to the channel islands and back? If so I would caution you that conditions change rapidly from dead calm to raging seas and to do it safely is considered an advanced to expert level trip if unassisted, so be fully aware of the dangers if attempted.

short of paddling to the islands, its possible to do 40 miles, but like was said, it would be a fairly long slog to do in a V5. I think you're on the right track by getting a cheap beginner boat (like a V5 or V7) that you can resell easily and upgrade as your skills progress. The Blackburn is a famous 20 mile race on the east coast and has upwind and downwind conditions and last year had finishing times of 3-4 hours, or ~5-7mph. maintaining over 6mph for 20+ miles means you're in pretty damn good shape.

How's your fitness level? Age? Athletic background? Goals of paddling (how much do you want to push yourself?) if you tell us that we might be able to provide some more relevant advice for you like if you should consider the V7 over the 5.

Anyways, welcome to the club! you are sure to have a blast.

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"
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1 month 5 days ago #34512 by zachhandler
On the subject of leashes remember that the leash is a back up. When you capsize your instinct has to be to grab the boat instantly, without letting go of the paddle, before you are all the way in the water. You need to practice that. As soon as you are going in get an arm around the ski.  If you fail to do that, then you better hope the leash holds. Sometimes after a capsize in big waves the ski gets out of reach and there is a hard tug on the leg as it gets stretched tight and stops the boat. That is a horrible feeling, because there is always the chance that the leash could fail at that instant of maximum strain. 

If you are going through breaking surf near shore most people untether from the leash temporarily as the main risk in that situation is not losing your ski but having a breaking wave pull the boat so hard that leash causes a serious orthopedic injury. 
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1 month 5 days ago - 1 month 5 days ago #34513 by XLV
Thanks for all the advice - this is extremely helpful. I'll always remember these safety tips. Looking forward to posting about my progress here.

mcnye1: Thanks for the paddle advice - I'm going with the small-mid paddle you recommended - I'm also browsing for surfski-specific PFDs - I'll have to see how my current PFD works with remounts. The seat pain after 3 hours is also a problem in my recreational kayak, but I purchased a thick silicone gel pad and now 7 hour trips are no problem - I'm not sure if the pad will work in the surfski though, I hope it does. I was considering a longer surfski to start with, but launching would be an issue, since I need to climb over a sea wall just to get to my launch spot (but it's only ~200 feet from where I live so I'm not complaining).
 
zachhandler - thanks for sharing about your friend, I'll always keep that incident in my mind. I didn't realize that the smaller boats might be more efficient at low speeds - that's nice to know. I'm going to make practicing remounts a regular exercise.

MCImes - I'm familiar with the NAC (just did an early morning paddle there yesterday to catch the sunrise, was awesome). That's a good idea about the lessons, I think I'll do that. Fortunately I was able to find a used V5 since I posted yesterday, and it will be delivered in a couple of weeks. the 30-40 mile trips would be going along the coastline (like from Newport Harbor to San Onofre). I'm planning to cross to Catalina next year, but I won't be going alone.

My fitness level is on an upward trend, but I'm still overweight. I've been lifting weights every day and working out with gymnastic rings. I'm committed to paddling at least twice a week, ideally 3 times. My near term paddling goal is mostly fitness and personal enjoyment, but I could see it becoming something more eventually.

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1 month 3 days ago #34523 by Cryder
Aye matey! Welcome to the world of surfski. Fantastic sport with years and years of fun ahead of you, especially if you consider progression (the sport will change a LOT as you progress in skill). You're smart to start with safety, and you're bound to get a firehose of information from a wealth of knowledgable folks in this community. 

Personally, I think safety starts with your decision making process, and that means you have to think a lot about risk assessment. Given that you'll be paddling on the ocean right away, that ups the anti considerably.  So while a radio, PFD, leash and high vis clothing are all mandatories, that is not the whole picture on safety. With the ocean, you have to pick your days. It can change in a hot hurry, and even small changes in sea state have huge implications for a paddler. The longer you're out, the higher your risk. So start super conservative while you learn, and go to school on understanding your local risk factors, bail out points, and get smart on the apps for forecasting hour by hour. Far better if you have a solid paddling partner of much greater skill to do some lessons with. 

Next get your kit together. Surfski paddling invovles lots of rotation. Which means a high risk of "paddlers rash". Get some great paddling shorts. Shameless plug: We make awesome paddling shorts and clothing for paddlers. 

Given that you want to spend long days out, the V7 with a hatch is a great choice. But it comes at the cost of true ski like performance. It's 50lbs of plastic, with a small day hatch. Not a high performance ski, and yet not a touring ski. If you're not 1000% set on doing 40 milers, I'd strongly suggest you buy your second ski first; get a V8 / Eze / Bluefin or equivalent. Spend your first 9 to 12 months getting to know that ski inside and out, in increasingly demanding skill oriented conditions. Start in protected bays / lakes. Then slowly up your game leading up to the ocean. 

Finally, get some coaching. Technique can make or break your first year. If you learn solid technique right away, it will make all the difference in how much you can progress. Less risk of injury. Less risk of damaging your ski of getting in over your head. And a whole lot more performance (which is what surfskis are all about!). There are some great resources out there, from books to videos to online coaching. You can learn a ton from YouTube alone. The Newport Aquatic center near you should be a great place to connect for friends / coaching and equipment. Go to races, and you'll also make a ton of friends and great connections to the sport. Your SoCal area has a some great winter races. 

Good luck and have fun! 

Nicholas Cryder
https://www.fasterfarther.com/
https://news.fasterfarther.com/
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1 month 3 days ago #34525 by XLV
Yeah I'm fully aware that the rotomolded skis aren't "true" surfskis - so I think I might take some of your advice and learn simultaneously on something else - I actually bought a V5 so it's even more pronounced. Membership at NAC lets you use their surfskis, so I might give that a try soon.

Good call on the rapidly changing conditions. I always check NOAA/ sat images and then surfline.com cams to see how the sea actually looks, plus I always keep the VHF turned on to listen for wx alerts.

I've been watching a lot of surfski instructional videos - and the technique has actually helped me paddle a lot better in my recreational kayak as well.

Thanks for all the tips - your gear looks cool - I'll bookmark your site. Running a paddling-related company sounds like a lot of fun.

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1 month 3 days ago #34526 by tve

XLV wrote: Yeah I'm fully aware that the rotomolded skis aren't "true" surfskis - so I think I might take some of your advice and learn simultaneously on something else - I actually bought a V5 so it's even more pronounced. Membership at NAC lets you use their surfskis, so I might give that a try soon.


I would respectfully disagree about rotomolded skis not being surfskis. I learned on a Nelo 510 and in the big picture it behaves just like a carbon ski. There's nothing I learned on the 510 that didn't apply when I moved to a carbon ski. There's nothing I had to unlearn. The biggest difference is the stiffness, or lack thereof in the plastic ski: it just doesn't react as well to small waves because it flexes.  I still use the 510 when I want to play in the shore break, or when I want to go to the channel islands (the commercial ferries don't take carbon boats), or when friends want to kayak. I have never seen a V5, but I would assume that the same principles apply and given that you got it used it may sort of pay for itself if you buy a carbon ski and can jump straight into the intermediate range.

For instruction I can very much recommend Michele at paddlecal.com; I don't know whether she still teaches classes at the NAC on saturday mornings, give her a call!
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1 month 3 days ago #34528 by zachhandler
I am with tve. Nothing wrong with a plastic ski. They are cheap and take a lot of abuse. When Oscar does a downwind in a plastic ski he still goes faster than any of us ever will.

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1 month 3 days ago #34530 by Cryder
Going to clarify my comments:

"Given that you want to spend long days out, the V7 with a hatch is a great choice. But it comes at the cost of true ski like performance. It's 50lbs of plastic, with a small day hatch. Not a high performance ski, and yet not a touring ski. If you're not 1000% set on doing 40 milers, I'd strongly suggest you buy your second ski first; get a V8 / Eze / Bluefin or equivalent."

My point is that a heavy craft is a heavy is a heavy craft. A light weight carbon ski is far more responsive, easy to deal with from car top to put in, and is a lot less work to paddle. I've paddled all of the plastic makes out there, and think they're great for what they are. But they are not nearly as responsive as a lighter weight ski, and that responsiveness is a big part of what makes skis, skis. A heavy, plastic ski mutes that responsiveness, so it's worth examining as to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. As for Oscar, he could paddle a sodden log faster downwind then I could ever paddle a full carbon ski. Just because one great athlete can do something doesn't make it a class defining rule for everyone else. 

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1 month 3 days ago #34531 by XLV
Glad to hear about positive experiences on the rotomolded skis - very excited for the day it gets here - going to be a great summer. I'll see if MIchele is giving lessons at the NAC - thanks for the recommendation.

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1 month 3 days ago #34532 by zachhandler
Cryder i think we agree on everything we are just pointing out two different truths about plastic skis.  For me the biggest downside in day to day use of a 50 pound ski would be the  shlepping the thing on and off my car.   

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1 month 3 days ago - 1 month 3 days ago #34533 by mcbit

zachhandler wrote: Cryder i think we agree on everything we are just pointing out two different truths about plastic skis.  For me the biggest downside in day to day use of a 50 pound ski would be the  shlepping the thing on and off my car.   


+1 for rotomolded as a starter ski, I had a V7 for 3 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. Almost indestructible and due to the weight less affected by the wind than other skis. Not as responsive as a lighter ski, true, but can still be paddled relatively quickly. Ideal as a day cruiser in a ski format.

For me also, the biggest downside was the carrying weight, but I'm sure someone younger and fitter than me would not have too many issues with the 22kg weight. There are of course people managing 45kg fishing kayaks on and off of the roof of they're cars....
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1 month 2 days ago #34540 by tve
XLV, here's something for you to read if you want to feel better:  https://tcsurfski.com/2018/11/30/epic-v5-v8-v10-speed-comparison/  :-)

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1 month 2 days ago #34541 by mcbit
Similarly from I from my own experience I would provide these numbers based on 5km time trials:
Swordfish 10.8 kph
V8 Pro 10.7 kph
V7 10.3 kph

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1 month 1 day ago #34548 by XLV
Those speed comparison numbers are really cool, and thanks @mcbit for adding in your own. I'll definitely be using these numbers as a target.

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1 month 1 day ago #34549 by paddlepop
great choice with the V5.  check out Facebook's Surfski Centre for a recent downwinder video or Epic V5 surfski owners group  
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1 month 1 day ago #34550 by SpaceSputnik
My first ski was a V7. It's fine to learn on and is certainly a sturdy tank. But, if I could go back in time, I would get a V8, preferably Ultra (but Performance would do as well depending on price). Handling it off-water is the main issue. I am not unfit, but still find carrying it around difficult, especially after a paddle. It got to a point where I couldn't bear doing it anymore on my own. If you paddle with others who can help its much less of an issue.

I personally don't see much point in getting a V5 unless your balance is weak or if you plan going out into big waves soon. V7/V8 shouldn't feel unstable even if you are not the best balance-wise. May take a little bit of time to get used to, but I think it should be a very good starting point for most of us.

V6 is an interesting boat, due to its cruising capacity, If I had some money to throw around I'd swap my V7 for a V6.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7
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1 month 14 hours ago #34553 by XLV
paddlepop: Thanks - I'm going to take a look at that group

SpaceSputnik: I launch using a small dolly a few hundred feet from my house, so at the moment I'm taking advantage of not worrying about transportation hassles, and I'm getting out on the water every chance I get. I'm not sure how good my balance is - but it's definitely something I'll be working on - I do plan on going out in relatively rough conditions (within reason). Once I move up to something else, the V5 should be ideal for letting friends use and getting them interested in the sport.

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