my first surfski

2 years 2 months ago #36328 by Blackadder
my first surfski was created by Blackadder
Hi everyone,

many thanks for all the information that I found here, since I reactivated my interest in a Surfski, you have been so very helpful. My paddling career started with a kayak 30 years ago, when I was a teenager and then had a very long pause for about 25 years. I saw my first Surfski in the beloved show Magnum P.I. and since then always wanted to try one. When I moved house a year ago and have now Germanys biggest lake at my feet (walking distance), there was no excuse not to have a boat. I tried a standard Kajak last summer at the boat hire in our village and could paddle it from the start, very comfortable. So the search for a dealer started. Lo and behold, there is one nearly round the corner, dealing Fenn Kajaks (all other dealers are in the north, I am in the Deep South). After much reading while it was still cold, I called and asked for a Bluefin, which seems to be a nice boat for a beginner. He had one in the 14 kg variant available, paddle from Orka, a Mocke PFD and a small boat trailer to get the boat from home to water. So I ordered the lot, to be handed over when the weather is good enough to do this with a test paddle.

Since the water is still cold as hell with 6 degrees Celsius, I trawled the net for a wetsuit that can keep me comfortable in this conditions. There were some real bargains available so I bought an Xcel Drylock with a chest zip for half price and hoped like hell it would fit and would be sufficiently flexible, since all surf shops are closed down thanks to Corona. Happily, it did. Getting in is ok, getting the first arm out when you want to get out is kind of a fight, the rest is easy going. Shoes and gloves were ordered too, as well as a waterproof pouch for my mobile. So I was ready to start, as soon as the weather is ok.

Yesterday was the big day, it is getting warmer by the day, even if the water is still as cold, and the boat was delivered. The nice guy put on his drysuit so that he could get in the water with me to start me off. I sat down in the ski, he kept it stable for that and when he let go, I happily sat there without tipping and started paddling. The wing paddle was a challenge, never had that before and the paddle going where it shouldn't gave me my first swim. Remounting was easy, water only ribcage high and I was on my way again. After some slight changes on the feather of my paddle I got a bit more confidence that it won't tip me again and happily paddled along. Still a bit tippy when turning, but not making me uneasy. 

The steering is something completely new to me, that will need some time getting used to since it reacts immediately and I need to concentrate on steering and then forget to paddle. I will now keep close to land, getting used to the boat, training remount every time I paddle and will give myself a plan what to train in which order. My brain knows exactly how to paddle correctly (thanks to Ivan Lawler and Oscar Chalupsky videos which are really useful), but coordination of all that knowledge is a mess. So start with one thing, when that works ok, start on the next thing. I decided to start on the correct catch and then arm positioning, then upper body rotation and then leg stabilization, and so forth. I will see how that works. I guess I will take a while to find the correct feather that works for me to not further complicate correct movements.

Going into the 6 degree water was much more comfortable than I thought, the Xcel drylock kept his promise, I was really dry inside, only at the neck some water poured in, its a mens suit and my neck is slimmer than a mens neck unfortunately. So I tried a swim with my nice new PFD to see how much buoyancy suit and PFD give me. Nice experience, I felt rather comfortable and that gave me a good feeling for the case, that I tip over again.

So, now I will use the good weather coming up to do some paddling. Happily enough, we are still allowed to use the lake for sports, in other areas all lakes are closed down thanks to Corona, which would rather piss me off.

Happy paddling to all how are still allowed to do so!


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2 years 2 months ago #36330 by [email protected]
Replied by [email protected] on topic my first surfski
Damn Corona, We would love to do a little surfski touring with you ;D Not much surfki paddlers around here (Karlsruhe). Stay safe and have fun! 

Currently - Stellar S18S G2 , Epic V7

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2 years 2 months ago #36331 by Atlas
Replied by Atlas on topic my first surfski
With regard to paddle feather angle: You don't have to feather your paddle. If you have a good reason to do so then go ahead. However if you're only doing it because everyone else seems to do it then you may be unnecessarily complicating your learning process.

Current boats
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double, Nelo 600, Expedition Kayaks Azure

Previous boats
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club, Epic V9 Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV
Most with DK rudders

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2 years 2 months ago #36333 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic my first surfski
Welcome back to paddling.

Wing paddles take a lot of getting used to; you need to learn not to try to control the blade so much, a loose grip is key.
Second major difference is a body twist, arms locked and the paddle traveling out from the centreline of the boat. Not a huge amount, probably following the bow wake is about right. If your arms are locked and you are pulling with body twist and leg push, then this will happen inevitably. 

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2 years 2 months ago #36336 by Blackadder
Replied by Blackadder on topic my first surfski
After the first hours in the boat, things are getting better. The paddle is unfeathered now which works fine for me and it doesn't try to pull me off the boat. Several videos by Oskar Chalupsky are watched and I try some of his drills. It is still very hard work, since the core muscles haven't done any work for years (compared to the legs which are really fit). So I try to keep the sessions short and try to be in the boat even day. Biggest problem so far, my paddlestroke is far too long, it takes a while for the brain to get a grip on the fact that you need to think knee to get the paddle out at the hip......

I tried getting back in the boat in chest high water, which worked ok. I need to understand how to grip the paddle without loosing the grip on the boat, that always takes a bit of thinking and trying before I can swing myself back in. When gripping boat and paddle correctly without thinking, I can try that in deeper water. Actually I put one paddle blade on the back of the boat, try to grip it in the middle so that it is in balance, still have some hand left to get a good grip on the boat and have a close eye that I get to lie on the boat on the left side of the bucket. This will now be part of the daily paddling routine until it works without thinking.

When using the legs in the stroke I still steer involuntarily, I guess I need to change the angle of the footrest so that my toes do not always steer when putting pressure on the footrest. 

So far I am really happy that I bought the boat, lots of fun and good training! The weather is now rather warm, water temperature is also climbing, so I am not alone on the water any more. SUPs and Kajaks are back, surfers will follow. I was asked twice what kind of boat that is, Surfski are still a rarity here.

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2 years 2 months ago #36337 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic my first surfski
If you 'lock the frame', then the paddle will lift naturally, without a long stroke.

Locking the frame means that immediately after the catch, you lock the position of the arms relative to one another, rotate with your hips, torso, pulling hard. Only towards the end of the stroke do your top and bottom arms engage at all.

It is very very worth while spending time working on technique. Best thing you can do is slow down your stroke, make each one strong and as perfect as possible. Stroke - pause - stroke.

While I don't agree with Oscar about the 0degree feather, his advice to spend 80% of time on the water on technique is gold. Just about every trip out should be a technique session. 

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2 years 2 months ago #36338 by Blackadder
Replied by Blackadder on topic my first surfski
Locking the frame is something I already work on. One drill from Oscar is very helpful: watching your upper hadn't which shall not move from its position. So I rotate forward, catch, lock, rotate back, get paddle out. Harder than it sounds....

I do as you suggested, slow stroke by slow stroke. Then a bit pause, let it sink in, try again. I guess I will spend 15$ on the access to Oscars video library, where he has videos for all the drills. I do love drills and working on technique!

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