Length of Surfskis

2 weeks 6 days ago #38231 by Ikigai
Length of Surfskis was created by Ikigai
Hi all,
I have been shopping for a ski and I it seems that Nelo boats are around 18' while Epic are around 20' and Think with a mix of both.  It seems like a shorter ski would be easier from a transport and logistical perceptive.  Can anyone offer their perspective on the pros and cons of the different lengths from both a logistical and performance perceptive?  Thanks!

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2 weeks 6 days ago #38234 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Length of Surfskis

Ikigai wrote: Hi all,
I have been shopping for a ski and I it seems that Nelo boats are around 18' while Epic are around 20' and Think with a mix of both.  It seems like a shorter ski would be easier from a transport and logistical perceptive.  Can anyone offer their perspective on the pros and cons of the different lengths from both a logistical and performance perceptive?  Thanks!


The 18' ski is popular in Europe because of regulations governing how far an object can extend beyond the front and rear of a vehicle!  Whatever the manufacturers tell you about the speeds and drag and whatever else, that's alleged to be the primary reason for the short length!

For me, paddling as I do almost 90% of the time downwind, here in Cape Town, I find the really short boats a pain to paddle because of their propensity to nose-dive.  That can mostly be prevented by leaning back aggressively, but it becomes tiring to have to focus on that rather than other facets of catching runs.  (Which isn't to say that leaning back is a bad thing in general - in fact it's pretty important on most boats, but you don't usually have to be extreme about it.)

It is true however that shorter boats are lighter and easier to carry.

It depends to an extent on the type of paddling that you're going to be doing, and also your own weight.  At 80kg, I do not enjoy most 18' boats.  And, as I said, I paddle mostly in rough water.  But if you're lighter than that, and you're interested more in paddling in flatter conditions, there's no reason not to go with a shorter boat. 

In theory a longer waterline should mean a faster boat - but I'm not sure that the difference between 18' and 20' would really be significant in that regard.

Anyway - no doubt others will chime in with their thoughts, so I'll leave it at that!

Have fun!

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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2 weeks 5 days ago #38235 by Bill L
Replied by Bill L on topic Length of Surfskis
I've had 5 skis and others no doubt have had more experience than me with more skis, but I generally agree with Robin's comments, ESPECIALLY about what the ski is rated for in terms of weight vs how much you weigh.   I am about 63 kg, and when the manufacturers started making skis for smaller weight people, it amplified my fun quite a bit.  So from my experience the volume of the ski is at least as important as the length, perhaps more-so.

A ski that has too much volume for a smaller paddler seems "corky" and can be more challenging to handle in high winds.  The skis I have that are sized for my weight feel like I am putting on a glove, and after I get some experience with them they feel like an extension of my body.  

As always, try if you can before you buy, preferably in windy conditions if that is how you will paddle them.

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2 weeks 5 days ago #38239 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Length of Surfskis
Reality is around the world not all ski paddlers are paddling big downwinders, but rather sheltered or even flat water and shorter skis are definitely easier to deal with in these conditions where plenty of buoyancy in the nose is not required and simply increases windage.  Agreed transportation on smaller cars (and home storage) plays a part in length selection for many buyers. Even the longer skis now have lower noses. The humps are lowering to accommodate leg drive rather than simply to stop you sliding forward in the seat on big waves. Large humps were one of the major obstacles for anyone transitioning from flatwater boats to skis. You get a lot of 'masters" turning to skis when the balance on skinny k1s becomes harder with age

Relative rocker, seat bucket and rudder positions seem to be changing too, which I think is intended to improve manoeuvrability. Classic comparison epics V10 gen1 vs gen , Altogether a more approachable boat.

Its part of the evolution of designing skis to suit the larger market demand rather than just the ideal big open water racer that only a relatively small few can actually do.

Probably why they dont sell many V14s as hardly anyone can handle them in big water, and while they may be fast on flat water, they are just an unwieldy  boat to race up and down rivers, too close to the realm of an easily to manhandle 5.2m k1

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2 weeks 5 days ago #38240 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic Length of Surfskis
I too think there is a place for short skis. If you are on the smaller side it makes sense of course. At 165 pounds I feel like most 21 foot skis have too much volume for me. The other place they make a ton of sense is if you usually paddle smaller waves. I have noticed that on downwind runs that start with offshore wind, such as when crossing a large lake, the 18 foot skis are surfing at least a half mile before the 21 foot skis start catching waves. 

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2 weeks 4 days ago - 2 weeks 4 days ago #38241 by TomVW
Replied by TomVW on topic Length of Surfskis
As a Nelo 550 owner and previous owner of a Stellar SEI (6.1m), I can also vouch for the merits of shorter ski's in flatwater as well as on some types of open water.

On flatwater, for me, the Nelo550 was faster than the SEI it replaced. I found it easier to maintain 10+kph cruising speed over longer period. Also the top speed I could achieve around 14kph was not affected by the reduced length.

On the North Sea, where I occasionally paddle, we lack long ocean swell. While I am by no means an experienced open water paddler, I appreciate the reduced windage and increased maneuverability of the Nelo compared to the SEI. I am in, anyway, more limited by stability issues rather than by the boats' maximum speed. 

And, as others have mentioned, the shorter length makes the boat more manageable off the water too...

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