Mike Johnson older design kayak/surfski

2 years 7 months ago #31140 by tharrison67
I recently aquired a Mike Johnson ski and from the little research I have done he was a pioneer along with Merv in surf skis. It is a sit in style and only got it as it was a package deal to the ski i wanted. Don't want to trash or continue to store it and from the design it is OLD. I purchased both skis from a older lady who knew nothing about them whos son was a 1984 Olympic alternate. I would just like to find some more info on the ski and if anyone would be interested in it. I found a thread in here that is over 4 yrs old about Merv and a ski of his that was found and if I recall I think both Mike and merv surfed together in the past. Thanks for any info.
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2 years 6 months ago #31158 by robin.mousley
Hi there,

In the photo I can see a spec surfski on the right and an all-white kayak in the centre with two plastics on the left.

The white boat is not a surfski, it's a kayak.

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 years 6 months ago #31159 by tharrison67
Please explain WHY this I s a Kayak and not a ski. I am not questioning you I am just trying to learn and understand the difference

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2 years 6 months ago #31160 by robin.mousley
Sure, no problem.

One of the fundamental things about a surfski is that they are sit-on-top craft. The kayak is sit-inside. This means that if you capsize a surfski, you simply remount it; if you capsize a kayak it floods with water and you have to drag it to shore and empty it before you can continue.

There are other differences too; kayaks usually have kick-up rudders mounted on the tail, whereas surfski rudders are mounted through-hull a metre or more from the tail (although surfskis are becoming quite popular for river paddling and some are rigged for both types of rudder).

Surfski hulls are usually more curved so that they are controllable when surfing waves, whereas kayak hulls are usually flatter (and are difficult to control in waves).

Cheers
Rob

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 years 6 months ago #31161 by tharrison67
surfski rudders are mounted through-hull a metre or more from the tail

THis white Kayak/ski has a rudder just as you explained and is controlled with your feet. IT is also rounded on the bottom NOT flat. The surf Musuem in San Diego wanted me to donate this to them. If I recall they DID say it was a ski and was built sometime in the 60s. It was one of Mikes first designs and builds. So I am guessing this is a one of a kind and very rare.

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2 years 6 months ago #31162 by tharrison67
if you look at pic of white boat alone in the very tail end is a hole where you have access to gear just above the rudder

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2 years 6 months ago #31163 by jazzman
I'm pretty sure you have an old style K1 racing kayak there. I say old style because of the flaring out of the hull behind the cockpit. If you got the gear from a paddler who was Olympic standard in 1984, that was the hull shape used then. Google Cleaver and Cleaver X kayaks to give you some idea of what I'm talking about. They were predominantly used for flat water racing. The rudder is mounted as Rob said about a meter or so from the tail of the boat. Controlled via pedals ( although in strict flat water K1 kayaks , tiller bar is more common). So from the photos you've posted , I doubt that it's a surfski, rather an old design K1 kayak. Oh, the K1 kayaks aren't strictly flat on the bottom either ( have a gentle curve , or rocker)
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2 years 6 months ago #31165 by Jef58
It could be an optical illusion... from the picture the boat appears to be shorter than the spec ski enough to be in the 17 ft mark. Assuming it was built to K1 specs, this could be the case. Nevertheless, it looks like a great boat even though it could be a handful to paddle.

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2 years 6 months ago #31166 by robin.mousley
I also looked up Merv Larson. Here's one of the links eos.surf/entries/larson-merv

In those photos he's riding what we would now call a waveski. Definitely NOT surfskis although those old articles do refer to "surfskis".

So Merv Larson is not associated with "our" sport of surfski!

Surfskis come in two main flavours - so-called spec-skis (like the one to the right in your photo), which are evolved from surf rescue craft. They're now used in surf lifesaving competitions where paddlers go out from the beach, through surf round a couple of buoys and back to shore. Short distance stuff. These surfskis are regulated, have to be a certain minimum weight, etc. if they are used in official races.

This kind of thing:


The second flavour of surfski, which is predominantly featured on this website, is known as a racing or long distance surfski. These are designed primarily as open ocean craft, optimised to surf ocean swells. They are not designed to be used in the shorebreak - although of course we do play close to shore. But the boats are relatively delicate compared with spec skis and can easily be broken in the surf.

Whatever the detail of length, rocker, rudder placement, one of the fundamental aspects of surfskis is that they are sit-on-top sealed hulls. No compromise. If you don't sit on it, it's not a surfski. I'm 99% certain that your white boat is a sprint or marathon kayak and never went anywhere near the sea. I'm willing to be proved wrong of course! If it dates from the 1960s it most likely is of great historical interest.

Back in the 1960s, surfskis looked like big surfboards that paddlers either stood on, with giant two bladed paddles, or sat on. In was only in the 70s and 80s that people started shaping foam into hulls with indentations for butt and heels and installing rudder pedals connected to rudders.

(Confusing) facts:
  • Waveskis used to be called surfskis in some places (like the US).
  • In many parts of the world, people write "surf ski" instead of "surfski". This is unfortunate since searching for "surf ski" tends to result in websites about surfing and skiing, whereas a search for "surfski" gets you straight to the right place. Call the bloody things surfskis!
  • There also seem to be things called "surf kayaks". These seem to be essentially sea kayaks that are optimised for playing in the surf.

These things are surfskis:



These things are sprint kayaks. Similar boats (but with different rudders) are used for marathon and river races:



These things are waveskis:



These things, I guess, are surf kayaks...



Cheers,
Rob

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 years 6 months ago #31169 by Fath2o
ROB wrote - So Merv Larson is not associated with "our" sport of surfski!

Rob, Merv was actually a surfski pioneer here in the states. He is probably better known for his incredible abilities on a waveski.
He raced and even built his own waveskis, paddles, boats etc, and, surfskis. He was paddling a few years ago till back surgery got in the way. He has a yard full of surfskis. The guy is a legendary waterman here. I remember a great picture of him with a surfboard strapped to the back of a surfski. Suggest you might do a little more research, you'll be impressed. Just ran into him the other day. He walks with a cane, but, still is out riding endless miles on a recumbent bicycle. Tough as nails.
Regards, Kirk
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2 years 6 months ago #31170 by robin.mousley
Hey Kirk,

Rob, Merv was actually a surfski pioneer here in the states. He is probably better known for his incredible abilities on a waveski.


Ooops! I stand corrected. Apologies.

Ok, I've done some more searches and in my defense it's quite difficult to find anything other than stuff about his brilliance on waveskis, and to confuse the issue, back then waveskis were called surfskis so many of the references are actually about waveskis, not surfskis.

I did find this: www.oceanpaddlesports.com/2009/09/25/first_surfski_in_the_usa/

And I also found an article which describes how Merv Larson was involved with surf kayaking - seems like a total waterman, as you say, pioneering all kinds of sea craft!

And I'm still certain that the white kayak in the photo that started this thread is a sprint kayak, not a surfski!

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 years 6 months ago #31179 by Fath2o
Not sure, but, I think Merv may as well been an Olympic team kayak paddler.
Yeah, funny, not having much knowledge on flat water racing craft. I didn't want to comment on the OP's picture of a watercraft that I thought could just as well be a canoe vs a kayak? (definitely not surfski). OP's description confirmed it's a kayak. And yes, could very well have been built by collaboration with Merv.
I was eight years old in May 1969 and was able to enter the first junior lifeguard program that required you to be nine years old (long story), and Merv was one of the senior lifeguards then.
Great memories.

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2 years 6 months ago #31181 by robin.mousley

Not sure, but, I think Merv may as well been an Olympic team kayak paddler.


This article from 1970 would seem to bear that out:

surfcrazy.com/stanleys/html/mervlarson.html

It would be really interesting if someone would go interview him... hint, hint! How about it, Kirk?!

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 years 6 months ago #31189 by LakeMan
Are older surfskis like this Stealth any good? The bucket is not as deep and the peddles are apart so are they harder to paddle? I ask because I know people who want to get a ski but can't afford a newer style. This one is selling for $525 usd. As with the original post there are many like this for sale and some as low as $200. Is it worth buying?


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill
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2 years 6 months ago #31190 by tharrison67
Lakeman....... This looks similar to my ski I posed at the top. I sit high up and peddles are apart and love the ski. I use it in Sea of Cortez in Mexico mainly just to putt around for exercise. Wife uses the blue kayak and trying to sell the white one I asked about at the start of this thread. Yellow one we sold few months ago.

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2 years 6 months ago #31191 by tharrison67
I want to thank everyone for their input. Came to the conclusion it IS a kayak and most like the Cleaver X K1 style. Still need to sell this if anyone is interested in Southern California area. We are moving in a couple weeks and hate to get a 20 ft storage unit just to get this in when I only need a 10 ft unit for everything else. No room to carry it around with us. Already modified trailer to carry the 19ft ski.

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2 years 6 months ago #31196 by Fath2o
Hey Rob, Yeah confirmed it with him today about Olympic team. I guess I kind of stepped in it with this one. I'll consider/work on the interview thing, but, don't hold your breath.

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2 years 6 months ago #31197 by Fath2o
Lakeman , Yeah for $200 why not, although, it will be like going from a Corvette (your UNO) to a Yugo. :laugh:

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2 years 6 months ago #31200 by LakeMan
It's definitely not for me but I have friends that would like to get an inexpensive ski. I love the Uno Max.

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

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2 years 6 months ago #31207 by mickeyA
Donating it to surf museum of San Diego sounds like a great idea. How much could you expect to get for it if sold privately? Surely nobody would actually paddle it, right? Cool boat, though.

Epic V12, V10Sport, Fenn Tarpon S, Swordfish S, Stellar SE, Fenn XT, Twogood Chalupski, Findeisen Stinger spec, Huki S1-X, Burton wedge2, Fenn Tarpon

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