× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

New to surfski: need help with seating position

1 year 3 months ago #29476 by pulpfiction44
Well after many years of kayk I decided to try surf ski. Demoed a Stellar S18S and bought it after just 10 minutes on the water!!

Today was my first official day of surf ski on a local lake.

Now I have watched the Barton and Mocke videos dealing with surf ski and thought it would be a lot easier than i found it to be. I am aware the power of the stroke comes from torso rotation (hips?) and not just using my arms!
The issue I have is how to adjust the footboard.

If i have it way forward so my legs are almost locked out I do not get drive with my heels on the board and I feel like I am lying back posture wise.

If I tried to put footboard closer to my body I felt a bit cramped in my belly area. Confession: i need to lose about 20 pounds. Over the years my six pack has transformed into a keg!!

Last night I watched this guy on youtube

Great torso rotation and clearly as his torso rotates his legs appear to pump up and down.
I do get some rotation but cannot seem to copy his leg motion. Am i asking too much after 2 hours in the ski.

I suspect this guy has been paddling for a long time. he appears to be way younger and in better shape than I.

Do most of you better paddlers get this leg action or are happy with just rotation?

I had read that I should have about a fist of space between the back of my knees and the bucket for proper footboard adjustment. Did not work for me.

I am committed to getting better. I spent quite a bit of time practicing remount (side saddle) as I saw Oscar demo in a video.

I thankfully did not fall out all that much but am very frustrated as I cannot find the "sweet spot" for footboard position.

Any tips are appreciated.

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1 year 3 months ago #29480 by robin.mousley
Welcome to surfski!

I do think perhaps you're being just a touch impatient after only two hours on the boat! Having said that, it's great that you're looking to lock in good habits from the start...

The "fist under your knee" rule is really old school. All you really need is enough room under your knee that you can rotate without losing touch with the footplate. When I was starting out, my coach told me to focus on rotation and not the knee movement - the knees bobbing up and down is just a by-product.

The guy in that video is Zsolt Szadovski, an Olympic level sprint paddler turned surfski paddler - so he should have excellent technique!!!

As you've already identified, you need to be in touch with the footplate throughout your stroke; I suggest you start at one end of the range, paddle with it for a while, then move it one increment either towards or away from you, paddle with it, then move it again until you hit the best position for you. But whether you have a fist under your knee or not, you will need at least some space for your knee to move up and down.

If you focus on rotation, you'll find that your knees move up and down automatically when you get it right.

And I'm sure the others on the forum will weigh in with plenty more useful advice - I'm the moderator so I get the first opportunity to reply!!

Good luck!


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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1 year 3 months ago #29481 by mike k
Hi Pulp,

I am not going to try and offer you advice as I am trying to get it right myself. However I have been working through this instructional video by Ivan Lawler and have immediately found it has improved my technique. It is over an hour long and maybe best to break down into sections to put into practice on the water but is well worth a look.



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1 year 3 months ago #29482 by pulpfiction44
Appreciate the help as a new paddler. if you would please look at this video at 34 min Oscar speaks about keeping paddle ninety degrees to boat and references the blade. is it also preferable to plant with the shaft at ninety degrees to the surface of the water or could this result in either planting too far back or over reaching to plant forward? i suppose it depends on length of your arms??

I am so hooked on surf ski i cannot wait to get out again today. Oh yes funny thing, there was a fellow at the lake with a Epic V12, I sat in it and immediately fell out over and over. I am amazed that only a couple of inches less beam made the Epic so less stable. Very humbling experience

I am happy with the Stellar for now!!!

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1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #29483 by LakeMan
Tip #235

When practicing technique, do it slowly. Speed will come later.

Going from a 21" beam to a ski that is 16.9" is a giant leap. Don't feel bad, we all flip when we start paddling elite skis. I spent six long trips on the water before I could paddle with my feet inside the boat. Now I don't even thing about it unless weather gets bad.

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

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1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #29687 by Cryder
Gosh, so much goes on with your position in the ski - its fundamental to whether or not you feel connected to the ski, and connected to the water (which is where balance comes from).

Epic did a great three part series on the fundamentals, and the Ivan Lawler video is top shelf, but very advanced (I believe he is doing Q&A with coaches in that video, so it presumes a solid foundation of knowledge).


A few short comments that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was first starting out:

The general goal with boat set up is to feel connected the ski, as well as comfortable enough to move your whole body. Leg drive serves several roles; but the main two functions are

1: helping you create pressure on the footboard which puts pressure at the back of your bucket (and therefor creates a solid platform for balance when the paddle is in the water as well - like a tripod).

2: helping you rotate your hips / torso so you can use your full body to power the ski.

When I see new paddlers struggle with conditions that challenge their balance, I ask them to pay attention to their foot pressure, as it's the first thing to go when a paddler gets tentative or nervous. Classic example; when making an aggressive turn around a buoy and going from paddling upwind to downwind, there will be a few moments of beam water that can be unnerving for new paddlers.

So back to set up; if you can't keep the pressure on the footboard constant, you'll struggle with balance (this can be from having the footboard too far forward). But if the footboard comes too far back, you won't be able to rotate your torso, and your knees / thighs will limit the amount of air in your diaphram while simultaneously raising the CG of the ski (more tippy - not helpful!).

Make sure your posture is upright, but titled slightly forward from the hips - and not with a curved spine (slouching).

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