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

Trying to decide on the next step.

1 month 1 week ago #36732 by [email protected]
Hi All,
I am new to paddling and have been reading the forum regularly to get advice and information on a variety of things. So first off thank you all for sharing some much good info. 

I'm 45, been active all my life, love anything in the water. I am part of a Surf Life Saving club in Sydney but have not done much int the way of paddling. I sat on a Surf Ski for the first time about 5 months ago when I took an introduction lesson. By the end of the lesson I was paddling a V10 sport on flat water relatively comfortably. The reason for getting into a V10 sport so quickly was more a question of available craft rather than anything else.  I did paddle this once a week for about 8 weeks and was getting increasingly comfortable on flat water. The area I was paddling gets some swell in through the heads on a large swell and when this happened I did find myself swimming a bit. 

I was fortunate that someone from the Surf Life Saving club had a Fenn Swordfish they let me borrow. I have been paddling that 2 to 3 times a a week covering 7 to 14km a session for the last couple of months and have had another lesson to improve my stroke, which is coming along. 

At the moment, on flat water I am solid. I can move the Swordfish well with decent pace. I have had a number of sessions in high winds (excess of 25km/hr) in both bays and on a local lake that was fairly choppy and handled it well with little to no need to practice remounting. 

But.. venturing off shore in a swell that is getting reflection off the land and things get tippy. 

I am now looking at getting a craft of my own, and I am really not sure of the best direction to go. I know this is a common topic on this forum (believe me when I say I think i have read all of the posts). I had thought perhaps a Swordfish of my own was the way to go, but I was out this weekend and experienced a meter or so side well that had me fighting most the outing. Just when you think you are getting the hang of things... 

I like paddling for fitness and enjoy the flat water speed, but living on Sydneys North Shore we are spoiled for choice of beaches and bays. Being part of a SLSC we go out from our local beach regularly and enjoy the odd shore break.  

Do I persevere with an intermediate boat like a Swordfish. I keep reading that stability is king so perhaps I am better to go down a standard into something more stable stable like an XT, or V8? But i am concerned I may out grow this quickly ( i do enjoy the speed of the Swordfish). Or maybe even a Fenn Spec ski. I would really appreciate some input. Makes, models, advice please. 

Sorry about the long post, I figured a bit of background would be helpful. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #36734 by tve
How many paddling sessions have you done total? My unscientific estimation is that it takes a good 50 outings on a stable ski in the open ocean to upgrade to something like a swordfish and be reasonably comfortable in smallish ocean conditions (yet still fall in once an outing or so). After that at least another 50 if not 100 until you start to get to the point where you feel like you can do almost anything in that boat, e.g. apply full power while teetering on top of a wave.

I think you're in a tough spot. Try to borrow another ski... Otherwise it really comes down to whether you can spend the next N sessions in safe conditions on a too-advanced ski to keep building your balance or whether you just need a stable ski to venture out there...

NB: In my experience when you sit in a tippy ski you really need to keep your upper body upright and use your paddle stroke to keep your balance. If you try to use the ski to rebalance because you're slumping or are using your legs to brace against the side-walls you will get in trouble.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36735 by CrabStick
Hi and welcome to the forum! You didn't mention if you are keen to get some regular downwind action or continue with general ocean and harbour paddling.
If downwind I'd recommend 1 or 2 seasons in a beginner boat with BlueFin and V8 the usual suspects. If you're in no rush for that, it sounds like you are ready for a transition or intermediate boat. Whatever you do, try before you buy and that means in the ocean for at least 45min or so.
Lucky that you're in a SLSC and may have access to a few boats there. Fenn XT(S), Epic V8pro or V9(downwind), Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost, Think Zen /Six. Basically anything designed for the ocean and 48-50cm wide. 
The more stable it is, the more conditions you will be able to get out in and enjoy remembering Winter is almost here. Rougher water and more consequences when take unintended swim!

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin, Swordfish
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36736 by kwolfe
As a person who paddles 99.9% inland, confused swell and steep side chop offer me a challenge.  I did a race a couple of years ago in Long Island sound on the east coast US.  It was a 14 miler.  That was the first real "open water" experience I had ever had.  I was in my Nelo 550 which I could paddle in any kind of lake wind chop around me.

I swam 6 times that race, although I the last three I just gave up and was tired.  I have never paddled in that kind of reflective confused swell.  That said, if I lived around there and that's what I paddled all the time, I would probably get used to it rather quickly.  Just takes time and experience.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36737 by mickeyA
Fenn XT gets my vote. If you were only riding swells or waves near the beach (shore break can become risky), a spec ski is best.  Fenn Tarpon S deep seat, which is more stable that Fenn LS, works great.  If you were only doing flat water, Swordfish (or “S” version) is good.  I do not think you will like spec ski on flat water over distance, and I do not think you will like SF in the rough ocean (unless just directly downwind).  The XT can do both (and downwind), plenty fast on flat. I have all 3.  I would skip the beginner version (bluefin in the Fenn lineup).  I also have V10Sport, which I use for flat/chop long river/bay races, but occasionally use my very old XT and do not notice much of a drop off vs my competition. Epic v10Sport or V8Pro would be equivalent, stellar SR, etc.  XT is a fantastic all around ski, has withstood the test of time.  With new “S” model out, the old ones could come cheap used.  Good luck.

Epic V12, V10Sport, Fenn Tarpon S, Swordfish S, Stellar SE, Fenn XT, Twogood Chalupski, Findeisen Stinger spec, Huki S1-X, Burton wedge2, Fenn Tarpon
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36738 by waverider
As a relative beginner how did you find the transition between the v10 sport and the swordfish?

A lot depends on what your future goals are. If you intend going more in the ocean swells and bigger waves than the stable boats is the go, or you wont get over the paddling on eggshells feel and actually learn the waves. If you are going to paddle a lot more sheltered and can already stay upright on a V10 sport and swordfish then the beginner boats are going to feel too dull too soon.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36741 by MCImes
I'm a bit torn on this one. I went from a Stellar SR on flat water (inland lakes) to SR on the ocean, then a Fenn XT on the ocean, then a Swordfish S on the ocean.
As others asked, what's your goal? Are you happy on flatter water or do you aspire to downwind and paddle rough ocean in the semi near future?

I could handle anything small water could throw at me in the SR (any boat wake, river rapids, sea wall, etc). Coming to the ocean in the same boat humbled me greatly. Even medium size days sent me swimming somewhat regularly. I traded the SR for a XT. After paddling 2-3x a week for a year I mastered the ocean in rough conditions in the XT. Then I moved to the SF-S (at this point I was 3 years into paddling ski and 8 years into paddling tippy boats). THe SF-S is a very stable advanced boat, but its exactly that - an advanced boat.

If you aspire to downwind or paddle rough ocean sooner rather than later, the advice to get a wider boat is wise. Best to start in something 48-53cm until you master the roughest 80% of conditions you intend to paddle in somewhat regularly.  Struggling with stability in waves just means your form sucks, you arent focused on reading waves and linking runs, you probably arent having fun, and you're definitely not going fast. a 'slow' boat becomes the 'fun' boat the larges the waves build.

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"
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36742 by Dicko
Just remember "lots of Numbers" that a lot of the replies you get on this forum are from guys who live in the USA. In winter, falling out of your boat is cold and dangerous. You're in a SLC so I assume you can swim. The waters warm, even in winter. You can pick the days you go out to sea. Go the Swordie. In 3 months you will want to sell the beginners boat. When I started, I bought an XT because it was the beginner boat. I owned it a month before I bought a red7. Sometimes you just have to challenge yourself. The Swordfish is the stable boat that all my mates use in any conditions. In 3 months it will be the same for you. So buy a Swordie, pick the days you go out to sea. I still don't see why everyone buys a ski for the 10% of paddles when stability is challenged and ignore the 90% when a faster boat is so much more fun.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36743 by [email protected]
Thanks for the input.

In total there would be just under 20 sessions on the SF. I have found that I learn every time I go out, but due to limited experience thats not surprising. I figured the learning curve would start to flatten at some point. Your time frame scope is helpful to set my expectations. 

The great thing about Sydney is that there are a lot of options for various types of paddling and locations to discover.  One thing I found that made a big difference was invest in a quality paddle and got some good advice on the settings. 

Thanks for the advice. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36744 by [email protected]

CrabStick wrote: Hi and welcome to the forum! You didn't mention if you are keen to get some regular downwind action or continue with general ocean and harbour paddling.
If downwind I'd recommend 1 or 2 seasons in a beginner boat with BlueFin and V8 the usual suspects. If you're in no rush for that, it sounds like you are ready for a transition or intermediate boat. Whatever you do, try before you buy and that means in the ocean for at least 45min or so.
Lucky that you're in a SLSC and may have access to a few boats there. Fenn XT(S), Epic V8pro or V9(downwind), Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost, Think Zen /Six. Basically anything designed for the ocean and 48-50cm wide. 
The more stable it is, the more conditions you will be able to get out in and enjoy remembering Winter is almost here. Rougher water and more consequences when take unintended swim!


I suspect I am like a lot of people when they start out, the allure of getting into some ocean swell is there for sure :) . But Ive been around the sea most of my life and have a healthy respect of what it can do. While I am keen to get out there, I know there are some dues to pay. 

I want to try and get my hands on an XT, and that V9 looking interesting as well. Thanks for the input. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36745 by MCImes
I partially agree Dicko, if you're not pushing yourself you wont really improve, but there is a line of too much too fast that is different for everyone.
A fast/tippy boat is only fun early on if you are up for the challenge and having fun while learning. Also, it must be stable enough to learn on at all - if all you do is try not to fall out, you really dont learn any worthwhile habits, form, wave reading, etc.
My very first boat was a gen0 epic v10 (43cm). I bought it knowing it was too much boat, but was so cheap I couldn't say no. Yes, it was very fast, but was also not much fun because all I did was try not to fall out. (quite unsuccessfully)

If you cannot concentrate on reading waves, focus on form, and relax a little, your boat is too skinny IMO.
One more consideration, Im sure I could handle a 43cm boat now, I trialed one at the gorge and did fine, but I like to kick my legs out and relax on the sea. Sometimes a bring a beer and just chill towards the end of the paddle. You cant do that on an elite boat (or boat above your stability threshold). I know 100% the elite boats are faster, but that does not necessarily equate funner all the time. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isnt. The correct answer depends on what you want out of the boat.

An athletic person with average or better balance could master the SF with some determination though. Its a stable boat for its beam.

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"
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36746 by Midlifecrisis
I would only go for the more advanced ski if you really are going to be paddling 3 or more times a week in difficult conditions, otherwise I don't think it will ever be comfortable in the rough stuff. I used to paddle 5 days a week and got to the point where a Stellar SES was (almost) comfortable. Once I had a bit of time off and was paddling less often (once a week), it was too much to handle and I moved back to a Stellar SEI. I've now settled on a Vajda Hawx 46 and now that I am back to 3 days a week in the ocean I am getting comfortable with it again.

Depending on your budget, you could buy the more stable ski (v8 or XT) and you should get a good price for it if you want to upgrade later. Just don't buy a new one. I would assume that you are going to change skis, because that is what most people seem to do. Better than hoping you will buy a ski for life.

To Dicko's point, buy the ski for where you are going to use (and enjoy) it most.

P.S. I am not a great paddler so take my views with a pinch of salt, but I found that I really needed a lot of time in the bucket for a more advanced ski. When I didn't have the time to commit to it, I ended up not liking the ski and paddled even less.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36747 by [email protected]

mickeyA wrote: Fenn XT gets my vote. If you were only riding swells or waves near the beach (shore break can become risky), a spec ski is best.  Fenn Tarpon S deep seat, which is more stable that Fenn LS, works great.  If you were only doing flat water, Swordfish (or “S” version) is good.  I do not think you will like spec ski on flat water over distance, and I do not think you will like SF in the rough ocean (unless just directly downwind).  The XT can do both (and downwind), plenty fast on flat. I have all 3.  I would skip the beginner version (bluefin in the Fenn lineup).  I also have V10Sport, which I use for flat/chop long river/bay races, but occasionally use my very old XT and do not notice much of a drop off vs my competition. Epic v10Sport or V8Pro would be equivalent, stellar SR, etc.  XT is a fantastic all around ski, has withstood the test of time.  With new “S” model out, the old ones could come cheap used.  Good luck.


Thanks for the input. 
We have a few Fenn spec skis at the Surf Club, but they are popular so cant alway get your hands on them.

Ive been thinking seriously about the an XT for a while. There are a lot of them about both new and used. Do you notice a significant speed difference in flat water between the SF and XT? 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36748 by [email protected]

MCImes wrote: I'm a bit torn on this one. I went from a Stellar SR on flat water (inland lakes) to SR on the ocean, then a Fenn XT on the ocean, then a Swordfish S on the ocean.
As others asked, what's your goal? Are you happy on flatter water or do you aspire to downwind and paddle rough ocean in the semi near future?

I could handle anything small water could throw at me in the SR (any boat wake, river rapids, sea wall, etc). Coming to the ocean in the same boat humbled me greatly. Even medium size days sent me swimming somewhat regularly. I traded the SR for a XT. After paddling 2-3x a week for a year I mastered the ocean in rough conditions in the XT. Then I moved to the SF-S (at this point I was 3 years into paddling ski and 8 years into paddling tippy boats). THe SF-S is a very stable advanced boat, but its exactly that - an advanced boat.

If you aspire to downwind or paddle rough ocean sooner rather than later, the advice to get a wider boat is wise. Best to start in something 48-53cm until you master the roughest 80% of conditions you intend to paddle in somewhat regularly.  Struggling with stability in waves just means your form sucks, you arent focused on reading waves and linking runs, you probably arent having fun, and you're definitely not going fast. a 'slow' boat becomes the 'fun' boat the larges the waves build.


Thanks for the input. 
Goals are to have fun and learn. I enjoy a challenge and have a history of endurance sports so I find going long fun. I  I find activities like this where you are immersed and focused are as good as a holiday. I would like to get to a level where I comfortably get out and enjoy some downwind, but know I have to walk before I run.  

Humbling is a good way to put it, I have experienced that a few times. And you are right on the form comment too. As soon as I was a bit unstable everything went out the window, I slowed down, became more unstable, was tentative on my stroke. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36749 by [email protected]

Dicko wrote:

Just remember "lots of Numbers" that a lot of the replies you get on this forum are from guys who live in the USA. In winter, falling out of your boat is cold and dangerous. You're in a SLC so I assume you can swim. The waters warm, even in winter. You can pick the days you go out to sea. Go the Swordie. In 3 months you will want to sell the beginners boat. When I started, I bought an XT because it was the beginner boat. I owned it a month before I bought a red7. Sometimes you just have to challenge yourself. The Swordfish is the stable boat that all my mates use in any conditions. In 3 months it will be the same for you. So buy a Swordie, pick the days you go out to sea. I still don't see why everyone buys a ski for the 10% of paddles when stability is challenged and ignore the 90% when a faster boat is so much more fun.


Thanks Dicko - valid points. We are in the first day of winter and the water around Sydney is still very swimmable.
I am starting to realise the optimal number of surf skis can be calculated using the same math equation cyclist and triathletes use to calculate the optimal number of bikes.

Optimal number of craft = N + 1,  N being the current number of craft you currently have. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #36751 by Atlas
You have access to a vast array of different paddling conditions. It's just as well you are in one of the best cities in the world for buying and selling used skis because you are going to need at least 3 skis and will probably chop and change a bit as your skill and your preferences change.
If you buy a Bluefin, a V8 or something similar you can start having fun in rough and or downwind conditions right away and your paddling technique won't turn to sh!t while you're at it (of course your macho mates at the SLSC won't be impressed by such a ski). As has been mentioned; either of these will be very easy to sell if and when the time comes. A Swordfish S or a V10 will satisfy your need for speed in calm water (your SLSC mates will approve). An XTS, a V9 or a Boost will be fun in bumpy harbour conditions for now and will soon become your weapon of choice for downwind paddling. You will need a a lot of bucket time and need to be paddling several times a week before you can get the best out of a Swordfish S or similar in real downwind conditions.
If your pride can cope with it; the more time you spend on a stable ski now; the faster you will improve. In rough conditions the Bluefin and the V8 might surprise you. They are not as slow as some people think.

Current skis:
Epic V10L, Think Zen, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Fenn Swordfish, Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Spirit PRS

Most with DK rudders.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected]

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 month 1 week ago #36778 by mickeyA
Thanks for the input. 
We have a few Fenn spec skis at the Surf Club, but they are popular so cant alway get your hands on them.

Ive been thinking seriously about the an XT for a while. There are a lot of them about both new and used. Do you notice a significant speed difference in flat water between the SF and XT? [/quote]

i do not notice significant speed loss with XT vs SF.  Many may disagree.  I have paddled Chattajack race (31 mile mainly flat water but can get choppy) 7 times in Stellar SE excel (twice), XT (once), V10Sport black tip (once), V10Sport red tip (thrice), and my fastest result was in XT.  This does not prove anything as I could have been in better shape that year or conditions could have been faster that year.  To me, the bluefin, V8, zen, etc are noticeably slower, while the XT, V8Pro, V10Sport, SR, etc can start to compete with V10, SF, SEI, evo, etc.  I will get beat in my SF by a better paddler in an XT.  I am not counting the purely elite paddlers that only paddle V12 and 14, Elite series, Uno, SES/SEL, etc.
Where the SF shines is downwind.  In my 3 years at Gorge race (straight downwind), my year in the SFS was much more enjoyable and faster (and drier!) than the years in v8pro and bluefin.  Bottom line is XT is great all around boat. I would always look for used until you are absolutely sure of your boat of choice.  Thanks

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

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

Newbflat's Avatar

How to leash up in a double. (3 Posts)

1 hour 55 minutes ago

Best Fitness Watch for Paddling? (53 Posts)

22 hours 10 minutes ago

Fenn XT (1 Posts)

1 day 7 hours ago
Protected by R Antispam