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

Newb questions

5 days 21 hours ago #37712 by JonathanE
Newb questions was created by JonathanE
Hi everyone, my name is Jonathan and I've just gotten into Surfski (literally, just bought a think ion four days ago). I have an extensive whitewater background (20 years, high level class V-V+ and big water play boating for about the last 15 years). I've been out a few times in the boat about 7-9 miles each time, and its definitely got me hooked, but I have a few questions about a number of things: 

1. Safety wise, where do people attach their leash? Also, Ive ordered a Nelo leg leash and they say it's not load bearing which seems problematic for surfing. What kind of retention systems are people using for big surf? Also, reading about self-centering rudder systems, these don't seem to be common and are often some kind of home-brew solution. Is this really the case? In both of these issues I've already read enough stories about leashes breaking and rudder lines breaking in the worst of times that it seems there would be some more foolproof backup measures for these incidents. 

2. Technique: I have been training in flatwater in my whitewater boats for the last 6-8  years to keep up fitness in between time on the river, and in that time I've developed a very advanced forward stroke in the whitewater realm. In my first paddles in the ski I've been trying to incorporate leg drive while also managing balance and Im wondering if I should worry about leg drive right now? I can feel it happening naturally, but when I really try to go for it, form falls apart a bit and I have to kind of re-calibrate. 

I am currently using my 200cm whitewater paddle, but wing paddle is on the way. Im guessing some of this will be easier with a proper paddle. 

3. Boat stuff: How tight do you have your foot straps? Also, how much pressure are you putting on the rudder paddles? Should I be putting tension on them the whole time with feet? Finally, should they be slightly tipped back, in-line with the footboard, or slightly angled away? I have size 13 feet if that matters. 


Thanks for any and all input here and if there is anyone on this forum in Seattle, I'd love to go for a paddle and bother you with all my questions. 

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5 days 10 hours ago #37714 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Newb questions
Welcome Jonathan!

Phew - loads of questions - and you'll get loads of answers!  I'll have a brief stab:

Safety wise, where do people attach their leash?

For downwind paddling I use a belt leash, just because I hurt my knee using an ankle leash some years ago - I was standing in thigh high water, still attached to the boat when a wave hit, pulled the boat, pulled the leash, twisted my knee!  So - I use a belt leash.  It's attached to a leash anchor point just in front of the bucket, where there should be one on your Ion.

I also use a paddle leash, mainly so that I can let the paddle go when I need to do something (like help a buddy) with both hands.  I've used this setup for about 15 years and have never had a tangle that I couldn't undo - and I have fallen off in some pretty big conditions from time to time. 

Leash in big surf?  Received wisdom, to which I subscribe, is that you should not be leashed to the boat if you're going through big surf, because of the risk of injury.  Always undo your leash before going through big surf.

self-centering rudder systems

Yeah - not really a thing.  Not sure why entirely.  I carry an emergency bungie system in case I break a rudder cable. 

Emergency Steering System

I really try to go for it, form falls apart a bit and I have to kind of re-calibrate.

Entirely normal I think.  Try not to worry about it too much.  Even people like Oscar Chalupsky put aside dedicated time on flat water to go back to technique.  In rough water, technique is going to fall apart to some extent.

How tight do you have your foot straps? Also, how much pressure are you putting on the rudder paddles? Should I be putting tension on them the
whole time with feet? Finally, should they be slightly tipped back,
in-line with the footboard, or slightly angled away?

Most folks I know don't have tight foot straps. 
I don't think you should be pushing at the footplate with your feet, the footplate is more to brace against as you rotate...  But no doubt others will be more eloquent on this point.  I think the motion/pressure happens naturally as your rotate.
Rudder pedal position is personal preference, but the thing to avoid is inadvertently steering as you paddle.  If the back of the boat is doing a snake like motion from side to side, you want to tilt your pedals further forward...

Again: welcome to the best sport on the planet! 

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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5 days 10 hours ago #37715 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Newb questions
Wing blade paddling is very different to conventional blade. (I like both, but for different usages.)

It is absolutely key to be drawing a 'C' with your blade (where the boat is to the left of the C, mirror for the other side). 

A wing blade, used properly, 'locks' into the water. You aren't aiming to pull the paddle through the water, but push the boat past the paddle. A bit like if you were grabbing a pole fixed to the river bed and pulling the boat past it.
So, feet; these are used to push the boat forward, past the blade. You really shouldn't be shoving against the footrest, forcing your body back in the boat. 
Oscar actually advocates pushing with boat feet, and moving the non-drive hip forward. Takes a while to get the feel.

When working on your forward stroke, take your time. Take a stroke, set up, pause. Take another. Make every stroke smooth, correct and strong. Keep it short, blade coming out when level with hips.

Look for youtube vids by Ivan Lawler. 

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5 days 6 hours ago #37720 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Newb questions
My guess is coming from a sit in boat you tend to rotate at the waist.  If you focus on rotating the hip the leg drive kicks in. In fact for drills I ignore the push leg drive and instead concentrate on rotating the opposite hip forward, this bends the knee and keeps a slight positive force on the footboard rather than pulling the hip forward with the foot strap. The leg drive will kick in as a natural reaction to this. I also find this helps you stay centred (more stable) in the seat rather than alternately pushing one hip then the other backwards down the side of seat, which also results in butt being pushed into back of seat. Think of pole vaulting your hips past the locked blade with the drive leg being the fulcrum of the lever which simply straightens in reaction to the force being imparted through it. You can also imagine it being an arrow in a bow, with opposite hip and blade being the the bow ends. Whichever way you visualize it dont think of it as a standalone action which has to be timed right.

The footstrap is often considered a distraction and poor habit former for developing paddlers by some leading technique coaches. It shouldnt be part of your paddling technique, its main function is to keep your feet connected and stop them wandering in rough conditions

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5 days 24 minutes ago #37726 by Arcturus
Replied by Arcturus on topic Newb questions
When I bought my WW kayak, the shop guy yanked the backstrap to me so tight I couldn’t believe such restriction of motion was actually being promoted. I never paddled with it that way and all was fine.

I don’t think the “wear the boat like a pair of tight jeans” thing needs to be carried across  from playboating.

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4 days 23 hours ago #37728 by JonathanE
Replied by JonathanE on topic Newb questions
When your start to get into higher level playboating you definitely want to be very secure in the boat as edging and boat control are primary skills. As important is literally not coming out of the boat when you are getting a bit worked. When you are in a large and powerful hole/wave you could easily come out of your outfitting (a knee comes out, backband slips down, etc.) and then you’re going for a swim. The best features for freestyle moves are generally large and retentive. It’s not the kind of holes you’ll see in the international icf comps which are consistent and small. Big (well overhead in the trough) river features give up big moves, but also can be quite violent and demanding. However, you shouldn’t be locked into the thing as you need to be able to move your upper body in very athletic ways to get tricks like airscrews, pistol flips, helix, etc. 

What I’m learning with surfski after my paddle this morning is that I have a good rotation, but I need to quiet down my lower body and work on more rotation with leg drive. I really don’t think my 200cm whitewater paddle is helping either, but it’s still pretty incredible how fast the boat is even with all these things slowing me down. 

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4 days 22 hours ago #37730 by waterbornewarrior
Replied by waterbornewarrior on topic Newb questions
There's a forum for Seattle paddlers that should help you make some local connections.   Kind of quiet, especially this time of year, but you could introduce yourself and see what happens:

groups.google.com/g/swift-paddlers

I'm in Hood River but might be up there for a bit late winter, and will let you know.

Don

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4 days 20 hours ago #37731 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Newb questions
Yeah whitewater to surfski is a big change. Congrats on starting out in an Ion, that's kind of an advanced boat. The leg drive thing will come naturally with time. Whatever you do, don't drive your backside into the back of the cockpit. It will screw up your form and cause you some uncomfortable  chafing. I'll second watching Ivan Lawler videos on youtube.

Oscar, the Mocke brothers, etc all have great videos, but the the Ivan Lawler videos helped me the most. Once you get the wing paddle you should also notice more power/efficiency. 

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4 days 20 hours ago #37732 by JonathanE
Replied by JonathanE on topic Newb questions
Yeah, I was apprehensive about buying the Ion, but I have a few friends who paddle Surfski and they thought I'd be ready to move on from something like the V10 Sport within a month or so. So far so good, I've only fallen out once when turning from upwind to downwind...hopefully I haven't gotten myself in over my head, but I seem to be able to put down reasonable power in calmer conditions (I've been averaging 6-7mph on my recent paddles). 

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4 days 20 hours ago #37734 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Newb questions
If you're cranking out 6-7mph on your first surfski outings, I'd say you are good to go. It took me three seasons in my Epic v8pro before I could maintain any speed above 6mph for over 10K. I recently switched a g3 V10 and can hold closer to 7 on relatively calm water. Haven't had it in the ocean yet, I'm sure that will be a humbling experience. Congrats on your purchase.

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