Advice needed in upgrading to an Intermediate ski

7 years 3 months ago - 7 years 3 months ago #14087 by CoastPop
I currently paddle a Custom Horizon which is great. It is quite heavy - 19kg and I am quite slow (not just the ski at fault here, fitness a factor which I am working on), but very comfortable on the ski and almost never if ever fall out. I am wanting to upgrade to lighter faster, ski and have tried out a Custom Focus and Fenn Swordfish. I went out in a very lumpy sea on the Swordfish this morning and was not comfortable at all - concentrating on maintaining balance which left me badly at the back of the group. It wasn't that bad, and I think I could get the hang of it, but it feels that I have gone back to square one and have to go through the learning curve all over again. Now my question - should I persevere? WIll there be light at the end of the tunnel? How soon will I get the hang of it? Has anyone else been in a similar situation and what was the outcome. I must say that I feel very comfortable in the Swordfish, it is just the balance thing that is a problem. Should I maybe consider the Fenn XT Vacuum bagged or is this too small a step up. I did try out the Genius SLK, but did not feel that comfortable in it although it was a lot easier from a balance perspective to the Swordfish. I had no problem on the Genius in the same lumpy sea as with the Swordfish. I am in a quandry as I want to order something pretty soon. Any thoughts / advice welcome :(

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7 years 3 months ago #14088 by drjay9051
I am new to surf ski. I have been at it for a bit less than 3 months. Paddling an Epic V10 Sport. I too am considering a second ski. Rather than just get a second ski you may wish to try what I have done. I ordered a 20 m.m (3/4 in) seat pad.

My thought was that by raising my center of gravity I would make the boat less stable. I believe this would in a sense imitate a ski with less beam ?

My Epic is 19 in beam and with the pad I think maybe it now has stability of an 18 in beam or maybe less. Of course there are other factors but I think my basic premise is sound.

I don't think there is a linear correlation but I do know it is way less stable.

So choppy water is now much more of a challenge for me. After a bit with the seat pad if I go for a more advanced ski it will not be that unnerving as my balance will be improved.

You may wish to go this route.

On the other hand you could just get the Swordfish or whatever fits you. I am sure in time it will improve.
Case in point : when i first got my ski i did lots of swimming. Never thought it would come together but it did. glad i stuck with it.

Best of luck.
The following user(s) said Thank You: CoastPop

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7 years 3 months ago #14090 by Dicko
Of course you should persevere. Paddling is a circus trick. If it was easy we would all be paddling carbon Atom's and Uno's. You need to put in the hours. The swordfish, vault, evo2, v10sport are all boats you will feel comfortable in in 3 months....if you put in the time.

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7 years 3 months ago #14091 by Mike C.
I bought a Swordfish as my first boat after paddling for about a year using club boats. So, I was still a beginner skill-wise. For the first few weeks in the Swordfish I felt pretty tentative in lumpy water, but I quickly moved past that and within 2-3 months (paddling 2-4 times/week) felt very confident in most conditions. I really like the boat, and can't imagine needing something more advanced anytime soon. If you're going to commit to consistent paddling, your learning curve will be steep and you'll want a boat that will be commensurate with your increased skills over the longer term.

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7 years 3 months ago #14094 by Watto
Went for ocean padfle couple weeks ago in big blow in my narrow-gutted SES speed machine with two blokes, one experienced paddler in V10S the other relatively inexperienced in XT. I've been paddling on and off for 30 years in a range of boats and am intermediate paddler.

Relevance? They both smacked the crap out of me! I've been paddling very intermittently last few months and let me tell you, even that time out of boat tells. Waves weren't so huge just very short choppy 3-4 footers in 30 knot winds and I was struggling. Less experienced mate in XT just hung in there and stayed upright whole time and enjoyed self, caught heaps of runners while I struggled to stay upright. My skinny boat will take me time to master, I know from experience, just a matter of getting out regularly in all sorts of weather and doing the time. Paddled a Swordfish, top boat. If you can paddle reasonably well in mid bumpy stuff worth persevering with. If boat wash or the unexpected is always unsettling you, do your time in a slower boat first.

Own philosophy is bite off more than can chew and chew like buggery, however doesn't work for all. Also depends on the kind of paddling you have in mind most of time. If spectrum of paddling conditions is 10, I'm on my mettle from maybe 6 at moment, but know I've got to pay my dues to get comfortable at 7 and 8. For big bad stuff, frankly it would need to be a step down to a more stable boat for me to hang in there and enjoy. Many many posts on this forum to this effect. See Rob Mousely's among others. I paddle river as well so love powering out on flat water in a boat that I have to work up to, not one that is holding me back. (Just need to get off fat arse and do more, yes paddling shortly.)

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7 years 3 months ago #14095 by Midlifecrisis
I'm with Watto on this. I started on a V10S 8 months ago and switched to an SES 6 weeks ago. I was keen to push myself. If the ski doesn't feel like a challenge I feel like I'm not trying hard enough.

When I bought the V10S I spent a lot of time swimming as I paddle in the ocean and hadn't paddled at all before. I saw it as a challenge to become stable rather than a chore. Like Jay I then started to add seat padding after about 4 months to prepare for a less stable ski and ended up with 25cm of padding.

With the SES I have again spent a lot of time swimming and I am still a long way from stable but I am enjoying the challenge. I expect the seat padding in the V10S may have helped a little to prepare for an upgrade, but there was still a lot of difference between a padded V10S and the SES in stability (for me anyway).

My view is that if you have the time and are prepared to put in the work you can grow into a ski. Obviously you have to stay safe and not take any risks. Although you should also be honest with yourself as to why you are upgrading. Its easy to waste money on that upgrade only to find out it was "must have a new ski" syndrome.

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7 years 3 months ago #14096 by Marieski
25cm of padding??? You should have been able to paddle anything after that! Or might there be a tiny decimal problem; after all the system hasn't been in use long. : D

Past skis: Spirit PRS, EpicV10Sport Performance, Epic V10 Elite, Stellar SES Advantage. Current skis: Fenn Elite Spark, Fenn Swordfish vacuum. Custom Horizon, Epic V7

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7 years 3 months ago #14097 by thebigadski
Speed = Stability + Comfort

If you are stable and comfortable in your boat of choice then you can get ALL of "your" available power & ability down to get good boat run.

A good read here too:

www.thinkkayak.com.au/2011/05/choosing-the-right-craft/

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7 years 3 months ago - 7 years 3 months ago #14099 by Thorny
Being a 40 something year old paddler with a generous girth i thought i would share this with you. Having gone down the same path as your considering, I found that indeed I was faster and enjoyed my paddling better in the ski that I was stable in. I started in a V10s and loved it, but thought I needed to "trade up" to something skinnier after a period of time. Ski two was a Red 7 Pro that was indeed skinnier but the seat didn't fit me and the stability problems meant I was slower and swimming a lot. I started out on the tippier ski ready to work at developing stability and worked hard getting out on the water 4 or so times a week. i also worked with improving core strength etc, but I found my technique and times suffered as i wobbled around.I persisted for some time but i got sick of all this and found something else to do with my time and sold the ski. 12months later I purchased a Stellar SE Advantage which I found to be as stable as the V10s but a bit faster. I really liked it, except the seat sank too low at the back so I needed to get a seat pad. Once i sorted the seat, the Stellar worked out well. But, all things being considered I would probably not have lost 12months paddling and been just as better off and saved $ if i had just stuck with the V10s in the first place, as it was stable, comfortable and I was able to get good power down in it. This thing that you read and hear about having to trade up to Elite skis is probably great if your a 80kg youth, but IMHO is bs for older folk. Good luck with it.

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7 years 3 months ago #14101 by Midlifecrisis
Yes to be correct it was 25mm of padding.

Also I agree with Thorny in that you need to be careful when deciding to upgrade. I chose to upgrade because i wanted the challenge and was prepared to put in the work to see if I could handle an upgrade. My new ski also fits my smaller size much better than my old ski. At this stage I'm still happy with my decision to upgrade, but there is still a possibility that I might find it too much. But I was prepared for that.

As I said before just be honest with yourself about why you want to upgrade. As many people have said, an upgrade doesn't mean more speed and it seems as though it can often be the reverse.

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7 years 3 months ago #14102 by richardh
I think its important that you still feel stable in your ski after a long paddle.

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7 years 3 months ago #14106 by CoastPop
This is a great forum - I did not expect so many responses and such good advice. Thanks to all, I am busy mulling over the suggestions and will make my decision soon. Thanks again :)

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7 years 3 months ago #14115 by Warwick
I am just curious about how you went with the Focus demo. I upgraded from an entry level Custom Kayaks Mentor to a Custom Kayaks Focus and felt very stable after just a few initial paddles.

An upgrade is always going to test you a bit, and there is an adjustment period. Personally, I believe you should support the local manufacturer if the intermediate boats available to you are much of a muchness - they are able to give you much better support.

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7 years 3 months ago #14117 by CoastPop
Hi Warwick. When I tried out the Focus, I did not do the test justice. It was a quick in and out the surf with 1 overboard. I did not adjust the pedals correctly either. Having said that, I was very comfortable in the ski and remount not a problem. The one I tested was a glass layup and quite heavy. Re local - definitely! I will either get something from Fenn or Custom Kayaks.

Thanks

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7 years 3 months ago #14118 by robin.mousley
The great thing is that we have such a variety of intermediate skis to choose from...!

I'm currently paddling a Genius Blu that I like a lot - it's slightly more tippy than the Swordfish but in some circumstances I prefer the handling. My buddy Dale, who paddles a Swordfish, reckons that the Blu bounces the next wave on downwinds better in some circumstances (but also seems to be faster when it's really rough...) Down to personal taste perhaps.

But this weekend I got on a Durban-built Think Evo II and really liked it - as stable if not more so than the Swordfish, but has a high, comfortable seat. Seemed to go downwind like a rocket yesterday in our 30kt southeaster Fish Hoek race...

So... if you can, do yourself a favour and have a go on a demo Evo II as well. Top intermediate boats in South Africa seem to be:

- Fenn Swordfish
- Custom Kayaks Focus (haven't spent time in this one)
- Genius Blue
- Think Evo II
- Epic V10s
- Carbonology Vault

Wow, what a list... Then you've also got the Stellar boats - I have no idea what they're like but there are plenty of guys on the forum who can (and do!) give feedback on them.

The comfort of the bucket is an underrated aspect in my opinion. I firmly believe that comfort plays a big role in stability. For example, I find the V10S less comfortable because the cockpit is bigger than I like. I feel as though I'm not in contact with the boat. In contrast, I can't sit in the Carbonology boats without getting a raw bum. But many paddlers love the Epic bucket (and the Carbonology bucket) - so you need to try them for yourself. I prefer quite a snug fit so that I feel in contact with the boat... With my Mako Elite I used to feel as though I was putting the ski on and becoming part of it...

Enjoy!

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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7 years 3 months ago #14126 by Geofff

Thorny wrote: This thing that you read and hear about having to trade up to Elite skis is probably great if your a 80kg youth, but IMHO is bs for older folk. Good luck with it.


While I agree that there are many factors in deciding whether to upgrade to an elite ski, I don't necessarily think that age is one of them (not advocating epic target old people's homes though). Thorny highlighted the pitfalls of biting off too much, however I'd argue there are also many benefits to upgrading; even for us 40-somethings. I started off in a ski with a stability very similar to that of a V10S (twogood offshore) and after about 12 months of paddling it 5 times a week, I took the leap into an epic V12. This was quite a jump and it took me about 3 months of paddling 5 times a week before I could take it out in reasonable conditions. It was probably another 3 months before I could take it out in all conditions. Having said that, I found loved the challenge of paddling a faster ski and definately appreciated the faster speeds (took a while to be faster though).

In my opinion, the biggest factor in deciding whether to upgrade is the desire and ability to devote time to regular paddling. I try and use my age as a reason to do things, not as a reason not to.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Midlifecrisis

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7 years 3 months ago - 7 years 3 months ago #14131 by drjay9051
Geofff said:. " I try and use my age as a reason to do things, not as a reason not to."

Amen

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7 years 3 months ago #14135 by CoastPop
Wise words indeed re age. I did not mention in my original post that I am 67 as I didn't think it was relevant. I Surfski because I enjoy it, I also happen to Kitesurf and Mountain Bike for the sheer enjoyment I get from it. I participate in races because of the vibe, camaraderie and excitement. I only pull the age card (jokingly) when the ladies beat me.

Having digested all the comments, I have decided not to upgrade to an intermediate ski but rather to go for a much lighter beginner ski. The reason being that I cannot devote many days a week to master an intermediate. Kitesurfing season has just started and I still like to get on my MTB now and again and roam the single tracks. So little time :S . I have also decided that I need to concentrate on the "engine" - gym for the upper body and core, and to make a concerted effort to hone my technique. I have also shed a few kilos - 88kg down to 83kg over the last month. I cannot just blame the ski for being slow! :P

Thanks again to all for the valuable comments.

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7 years 3 months ago #14136 by Zephyrus
Man, 67 and kitesurfing?

I am 21 and have been afraid to try it!

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7 years 3 months ago #14137 by Love2ski
Nice one coast pop

I have a carbon xt that tips the scales at 11kg. I have often wondered how much of a difference there is between a light beginners boat and the same boat in fibreglass.

I certainly find my boat to be very stiff and snappy.

I only ever see comparisons of the xt in the heaviest layup.

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