Is a lighter ski a "better" ski

5 years 2 months ago #26603 by USCG
New guy here. Been paddling a friend's V8 for the last few weeks. I am addicted. Time to buy a ski.

Looking at different brands. no decision yet. Several fit me well.

My biggest question is what layup to get?

Some paddlers say get the lightest boat you can afford. others say get a plain Jane fiberglass for durability. So will i feel a 6-8 pound difference on the water? yes it will be lighter to carry but if i am not an elite level racer is there any point in spending $1,000 more to save a few pounds?

Also are the more "exotic" carbon/kevlar layup more or less durable? What i have read seems to indicate that carbon is very strong but if it is impacted it will shatter or more or less explode into tiny shards.

What materials in my layup for a fitness paddler who will not be going to Molokai??

So save the money for a good wing paddle or get the lightest boat I can afford?

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5 years 2 months ago - 5 years 2 months ago #26610 by Uffilation
depends
www.surfski.info/getting-started/tips-ot...in-your-surfski.html

lighter is more fun for accelerating and handling, more weight gives more stability ... GF vs. CF layup can make that difference between feeling comfy of feeling tippy ... GF layups save you money ... good thing as the next surfski might wait around the corner as you improve ...

I have GF, CF and PE-plastics surfskis, I paddle a "heavy" V7 in winter or use it for very windy days with larger waves on those few occasions that I see them during the year.
I also use it 2 times a week now in summer for training power and endurance ... the other two days I paddle a CF-layup 46cm that is less than half the weight of the V7 and after the switch from the heavy boat, I allways believe I can fly ... lol

For an entry boat, I'd go with a used boat in GF-layup, like a used V8 2nd gen., think eze/ace, vajda hawx 52, stellar etc.

Better ask francefr though, he is addicted to light weight ...

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5 years 2 months ago #26611 by Aurelius
I'm a bit skeptical of this claim, but here is something a local surf ski dealer told me concerning weight. He says that all other factors being equal (same pilot, same environment, same ski), the lighter ski should be faster, even on flat water. Less mass won't just make it accelerate faster, but will lift the ski further out of the water, thus reducing it's whetted surface, resulting in less drag.

In principle, this all makes sense. It's when I look at the numbers that I think he may be overstating things. The total weight of me and my fiberglass surf ski comes out to about 212 lbs. Had I bought the same surf ski in carbon fiber, it would weigh about 6 lbs less. But 6 lbs less equates to only a 0.028% reduction in total weight. Would such a small difference really reduce the whetted surface by a significant amount? I don't know. I suppose I could test his claim by adding a 6 lb weight to my ski and seeing if there's any noticeable drop in my top speed, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if my GPS results showed no significant difference.

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5 years 2 months ago - 5 years 2 months ago #26613 by Uffilation
yes, if the stability is the same, there should be a diff., but the main diff. besides acceleration you'll see when paddling longer distances as one is either less or more exhausted. Another point is strain on the body, back pain etc. when pushing heavy boats compared to light boats (for example 10kg difference).

however, if more stable, you can apply more power to the stroke, improve technique, paddle with consistant pace, brace less if at all etc., 2-3kg difference in weight (different layup also = diff. weight distribution) gives imo less difference in speed compared to being able to apply full power due to being more stable.

and ... an upright heavier ski is still faster than an upside down lighter ski ...
same as ... an upright wider ski is still faster than an upside down skinny ski

all seen from a beginner's perspective, which Is where I started ... with a too light ski at first, ok, for a V8 this all might not matter anyway, but sub 50cm width, it might, imo

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5 years 2 months ago #26614 by Kayaker Greg
I wouldn't worry too much about it for your first ski, its likely to be a ski you will grow out of soon if you buy one that is not too advanced for you or as you learn more you are likely to replace anyway. When I'm buying a ski that I expect to own for a long time then yes I go for lighter, not top of the range like 8-9kg but 11kg seems to be a weight that I can both afford and enjoy carrying and paddling. Any heavier, like my first ski which was 15kg (and less durable by the way) and it was just a pain to carry any distance once you have water bladder etc added but I only owned it 3 months before moving on. To buy an 11kg V8 for example seems like a waste of money because your likely to want to upgrade to something more advanced within a year anyway, by then your knowledge will have increased and you may have tried a few more skis and be happy with investing in a ski you are likely to own for a few years. Heavier is likely to be more stable to start as well, don't worry about any small speed difference, stability is more important in the beginning stages.

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5 years 2 months ago #26616 by USCG
The more I think about this it seems to get lighter I need to drop weight from the engine. I can clearly lose 25 pounds! Save the money on both ski and food!

Now the question becomes is a lighter ski with more "exotic" materials more or less durable??

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5 years 2 months ago #26617 by Kayaker Greg
Could depend on the brand but all my subsequent 11kg skis have been far more durable than my initial 15kg ski.

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5 years 2 months ago #26619 by Marieski
Yep I'm afraid one of the common silly sights on the road is fat guys on ultralight bikes.

Past skis: Spirit PRS, EpicV10Sport Performance, Epic V10 Elite, Stellar SES Advantage. Current skis: Fenn Elite Spark, Fenn Swordfish vacuum. Custom Horizon, Epic V7
The following user(s) said Thank You: Uffilation

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5 years 2 months ago - 5 years 2 months ago #26634 by ShaneS
Amongst the confusion of different materials is the layup itself. A solid skinned boat, whether carbon, f'glass or hybrid reinforced, will most likely be tougher than a composite sandwich construction. Hence the durability of multi-sport boats and most spec skis which are still light but don't bruise as easily because they have no (or less) core sandwich or other material to crush within the hull's skin construction. The skin on these boats is essentially solid epoxy with the carbon/f'glass fibres embedded in it to form a matrix - epoxy provides the compressive strength and the fibres provide the tensile strength.

Even amongst the sandwich constructions the different core material can make a difference, DuPont Nomex is coated paper which has little "spring back" once crushed while others manufacturers use polymer in the sandwich such as PVC which is more elastic. Gel coat modulus (or stiffness) also varies, some shatter or crack on impact while others yield to follow contours of the bruise/dent.

For your first boat, when you're more likely to bang it around learning how to handle the boat, on the water and off it - aim for a solid skinned construction even if its a little heavier.

Fenn Swordfish S Carbon Hybrid - 2016
Fenn Elite S Carbon - 2016
Stellar SR Excel - 2015
Cobra Expedition - 2013

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5 years 2 months ago #26635 by Ranga
You are making quite an assumption saying that the skis are made of epoxy. Not that many are, they should be but alas they will only make what they can get away with. Just like post curing, most manufacturers could not be bothered, this costs money! Hence you get what you pay for!
As for sandwich construction, one of the strongest constructions around is a sandwich made from Lantor Soric, this is much tougher than any non sandwich construction, lighter and stiffer.
As for the weight of a ski?
Just look at the top end of the paddling spectrum, I don`t see them using heavy skis, they have the lightest ski they can find, why? They accelerate quicker hence are faster.
As for the overweight paddler , the light ski it is still a few kg lighter than the heavier one, so there is still an advantage overall.

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5 years 2 months ago #26636 by ShaneS
All good points - and you are right Ranga that there are exceptions hence my "most likely" caveat. And yes, polyester, vinylester and other materials are often used instead of epoxy, I just wanted to keep the post about a complex subject as simple as possible.

Somewhere else there was a post where the author hinted that we chase weight savings and other refinements more for the geeky interest value than the performance increase. I agree, a lot of us like playing with the technology of our hobby because it can be as rewarding as grunting through a 10km paddle, and we can study and tinker in those hours we can't be on the water. GPS watches, Motionise, exotic ski materials, latest paddle blade shapes - most are really just trinkets that add interesting and fun layers to the core pursuit of pushing a craft through water - unless you are vying to be on an Olympic podium. But hey its a lot of fun on its own :) :) :)

Fenn Swordfish S Carbon Hybrid - 2016
Fenn Elite S Carbon - 2016
Stellar SR Excel - 2015
Cobra Expedition - 2013

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5 years 2 months ago #26637 by photofr
The weight of a ski is actually tricky. There are pros and cons.

PROS
When it comes to speed on the water, a lighter paddler will notice a bigger difference in speed when on top of a lighter ski. The heavier paddler will notice a difference, but not as significant.
When it comes to carrying your ski, a lighter ski is a pleasure. A heavier one is a task in itself. The pleasure of the light ski could be the difference in convincing you to go paddling.
Advanced paddlers will notice a huge speed increase on a lighter ski mainly because of the better acceleration that allows them to catch more bumps. New paddlers will notice a speed increase mainly because they lack the muscle mass.

CONS
The wind will affect your lighter ski: on land, it can get tossed around and damage more. On the water, waves and wind can also toss you around a bit and make you more tippy.
The price is usually much higher for a lighter ski.

CONSTRUCTION
Not all lighter skis are more fragile. Take a look at the different constructions.
Pre-Preg is actually much stronger than anything out there, but the price is very high.
Vacuum construction is almost always stronger – even if they just use fiberglass.
Sandwich construction is actually stronger and costs more.
Epoxy is way stronger than most polyester resins.
Top-end carbon skis can be very fragile – they are built for speed first, and durability last.
Basic fiberglass skis will always be far heavier, and will be slower, but will actually last longer.

CONCLUSION
You will be learning a lot of new skills, including boat handling. You will most likely be damaging your ski during the first two months.

Try to find a nice middle ground:

First ski should be between 14 and 12 kilos – so it’s still super nice.
Construction methods should be from a company that builds a lot of boats.
Your paddle should be forgiving, adjustable, and geared towards new paddlers. It should be somewhat light.

You will be amazed at how “heavy” a 17 kilo ski feels like, compared to say: a 13 kilo ski.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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