Newbie Questions

2 months 3 weeks ago #34316 by STC67
Newbie Questions was created by STC67
Hi, a couple of questions which are probably really basic and maybe a little impatient after only 2 lessons.

1. I've just started paddling in that I have had 2 lessons and from what I believe, well instructed on technique. What I have found is to paddle with the right technique in the right body posture is really fatiguing for only just a few minutes. I find it hard to comprehend paddling for 1 or 2 hours like that. Does it get any easier?  I have an old cycling background (now 50+) and envisaged long enjoyable paddles on the water (similar to a longer slow ride) but I'm not sure a "recovery" paddle status  will ever be achieved. When I started cycling I could comfortably ride for a couple of hours and eventually built up to where I could nearly ride all day.  I would like to participate in some paddling events but at the moment the uncomfort of the technique over 1&1/2 hours turns me off a bit.

2. I am cramping in a muscle in the back/side of my hip (glute?) after about 30 min. Particularly if I put my legs over the side when stopped for stability. Anybody had experience with this before and how do you train for that? Could this be the fit of the ski or just an unfamiliar body position over a longer period? Does it pass?

3. My stability in flat water has been pretty good. On a Fenn XT and I don't actually tip yet although the water has been very calm. I'm just not sure if that means I should look for a more challenging ski as I don't comprehend how much harder the jump is to paddling in the ocean. I have had some experience on a SUP with this which was rock stable on the flat and near impossible to stand on in the ocean.

4. To get more time on the water I will need to buy a ski at some stage. How many skis should I paddle before buying one as I am not sure what I am looking for in a fit. The hip cramping has me a bit worried the Fenn XT ski doesn't fit despite it otherwise feeling comfortable when I first sit in it. I don't know what to look for but I know how important a bike fit is for longer ride comfort.

5. Being an old surfer I want to paddle in the waves. Not heavy beach breaks but longer less steep waves. Are the ocean skis actually up to this or should I be looking at a SLSC style ski and maybe another ski for flat water?

Sorry for all the length of questions.

Thanks

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34317 by Jef58
Replied by Jef58 on topic Newbie Questions
I'm primarily a cyclist and find the paddle stroke using wing hard to get right without diligence. Fit on a bike is crucial for efficient pedaling and I'm sure you have that down as second nature. I have a mindset that fit is important and finding the right fit for a ski can be challenging. I'm too short to comfortably fit on the XT (at least the older ones)...so proper technique and efficiency will be compromised if not in a good position. I don't put the time into the sport to paddle an elite boat so I stick to the beginner to lower intermediate ones and have no desire to go with skinnier boats.

It's a great sport. If you can put the time in, you can get efficient and stronger. You will not feel fast when you are used to riding a bike at 20mph, and getting to the 6-7mph pace is difficult so stick with it and start with a stable type boat to develop the stroke. Others can comment on the type of boat to get, but get one that you are comfortable in to paddle efficiently....don't forget the paddle, which is a whole other topic.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34318 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Newbie Questions
I'm pleased to hear that you have had some lessons in proper technique. Perfecting technique takes a lifetime (or several). It is very like that japanese sport/art of drawing a sword perfectly; a seemingly simply motion that is extremely difficult to do perfectly. 

I'm also over 50 and have a cycling background. Good news is that cyclists have very good 'engines'. By that, I mean that we have conditioned our bodies to deliver output for hours. So you have that part of the fitness already.
The bad news is that nearly all cyclists have very poor core strength; this is the development of the muscles of the spine, abdomen and particularly the lower spine and abdomen to pelvis.

I recommend that you start doing some regular exercises to develop these muscles. Sitting on a 'gym ball' helps, as do exercises like planks. Deep squats will help and side bends (do them with a weight in just one hand at a time).

I race (flatwater) and have a workout routine I do every morning. 50 pushups, 15 squats, 15 side bends, 15 single arm rows. Not a lot, takes 15 min. Really paying dividends for me.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34319 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Newbie Questions
Congrats on taking lessons. I kind of jumped right in. There are no local surfski instructors near me. I think just like cycling, it's time in the saddle that will improve your comfort. It is a new motion of using your legs, back and torso for the power. Another thing to check is the position of your foot peddles. I know that if mine are not in just the right spot my legs and back hurt after a short while. If you are in a situation where you can try multiple skis, or different brands of surfskis you are at a great advantage. Like others have said the beginner boats are pretty good these days and you can paddle in almost any condition. They also have the highest resale value, so don't take a huge hit when it's time to upgrade.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34322 by leolinha
Replied by leolinha on topic Newbie Questions
It is quite normal to feel that the correct paddling movement is awkward. You are not used to it, and the muscles engaged are not prepared to it (yet). When I started paddling, my lower back was usually sore after 1 hour or so. You should trust your coach and persevere with technique, it is really very important.

As to stability, as others have said... The best thing is to buy a beginner surfski. I started with an Epic V8 and paddled it for 3 years. With such a boat, you will be able to paddle in the ocean and play in the waves in no time! It is a very safe and fun boat. It is also not so slow as many tend to believe.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34323 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Newbie Questions
When you start you have to realize that the muscles you need for a good paddle stroke are atrophied. You simply do not have the power where you need it. That's because there is nothing else in your life that exercises that specific rotation while sitting upright. That's normal. It will take a while and you'll see improvements as you go. Your stroke will get better and easier partly because you will learn it better and partly because you will build the muscles to perform it.

That being said, if your coach asks you to keep the elbows high up you may want to look at Oscar Chalupski's videos (search here and on youtube), his stroke keeps the elbows low and the upper hand at eye level. That makes things easier and more relaxed. He has excellent drills to teach body rotation etc. I keep my elbows higher and some paddle feather, his method isn't the only/best one, but certainly an excellent starting point.

The Fenn XT is a bit old. I would say that the seating position isn't the best anymore. As long as you don't find that you're spending 50%+ of your mental and core energy in just staying upright it's probably an OK boat to get started in. In a few months you will have an opinion of your own and can go from there :-).

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2 months 3 weeks ago #34324 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Newbie Questions
Ditto on that. The XT seat is rather high and wide. I realized I was sliding in the seat when the boat was leaned over hard. The Bluefin seat is similar - shallow and wide, probably to be expected on wider boats.
The Swordfish seat is much lower and skinny - you have a much more connected feeling to the boat and feel 'in' it as opposed to 'on' the XT. That said, the XT is a good starter boat for you. On flat water you can kick back and relax but in confused waves I promise you'll take a year or 2 to feel comfortable (unless you're balance-gifted).

So you're on the right track. I'd say paddle the XT for a year or so and decide where you want to go next based on your ambition, skill, and water conditions

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"

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2 months 3 weeks ago - 2 months 3 weeks ago #34327 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Newbie Questions
In response to the last two comments, note that the XT has recently been upgraded and the latest incarnation is the XT S - which has had similar design changes to the other models in the Fenn range in that the seat has been modified and moved forward, ditto the rudder and some volume has been taken out of the nose.  I found it much improved compared to the venerable old version.

Here's what I said about it a couple of months ago.

https://www.surfski.info/latest-news/story/1682/fenn-mako-xt-s-review.html

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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2 months 3 weeks ago #34346 by STC67
Replied by STC67 on topic Newbie Questions
HI All, 

Thanks for the comments.

Longest paddle so far to date of 8km and felt much more comfortable. The XT was very stable in very flat conditions and I was able to average 8.7kph according to my cycling Garmin.

Another query, does the type of construction of a ski effect it's stability or just it's weight/speed. I see the Fenns have 4 different standards of construction with the obvious difference being weight (and cost). I am a bigger guy (90-95kgs depending on the season) and not sure if that has any effect on type of construction preferred.

Thanks

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