The future of paddling

2 months 4 weeks ago #35699 by Steve Hansen
We've known for sometime that foiling SUP's were the fastest paddle craft. But as far as I know we'd never seen a head to head race that included foiling SUP's and surfskis, just to see how much faster they would be. Now we know. The first four places at 'The Doctor' 2019 went to foiling SUP's. Cory Hill, first surfski paddler was beaten by about 17 minutes. That's a pretty big margin. This gets interesting. Apparently they had great downwind conditions which foils need. But if condition had been flat, would surfskis have prevailed ? How user friendly are foiling SUP's ? Anyone try one ? Is this a game changer for paddle sports ? Hope they have some great video footage from the race !
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2 months 4 weeks ago #35701 by downwinda
Replied by downwinda on topic The future of paddling
If it had been flat it wouldn't even be a contest between the foils and surfskis.  As a matter of fact, the foils wouldn't even bother to race in those conditions.
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2 months 4 weeks ago #35705 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic The future of paddling
They also did not race the same distance or the same start point. First km was dead flat, they started 1km ahead.
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2 months 4 weeks ago #35706 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic The future of paddling
I can see how they are very fast downwind (or down-swell), but how do they fair on an out and back course? Or a course that is along a shore, where the swell is maybe coming in roughly parallel to the shoreline?
Calling them the 'future of padding' seems to be stretching it a bit too far. They look to be extremely fun, fast craft that are superb in particular conditions. So are, say, white water playboats if you are running a grade 5 river. 
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2 months 3 weeks ago #35713 by SurfskiEstonia
Steve, thanks for this very interesting topic! 

I've been flirting with the SUP downwinding idea on and off for a year or two (strictly in my head though). If I were to try to put my thoughts in a structured way, I'd describe them along these lines:
1. Fun factor
2. Health benefits
3. Safety
4. Barriers to entry
5. Universality

1. Fun factor: it definitely looks very fun, at least here: 
I think it may be even more fun than surfski downwinding as in car driving vs motorcycle riding (closer to the feeling of flying).
2. Health benefits: kayaking is a very symmetrical sport (left to right), but less so in upper to lower body. It's also hard on the lower back and legs for some (numbing). The SUP seems less symmetrical from left to right as paddlers seem to usually stand on one side. But it's definitely a much more full body workout than a ski. So all in all, again SUP is healthier.
3. Safety: I guess it's much easier to climb on a SUP and wait for help, if something is seriously wrong (laying on the board, paddling with hands)? Losing the board is more difficult due to the fin, the wind will carry away the ski very quickly, the foiling SUP will stay more or less planted.  I think SUP is the winner here. 
4. Barriers to entry: this is mostly the problem for SUP, as it requires a totally new skill set in terms of handling a board in waves. For an experienced surfski paddler reading waves is no problem, but learning to surf standing up may take some time. Of course, learning difficult new things is good for the brain (another health benefit), but it may upset many having to learn for months. Learning to paddle a stable surfski is much easier than to surf a "stable foil", if there is at all such a thing. Another aspect of this is living in a place with regular and sufficient conditions. Does foiling require super long swells? Are short interval waves tolerable? The ski wins this one.
5. Universality: this is probably the worst part of a foiling SUP - one has to plan everything perfectly to enjoy it. Go out with a fast ski and if the conditions are subpar to what was expected, the paddler can still enjoy the workout, having to put slightly more energy into paddling. With SUP it will go from everything to nothing. Maybe real pros and athletes can pump themselves out of the water in flat conditions, but probably the whole point of a foil will be lost for most. The ski here is the winner.

So, having said all that, it seems that a foiling SUP is more fun in the right conditions, healthier, safer than a ski, but needs a lot of learning and messing with guessing the right conditions. In that sense, is it more like kite surfing or windsurfing?

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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2 months 3 weeks ago #35715 by tve
Replied by tve on topic The future of paddling
Nice write-up and interesting video, definitely looks fun!
I think two points to consider:
  • from a safety perspective, you can get hit by and cut by the SUP foil. Dunno how likely this is (specially while learning) or how bad the modern foils are in that respect.
  • from a universality perspective, I suspect (please confirm) that you basically have to do 1-way downwiders in the SUP foil, you can't really paddle 4 miles upwind, turn around and then enjoy a 4 mi DW in return, so it always takes some form of shuttle
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2 months 3 weeks ago #35716 by Steve Hansen
Replied by Steve Hansen on topic The future of paddling
I mistakenly assumed the SUP foils paddled the same course. Thanks Ranga for the clarification ! Why would they race a different course ? Doesn't seem right but there must be a reason.

I guess I was thinking more of SUP foiling as having lots of growth potential as humans are drawn to fun and especially the element of speed. SUP foiling does seem to lack versatility. Reminds me a little of snowboarding: Possibly more fun but not as versatile as in icy conditions and going uphill. I never thought SUP paddling would take off. Boy was I wrong !

Speaking of the future of paddling, are we seeing a possible trend in racing where races turn into week long surfski/ beer love fest vacations with events like the Gorge Championships and 'The Doctor' gaining in popularity? Kinda makes sense.

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2 months 3 weeks ago #35717 by manta
Replied by manta on topic The future of paddling
If downwind is the criteria then the SUP downwind or SUP wing downwind is going to be the fastest craft. Here in our local conditions both on the Miller's run and the West coast Milnerton to Big Bay the foils have rewritten the record books time wise for the runs. 

However, if the conditions are not optimum they suffer in a major way. We had a DW a few weeks back that started really well with wind and swell and then the wind died about half way. The foils were basically dead in the water. So yes, they are lightning fast when everything lines up but if conditions change they are going to struggle. 

We also need to compare apples with apples. A top ski paddler will be faster than most foil riders simply because of skill. However if you put a top ski paddler against a top foiler in the right conditions the foiler will win. 

What I love about surfski is that I can go anywhere, upwind, downwind, cross wind and really have an engaging workout. The foils are a one hit wonder, they can go DW fast and that is all. I think the learning curve with the foil is also significant and they are very, very expensive. If I had the money, time and ability I would love to learn it but not at the expense of ski paddling.

M
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2 months 3 weeks ago #35727 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic The future of paddling
For a universal exercise tool the ski is one of the best bits of hardware around. You can race against K1s on the own ground, they cant do the reverse. As mentioned Foils are good at one thing, and rely on a one way trip. Skis can go anywhere in any direction in almost any conditions subject to the paddlers skill. It provides not only a fitness challenge but also the buzz of actually learning to master one.

It is also the thrill seeking tool of older folks who would have been, or would have loved to have been, surfers. There are more kayakers around these days, especially with the growth of kayak fishing, I can seen many of these moving on to skis as the next step, as I did,. The Ocean surf ski market can only grow from here on, especially with the increased accessibility of  user friendly beginner skis

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2 months 3 weeks ago #35728 by Wombat661
Replied by Wombat661 on topic The future of paddling
Revo is trying to do a foil surfski:
https://www.surfski.info/latest-news/story/1586/revo-foil-disrupting-the-surfski-world.html

For exercise, I heard someone said SUP is harder on the shoulder joint than surfski.

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