Self-centering pedals/rudder on a surfski

1 month 3 weeks ago #35224 by SurfskiEstonia
Since the first season I started paddling a surfski 4 years ago, I have always had the problem of too much pedal input, that made my boat rock from side to side while paddling aggressively (having been taught by a K1 coach, pressing on the footplate and body rotation is deeply rooted in my paddling technique). After switching from the smaller stock rudder to a DK rudder, the surf performance have improved, but also the rocking has become worse.

The main problem is the setup of my pedals - the angle at which I tie them to the rudder lines (see figure 1:D). 


I am doing this to apply constant pressure on both pedals. If I were to tie them in a straight line with the footplate, I won't have the same kind of connection to the ski with my legs. Also turning hard would mean shifting out of the seat to reach for a deeper push on the pedal, again a loss of connection.

I now think that self-centering pedals would be my first preference. The best thing would be a pedal setup, where I would need to apply force to steer - to get the pedals out of balance. When letting go, the pedals should come back to a stable center position (like a self-centering steering damper does on a car). In this way I could paddle aggressively without thinking about having to push hard with my foot, but avoid pressing the pedals with the toes:D.

I found this very similar post:  www.surfski.info/forum/20-epic/6072-self...-for-epic-boats.html . I wonder why wouldn't manufacturers consider this kind of an approach. Isn't this a beneficial thing to everyone? Do You have new examples of a similar approach? Really interested in any relevant discussion on this:)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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1 month 3 weeks ago #35225 by nwsurfskier
The Kai Wa'a Vega has self centering rudder along with several other innovative features. It's very easy to adjust the foot plate, seamless construction, very lightweight, leash attachment at stern if desired, etc. Looking forward to seeing what Kai comes out with in an intermediate boat this spring.
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1 month 3 weeks ago #35227 by waverider
I just have bungies fed through hole near tip of pedal retained with a knot. The other ends are just clamped in the bulkhead tie down cleats. Each bungie is tightened so that when pressure is take off pedal they return to straight ahead position. You can adjust them to be as stiff or slack as you like. If nothing else it makes it easier to get your foot in as pedal is less likely to be angled forward. Also helps ski tracking if feet not onboard.

On a related issue do you have your foot plate height set so only your toes touch the pedals, or do you have the ball of your foot also on the pedals with effectively only heel on on plate? Have seen skis set up both ways.

Do you drive with ball of foot and heel, or heel only? Especially coming from K1 coaching where it is more ball of foot rather than heel?
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1 month 2 weeks ago - 1 month 2 weeks ago #35294 by SurfskiEstonia
Thanks, guys!

Good to hear that at least some surfski manufacturers implement new features. I saw a promotional video of Kai Wa'a Vega, but wasn't expecting it to be very good. Then read a review by a paddler on this forum who was really impressed. Now hearing that they are making a self-centering rudder, creates an instant goodwill for them.

NWsurfskier, thanks for this detailed response! Your setup sounds very much like what I'm aiming for. I would make the pedals real tight, but maybe that's really something which I've been doing wrong since the very beginning. 

The footrest on my ski looks like this: 


So the footrest ends well before reaching the floor. It's very ball of foot / midsole oriented drive and I really like it that way. I think it is replicating a K1 very well. I can only reach the pedals with my toes. It's never the ball of the foot that presses on the pedals.

Another issue is my footrest distance setup. My paddling technique is based on the idea, that on each stroke the back of the knee must be pressed against the floor/hump of the ski as much as possible. That was taught to me by a young K1 guy, who heard it from some famous K1 coach while in the national team camp. I like this technique very much and think it adds quite a bit of stability and connection with the ski.

I wonder why the response to this topic is so minimal - is this a non-issue to 99% of paddlers?

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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1 month 2 weeks ago #35298 by zachhandler
When i transitioned from k1 to ski i had to train myself to push from the heel rather than the ball of the foot. It took a year or two before it felt natural. Initially i had the pedals pulled back towards me. Then i read Oscar’s advice to have pedals in line or slightly tipped away. The rationale is to avoid turning the ski with leg drive as well as to avoid steering with the rudder too much downwind. I did a camp in Tarifa and boyan advocated the same thing. He made me practice going downwind without pushing the pedals at all. Doing so forced me to brace with purpose and to keep the boat properly positioned on the wave. This helped my paddling quite a bit. That is why I put my pedals tipped away just slightly away. 
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1 month 2 weeks ago #35307 by waverider
I agree angle of the pedals should be so you only press the pedal when you actually want to turn them rather than a jiggling byproduct of the leg drive. Obviously any unnecessary movement of the rudder is effectively inducing a braking resistance effect.

I think heel & bottom of boat contact also help more with the lateral stability required to counter the random forces of waves. On flat water boats IF you have perfect symmetry in your paddling there should be minimal sideways force compared to those when being bounced around on open water, so the finer touch of using balls of feet has a draw back, though it feels more natural on the flat.
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1 month 2 weeks ago #35308 by waverider

SurfskiEstonia wrote: Thanks, guys!



The footrest on my ski looks like this: 


Mine looks like that though instead of the bungie tied to the end of the wire loop it passes through a hole in the pedal with a knot on the front face. This holds the pedal plate upright against the cable clamps so it doesn't fall forward.

Do you have issues with the steel cable cutting through the pedal face?
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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #35332 by Fath2o
SurfskiEstonia wrote this: I now think that self-centering pedals would be my first preference. 
And this:   I wonder why wouldn't manufacturers consider this kind of an approach. Isn't this a beneficial thing to everyone?
And this: I wonder why the response to this topic is so minimal - is this a non-issue to 99% of paddlers?
I think there may be a bit of confusion here. All the surf skis I have owned or currently own over the last 35 years have had self centering foot pedals. A simple bungi tied from the pedal to the forward bulkhead. The other thing I was taught and learned is that the foot pedals should be slanted slightly forward to prevent "inadvertent" steering". I have no experience with K-1's. Good luck with this.

(edit) I am looking at the picture you posted and wondering if your steering cables are set up and installed properly? Looks like to me the cables should have stops on them so the cable can not slide through the pedal. I believe if the pedals were secured to the cable that they would be self centering. Am I missing something here? I'm pretty sure that is what the bunji is for? Otherwise there doesn't appear to be any reason for the bungi. I'm not familiar with Nelo's though.
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1 month 4 days ago - 1 month 4 days ago #35459 by SurfskiEstonia
Guys, thank You and sorry for the late responding. The surfski season is over for me for over 2 months and I'm not dealing with the issue actively. 

Fath2o said: "All the surf skis I have owned or currently own over the last 35 years have had self centering foot pedals. A simple bungi tied from the pedal to the forward bulkhead."

Wow, I'm really surprised to hear it. I've now used only 3 surfskis and none had any. Though it seems this must be a manageable fix, so I will try to design it myself. 

Fath2o said: "I am looking at the picture you posted and wondering if your steering cables are set up and installed properly?"

This was a photo taken off some old Nelo website. I didn't have a good descriptive photo at hand and the season has ended for me in August.. But the steering lines on my boat are made of nylon, not metal. They start to stretch out after 2+ hour hard paddles. So for me this was another reason for not setting the pedals parallel with the footrest.

Fath2o said:  "I believe if the pedals were secured to the cable that they would be self centering. Am I missing something here? I'm pretty sure that is what the bunji is for? Otherwise there doesn't appear to be any reason for the bungi."

I think You may be right :D They do look like some self-centering coils or smth. It could be that I just never got them and never knew to search:D I know a couple of people who own or have owned this boat model. I will ask them if they had those bits. 

Zachhandler said: "He made me practice going downwind without pushing the pedals at all. Doing so forced me to brace with purpose and to keep the boat properly positioned on the wave. This helped my paddling quite a bit. That is why I put my pedals tipped away just slightly away."
Waverider said: "I agree angle of the pedals should be so you only press the pedal when you actually want to turn them rather than a jiggling byproduct of the leg drive. Obviously any unnecessary movement of the rudder is effectively inducing a braking resistance effect."

I have tried to flirt with this approach, but never with success. My understanding of steering is kinda like steering a yacht. If I understood it right (only tried it once for an hour or so), the principle was to always feel resistance and push against that water. I have done the same in my ski, always searching for an edge to push against while on the wave. So my connection with the pedal is very important. I'd have to completely rethink my technique if I had to leave the pedals alone:D (not saying that's not the right solution, but I'd prefer something else first).

Thank You very much for the input! My plan is now this: 1) learn if there was a self-centering solution installed on other Ocean skis; 2) if there were, purchase them and install, or if not, I'll try to make some of my own; 3) try to focus on the hardness of the pedals, so the question is if it's safe to tension them very hard, as it may put too much strain on the carbon/kevlar wall of the ski.

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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3 weeks 2 days ago #35649 by wesley
Over the years on some skis, particularly Epics since there is virtually no rudder tension compared to other skis, I have simply drilled a hole in the inner corner of each foot pedal and tied off a piece of bungee cord to self center. Easy, simply and works. 

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.
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5 days 14 hours ago - 16 hours 4 minutes ago #35746 by TRitt
Hey All ,, I love my Epic V7 solution for a self centering rudder so thought I'd share .... Very clean and simple ... Parts needed = (1) Ideally Stainless spring and (2) self tapping screws to mount the ends of the spring into the rudder compartment hull area ... Go to Lowes/Home depot and get an assortment pact of small springs ( about $5) .  ..... Inside the rudder compartment just stretch a spring of the proper length ( pick any coil near the center of the spring  to start ) UNDER the flat silver brace that the pedal coords attach to ....The steering brace is now embedded in the springs coil near the center of the spring ... Then stretch the spring ends to reach the hull material on each side and use the 2 screws to mount the spring ends to the hull material .  ... You are done! ... THEN,, to get the rudder straight at all times ( When  there is no pressure on a pedal )  .. simply scoot the the brace into spring coil that leaves the rudder straight .... Done .. SO SO EASY ! ....    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if I can help ... Peace 
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18 hours 8 minutes ago #35769 by SurfskiEstonia
Thanks, Tom!

Sounds like an elegant solution! The idea to use springs seems better than bungee chord, as it seems more substantial - kind of like pressing a hydraulic pedal in a car:)

If You have any photos on hand, I'd appreciate if You were to share them. It's cold here and the all manipulations with the ski will have to wait until summer next year. Will come back to this and hope You won't mind if I contact You then:)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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16 hours 35 minutes ago - 12 hours 48 minutes ago #35770 by TRitt

A pic....
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12 hours ago #35771 by Wombat661
To do it right, you need two preloaded springs. Something like this stainless steel spring:  https://www.mcmaster.com/9630k58
Connect the preloaded springs to the rudder with a length of cable. That way, each spring only actuate in one direction. Meaning when you turn left, only the right spring is pulled. When you turn right, only the left spring is pulled.
The reason for preloaded spring is so that as soon as the rudder deviates from the center a little, the spring is already preloaded under force to center the rudder.
If you just connect the rudder to the center of a compression spring, there is zero force at the center to center the rudder until it moves enough for the spring to generate force. Your rudder will always be in a dead band a little off center.

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