Can I paddle a surf ski like a sea kayak?

I often take my club’s Epic V8 instead of a sea kayak because of reasons (summer heat, speed, weight, simplicity). Our surf ski guys keep telling me that paddling technique on a surfski is different, and I should use a short wing paddle instead of my 230cm long touring Camano. I tried it but it’s really uncomfortable for me - so I just strapped a soft seat back and paddling it like a sea kayak. Is there any good reason to learn “real” surfski paddling technique? which advantage would it give? (I don’t use it for surfing)

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IMO you can paddle any boat any way you like - I’ve paddled with folks using wing paddles on Greenland style rolling boats, Greenland paddles on fast sea kayaks and surf skis, canoe paddles in kayaks, etc etc. Whatever floats your boat. The surf ski crowd likes to go fast, and while that can be fun, there are other equally valid ways to have fun on the water.

That said, there is always room for everyone to improve on their stroke mechanics, which will improve your speed and efficiency, even if you’re not racing.


The vast majority of us us paddle for fun and a bit of exercise. There is no need to make it into work; we have enough of that, thanks. Every boat, every paddle, every accessory has its legion of devotees who have had the Kool-Aid. Nothing wrong with that, but you should feel no pressure to become one of them unless and until you’re ready. In the meantime, do what you like. In all probability you’ll want to expand your paddling horizon as you accumulate experience and gain skills. Until then, be safe and have fun.


Apart from speed (which I don’t really care for) - will using shorter paddle and “proper” technique give me more stability in rough conditions?

No - only time in the boat in rough conditions will do that. Doesn’t matter much what paddle you’re using.


Meh, I also find the wing paddle stroke uncomfortable and a little annoying. If you want to go as fast as possible it’s the right choice, but if not, I wouldn’t bother. Paddling that V8 with a GP would probably give the surf ski guys a conniption, which might be fun…


The V8 is not really a surfski. It is an 18X with a SOT deck added. The keel is too flat to work like a real surfski and the rudder is wrong for a surfski.

That said, I believe that paddle length is partly a function of the boat width. The width of the V8 does make the 230cm paddle seem a little long, maybe try a shorter one.

Then don’t pay any attention to the surfski guy, they have an elitist world view.

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That’s a plus for me… I prefer sea kayak hull but I also like the convinience, weight and speed of surfski. Only thing I don’t like about V8 it is the lack of “v” shape in front (which sea kayaks have) which causes it to “splash” when coming off a wave. Maybe Fenn bluefin would be better in this matter?

For my 186cm height and “low angle” style it’s quite OK. In long tours I even prefer a 240cm paddle (in 55-60cm sea kayak). I’ll need a short paddle only if I change the stroke style.

I noticed that, that’s why I’m asking in kayaking forum… One of them told me “when you get enough experience with v8 you can advance to v10”. I couldn’t understand why should I “advance” to another kayak if I’m enjoying this one…

Don’t you mean the Epic 18X is the V8 surfski with a SITin deck and an overstern rudder instead of a understern rudder?

No, the 18x long predates the V8. The V8 does have an under stern rudder though.

The 18X was around long before the V8. It does not have an over the stern rudder. It is an integral part of the hull.

The V8 does have an under the hull rudder, but it is a little too far back to work like the one in my Fenn Mako 6. That causes the V8 to wallow some in confused waters.

So the 18X is even worse in that respect?

Also I wonder what you meant with:

and is that ok for a touring kayak?

You can paddle whatever gear combo you want to. No laws against doing so.

It just might not work as well as the combos that were designed to go together, plus the correct techniques for them.

In addition to blade type, your posture, movement, rotation, leg position (knees together instead of splayed), and other factors would probably need improvement…IF you want to make good use of the ski. It is NOT just a lighter, open-decked, differently ruddered sea kayak. A wide ski such as the V8 allows you to get away with some technique flaws, but that doesn’t make good. Strapping a soft seat back in it shows that your posture needs improvement, even in a SINK.

The reason I strapped a soft back is because I like support when I’m pushing against the pedals with my legs. It makes me feel “snug” with the boat. Also without it my back muscles get sore after paddling. In sea kayak there is always some lower back support. I see no reason to avoid using it.

what do you mean by “getting away with technique flaws”? Would I have better stability
using shorter wing paddle? Because someone here mentioned that its not really the case.

But as someone here mentioned - V8 is exactly that (a lighter x18 with a SOT deck), so why not use it as such? :slight_smile:

If you depend on lower back support from something other than your own core, that is one problem already, and it is not good in sea kayaking, either.

I did not comment on paddle length at all, though that is a factor.

Without knowing how well you paddle a sea kayak in the first place, this entire thread lacks a baseline. Your best action would be to take surf ski lessons from an actual surf ski instructor, and keep your mouth shut rather than interjecting, “But that’s how I do it with…” You can’t learn in that mode.

And don’t blame a boat if you don’t go “fast.”