Cold weather Surfski paddlers?

Hey all, I was wondering if anyone could give some advice on paddling surfskis in cold weather and cold water? Anyone out there do so, I of course would be wearing drysuits and so on. But I haven’t come across anyone who does paddle around here on their ski in the winter. Not to mention, my employer offerred a Think EVO ski in kevlar for a sick price to help make room for some new stock coming…Thanks for any help.


some links
Got some links that will have good info.

To start with-

Yes, that is Nigel Foster, and in his latest entry he writes about surf ski safety. Part of the reason why, is that the very active group of surf ski racers up in Bellingham, Wa, have had some unfortunate incidents in the last year, one involving a Coast Guard helicopter rescue, another this year that had involved loss of life. The group is quite active in addressing the ramifications, and trying to learn about the real risk of cold water ski paddling, as opposed to the accepted behavior on skis when paddling in warm water. Check out their yahoo group, whatcompaddlers.


Great thanks, for the reply
I’ll take a look into it…I appreciate it.

NE Paddlers
There are a number of ski paddlers here in the NE who paddle virtually year round, assuming things haven’t frozen over at the launches. This year has been particularly clear thus far, but precautions are what they are. With our water temps in the 30s, drysuits are de rigeur. Even so, as the recent sad loss of one fellow paddler in the NW indicated, they are not a failsafe. Better to err on the side of overheating in your drysuit versus the other extreme. I’ve been out frequently this year on my S1-R; prefer it to my closed boat for the advantage of being able to remount quickly should a capsize occur. Carry pencil flares, cell phone, VHS, etc. and always stay leashed to the boat/paddle.

Some additional cardinal rules: stay in groups of at least three, stay close to shore, and paddle only as fast as the slowest paddler. With neoprene hoods, etc. if the wind is kicking up, the shouts of a companion can be lost to the wind quite easily-constant visual checks are necessary.

As for gear, beyond the drysuit, a good neoprene hood/hat, neoprene booties and mitts/pogies should keep you comfortable in most temps. My kit is good to the mid single digits, low double digits, where the extremities start to go after a while, despite the cold weather gear. Below that, I stay land based and cross country ski or mountain bike instead.

Check out and neoceankayakracing

That Think Evo is a sweet stable ride, a good choice for winter paddling.

Be warm, be safe. Paddling is optional, returning home is mandatory.


This is the same local group I was…

– Last Updated: Feb-08-08 11:20 PM EST –

...going to mention to you. The recent surfskier fatality mentioned is one of 7 (1 surfskier, 2 sea kayakers, 3 canoers, 1 guy out solo in a motorboat) fatalities in the saltwater in the last year locally, tragically. Gotta keep safety #1.


Not WAKE, but:

cold weather paddling
I’ve been out this winter on my ski whenever the ice has opened up enough to make a decent route (Fox River --> Green Bay). I use a drysuit also (with built-in booties, thank God) and overheat quite a bit, but i want to be safe if i’m in the water. I won’t go out if the visibility is poor or if the temps are in the teens. Upon return i’ll do a few deepwater remounts close to shore just for practice. I bring my cell, wear a pfd, and let my wife know when i expect to be off the water. I’ve got a solid roll in the sea kayak and have rolled a lot in icy water, but i feel safer on the ski, especially when alone, because of the quick remounts. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and a good way to get a workout in while beating the winter blahs.

Cold condition paddling I am used to
Paddling year round for several years in NL , then Nova Scotia, and now year round here in British Columbia.

I am well equipped with personal equipment for such conditions.

I am delighted to hear the fact that surfski paddling in ‘off’ seasons is still viable.

THanks for the links


'To Ski or Not to Ski…
that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

the slush and icicles of constant exposure,

and to immerse one’s arse within a seatwell of troubles…

…to ski, perchance to surf-aye, there’s the rub.’

You have the qualifications, experience, and the gear. Now ‘Think,’ what else do I need? ‘Think’… :wink:

Seriously, I found that I envisioned being much colder than I was without the benefit of a SINK and a skirt-this was just not the case. A bit chillier yes, but the integrated booties of the drysuit and proper underlayering mades the constantly wet bum and feet pretty much a non-issue. That boat has a small stow hatch and bungees also, I believe. Solves the problem somewhat of being able to bring gear along.