Fast SOT or Surf ski?

So I decided to upgrade from my wide rec boat to a longer, faster SOT.

My candidates are:

  1. RTM Midway (14 ft, 65 cm beam. Different hull, but in the same vein as the RTM Tempo/Scupper). It is the fastest reasonably priced SOT available in Europe. I have tried it and liked it a lot.

  2. Nelo 510, a 55 cm beam beginner’s surf ski, much like the Epic V7. My thought is, if I want fast, why not go a step further.

I will be paddling along the coast in relatively calm seas for up to a day’s journey. Usually 3-5 hours.

My questions are:
Will I get used to the surf ski’s rudder easily? I have until now only paddled rudderless boats, as is the Midway.
Will I get used to (and be comfortable in) the surf ski’s feet-together position?
Is the jump from barge to ski too big? When I tried the Midway, I went from an 85 cm beam to 65 and felt very comfortable balance-wise. I don’t think 55 cm will be a big problem, but still…

My question in effect is, can I treat a hatched “wide” surf ski as a longer SOT?

I went from a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 to an Epic V5 , then to a V7 and never looked back.
Yes, you have to get used to the rudder, not hard.
The seating position seems natural once on the water.
I’ve had nine boats and the V7 is by far my favorite.

If you like going fast or surfing waves, ski is the way to go. A Nelo 510 should be approachable to anyone of average ability and determination.

Mastering the wing paddle stroke is likely much harder than mastering the stability of a beginner ski like a 510.

Feet together has never been an issue for me, except on occasion when I get a leg cramp. Then sometimes I have to go in the water and stretch it out for a minute or 2. But in general I find ski buckets quite comfortable, and on a stable ski like the 510 you can easily lean back to stretch your back

So I vote nelo

Thanks for the answer.
I should add, if it’s not clear from the above, that I don’t really plan on surfing any waves really…

Also, does everyone consider a wing paddle the only choice when on a surf ski? I was thinking, I would stick to my normal euro paddle.

I used to to paddle skeg kayaks. When I started with skis I had the same questions about rudder and seating position. I got used to both quickly and don’t look back.

The rudder allows you to turn without interfering with your forward stroke. Once you get used to put pressure on your heels instead of on the foot ball, you practically forget about the rudder.

I find the knees together position more comfortable and more enticing to torso rotation. If I get tired, I just put my the legs out of the ski for a while (I have a foam insert on the rudder box to keep it straight if no pressure is applied to the pedals or if a cable breaks).

You can use an euro blade, no issues. But if you have a chance, try a wing, specially if you are interested in speed. It’s a little bit more efficient, but maybe the biggest advantage is to force you to rotate to get the stroke right.

Surfskis dont require waves. In fact many people treat elite skis (43cm beam) like SOT K1’s, which they are actually very close to.

A Nelo 560 had the same top speed over 3k as their K1, but the 560 can be reboarded after you fall out unlike a K1. Just saying flat water is fine too.

And a Euro blade is fine, most people on a ski are interested in maximizing speed or distance, and a wing paddle is the most efficient in this regard. If you dont care to maximize those a Euro will work just fine as well

Some surfskis do better in flat water than others. My Fenn Mako 6 has so much rocker it is slow in flat water.

The Fenn XT is a good beginner ski too, but if you are going to invest why not go big?

The Epic v-8 is very good in flatwater and it shouldn’t take you too long to get used to it. I have a friend who was a dragon boater and OC-6 person and bought the V-*. He didn’t have a problem with it and he jumped from a rec boat he was bored with.

My experience with the Nelo 520 S I got this year is similar to what you describe.

I was worried about automatically edging to start turning (a la skegged kayak) but got used to the rudder. The key is, indeed, NOT engaging the top of the foot except when you want to use the rudder, For propulsion, use the foot part below the ruddering pedals (heel and arch for me). This does take practice to make the transition, or it did with me because in a SINK the footpeg height had me pushing with the ball of the foot. At first, I had to keep correcting the ski from going left and right unintentionally. This will pass after you consciously work on technique.

Having the legs close together instead of splayed out feels better to me and allows full rotation. However, it is not a position that I rest in; it is for propulsion only. When I take a break, I prop legs straight out ahead, one on each rail. If there are waves or wakes, I let them dangle off the sides, though it does not require the entire leg off to gain stability. I give my sitbones a break, too, by getting out of the Drive It Forward position.

I went straight from Euro to wing paddle when I started using the ski, because it just goes so well with a ski and its different seating position. While there doesn’t seem to be a reason you can’t use a Euro, why do it? You might as well make the entire ergonomic change all at once and burn that into muscle memory.

You have all strengthened my resolve to go the surf ski route.
The reason I hesitated regarding the rudder is that the classic kayaking techniques (using different paddle strokes and edging) seem enjoyable and useful to have mastered. Classic technique has a certain elegance… Right now I have only used some of them, since a lot is impossible on a 85cm beamed rec boat.
But the idea of a faster boat is more important to me right now, so I’m OK with the rudder.
Also, rotomolded skis are a good and economical solution, as the used market here in Greece is not the most varied…
That’s also the reason I don’t “go big” as CraigF suggests. Money, but also the possibility the leap would be too big for me.
Regarding the paddle, my thoughts were similar. I would like to master the classic paddle first. So I think I’ll stick to my Euro for now, but I’m sure that’s the next step I will probably want to explore.

You will absolutely love the ski and I very much doubt you will ever regret your purchase.

  1. Yes,you will likely get used to the rudder very easily. It will essentially allow you to focus on powering the boat forward rather than on corrective strokes. And if you don’t like it, take the rudder off or put on a retractable over stern.

  2. The “feet together” position is easy to get used to because it’s actually a more natural position to be in. Think of it this way: if you were walking down the street, would your toes be pointed forward, or would they be pointed outward like a duck? The position in a sea kayak is the harder one to get used to because it doesn’t conform naturally to our bodies.

  3. Finally, a Nelo 510 is a respectable beginner ski. It will be plenty stable for you and with a hatch it will be good for overnights as well.

Oh, there is a lot of elegance in learning to sustain a high speed without getting exhausted.

A few months ago I hurt one my shoulders playing with my kids in the swimming pool (they are getting bigger and bigger and I fool myself that I am still strong enough to throw them up…). After a couple of weeks recovering, I couldn’t resist and went for a paddle even if my shoulder hurt. So, in order to not agravate the pain, I really focused on technique instead of power. To my surprise, I averaged the same speed that I used to do when trying to go faster. Since then I have kept the focus on technique and increased the power gradually.

Well, the idea of not using all those “classic” Euro paddle strokes I’d spent two decades learning and practicing seemed like a bit of shame at first. But it’s not as though you don’t use some of the same strokes with a ski and wing paddle.

For example, I don’t like being 100% rudder dependent for turning, so recently I began using sweep strokes to turn. Experimenting with how tightly I can turn the ski without touching the rudder pedals. What happens is that if I begin turning with a sweep stroke, the rudder and its pedals fall right in line; they go with the flow. They do not just sit flat like going straight. So at least with my 17’ ski, it is possible to turn with just paddle strokes. Finessing the turn with the rudder pedals after starting the arc with paddle stroke works well, too. It isn’t necessarily an Either/Or situation. Try it out.

Bracing instinctively when clapotis slammed me sideways also worked well. The need to let the body adjust for shifts in balance instead of tensing up is the same as in SINKs.

The one warning I have is that the wing is less forgiving of poor technique. OTOH, this same thing makes it easier to learn on.