How tough is it to learn to ride a ski

Along with many other toys I’m in the market for, a surf ski is in my near future. The pros make it look simple but I’ve also watched first timers on YouTube who really were struggling. I mean they couldn’t get both feet on board before they were dumped to the water. Right now I paddle a 17 ft x 24" clc 17. How much harder would it be for me to ride a 21" beam epic v7? I found the chesapeake to be very easy to get comfortable in. It was tough to learn to get in at first but once fully seated was very stable. Only some slight wobbling in the first few minutes of the maiden voyage. Would love to have some explain how different or similar it may be. Thanks.

The V6 is pretty stable. Haven’t
paddled the V7.

The V6 is probably considered more of a fast SOT, than a surf ski.

Not at all difficult
I paddled the V7 for one of the legs in the 2015 Paddle Relay Around Lower Michigan. It was about ten miles on Lake Huron.

My paddling experience at the time? Seven months (the first four months were in a rec boat).

The V7 is very stable. We were hit by some very rough weather around the ninth mile; the ski was solid and steady. Not once did I feel off balance or insecure. That’s saying a lot for the ski because there’s really nothing holding you in. It also has a great self-bailer.

My only challenge with the V7 was the foot pedals which control the rudder. I had never paddled such a setup and wound up turning the boat with each stroke. I’d need a couple of lessons to overcome that.

It was a lot of fun and I still think about buying one for the speed and workout.

Hope you get to demo one - I think you’ll have a blast.

on the scale
on the scale of toughness, mastering a v7 is a 4.

if you paddle a 24" boat currently, the v7 would be no problem if you have s little perseverance and balance training

you can likely test paddle it to allay any fears with a short drive

I have a friend who paddles both
type boats. She is very light and looks like she is sitting on a dock in the V7. I have a high COG and thought it was a stable boat.

Not hard unless…
Unless you have serious stability issues the new fat skis are easy to work with.

Worst case scenario—you fall out.

If you do, climbing back in is easy. Sometimes the best part of water sports is getting IN the water.

Once you realize how easy it is to remount, you’ll be jumping out of the boat on purpose to cool off.

On the other hand, more specific to your question of how hard it is to learn to ski; moving to an elite ski can be very time consuming. Intermediate skis are not too bad but top skis can take years to master.

But in fairness, I wouldn’t mess with one of those unless you were absolutely compelled to race.

it’s relative

– Last Updated: May-31-16 9:17 AM EST –

I demoed a V7 and V8 last summer. Here's my own $0.02 anecdote:

When I first moved from rec kayaks (which I've been paddling in one form or another for most of my life) to sea kayaks, the boat felt a bit tender, like I had to be paying attention. Trying a sweep with no training or practice sent me over. Within a few weeks it no longer felt tender and with a few simple tips it stabilized more.

Demoing the V7 and V8 was less of a leap to me. I'm sure a fast surfski would be a different story, but from what I understand, Epic and others have really improved the stability of surf skis. But moving the boat forward, mounting and dismounting, and balance wasn't prohibitive at all.

Now - learning a proper stroke, catching and staying on waves and such will be more of a time investment...but you should have some of the concepts sort of at hand or in mind, or be able to relate to them as a paddler.

Don't let it hold you back. If I had the money, I'd already have one, the speed and simplicity was intoxicating.

Not bad

– Last Updated: Jun-03-16 5:11 PM EST –

I sold my Swift Adirondack 13.6 in spring and just bought an Epic V8.

The Swift was 13.5ft long and 27.5in wide, but had an efficient, rounded bottom and for a rec kayak was surprisingly fast and didn't have excessive primary stability. The V8 is 18ft long and 21.5in wide. I figured it would be much more difficult for me to stay up in.

Not sure if it's the flattish bottom in the V8, or if it's the fact that I am now firmly coupled to the hull through the form-fitting bucket in the hull deck and strapped to the footboard, but, I actually feel more secure in the V8 than I did in my Adirondack 13.6. I *think* it's mostly coming from my ability to control the hull through my hips in the V8.

P.S. I also lost considerable weight over the winter, and that may also be helping with stability this season - hard to separate things out, as my body changed and my boat changed too. All I can tell you is the V8 isn't bad for me now, and I am still north of 235lb @ 6 feet. It will only get better with more practice - so far only been out twice in it.

I went from a sleek 17’ x 21" Sea Kayak to an elite Surfski. Unlike the V7 and V8 an elite ski is very light and very thin (21’ x 17") and is like riding a unicycle on ice. The learning curve was surprisingly more then I expected. It is doable but it takes a lot of work and some swimming.

Once you get good at sculling your paddle stability isn’t an issue… as long as you have a paddle in the water.

I’m growing more and more tempted to pick up a surfski. I hopped on one years ago to try one out, and was surprised at how easily and quickly it would go over. Then a year ago, I hopped on a V8 Pro (19’ X 19.9") and I could edge it without going over. I think the thing that didn’t hook me the first time was that I only had two outings on it, and while I could keep it upright, I didn’t feel comfortable enough - hadn’t honed in carefully-centered enough balance - to launch into a powerful forward stroke. So I didn’t get a feel for the speed potential, and I knew that was why.
The goal in a sea kayak is also to keep your balance as centered as possible without shifting when you’re going for fast and efficient cruising - but there’s a good amount of forgiveness there. So you can hone it in after you get going, but it’s not critical to just staying upright. You actually learn to get aggressive with edging and even leaning in sea kayaks. So it took me by surprise how balanced everything needed to remain on those first surf ski experiences.
With the V8 Pro, as soon as I sat on it and found I could edge it without going over, I could instantly incorporate my legs and twist my hips in the seat - and it felt good. Worse yet, my darling told me I looked good in it.
But as things go, if I’m instantly comfortable and really enjoyed the V8 Pro, I feel like I have to try the V10. I have read that it’s very stable in comparison to some of the older designs like I had previously tried. So I’d like to hop on one of those and see how it feels now.

I started the ski adventure with a Stellar S18S. My everyday boat is a Tarpon 160 ,so I went from an aircraft carrier to a rocket.
Stability wasn’t an issue from the start on flat water.
As I said above, the V-7 was a hop in and go without another thought.

I also had no difficulty with the Stellar 18, but the 16 footer was definitely more stable and quicker handling. For speed the 18 has to be faster, but overall I thought the 16 was more fun.

At first I wasn’t too keen on the flip up rudder, but on second thought, I think it would be less vulnerable than a fixed rudder.

Most are aware of this webpage but if you’re not it’ll help you out quite a bit. My ski shows up towards the bottom right which makes it fast and unstable.

I can add a little more insight now that I’ve owned 2 skis of varying stability; I went from a Crozier J200 racing solo canoe to an oooold Epic V10 (17.08" max beam x 21’). I paddled it over the winter in a drysuit and swam almost every outing at least once (usually only once or twice thouogh). I am fairly keen to push my abilities and I think if I paddled 4-5 times a week I could have mastered it on flat water by the end of the summer.

I recently traded it out for a stellar SR (18.9" beam x 19’) and the difference is night and day. I can handle 1-2 foot short interval steep waves in the SR, no problem. I havent been out on the ocean yet, but will get there soon. the difference between 17" skis and 19-20" skis is night and day. I, as a beginner with good balance could hop right on the SR and take off. I can lean back, set my paddle down, relax, drink a beer if I wanted. Its that stable.

If you are mildly athletic and have even quarter way decent balance, a 20-21" ski should be absolutely no problem. Even a 19" ski like a V10 sport or Stellar SR should be no problem for the somewhat balanced. Im amazed how stable the 19" SR is. Once you start getting down to 18", you’ll need decent stability to enjoy the ski and make use of the speed available to you. Once you get into the 17" range, you need well developed stability skills to make use of the boat, but if you are determined I bet most people could master a 17" ski in 2 years of frequent paddling. If you go below 17, you are in the true elite class of skis that requires years of training to master, or born-natural ability.

I’ll probably trade out the SR for a SEI (18.1" x 20’) next year, as I already miss the speed of the old V10. But as the great Oscar says, Stability Before Ability, and I could tell my form would not be properly developed if I was worrying aobut falling out all the time. I think Oscar or one of the Mocke’s said if you need to brace on a downwind paddle more often than once every 10 minutes you should be in a more stable ski. And that’s referring to a south african downwind where 4-8’+ swell is the standard.

so anyways, a V7 is within the ability of everyone except the absolutely most beginner/unbalanced paddlers. And even then, if you have a little bit of perseverance, even the unbalanced should be able to paddle a V7 with a couple months practice.

Skis are the funnest boat out there. I highly recommend everyone paddle them at least once. The stable skis available now days are so easy to balance and remount that you can do some pretty stupid things with them (big waves or boat wash riding) and end up ok. (being foolish in cold water being the exception) . They are still great cold water boats, because self rescue is easier than almost any other type of boat too.


Magooch, I replaced the under stern rudder on the 18S with a flip up because our lakes have a lot of under water obstructions like logs and rocks.
I could see me breaking the boat by hitting something. Maybe paranoid but I was more comfortable with the over stern rudder.

I’ve been paddling a ski now for some 8 years. I have other boats that I paddle more often, but when the mood strikes, I’ll take the ski out. Mine is a Fenn Mako XT, 19’ X19". My first paddle was shaky, but I soon became comfortable paddling it. It is a minimalist boat, can’t take much with you, but the speed and it’s ability to surf waves in a downwind condition is sublime!

Make sure you fit in the boat. You might find the seat a little narrow and the “knees together” position a little harder to get used to than balance.

And you can’t go by the weight ratings on a ski even though manufacturers list them. Mine is rated to over 200lbs yet my athletic 165 weight barely fits in the narrow width of the seat. Your height plays a big part in the weight ratings.

The reason I no longer have my Stellar is that knock kneed position. My back took exception to that position after a half hour.
Unfortunately, my back feels that way anytime I am locked in one position for long.