Remounting Surf Ski

I have finally had my surf ski out 3 times. Been sticking near shore, in case I fall off. I finally fell off due to choppy wind waves (once) yesterday.

Question: How do you remount a surf ski? Where do you place your hands? How do you keep hold of the paddle (so it doesn’t get blown away)? Any references for remount technique online? Even being in water shallow enough to stand in, I could not consistently remount. I am having a hard time imagining how to do this in deep water, while keeping a hold on the paddle.

Also, is there risk of damaging a carbon/kevlar ski when practicing remounts? I am 220 lbs and noticed deck and rails flexing when I tried to get back on. I need to learn to do this, but am concerned that I may be putting to much stress on Carb/Kev.

Key kayak/gear stats: Fenn Mako XT, 19ft long, 19 in wide. Epic Wing paddle.

Incidentally, had a great time surfing wind waves and boat wakes. The boat is more stable than I anticipated. Very fast compared to my sea kayak.


– Last Updated: Jul-15-05 2:39 PM EST –

There are basically two ways of getting back on. Both start with kicking your torso across the seat so that you end up with your belly button in more or less the same area as it will be when you're seated in the ski. From there, one approach is to rotate your butt into the seat so that you end up seated in a sidesaddle position, then put your feet into the wells (can do this via an intermediate step with one foot over either side to stabilize things before putting the feet back into the wells). The other is to stay face down, rotate onto the ski on your belly in something like a surfboard paddling position, but with one foot over each side, then push yourself up so that you end up with your butt in the seat and one leg on each side. Try both and see which works better. It depends partly on you and partly on the ski. I used to like the second method on my old Twogood but can't make it work on my Fenn Mill because of the width and depth of the seat. I've only done the sidesaddle approach in the XT and found that it works fine.

Just starting out, you might want to use a paddle leash so that you can have both hands free for the remount. What I do is to hold the paddle in my left hand (entering from the left side) against the gunwale of the boat near the back of the footwells. Right hand goes on the right gunwale at the forward end of the seat. But exact hand position and body placement is something you have to tinker with a bit. Expect to be pretty comical for a while, but you'll get it.

I like side saddle
I paddle a fenn mako. What I find most effective is side saddle. Idea is to swim across the boat not to pull up onto boat. It is harder to pull yourself up so picture swimming with body parallel to surface of water versus perpendicular.

Hold paddle with one hand swim across so belly is over seat. Rotate so butt goes in seat and bring paddle around to normal grip. Now your feet ar together on one side of ski and you can extend legs to balance to that side or lie back to balance to other. Next rotate around to get foot closest to bow in footwell, since you are already holding paddle in normal grip it is ready to brace while you are doing this. Sometimes your butt gets stuck in the deep seet but you just have to practice.

I have found this method best for me because you can balance fairly well with extending feet or lying back while in side saddle and can have paddle ready to brace before you try to swing feet around. If I have to reach or grip for paddle tend to loose balance and can’t use paddle fro brace.

I have also found that the confidence gained from knowing that I can remount allows me to relax while paddling and makes me less likely to swimbut if I do it doesn’t matter anyway.

You will have lots of fun, ski should be able to take your weight but if you are pulling up on ski enough to make it flex you are probably just making it harder on yourself.


XT seat is way shallower than Mill
I can’t do anything but sidesaddle in the Mill, but I actually preferred the other approach in my old boat, which was closer to the XT configuration. Haven’t spent any time messing around with remounts in the XT so I can’t say which works better, but it’s worth trying both. At least for me, the Mill remount is way slower and more treacherous than my first ski (but that’s partly because I’m big enough to pretty well fill the seat).

With or without PFD?
Just curious: do you generally where a PFD on the surfski?

I was clumsily trying to do the first step you metioned, kicking up to be laying face down across the ski. But, I was wearing a PFD, so of course it was hanging up on the side of the ski, making it difficult get fully up on it. I know that many surfski paddlers don’t wear a PFD. I thought it might be due to it making it difficult to remount.

Easier without
I use a belt pack inflatable on the ski. I’ve used a foam vest at times in the past but not in a while. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it with or without PFD, but it might be worth doing some practice sessions without until you get the hang of it.

It really does get way, way easier with practice. When I got my first ski, which was fairly similar to the XT in dimensions & stability, it was all I could do to sit in it in flat water, let alone re-enter in rough. Now I can re-enter the Millenium in high wind and rough water, and the XT feels practically like a comfy chair. You will get there. You just have to swim a lot first.