Surf ski basics?

Any advice for someone who has never paddled a ski?

One concern I have is the under stern rudder. It really sticks down and I will have to be very careful not to foul it.

I have other SOT kayaks but is there a preferred method for getting into this beast?

It has toe straps on the foot braces/rudder controls. Do you loosen and tighten them each time?

Watch the Oscar Chalupsky video’s…
on youtube. He has a few instructional ones that seem pretty good.

1. Get on surfski

2. Fall off surfski


John, you are always SO helpful.

Try straddling the ski, get your butt down, slowly bring your feet in while bracing with your paddle. Don’t tense up and stay relaxed while paddling. That’s how I started! Now I just toss the ski in the water and leap on it and off I go.

Thanks String!
Always nice to be appreciated!!


Now, on a more practical side, I like the over stern rudders better for the type of paddling I do. I really like surfski’s for their efficiency and that they’re SOT’s but I very rarely, if ever, paddle mine in the surf. None of our ski’s have toe straps, so I can’t help you there. Bonnie liked doing the cowboy re-entry when she capsized.

With my wife’s Epic V6…
I put the boat in water deep enough to stand beside it and sit down in the cockpit and then bring the legs on board.

The V6 is relatively wide and stable relative to most skis and is the only one I’ve tried.

Have fun.

You forgot …
No.3 -Sell surf ski

They are only good for two things Jim:

Racing or working out.

Both of them require staying upright

Jack L

Could you please
get someone to take a video your first time out?

Sissy, that’s cold.
This surf ski is supposed to be as stable as a sea kayak. We all know that that can vary widely. I already have a very similar boat, but it doesn’t fit nearly as well as this one.

Surf Ski Basics
With the advent of boats like the Epic V6, Stellar S18S, etc., that blur the line between what previously constituted a surf ski, the good news is, it’s never been easier for someone wanting to try out this genre of paddlesport. If you have any degree of skill at paddling a relatively nimble sea kayak, away you’ll go in one of these user friendly beginner boats.

First and foremost, learn your remount. A simple YouTube search will turn up a number of vid clips on the accepted methods. Basically, there are two: sidesaddle and cowboy. The sidesaddle method is by far the most preferred, and most reliable in any kind of conditions. The cowboy is perhaps best suited for skis with deep buckets and high, narrow side rails. The beauty of a ski is that once you have the remount down, you’ll be back in your boat in a matter of seconds, as opposed to needing a bombproof roll, or resorting to paddle floats, pumping and dumping, let alone ‘t’ rescues and the like. It’s no coincidence that open ocean racers have almost all transitioned to skis-as the craft become faster and less stable due to their beam, the ability to remount unassisted is invaluable. When you’re confident you can get back in easily, you’ll push the limits of ‘doable’ more, and your skills will grow. To start off…a primer…

Keep your footstrap fairly loose, but tight enough so you can still put pressure against it when pulling back. Using a footstrap from the getgo enables a number of things to happen:

  1. It gives you something to hold on to if you come off-keep in mind that aside from the V6, relatively few skis have decklines of any kind.
  2. It gives you something to pull back against, when driving with the legs during the forward stroke-think toestraps or clipless pedals on bicycles.

    3.) It gives you a contact point to work a bit of body English in rougher waters-skis lack the knee braces, backbands, etc., so your core needs to be strong. Contact points are your bum, hips, and heels-and the footstrap, if you’re using one.

    Make sure your footplate is the proper length-knees should be slightly bent: not too close so you feel like you’re sitting in a clown car at the circus, and not so far that you can’t toe the foot pedals. Since this is one of your main contact points, you’d be amazed at how something as small as a cm. adjustment one way or another affects stability.

    Be sure you’re tethered in some way to your boat. It’s amazing how quickly a lightweight ski will blow away from you. Paddle leashes tethered to the boat and/or a leg leash.

    When just starting out, keep your legs out hooked over the sides-this offers a great deal of stability-it’s also terrific when you stop. “When in doubt, legs out,” is the catchphrase used by surfski god, Dawid Mocke. In shallow water, straddle the ski, and just lower your bum into the bucket. Forward momentum is your friend-using something like a wing paddle is best suited to skis, because every stroke is a brace stroke.

    It’s important to note that stable boats like the Epic V8, Think Big Eze, etc., are worlds away from the elite skis. To say that something is a surfski means less in terms of generalized stability, than to its design of open cockpit, understern rudder, and venturis/bailer in the footwell. Too many people start off in a boat that’s beyond their skill level, get frustrated, and give it up. (I did.) Oscar Chalupsky says, and I believe rightly so: “Stability before ability.” Even your most stable skis will be a far sight quicker than the standard sea kayak, and the first time you get on a run, you’ll have an epiphany as to what they’re really all about.

    While I have a couple of Elite boats now, I also have an intermediate, and a very stable one, too. My V-8 is about as much fun as one should be licensed to have in big conditions. Have fun trying them out!

Dress to get wet. Wear a pfd. Practice remounting. Practice remounting in the conditions you paddle in. The pacific northwest has lots of ski paddlers and we’ve had a few coast guard rescues and 1 death that are all from people not being able to remount and stay in their ski. Look for oscar’s remount video on Epic’s youtube channel.

A full- 4/3 wetsuit is the preferred dress for winter paddling here. 40F air and 50F water.

For warmer conditions, NRS 3mm rodeo pants or 0.5mm hydroskin shorts, pants and tops are also popular.

I started with a Epic V10 sport moving from a 21" sea kayak and a 20" SOT. I found the ski pretty stable and only swam about 6 times my first year. Skis are really sensitive to conditions. A boat that feels great on calm water can feel ridiculously tippy in a little chop.

There is a big speed difference between paddling just to stay upright and paddling correctly.

Get a weedless rudder and weed guard if you paddle anywhere with surface weeds. Save the surf rudder for bigger conditions. A chunk of milfoil will knock almost 1mph off your speed.

Thanks guys. I appreciate the
experienced advice.

Do you remember
the Georgia kayaker? Didn’t we have a video of him his first time on a surf ski?

I’m sure you’ll be smooth and graceful.

PRS Surf Ski
I just bought a PRS Surf Ski this past September. This was the first racing/fitness boat I had ever paddled in. I have only been able to get out in the water about a dozen times and it is truly a new learning curve for me.

The way I get into the boat is to straddle it and then put one foot in at a time. I use the paddle to help balance as I am entering the boat. My boat has a foot strap and I keep the strap loose enough to help with my paddling, but not too restricting. I want to be able to slip my feet under the strap if I have to reenter the boat and not have to adjust it.

My advice from one surf ski paddler to another is to keep trying until you get to the point where paddling this boat is second nature. I have flipped over so many times I have lost count, but I am determined to feel confortable enough to paddle marathon races in this boat. It may take awhile, but in the end you will be happy that you stuck with it.

Best of Luck!!

Some sources to get you started…
A decent basic book is “Surfski with the Pros…” by Kevin Brunette. It features a number of photos of Dawid and Nikki Mocke.

There are some basic online videos by Dawid Mocke available at Prices are shown in South African Rand, so don’t have a heart-attack over the numbers!

As others have said, there are a lot of good, free videos on YouTube (and a lot of junk as well). Google “surfski remount with Oscar” for info on how to get back on your ski.

The forum at is a good place to hangout and get advice.

Greg Stamer

Thanks again!
I have decided to start with my euro paddle since my ski has a kayak hull and a ski deck and I will use it for touring. I am trying to decide whether to put a stern rudder on it as opposed to the under stern rudder since our lakes have lots of rocks and stumps you don’t know are there until you hit them.

I’m leaning heavily in that direction.

I still have at least a month before I can get out there.

Smart Move Starting With Euro Blades
For that’s how I started and the over the stern metal rudder will do just fine, which you’ll appreciate the moment it kicks up after hitting a rock.

surf ski basics
Re “With the advent of boats like the Epic V6, Stellar S18S, etc., that blur the line between what previously constituted a surf ski, the good news is, it’s never been easier for someone wanting to try out this genre of paddlesport. If you have any degree of skill at paddling a relatively nimble sea kayak, away you’ll go in one of these user friendly beginner boats.”

several south african surf ski and kayak manufacturers ( Kaskazi, Knysna etc built hybrid surf skis with storage lockers that predate the Epic V8 and Stellar 18 by more than a decade yet have more storage and better storage access that these more recent “copies”

For example the Kaskazi Skua ARX came out in 2002

They are still imported by Venture sports of Boca Raton

The Epic owners ( one from South Africa ) having used S AFRICA to manufacture kayaks and paddles are familiar with these earlier hybrid surf ski designs and doubtless copied many aspects of them