Surf Ski Reality Check

For the past year or so I’ve been considering a surf ski. But after reading various posts and other info, I’m wondering if I’m a realistic candidate for a surf ski. So feedback is welcomed. I’m a cross-training fitness paddler. 1 to 2, 3 hour padddles is common during the spring/summer. I currently paddle an Impex Category 4(20.75"). That boats stability is comfortable, but a sea kayak is really overkill for my flatwater of paddling. Because I enjoy being “on” the water much more than “in” the water, I’m only considering more stable skis…Futura II, Mako XT, Think Fit. So, is it realistic for me to get on any of these more “stable” skis and just relax, paddle, and if need be, sit still without swimming?

IMO, If a person has their ‘sea butt’ in a regular skinny kayak and feels comfortable in rougher water, then the transition over to the more stable skis is fun and not a big deal.

You left out the best one of all in your list to consider. … The Huki S1-R

do it
do it. the stable skis should be fine, but do realize that you will probably swim in the beginning a few times. Just climb back on, no big deal. On the other hand, if you were considering a Fenn Mako or CK Icon, or other top end surfski, you could expect to swim for a good month or more, and possibly never get 100% comfortable.

…where are you located?

get with a group of paddlers and try out different skis…I know our group would gladly let a person paddlie around in any of the boats after our session…

New Jersey be us! :slight_smile:

Yes of course. The transition between a stable ski and fast sea kayak is not that great; depending on how much time you are willing to spend training, it might take from a few weeks to a few months.

However, why to get a ski to paddle on flat water? There are really nice trainer k-1’s that would perform much better on flat water -just a thought: better catch, better seating position for a powerful stroke, lighter, etc…

ski vs kayak
Anyone can get comfortably stable on a Futura 2 - my 81 yr old father paddles one! The Mako XT, V10 Sport, S1R, and Think Evo can be mastered by almost everyone and would be an easy transition from a sea kayak for most.

A stable TK1 (trainer K1) would work, too and most are about the stability of the XT, Evo, etc. Westside boats like the EFT would be something to consider, too.

The main question here would be sit on top or sit-in kayak. If you venture a good distance from shore or see interest in finding, riding, playing in waves (and want little fear of the consequences of capsizing), then a surfski might be best. The Westside kayaks are nice, but only good if you’re always pretty near shore. Plus, they don’t surf as well because of the smaller or overstern rudder. The Tk1’s are nice, can be lightweight and fun to paddle, but they won’t be as fast as the longer skis or the Westside boat once you get moderately fast.

Main thing with skis are the ease of remount from a capsize and the versatility to take out in rough water and offshore as well as being good flatwater boats, too. Of the skis above, the Evo and V10 are probably the better flatwater boats due to their lower rocker.

1 vote for V10 Sport
I moved into a ski from a 24" SOT, (Tsunami X-15 Scramjet)and haven’t looked back. On “flat” water, I’ve only swum a few times in the past year. I first tried a Twogood with fixed pedal that were an inch or two too short, and only swam (in flat water) a few times. Since I moved to the V10Sport, I’ve only swum in rough water, where I was looking for the challenge.

You shouldn’t have to swim much, but definitely try a remount before you buy.

Are “we” saying that…
Are “we” saying that…surf ski’s are actually stable, or even more stable than your average sea kayak?

I’ve never touched a surf ski but I “assummed” they were as stable as isotope 181 on a cloudy day in Southern California. I mean they are so skinny I figured you had to be moving to stay upright in them.

Who would have thunk it…

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

A little misunderstanding, I think. Surfskis run from about 17" beam to 21" beam, have low rocker, and a shallow arch hull - usually. The hull shape is pretty comparable to a performance sea kayak of comparable beam measurements, thus stability will be similar. What makes skis ‘seem’ tippier (given a comparable beam boat) is that a ski has no thigh braces and no high back band, so on the ski, you feel more likely to fall backwards or to the side. It’s a feeling that goes away once your torso muscles and fore-aft balance develops better.

The tippiest boats, remember are the ICF K1 kayaks. Skis and HPK’s come next, and then overlap a bit with the faster, narrower sea kayaks. Then it’s back to the sit on tops again, like the “Ocean Kayaks” and other fishing and rec platforms. The stability is in the hull shape, the ‘feeling’ of stability is in the combination of hull and deck.

Some are, some aren’t…
"… I wanted to develop a ski with a great deal more stability than our other two surf skis. I wanted a big bump boat that wouldn’t toss me off in a messy sea. Something that would surf and maneuver well. Jerry and I went back to our S1-X for the successful shapes that produced the best performing surf ski in the world. We made her a little beamier and a foot shorter and we gave her a little more volume. The result is the new HUKI S1-R that has been tested in some BIG 4-6 foot windchop, mixed slop and current, by very experienced paddlers and novices alike."

Ok, it’s still a 19" wide boat, and if you’re used to Pungo-type stability you might have problems. But I suspect that most folks who are comfortable in sea kayaks – and willing to get wet at first – could transition to one of the more forgiving surfskis without too much trouble.

Surf ski transition
I Picked up a Mako XT last summer. My main ride is my 21.5" wide Artisan Millenium. First time on the ski was a learning experience. It felt very tippy, but once I relaxed and got some forward motion, I was fine. I’m not where I want to be yet. That will require some more seat time, a different paddle and some mini cell on the seat back.

Here’s mine…


Surf ski
If you want to go fast, go for one of the long-ish skis. If you want to “relax” go for a shorter one. I’m brand new to skis and my first one is a Futura Spear. 16’ x 19" . Stability as said is relative term, but I think if you are comfortable in you Cat 4 in 2-3 foot chop you will almost guaranteed not fall off such a ski in flat conditions. And you will be paddling it full-speed in the flats in just a few outings. The lack of thigh braces means you will be falling off it in waves from time to time. Speed-wise it will be very similar if not a little faster than the Cat 4. But will let you move your body “properly”. And a wing paddle will give you more support during the stroke than other paddles. Paddling the ski with a greenland paddle is fun too - teaches you additional balancing skills since you can’t cheat and lean on the paddle during the stroke like you can on a wing paddle :wink:

Not implying the Spear is the “right” type of ski. But you can get similar older skis that are still pretty stable for very little $$$, learn on them, figure out what you want in your next one and sell it for very little $$$ lost int he process, if any.

The longer skis a much faster but tippier. A V10 Sport will also probably not throw you off itself on the flats initially but may do that in chop. V10 - you’ll need more practice and may swim in the flats too initially.

If I could keep several boats, one would be a ski for sure - they are so much fun in the warmer days …

Surf Ski Reality Check
I hadn’t considered a K1. Maybe I should define my flatwater. Inland lakes, but fairly choppy most days including boat wakes. I didn’t think the K1’s would be ideal for that. I am thinking about a ski due to ease of self rescue/ simplicity etc. Also, it seems that most of the K1’s don’t have bulkheads. But I’d like to hear what K1 fans have to say.

similar situation
In the racing world you have some who will invariably say K1 if you live inland, and others will think it’s pointless to have a surfski if you don’t live in SA, Hawaii, or Australia.

I have both and paddle inland lakes/rivers. Once or twice a year I’ll take the surfski to bigger waters. But, to be honest, the ski is much more fun overall. I don’t care what anyone tells you, crossing a mile of open lake in a K1 with 1.5’ boat wakes hitting you is not fun, and I don’t like paddling within swim distance to shore if I don’t have to. K1 is great if you have slow rivers or flat lake conditions, awesome in fact, I’ll be taking it down the river in a few hours! I’ve paddled my K1 exclusively this winter, but will switch back to the ski when the winds start picking up and the boats start getting out there.

One more note… I’m getting a double ski very soon and I did not for one second even consider getting a K2. I got it so I could take other people out on it, do occasional races on it, and train some people who are still learning. With the ski, you can jump off and take breaks, etc… who cares if you capsize, it’s part of the fun.

Go for it
you wont regret it

I come from Newfoundland where sea kayaks are the preferred boat, with good reason. But after moving to Kelowna BC, on the interior with only lakes to paddle, I was introduced to the surfski…

and to the wing paddle

what a blast. My first time on a ski was in January, which is brutally cold in canada lol. I had a relatively easy time of it with 30 to 40km winds. No swim

now, heading back to Newfoundland, I have transferred to the Fast Sea Kayak designation, but am thinking to take a ski back with me to paddle the lakes and for fitness fun

Definitely go with a ski…you wont regret it

Flatwater and Skis

– Last Updated: Mar-21-09 12:11 PM EST –

Although I have an EFT and Epic 18, they hang on the racks, in lieu of using my skis even on flatwater. I've grown to love the ease of just climbing on and paddling, and the open feel of the lack of cockpit. I've paddled throughout the winter and the only thing that's ever been cold on me were my fingers, due to glove choice over mittens or pogies. That said, most skis (with the exception of the hybrid Mohican) don't particularly love shallow water, and the understern rudder can be a liability in such cases (Ask me how I know this most recently...).

If you want a more stable ski, consider the Huki S1-R. Incredible boat WITH the added benefit of swapping out rudders in 30 seconds. In my local hamster on a wheel pond, I'll use the 4" or when weed choked, the carbon P-41 kick up rudder, which drops right in via a pin. Brilliant design. My EFT is faster on the flats, but with the 4", it evens the field a bit more.

The longer, narrower hp skis will give you an extra measure of speed, but at the sake of stability-they're a quantum leap up from the more 'stable' skis. If you're purely on the flat, this might not be an issue. A V10, Mako 6, S1-X etc. will be plenty fast, especially with a shorter rudder.

A thought occured to me …
while I was out on my local tidal river in fairly windy (15 - 20) conditions with some wave chop, (1-1.5 ft). Once the water warms up, falling off a ski really isn’t a big deal. The beauty of a ski is that you just remount and go again. Fall in, and in 60 seconds you’re back in the seat and paddling again.

A surf ski probably isn’t your boat of choice if you want to stay dry.

three reasons
to choose a surf ski for fitness paddling:

Remount is so eaay that you really do not need to worry about taking a spill. Intentional spills on a hot day are pretty refreshing.

The paddling style is a bit different from a sea kayak and uses torso/abs more.

They are just so much fun.

transition from cd solstice to surf ski
I read that your group in nj includes some in surf skis, where to you paddle (I am in 07716) and paddle 3x week and am seeking a surf ski to go faster and have even more fun. Brian