Surf ski recommendations ?

Hi everyone - my first time here, so go easy !

I am looking to buy a surf ski.

So far I have the Futura II Sport Touring on the list (19’ x 20").

It seems stable (-ish) and you can get some speed from it.

However - I heard that the Fenn Mako XT was good also.

I couldn’t find their website - does anyone know it ?

Basically I will be using whatever I end up buying in the sea.

I live in Guernsey, Channel Islands, Europe. There are plenty of islands around to paddle to and from but I will be going along the coast until I am used to the conditions.

I spend alot of time in the water normally freediving.

This is a factor in what I buy and hence the need for something that I can get on and off without flooding it. I have ruled out normal kayaks and the surfskis seem to be the best option.

I have ruled out slower SOT’s but may consider the Cobra Explorer. I initially started with the Scupper Pro in mind but it will not be quick enough :slight_smile: (and wind and current are a factor here)

I dont really need to store gear but at least one small hatch would be good. If there are more then fine but it is certainly not a necessity.

There are fast currents here and a 9m tidal range…

Normally I go out freediving at low or high water as there is less current but it would be nice to know that if I over stay my time I can paddle back safely.

The currents range around 6knots with some places up to 13knots…(but mostly just the 6 knots !)

I will use it for freediving and also for just paddling about.

Dont intend to race it…

Probably wont surf it too much … (or at least not on the surf beaches - there are some very nice offshore breaks that are a pain to swim to).

I am a complete beginner when it comes to paddling but learn fast. I am comfortable in and out of the water but mostly more comfortable under the water :slight_smile:

Weight is not a problem - I prefer robust gear but if it is light then that would be nice - I live 50m from the shore.

I’m 6’2" – 30 yrs old – 190#

So - can you help me by adding to the list ?

I have this so far :

Futura II Sport Touring (looks good but nothing to compare it to)

Fenn Mako XT (cant find the site …)

Epic V10 (but I suspect too tippy for me)



I suspect a Fenn Mako XT would be your best bet. I don’t know who import them to UK. Try joining the Yahoo Surf Ski group and asking there. You might get an answer from Keith Fenn directly:

Heres are some pictures and info on the XT from a West Coast US dealer:

SA skis
There are a lot of South Africans active on the Yahoo surfski site, and they will be able to give you good information on how to contact various SA builders. is the mark 1 builder, i believe. they also carry a number of what are called “fishing skis”- these might be worth considering, since they have excellent stability and hatches. you should also consider life guard spec skis (19 x 19)- these are very widely available and inexpensive. i know that there is a lot of surfski interest in france right now, so you might also consider trying to find out about french importers.

as for the question about which paddle to use, etc (sent in a seperate email), skis are essentially only paddled with wing paddles, with a high angle stroke. the wing provides a bracing element with each forward stroke, and is a huge plus for paddling a boat that wants to tip over by itself.

finally, long surfskis are displacement hulls, rather than planing hulls. planing hulls are used in very short surf kayks and whitewater boats. surfskis are very definitely not designed for playing in the break- they are designed to get you through the break fast, and are exceptionally fast on following swell.

good luck,


surf skis
Right - cheers for the links.

I think from reading around the choice comes down to :

Fenn Mako XT

Customkayak Mark 1

Futura 2 Sport Touring

But in reality the top two as the postage/rate is better from SA at the moment.

Next question:

What are the main differences between the XT and the Mark-1 ?

In terms of stability whilst stationary and whilst paddling - is there much difference between the two ?

They both seem good from reading around here and on Yahoo but if you had to sum up their strengths and weaknesses what would you say.



stability while standing still
is non-existent in a surfski. they are like sharks- gotta keep moving or they die. seriously, a stationary surfski has essentially no stability. that’s a bit less true of the futura 2, which can sit around a bit. the mark 1- forget it. you can hang out with your legs over the side and its not too bad, but you still need to pay attention.

don’t jump too quickly on either of these boats- i have a feeling that you might be looking for something with a bit more primary stability. when you get in contact with the south africans, ask them about the fishing skis. they might be perfect for your needs.


related website…
…with info on using skis for freediving:

In flat water the futura 2 isa good bit

– Last Updated: Feb-10-05 5:52 PM EST –

more stable then my romany explorer when I am standing still. Talking primary stability only.

If raw speed is your thing I'd sacrifice some beam and up the learning curve a bit. If you want to be able to relax while standing still the futura is comfy..

Had a Futura II
It leaked. Had a 15 ft Futura that was fine. I have heard there are QC issues at Futura.

Surf ski
Hi Andrew - yes, not really after something stable (and slow - like speed too much !) and am willing to put the time in to learn how to handle one properly.

Anyway - if you had a choice between a Mark-1 and an XT and you wanted to use it for getting on and off alot what would you choose (voluntary getting on and off that is !).

If you needed something dependable in case the weather turned which would be the safer option ?

ie which paddles better in messy seas ?

Many thanks for bearinf with my novice questions !


Cheers for the links.

They seem good (if you ignore / read between the lines of the language - all a bit ‘zen-y’) and confirmed my suspicions that a decent surfski would be a good thing in it’s own right and also a good craft to use for free diving from (as an ‘oceanic bi-athlete’ naturally … wonder if that will get in the Olympics … a sort of under water cross country event with spear gun target practice. Could be good. Like the x-country ski + shooting events.)

Digressions aside - looks like my list is down to :

Fenn Mako XT (possibly easiest to get from Fenn France (bizzare site tacked onto some restaurant site :

I was going to go for the XT in glass at 1450 euros (does that seem like a reasonable price ? I may get it 19% cheaper as I am outside of the European Union - so that would be : 1160 euros – $1493 – £800)

Customkayak Mark-1

(Still waiting to hear back from them about shipping to the UK)

So XT or Mark-1 ???



even though i own and love a mark 1, i think the xt would be better for you. especially because it has adjustable footwells, and you may not know exactly what size you want.


That looks like a decent price to me - particularly when you drop the EU VAT.

I recently had a chance to get one in the US for $1500 - which was a good deal - but picked up a used Mark 1 for $700 instead. A bit easier to find used skis here in Florida - but not so easy to match ski and paddler size.

I have not really begun the learning yet, so can’t properly assess the performance of these, but still agree the XT makes more sense. It’s a little more stable, but still fast, and if you don’t get along or move up to something more advanced later they’re much easier to resell being adjustable.

I’d have to echo the aforementioned posts. I have a Mark 1 also, with not much time in on it, but thinking about it used as a static platform for freediving really doesn’t come to mind. The Futura is totally different,very stable in the water sitting still, and extremely easy to clamber on and off of. It’s fairly fast too, actually surprisingly so, in the top sea kayak realm along with QCC700s and Epics, and the new incarnations do very well in swells and chop. I thought it was more initially stable than my QCC but significantly less than the Mark 1. I’ve never paddled the XT, which is supposed to be a notch above the Mark 1 in terms of stability. The Futura II responds well to the rudder, which is always deployed, if that’s an issue. The newer ones with the venturi foot drains, and deeper seat well can be very light, depending on the layup chosen. A couple of owners of the older ones who are heavier paddlers complained that in conditions, the rear deck goes awash, which affects the handling. One friend who has a new one has had a fair number of leaks-the hull is quite thin and punctures easily-not a boat I’d want to treat roughly. He throws a square of tape on each one and off he goes. Not sure I’d classify it as a true surf ski though; something about it makes it more akin to an open deck sea kayak or high performance SOT. In any event, it’s a fun boat to paddle.

Looks like an interesting sport. Freediving and speed kayaking! Be prepared for a learning curve (that zen report made it sound quite easy for a fit athlete). It may take a little more than just being fit, when dealing with the ocean.

I’ve paddled both, and I would think the XT might have an edge for the on and off thing. It has a fairly wide seat that may be slightly shallower than the Mark 1, which would be good for this. It has a little more stability also. By the way the fiendensen UX would be another good fast choice, with a very shallow seat and an easy on off. It is a fast ski, I paddled it at the Atlantic Winter classic this last december in Florida and did all right on it. I’m going down on the 21’st of February and am looking forward to paddling it again, I’ve really come to like it. Its all white and is a simple yet beautiful machine. Of course if you compare it to an vacuum bagged carbon Mako millenium, its hard to imagine something more beautiful. . . the Epic?

fiendensen UX
Hi - cheers for the advice - looks like the Mako XT is winning for me so far.

What colours do they make them in (I am thinking for visibility and safety rather than pimping style ! - They are quite low in the water and I would hate to hear the crunch of fibre glass as a fishing boat or rich mans pleasure craft comes cruising through it - I think I should stick on a diver-down flag too.)

Do you have a link for the fiendensen UX?

I tried to google it but it came up with nothing - cheers



I live 50m from the shore and finish work early so am anticipating many evenings in the local bay (nice and safe and I know it well - no currents - about the only bay over here with no currents).

Hopefully the falling off curve will be ironed out by the summer - I think maybe an hour an evening for 2 months should do me.

I will not be using it exclusively for freediving but I would like the choice.

I think I would use it for fast touring and just having fun - part of my week is spent freediving so I thought it would make sense to be able to dive from it.

Thinking about it it doesnt need to be that stable. I wont be sitting in it except for paddling (ie I will not use it like a fishing boat !). So … paddle, stop, get out and dive … back in and paddle again. All I need to worry about is a decent anchor I guess. Might be a bad scene to try and chase down a loose ski even with freediving fins on…

link to UX

Bruce at venturesports sells them; I think they are from South Africa anyway. But the more I think about it, you might stick with the XT, it will be a great boat for freediving. Being a little shorter and an all around middle of the road ski seems far better for a multisport endeavor. The all out racing skis are so tippy, that some people never can really paddle them efficiently.

In terms of storing gear on a Mako XT what are the choices ?

I assume they come with a small hatch with enough room for car keys and a small snack.

Can you fit a mobile/VHF radio/flare in there too ?

As for carrying , say a pair of long freediving fins, can you glue on a criss-cross bungee behind the seat ?

I dont really need a large hatch as I am not planning on opening anything like that while out at sea.

But it would be good to know if it is normal with surf skis to glue on bungees or even if that is possible.

I am keen to keep gear on deck so to speak.

(Minimal gear but probably keep it under the bungees and then make some one metre clip lines to attach to the gear in case of a spill.)

Findeisen skis
These are Florida made boats. UX is the latest - but design is now several years old. I don’t know if they’re even made now. SA competition may have driven them out of skis. Other models: X, FX(?), Shearwater…

Odds of getting one in UK? Better ask Bruce/Venturesport about that. UX is less stable than Mark 1 - but as noted is very easy to remount with the older spec ski style seat. A pretty basic ski - now venturis, etc.

I have 22 pics of a UX here if you’re curious:


lash-its don’t work all that well
i ripped mine off eventually and replaced them with well nuts. much more solid. available online from