surf ski

OK…I am ready to buy a surfski…have narrowed it down to 3…Epic V8…Fenn Bluefin…or Stellar s18s. Which one would you recommend and why? (ps I have a kayak and paddleboard but I am ready for a new toy).

add v10 sport to the list
With the new v10 coming out, you can expect v10 sports to be up for sale used. (mine is)

The old v8 is a kayak with a ski top. The new v8 is redesigned to be more ski like but I haven’t paddled it but I’ve heard good things. Epics typically have more room and wider cockpits than Fenns.

The Fenn blue fin is the most surfski like with a more rocker and small cockpit. Should be great fun in the waves.

I paddled the stellar in Kauai last summer, I found the stellar to have much foot room, not enough hip room and got swamped easily. I also thought the high bow got blown around in cross winds. I switched to a Fenn Mako 6 after a day.

I would paddle all three and see what you think if you haven’t already done so.

If you plan to get out in the waves and wind I would go with the epic or fenn depending on fit.

Fit and skill

– Last Updated: May-15-13 9:50 PM EST –

The thing with surf skis is that it is very rare that a specific model comes with a selection of seat sizes (exception that comes to mind is Huki). So, you really need to try them - many just don't fit right for everyone. Some have high seat bumps that bother short-legged folks, where tall folks don't even notice. Some have narrow seats, some have wide seats, and you generally do not want to be padding the seat if you can avoid it (you want a slippery seat, not sticky foam padding). Others just have seats that rub your tailbone raw where your buddy would have no issues with them...

You need to consider these things:

- your weight
- your size (leg length, foot width, butt size)
- your skill level now and in 6 months
- where are you going to paddle.

The conditions you want to tackle matter a lot too. You might be fine in a V12 on flat and swim all the time in a bit of side chop where you would enjoy a V10S or a V8 much better (but be bored with them on flat water).

Just about all manufacturers now have a spectrum of skis from stable to tippy. Think, Huki etc. should also be on your list.

The Stellars have huge cockpits that hold tons of water unnecessarily where your feet are. And they do not have cut outs for a nice ergonomic paddle stroke. To me, these are serious disadvantages. On the other hand, the S18 has a version with hatches - that's a very nice thing to have (I always missed having some sort of storage on my V10 Sport, just sold in anticipation of a new V10).

The thing with a S18 or V8 or Think Eze or Huki S1R or Fenn XT is that they are so stable, you will get bored in them if you have good balance and paddle them in calm waters. As said, they are like regular sea kayaks in terms of stability (but faster than most). I see a lot of "outgrown" and "like new" V8 for sale, and that is telling you something.

Oh, and do get a wing paddle, if you don't already have one.

Check out for things surf ski-ish and for classifieds with plenty of used skis for sale at all times.

Excellent Advice and
Saw the new V-10s with “cutouts” on Oahu, couple of weeks ago, with paddlers training for the Molokai on them. Also saw the new V-14 yesterday being prepped for Molokai too. Both exploited Hawaii waters very well, but all skis should be tested out personally before buying. Once you learn to remount a ski in heavy seas, stability is no longer an issue and you don’t think about it anymore, for it becomes 2nd nature, like riding a bicycle.

its going to depend
On your size, but the stellar SR is a fast stable ski that has a smaller learning curve that the 17 inch type boats. It is good middle ground. Imo, all the 18ft 20 inch skis arent that much faster than their decked counterparts. However if you are just looking for a convertable ride, then they are great.

Ryan L.

Surfski replies
Thanks to all that replied…the reoccuring theme that I keep hearing is test paddle before buying…advice that makes sense…I realize that I need to be patient and wait till I find the right boat…even though I might have to travel to different destinations to test them…keep the advice coming, I appreciate all opinions!

follow up question kocho
Your comment about getting bored quickly in a stable surfski like the fenn rung a bell with me because that was the experience with my first sea kayak. I’d like to paddle a ski in chop and wind but would hate to buy one that I became too at ease with. How well can a faster ski do in conditions?

As well as the paddler :slight_smile:
Sorry, hard to answer that question - it is more dependent on the paddler than on the ski.

For me, in the V10 Sport, I would enjoy downwind conditions that most local sea kayakers avoid as being too rough. At the same time, I can ony just “survive” these same conditions paddling sideways to the chop but certainly do not enjoy them and have to brace quite a bit (breaking wind waves with white caps, 30mph wind). I feel safe enough as I have practiced remounting and I have an exit strategy downwind, should the conditions worsen. But I don’t enjoy them if I’m paddling in any other direction but downwind - stability is an issue for me in these other conditions in the V10 Sport. For comparison, in the same conditions in a sea kayak I can go in any direction without much thought and I enjoy the process rather than get stiff…

So even in the same ski for the same paddler it is hard to tell what’s “boring”…

I think a V10 Sport has a lot of potential and I certainly had not outgrown it. There are plenty of days on the local Bay that I would get challenged in it (but I actually never fell out of it while paddling even in relatively rough water; once or twice wile fiddling behind me on flat water, yes, and once trying to surf in a class 3 rapid on the Potomac). On flat water and easy conditions too I can’t say I have “outgrown” it, but I felt I could sqeeze more speed from a faster ski.

I guess that’s a test for you:

  • are you faster in a less stable ski or not?
  • do you enjoy the added workout of staying upright in it?

    Try the ski in rough conditions and in flat and figure out your use and decide…

    A 2-3 years ago when I was shopping for my first ski, I tried a V12. I could paddle it, but swam once in conditions that I don’t mind at all in the V10 Sport. And even on flat at that time my GPS told me I was slower in that V12 “faster” ski than I was in the “slow” V8 that I also tried that same day. I was clearly not ready for a V12; yet I could feel its potential - it would go down little waves much more eagerly than the V8 would, but I could not harness it due to stability.

    On the same day that I rulled out the V12 (it was also too short in the cockpit for me) I also tried a V8 - it was very-very stable for me, I enjoyed it chasing and surfing a yacht wake, and just paddling it in the windy choppy water. But I knew then and there that I would be bored with it, most of the time. The only time when I would be happy in it would be in really rough conditions, but I do these maybe 3 times a year as the Bay is too far for me to go chase the winds often. I did not want a boat best suited for that minority of my paddling…

    So, for me, it did not make sense to have a V8-like boat where I live. If I lived in a place where there is a lot of confused chop and really gnarly downwind conditions and I insist on going out there, I can see where a V8 would be great and I would certainly consider it.

    But for my paddling, V10Sport has been just about perfect for the past couple of years. Now I think the new V10 will give me a bit of an extra challenge. Today I could paddle a V12 comfortably on flat but I feel I will be handycapped by it in rough or cross-chop. I don’t want to be too close to the edge… So the V10 is supposed to be that middle ground b/w the Sport and a V12 that I think is suitable for me at present. I think it will be faster on flat and easy water, plus it is a better fit for me ergonomically (I hope, have not paddled it yet). I also hope to be able to take it to the same conditions where I could take the V10 Sport last year with little additional training this year, and I don’t see me paddling in much wilder conditions anyway, so it should be good.

    I’ll post if I’m wrong, after I have had a chance to try it for a bit (supposed to come in June).

    And one other thought - I’ve been interested in skis like the Nelo 55 Ski or the Think Eze or the Epic V6 Tourer - being under 18 feet and probably more playful than the V8 (at least by looking at them). I think they will be a lot of fun in choppy conditions and for a quick workout after work or for “social paddling” among sea kayakers.

Simpler answer
If you want a substitute for a sea kayak without the deck, the V8 would be great. Just hop in and enjoy. If you want maximum speed and paddle mostly downwind or in flat conditions, a slimmer ski will be more enjoyable, if you can balance it.

new V10
you will love the new v10. I demo’d one the other day, with 15-20 kts and 2 ft waves. Got in right after a 9mi race so I was a little tired but stability wise not much different than my V10 sport elite. Speed and surf ability way better. It got on waves so much easier. I placed an order the next day.

It’s going to be very popular boat. Much more stable than the old V10 and a good step for us mid pack racers. Half my race group will be in the new V10 when the next shipment comes in June. I know 10sport owners buying to upgrade and v12 owners buying to get something more stable.

thank you kocho
Appreciate the thought you put into that; you’ve answered my dilemma.

I want the speed and challenge…but in conditions as well as flatwater. Flatwater is the most close and convenient so I always have that option. But I don’t want a quick trip to the top of the learning curve.

I can get some seat time in a Fenn Mako XT for reference, in flatwater and conditions, and go from there.

an excellent read on ski selection

Found this

Kocho. That was a series of GREAT posts. Very informative.