Surfski Info

Looking at a previous thread, I realize i do not have enough boats! Just 1 surfski, maybe… Here in PA, i do not get to see these things so I was wondering about them.

For a kayaker who paddles a fairly narrow kayak (tempest) what would be a good surfski to get which isn’t too quirky. 5’2 but husband 6’ and son 5’8. Do they fit only certain sizes per boat? Would a Fenn Mako be a good one? Any suggestions welcomed by surfskiers.


Mako XT

– Last Updated: Jul-09-12 10:46 AM EST –

19" wide. You will need a lot of seat time in order to become comfortable on it.

Here's mine...

The foot pedals are adjustable.

Bear in mind that a surf ski is used primarily for fitness paddling. You can't carry much stuff on it and there are better boats for lollygagging.

comparison to sea kayak
Like Andy said, you’ll need some time to adjust to the tipiness. I went from a 21" wide touring boat (QCC) to a 18" wide WSBS Thunderbolt. HUGE difference. When you first sit in one you can’t imagine it ever feeling comfortable. It comes with a little time though. It’s not just the width but the design of the hull. Racing boats have rounder bottoms so the primary stability is much less.

The Epic V8, which I currently own, is a nice boat. Quick enough to be a fun boat to paddle for a workout but stable enough that you can relax and just site see when you feel like taking a break. Same hull as the 18x.


Check out the Epic V-8.
most kayakers can hop in and go.

Same hull as the 18x Sport
V8 = 18X Sport, slightly wider than the 18x

Epic V-8
Doesn’t take any “getting used to”. As String said, just “hop in and go”!

New Epic V6 Tourer for smaller
paddlers. Epic’s new V6 is now available in limited quantity and is based on the Epic 16X and has two sealed bulkheads & hatches.

19" boats to start with
I started paddling a v10 sport coming from a 21" sea boat with no real problems.

A mako elite is a 17" boat, a mako xt is 19" boat. there is a WORLD of difference.

Any of the 19" skis is a good starter. V10 sport, Think Evo, Fenn Mako XT, Huki S1-R, Stellar SR.

17" skis are faster in the right hands but MUCH tippier and are not practical to start in. I have 3 friends who tried to start with a 17" boat then sold it and went back to a 19" boat.

If you get out several times a week your skill will really come along fast. If you don’t plan to get out very often and want something with less learning curve, go with a V6,V8 or Think Eze which are loads more stable but still fun.

Start off on calm days in short sessions and build up. Skis use more overall fitness and core strength than a sea boat and they start to feel very tippy as you get tired.

As with most boats, more seat time makes all the difference but especially with skis.

Practice remounting. Epic has some videos on youtube that show remounting.

Dress for the water temp at least while you are learning and unsure of your remounting skills.

Skis get more stable the faster you go. Sitting still all skis feel tippy but get them up to speed and they feel much better.

Take a forward stroke clinic from a racing paddler or at least get Greg Barton’s or Brent Reitz’s stroke video.

Check out which is covers north east ski goings on.

The Tempest is VERY stable
compared to 19" wide skis. When I started to paddle my V10 Sport I already had a year or so on what I felt is similarly tippy Rapier 18 kayak and still needed some time to adjust. Now, it feels very stable in most conditions, to a point where it is a bit boring on flat water (but great on textured water).

If you want to progress beyond a sea kayak-like speed, you will likely get bored with a V8 or a V6 or Think Eze or Stellar S18 kind of ski very soon. Keep that in mind. A ski like the Mako XT or the V10 Sport or the Think Evo or Stellar SR will be a better choice in that case.

On the other hand, if you just want to get out there, the wider skis are great and as mentioned require very little if any adjustment from a sea kayak like yours.

Unfortunately, there is very little reasonable adjustability in the seats of skis and some come with fixed length foot wells too. So, be careful what you buy if you want to share with differently built people - not all of you will likely fit well enough in the same ski. Got to try to know.

Check classifieds section - I see quite a few skis in the PA area listed there regularly, so there is a market. And NJ, MD, VA are not that far off from you, so you can try some before you buy…

Why would you say “smaller”?
I have not sat in it, but I would be surprised if the V6 is for smaller paddlers. The 16x is for average paddlers and the V6 has a similar hull…

Forget your Husband & Son
Take your time and spend the rest of the summer hunting for a dedicated ski just for you. Let them find their own boat. Test them all out and make sure it is very light (under 25 pounds) so you can handle it without any help. Learn how to do your own repairs, so you won’t baby it and can have lots of fun without worries. Good luck.

Compared to the V8 and other longer
surf skis & kayaks, it will be a better fit for smaller paddlers.

Thanks all for the info
Now just to find them!!

I saw an Epic (something) on top of a car by a small local lake but the owner wasn’t around - maybe I will catch up with that person at some point! Will keep my eyes open for any opportunities to try one.

You do want a smaller person’s ski

– Last Updated: Jul-10-12 12:38 PM EST –

Many light weight folks (assuming you are one at 5'2") will find the large skis both huge in terms of seat width and leg bump too high, but will also often find them less stable compared to heavier folks - light folks can't sink the hull enough.

Huki S1-A for instance is a small-person's ski as is the Epic V10L or the Stellar SES (all of these happen to be "elite" level skis, meaning they will be quite tippy and require significant dedication to master even on flat water). Seat paddling can cure some of the seat width issues but not the leg hump height or the hull volume problems: a small person in a large ski will not be happy (and a big one in a small ski - even less)...


– Last Updated: Jul-10-12 12:53 PM EST –

Length matters but it is mainly the design displacement and cockpit shape and dimensions that determine if a boat is meant for a small/light person or not.

Per Epic's web site, the V6 Tourer has higher listed capacity (for what it's worth) than the 5 foot longer V12 for instance. The V6 is listed having higher capacity in fact than ALL OTHER skis they offer (except the V10 Double)... Now, one can argue about the real value of the listed capacities, but the fact is that the V6 has the most - probably factoring in that some load can be carried in the hatches, but still...

I asked you thinking you may have actually sat in the V6 and found for instante that the seat and cockpit might be designed for a small person (I can make guesses on my own).

Kocho is Right
Don’t fall into the temptation of buying more ski than you need. Do your homework and check out the reviews on and, in order to become familiar with the various skis available. I’d start first with where will the ski be stored? If too long than the garage door can’t close. Then there is your car: high roofline or low? At half the weight of your Tempest, you can easily sneak off and paddle it in private until you gain proficiency. Just strap it upside down, next to your current saddles and you’re off. Since you’re an experience paddler, maybe that Stellar SES might be what you’re looking for? The designers and the East Coast dealer for that ski live several hours away, but are close enough to communicate with. Good luck!

V6 / V8
The V6 cockpit is the same size as the V8 cockpit. Oscar Chalupsky fits into the V8 and he certainly is not small. The V6 has a carrying capacity of some 335lbs and that is enough to carry most people, even the large ones.