surfski question

In looking at skis, I saw that there are skis that are designed for lifeguards. Can anyone share with me why a non-lifeguard might get a ski with these specifications? I thought it might have to do with the conditions they paddle in, but I really have no idea why they might be preffered and how they differ. I am assuming they wouldn’t be as fast as race ski, but would it matter for fitness paddling? My son is very active in jr. lifeguards locally and recently completed lifeguard training. Our lifeguards use paddleboards, but he isn’t aware of skis being used for lifeguarding here. Just curious.



I’ll give you the duffers answer

– Last Updated: May-03-04 3:15 PM EST –

A 19 foot by 19 inch ski meets lifeguard class. It is a competetive class started in South Africa or Australia, and does not directly relate to use as a rescue tool.

I am contemplating whether I can handle that lass or need to start in a Futura 2 or its equivalent

I knew about the specs,
but are you also saying they aren’t really used as a rescue tool? That seems sort of odd to me, but I suppose stanger things have happened!

They seem to have a different bow shape and I was wondering what advantages/disadvantages that might have, based on the conditions one normally paddles in.

I have spoke with Vince on the phone and he seems really nice. I plan to test paddle the futura II and the mako XT as well. Still don’t know if a ski is right for me, but plan to demo boats over the next year while I try to decide.

Aussie lifeguards are very skilled

– Last Updated: May-03-04 4:02 PM EST –

and their competetion is very intense. I have watched an aussie lifeguard competetion on TV about twenty years ago and am still impressed. Those folks are watermen! (or waterfolk).I imagine that goes for South African lifeguards as well. Since they get huge surf they have to be tough, tough, tough. They may have had similar craft or larger ones that were whittled down to that size for purposes of competetion rather than rescue. Perhaps one or two of our antipodal friends will enlighten us further. I'd hate to think about paddling a competition surfski with even an expert paddler on the back deck, much less a hysterical rescuee. I'm all out of knowledge

It Is Rescue Equipment

– Last Updated: May-03-04 4:21 PM EST –

It is hard to imagine handling actually throwing a struggling victim on that and paddling them back to shore, but the Aussie lifeguards do it.

I think the idea is the ski gets the first guard out fast to stabilize the victim and is assisted by others in larger boats as soon as they can arrive, but the lifeguard skis are designed to hold a victim on the bow. That is why they have such a funny looking raised bow.

The Aussies and South Africans take lifeguarding very seriously, and they are very fit, and very skilled. It is like one of the biggest national "sports" down under. Teams of lifeguards compete in several different events.

There is a difference between a real "lifeguard" ski and "lifeguard spec" ski. A life guard spec ski meets the requirements of the racing class, but is designed for speed, not actually designed for lifesaving. It would not be as fast as skis in the "open" class.

I think if I ever get a ski it would be a real lifeguard ski.

lifeguard spec
actually the nose on the lifeguard spec skis is designed to prevent the ski from diving into waves on the way in and out. they are all 19 x 19, but some are much tippier (rounder and faster) than are others. in general they are more stable than ocean racing skis, but this isn’t necessarily true- it depends on the ski. they are often cheaper and this is one of the good things about them. personally i would go with the mako xt over the mako lifeguard ski, based on what i have heard about both. but i wouldn’t necessarily pass up a great deal on a lifeguard spec ski if all you are looking for is a good way to get into paddling skis.


Thanks for all of the feedback!
I am not sure if I am in the market for a ski…It will be a while before I make another boat purchase, because I am quite happy right now with the shearwater and the avocet (really!). However, my 15 year old is very involved in jr. lifeguard competitions, and hopes to go regionals this year. I was just thinking that he might have more interest in paddling if we had a lifeguard ski. Last year he was interested in getting a paddleboard, but we haven’t seen anyone local using skis this way. He has asked me if we would be interested in “spotting him with kayaks” on some longer swims, so I was thinking this might be another possible point of connection:)

BTW, Andrew did you meet your erg goal for the 2003/2004 season?

Hi Pam,

My first ski was a life guard spec ski. It was actually slower than Andrew’s futura II when we paddled together and much more unstable. but it surfed the waves much better. It is great for beach break getting in and getting out past the sharply breaking waves. A longer 21’ ski is usually at a disadvantage inside the break, but once outside is much more speedy. The life guard ski is about as fast as a kayak like the QCC 700, and that was one of the quicker ones. The lifeguard ski has a lot more rocker which helps it fit on the wave better. I had a lot of fun surfing last year on my ski, and it is good for developing balance on a wave and understanding the dynamics going on. We don’t have channels to go out on here in Long Island, so the only way out is through the beach break. Having something as fast as a kayak, but designed for the ocean wave is the best reason I can see for having a lifeguard spec ski. There is also lifeguard competitions, but not many.

i did
now i guess a decent goal is 2 million or so this coming year. i’m suppoed to be the “rower of the week” this coming week in the 50K category. i get a shirt, so that’s cool. i have a kayak race this weekend, so we will see if all that rowing paid off at all.

did you make your goal?


Yahoo Groups
has a surfski group that is excellent. I am in the same situation as you and have learned a great deal just listenting to the posts on the group. Think you will find them very eager to help and very informative. Also look at Huki skis. Very nice.



I didn’t make my goal.

– Last Updated: May-03-04 11:56 PM EST –

I hurt my knee last week working out and have been only doing a few exercises and walking. It is a lot better, and I am very excited to be having my first "on the water" rowing class tomorrow.

Congratulations on being rower of the week! Good luck on your race too!

I have been lurking there.
It’s nice to have company:)