Things I am Learning Paddling Surf Ski

Lisa Schell Explore Leave a Comment

I’ve only just started experiencing in the surf ski…and there’s a full blog post marinating…but at this early stage in the transition from double to single and back to double-bladed paddling there are some things that immediately have come to mind. And I haven’t even gotten in the ocean yet…

Surf Ski Revelations

In no particular order…

  • Your Speed Crutch – I mean Coach – won’t work. I almost cannot live without my SpeedCoach.  But, in the ski, with it’s different stroke style and double blades, my SUP SC has a hard time registering the stroke rate.  Three sessions in a row, it registered zero for strokes per minute then just shut off after about 15 minutes or so.  After the third instance, suspecting that it had something to do with the ski, I tried it on my SUP (after making sure I had updated to the latest firmware.) No issues on the SUP. So…I’ll have to learn to paddle without it. Unless I want to spend more dough on another device that is kayak compatible, the SPC GPS2. 

  • And not only that but…there’s no pre-programmed activity for Garmin. Ski means snow. Surf, well, that’s a whole different problem. So…kayak is the closest you’ll get, and even at that, Garmin Fenix users must still download something specific – there is no pre-programmed sport activity for it.  I found this set of  data fields from a third-party developer on Garmin’s app store, Connect IQ, to be very useful.  When you add it to your watch, just name it Surf Ski.  Then follow the instructions for installing the data fields.
  • You Must Use Your Legs!! If you don’t understand and employ leg drive, you will not enjoy the ski.  Leg drive – using the legs to help drive the ski forward, initiates and ensures rotation, adds power to the stroke and most importantly adds stability in the ski. This can be a bit of a leg workout if you are not used to the technique.
  • Yes, it is tippy, but the more you paddle it, the better you become at balance, the all important bracing technique, and posture.  My years of Greenland style sea kayaking accelerated that process for me and I feel now right at home in the V8.
  • There’s a reason lycra is so popular with the ski crowd. The first few sessions in my Epic V8 I wore board shorts.  Nope, nope, nope.  The seams nearly rubbed my legs and waistband area raw. Anything in the pockets made it worse. I love board shorts, but NOT in the surf ski! I switched over to my Virus Aquatic Performance V2 Airprene tech shorts and have been happy as a clam ever since. (Sadly, these fantastic paddle shorts don’t seem to be available any more.  Hello Vaikobi and Mocke!)
  • It REALLY IS FASTER!  And that speed is addicting. Doing workouts on the SUP after a week of surf ski workouts, well, you are spoiled.
  • It helps your SUP paddling.  The attention one MUST pay to using the legs and getting good rotation translates onto the board.  Dialing in that technique, I managed to push the SIC V2 Bullet – not a flatwater master – up into speeds rivaling my Starboard All Star. And I am told I will really notice improvement when I get back in the OC.
  • The ski motivates you. Boredom….or impatience now that you have gotten a taste of what it is like to move really fast-will cause you to try to replicate the same on your SUP. Which may or may not be a good thing if you are trying to do a Paddle Monster workout in the Level 2 heart rate zone.
  • You may or may not look as cool carrying the ski to and from the water as you do with an outrigger on your shoulder.  Most people just think the ski is a kayak. Which, technically, the V8 is.
  • You will still get Those questions/comments from onlookers: “Oh, that’s an interesting Sit-On-Top kayak.” or “It’s so long, do you need help getting it on your car?”
  • Remounting is a b****. It’s even more difficult than getting back in an outrigger.  And the amount of flailing about you will do as you practice, and indeed you must, will attract attention.  See Question 8. But let’s face it – how many times do people at your local lake actually see people who are competent paddlers, decked out in FULL safety kit (PFD, leash, whistle, etc.) actually practicing self-rescue.  Bless their hearts – of course they think you are drowning.

There is much, much, more to learn and discover, but so far, I have no regrets about adding the surf ski to the quiver!

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