How to try/start

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3 years 8 months ago #34100 by STC67
How to try/start was created by STC67
Hi, I am based in Brisbane and moving to Kingscliff  in a few months (building a house). I'm just wondering what is the best way to try some surf ski paddling to see if I might like it?

I have a bit of background in swimming and surfing but really pretty unfit being immersed in jobs, kids and mortgages for too long but now past this stage. I have tried SUP a bit, know the challenges and can surf one OK if conditions are perfect. They are enjoyable but I find are not compatible with any sort of wind.

A surf ski looks more versatile and fun as well. I wouldn't mind eventually having a go at an ocean paddle style event from a participation view rather than competitive racing if these style of events exist. 

Happy to hear peoples experiences if they have been through a similar beginner stage and how they find the Gold Coast surf ski community as well as best way to get started. 
Thanks

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3 years 8 months ago - 3 years 8 months ago #34101 by tve
Replied by tve on topic How to try/start
Welcome to surfski.info!
I started sufskiing at 53, without any prior paddling experience, I know others who started later! Because the sport is very technical you actually have a chance to keep up with the younger guys, up to a point, of course. What has hooked me is that when you're on the waves you're going all-out both physically and mentally. So it's almost never just a mindless grind.
My two recommendations for you are to (1) take a lesson or two from a good coach who likes to get beginners started, and (2) buy a beginner boat that is stable enough that you don't hesitate to go out in (almost) any conditions.
A good coach will give you the feel for the technique. You can then complement that with online videos. And then you can go back for a lesson every few weeks or months so you always know what to work on.
Enjoy!
(I'm sure folks from down-under will chime in with local knowledge)
Last edit: 3 years 8 months ago by tve.
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3 years 8 months ago #34102 by feeny
Replied by feeny on topic How to try/start
What an amazing journey you have ahead of you!

I started late too and after a few years I love ocean paddling more than ever. I still remember my very first paddle which I HATED! But goodness me, I am so very glad I stuck with it.

That's the best advice I can give. Stick with it. It's one of the most amazing things one can do and that includes the camaraderie of the surfski community pretty much anywhere.

www.paddle2fitness.com.au/  runs coaching and squad sessions in Brisbane.

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3 years 8 months ago #34103 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic How to try/start
I started 3 years ago at 59 after a break of 50 years. A gifted athlete in my youth I was overweight and very unfit but lost 25+ kgs and lowered my blood pressure significantly within about 7 months. Unfortunately due to location I spend most of my time on flat water, but did attend the Mocke Downwind Camp in January this year and had a whale of a time. Despite the flat water limitations I never see it as a grind, enjoying the scenery and concentrating on placing every stroke keeps the mind occupied at times which might otherwise be seen as drudge. Currently paddling  200+kms/month and loving it.

We're not all the same, so I hope you enjoy getting into paddling.

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3 years 8 months ago #34104 by RedBack
Replied by RedBack on topic How to try/start
STC, - welcome to the addiction!  :-)
You've started the right way by asking for advice, rather than just jumping in.

If I may suggest a few things...

1. Try a few skis, but remember that the more stable you are, the easier it is to develop the correct technique, so a Stellar SR, Epic V8 Pro, or Fenn Blue-Fin "level" of ski is probably the best first ski to try.

2. Find a good coach.  It's much easier to learn the right technique first than to "unlearn" bad technique and re-learn the right way later.  Feeny has already suggested Paddle2Fitness and since you're currently in Brisbane and moving to the Gold Coast, that's a good choice.  Julian will look after you and can also advise you on ski selection.

3. Learn to paddle in flat water, not in the ocean.  Paddling is a very technical sport and is best learned with as few variables as possible in the early stages.  Flat water allows proper stroke development so you can establish the right "muscle memory".  Your coach can advise you when you're ready to venture "outside".

4. When you do, try to arrange a (moderate condition) downwind on the back of a double ski with your coach on the front.  Timing, pacing and course selection are critical in down-winding and those are best learnt by watching and doing, rather than by "trial and (lots of!) error".

5. Your journey to paddling proficiency will have peaks and troughs and lots of plateaus, followed by many "epiphanies".  Stick at it.  It's worth the effort!  In a year or two when you're out doing down-winds on a crystal-clear ocean with your new paddle-buddies, accompanied by Dolphins, Turtles and even a few Whales, you'll wonder why everyone doesn't do it!

Good luck!

PS: This is a brief downwind video we did a few years ago.  Not racing, - just cruising and having fun on some small bumps. (I'm on the Stellar.)  Even when conditions aren't big, you can still have a ball!

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3 years 8 months ago #34105 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic How to try/start
"Trying and seeing if you like surfskis" is a funny thing. It's a very technical sport with a good amount of heavy-duty grind that needs to happen before you are actually experiencing it in the way it's meant to be experienced. I am still in the grind zone for the second consecutive year. It's not quite like kayak touring where you can hop on, learn a few things and float around enjoying nature. I suppose if you have suitable downwind conditions and someone to help you you can get a taste sooner but I think it's better to be prepared for an upfront investment. Things will probably hurt in ways they have never hurt before and you might ask yourself "what the hell am I doing exactly?" (I know I do :D). You will end up needing a whole lot of gear and the boat that was right last year won't be right this year.
Time investment is significant as well. A lot of things need to happen before you can get on water. It's incredible how much time the load-drive-unload-load-drive-unload dance can take. Hang your soggy stuff to dry, sync GPS track, charge radio, inspect the boat and the roof rack, this and that. Multiply by however many times a week you are going out.
Maybe better to get in love the idea first and be ready to train to actually materialize it. But, maybe it's easier for others, especially in warmer climes or close to water, with club membership etc. But it's certainly an exhausting leap of faith living in a major Canadian metropolis in a non-waterfront area. But...all worth it!

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3 years 8 months ago #34107 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic How to try/start
"Stability before ability!"

The more stable the ski the easier it is to sell on when you upgrade. 

As for some examples of ski mentioned earlier, SR way to unstable, even the V8 Pro could be too unstable. The Bluefin might be ok, but skis from the V8 down (shorter and wider) to the V5 will be ok. Flat water is easy, don't be conned to get anything that you are not 100% stable on. If you are demoing a ski on flat water try paddling over boat wakes and see how you go.

One more thing generally I don't want to paddle of 2 minutes! So get to a point where you are tired and THEN see how stable you are. I see it all the time, people paddle out and back for 2 mins and think that is the ski for them, even the guys that think they can paddle do that to their peril. 

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3 years 8 months ago #34108 by RedBack
Replied by RedBack on topic How to try/start
I'm not sure I'd be comfortable saying any entry-level ski is "way too" unstable for a new paddler... 
It really does depend on the individual.  I wouldn't recommend a V14 or a Carbonology Pulse for a novice, but nor would I suggest a V5 or even a V7 either - without seeing them in a boat first.
STC says he has a background in swimming and surfing and has some limited experience with SUPs, so you never know, - he may be a natural!
Swimming may have taught him to use his hand (eg. paddle blade) as a fulcrum, surfing could have given him body position awareness and the SUP, core strength and balance. 
His coach will be able to guide the selection better than any of us once he's seen STC in a few boats and determined his natural level.
In my opinion, a ski which is too stable can also be a problem in that as a paddler gains experience, it may mask some inherent deficiencies in technique, such as stroke "shape", core stability, timing, etc.
There's a "Goldie-locks" ski for everyone, - finding it is the problem, so finding a good coach who can advise you before you buy, is the key.
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3 years 8 months ago #34109 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic How to try/start
I think I am with RebBack on too stable ski as a potential problem. On my V7 I can be sloppy and sway it side-to-side and the boat almost always takes it. On an Evo such shenanigans are way more expensive.
But I guess if we are talking about a first boat ever we probably want to "kind of get the basics" first, such as not paddling with your arms, sort of rotating and sort of leg driving. And maybe for the second boat get something less forgiving and keep to calm conditions for some time.
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3 years 8 months ago #34110 by Kayaknut
Replied by Kayaknut on topic How to try/start
Let me add my 2 cents worth. Although I have paddled various types of kayaks over 35 years, I discovered surfskis when i  moved to Florida.  I have stability issues so I have not progressed beyond the V8 and the the Think Ace, although I recently acquired a Nelo 520. I only paddle on rivers (racing with the Florida Competition Paddlers).  I find that at my age  (77)  it is not easy to re-enter a surfski in deep water so I am shy paddling on the Gulf. But I think surfskis are the way to go. Paddling has given me a new boost on life.  My goal for this year is to practice re-entry so that I can widen my paddling horizon.
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3 years 8 months ago #34113 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic How to try/start
I'm a new surfski paddler, but I did have some experience as a sea kayaker. If you're like me, any time on the water is a good time whether it's on a surfski, kayak, SUP, or sailboat.

I love paddling my Epic v8pro surfski. It was a good compromise for my first ski. Not too slow, but stable enough for any conditions. I didn't realize how much I was going to love racing. I'm almost 50 and paddled my first race last September. I'm hooked. I don't know if competition is your thing or not, but racing rekindled something in me that I thought was lost. 

See if you can beg, borrow, or rent a surfski and give it a try. It's an amazing sport and a great way to get or stay in shape.

Kayaknut-- congrats on paddling at 77!! Hope I'm still paddling 20 years from now.
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3 years 8 months ago - 3 years 8 months ago #34118 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic How to try/start
From personal experience I would not recommend the 2 boat option for a new paddler, I would try to find a boat which challenges one a bit without being too extreme. For 2-1/2 years I had a V7 and a Swordfish, with the Swordfish being used on quiet days and the V7 being used in everything else. I decided to swap the V7 for something a bit more challenging and ordered a V8 Pro in Ultra layup and whilst waiting for delivery I sold the V7. This meant that if I wanted to paddle, and of course I did, then I had to use the Swordfish. During this period my performance in the Swordfish improved significantly and was able to paddle it in some decent chop. When the V8 Pro arrived I defaulted to it for trickier conditions and am pretty confident in it now in in the extreme washing machine chop which we get with the reflected waves from the abundance of walled artificial islands around us. My confidence in the Swordfish has dropped off a little but I think that if I only had the Swordfish then my skill level in it would be at the same level as I have now achieved in the V8 Pro.

Food for thought. 
Last edit: 3 years 8 months ago by mcbit. Reason: typo
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3 years 8 months ago #34119 by STC67
Replied by STC67 on topic How to try/start
Thanks all for the encouraging feedback.

I have hooked up with Currumbin Paddlers who have a introductory program over 3 Saturday mornings which sounds like a good place to start. I did look up Paddle2Fitness but they don't have much on the weekends  and to start with I would rather not be rushed to get back for work.

I really liked the video posted and hoping that style of paddling is not beyond me at some stage.

Thanks again. I'll let you know how I go.

Cheers STC
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3 years 8 months ago #34121 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic How to try/start
mcbit

As a relatively green paddler with 2 boats I am curious about what you are saying. But I am not entirely sure I understand the point. Are you saying that you wish you stuck with SF as the only boat?
" if I only had the Swordfish then my skill level in it would be at the same level as I have now achieved in the V8 Pro"
meaning you would be able to handle the same conditions you do now in V8P using SF ?(presumably meaning a higher skill level).
In other words should I stick to my Evo and calmer water or dredge out the V7 sometimes into bigger stuff?

quote="mcbit" post=34118]From personal experience I would not recommend the 2 boat option for a new paddler, I would try to find a boat which challenges one a bit without being too extreme. For 2-1/2 years I had a V7 and a Swordfish, with the Swordfish being used on quiet days and the V7 being used in everything else. I decided to swap the V7 for something a bit more challenging and ordered a V8 Pro in Ultra layup and whilst waiting for delivery I sold the V7. This meant that if I wanted to paddle, and of course I did, then I had to use the Swordfish. During this period my performance in the Swordfish improved significantly and was able to paddle it in some decent chop. When the V8 Pro arrived I defaulted to it for trickier conditions and am pretty confident in it now in in the extreme washing machine chop which we get with the reflected waves from the abundance of walled artificial islands around us. My confidence in the Swordfish has dropped off a little but I think that if I only had the Swordfish then my skill level in it would be at the same level as I have now achieved in the V8 Pro.

Food for thought. [/quote]

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3 years 8 months ago - 3 years 8 months ago #34122 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic How to try/start
SpaceSputnik,

yes I am saying that having had the experience of paddling only one boat I believe that if had stuck with only the Swordfish after selling the V7, my current paddling skill level would be more advanced. Having a more stable boat as an option makes it easy to "chicken out" in the more challenging conditions by reverting to the stable boat. It may be more useful to go out and go for a swim occasionally and practice your remounts and gain confidence in a less stable boat.

I'm not talking here about going for a boat which is way beyond your abilities, just sticking to one which challenges you a little. I have 2 boats and hence do not take my own advice as I still revert to the stable V8 Pro in the rougher conditions. I'd like to paddle only the Swordfish but it makes no sense now, to not use or to sell the new V8 Pro.

First world problems.
Last edit: 3 years 8 months ago by mcbit.

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3 years 8 months ago #34123 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic How to try/start
mcbit, thanks for clarifying. Evo it is. Frankly V7s weight is a natural deterrent, just the thought of handling it off water makes me cringe. Done about a year of that already, which is more than enough. So how it just sits on the rack in my garage. Makes a nice gear shelve though :D

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3 years 8 months ago #34128 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic How to try/start
The weight of the V7 was an issue for me too despite the fact that I didn’t really have to move it very far. I probably hadn’t exhausted it’s possibilities but there was no real challenge for where I paddle. Again, without taking my own advice, I’d stick with the think!
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3 years 8 months ago #34130 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic How to try/start
Never mind carrying far, just taking out of the water in a modest chop after a distance is an injury waiting to happen.

However, getting back the topic, a boat like that would probably work well for an absolute beginner if they can manage it ashore. It's pretty solid in waves as far as I could tell. But something like a V8 would probably be easier altogether.

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3 years 8 months ago #34137 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic How to try/start

SpaceSputnik wrote: However, getting back the topic, a boat like that would probably work well for an absolute beginner if they can manage it ashore. It's pretty solid in waves as far as I could tell. But something like a V8 would probably be easier altogether.


Agreed 100%! I bought my V7 after 2-3 months paddling an RTM Tempo SOT, I swam once in the first week of having the V7 but never again until I sold it.

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