Suggestions for first surfski

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3 months 1 week ago #40778 by SpaceSputnik
Yeah, at first, after a sea kayak it is usually like this. Given practise and a stable ski it should be improving steadily.
Important not to drag the paddle much past the knees, unlike in sea kayaks it takes away stability.
Also since you can't rely on the secondary stability anywhere as much as in sea kayak it tends to take away confidence. In time you learn some discipline to keep your body centered and trust the boat. I went through that even with a V7 which is as stable a ski as it gets.
For me personally, the criteria would be how I feel in flat water. If I am fully comfortable, no twitching than it's a go. Any twitching in the flat and I would pass it up. My 520 was like that - stable on the flat and I felt pretty rapid progress in conditions in it as well. In a couple of more advanced skis I used to own, the initial twitch in the flat was there. Even though I would rarely fall out, my progress was very slow and I never really gained any speed improvement over time even in the flat.

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3 months 3 days ago #40781 by Really clever username
Well, i took an actual lesson today and tried out both a V8 and a V8 pro. The pro is i think a little too twitchy for me, but the V8 felt nice. Also, I liked the cockpits of both Epic boats better than the Fenn-- it felt like the bluefin bucket was rubbing on my coccyx a little the whole time. The epics felt that way at the beginning but I was fine after a few minutes and had no problem being in them for a total of around 75 minutes (between both boats). There's a guy selling a recent used black tip V8 about 1.5 hours away from me, so if he still has it next weekend I'm likely to buy it.

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3 months 2 days ago #40782 by SpaceSputnik
^ Awesome, sounds like things are working out nicely. Hope you will be able to get that V8.

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2 months 1 week ago #40795 by Really clever username
Well, I got a used Nelo 510 in the end. I think it's a little less stable than a V8 (this is the older, slimmer model 510), and I tested it in small (under one foot) waves, which gave me a lot of trouble when I was beam-on to them. Even in the little 8" or so waves it wanted to take off and surf downwind; directional stability up or downwind was fine with the small stock rudder. Unfortunately when I turned it around it tended to get stuck a bit beam on to the waves and I struggled to get it back into the wind. The good side of this is that I can now verify that it's a pretty easy remount. I couldn't feel the secondary stability the way I could with a V8, but judging by the way it felt going straight into or straight downwind I'll be fine in flat conditions while I get used to the thing.

Any suggestions on the rudder? I'm thinking of just going all in and getting a Nelo surf rudder, which is 23cm deep. The existing rudder should be good for flatwater, and I could just switch back and forth as needed.

Also, I'm not sure how old the rudder lines are. Any suggestions on replacement material? The Nelo USA website only shows K1 rudder cord; not sure if it's the same stuff as used on surfskis.

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2 months 1 week ago #40797 by mrcharly
Good to know you have found a ski.

I have a 510 and find that the stock rudder is pretty powerful. It might be that if you are feeling twitchy when beam on, you are losing speed and that's why it doesn't seem to want to turn.

Tip in a ski; anytime you feel like the wave/water is making you a bit uncertain, take your legs out and just sit there with them dangling over the side. The Mocke brothers have a saying "If in doubt, legs out". You'll find that the boat sits there quite safely, no risk of a capsize.

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2 months 1 week ago - 2 months 1 week ago #40798 by SpaceSputnik
Unless you have a stock rudder I would suggest leaving it alone for now. Initial twitchiness while being broadside to waves is normal at first. I had it in all skis including a V7, it's just takes a bit of adjustment.
Also, when you say "stuck", I am wondering, how were you attempting to correct? If by any chance, you were using sweep strokes like in a sea kayak, that would not work too well in a ski. In a ski it's best to power forward and let the rudder do the turning (just not too hard or it becomes a brake).


Also, I don't know what your stroke looks like, but coming from sea kayaks we usually drag too far back. Skis don't like that, a short stroke, all of which happens in front of you works much better in terms of stability.
Last edit: 2 months 1 week ago by SpaceSputnik.

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2 months 1 week ago #40803 by Really clever username
I did end up trying to use sweep strokes to help push the bow into the wind. I don't think I stalled the rudder by pushing it over too far--my perception was that I started with not much toe push, then added to it as the boat hesitated with waves on the beam. The stock rudder is about 17 cm, or 7 inches. The previous owner reported having some difficulties downwind in bigger waves where too much of the thing seemingly came out of the water and he either lost or struggled with steering control.

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2 months 1 week ago #40804 by mrcharly
You need to keep speed over water up.
The 510 steers by the stern; i.e. the stern sweeps round rather than the front (or neutral). If you take a look at the profile, the stern sweeps up. Most of the 'grip' on the water comes from the rudder.

Downwind, you need to be aware that if you bury the nose, or don't quite catch a wave (it is passing under you), the boat is liable to broaching. The water catches the rudder and pulls the stern round.

Avoid this by:
Keeping speed up
Avoid burying bow - stay higher on the wave
Steer strongly and early when you feel the boat broach
Work on your brace to hold the boat in a broach.

All of these are good general skills for surfski paddling.

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2 months 1 week ago #40805 by SpaceSputnik
Just to double-check, is the current rudder actually a standard one? They are stubby and almost vertical. I find it to work quite well with my 520. But, a weedless DK I have that is somewhere around 45 degrees is completely unsuitable for waves of any size, the steering is weak an delayed. I had it on in modest lake Ontario waves one time, the boat was beaming pretty bad on waves passing under me. I took it off and said never again, unless on a weedy river. Stock one always delivered pretty solid performance in those conditions.

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2 months 1 week ago #40806 by LaPerouseBay

Also, I'm not sure how old the rudder lines are. Any suggestions on replacement material? The Nelo USA website only shows K1 rudder cord; not sure if it's the same stuff as used on surfskis.

Ski rudder line is different.

dietzpaddling.com/products/roderlinor-se...riant=32633383288935

dietzpaddling.com/products/roderlina-sur...riant=32722839634023

That looks like the same ski rudder line Epic uses, it's extremely durable.

Here's Oscar doing a Nelo.

www.facebook.com/nelokayaks/videos/learn...-os/348493816524147/

Here's a good online source for info.

www.101learn.online/product/masters-of-surfski-mocke-brothers/

downwind dilettante

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