Lightweight skis

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14 years 11 months ago #3391 by amaycock
Lightweight skis was created by amaycock
Why is there a weight limit not imposed on ocean skis. My opinion (for what it worth)is that it would be good for the sport if there was a limit around 14Kilos. Olympic sprinting have boat controls which ensure that we are all buying and using robust kit that doesnt delaminate. I am in the fortunate position of being able to actually fork out over ?3000 for a 9kg ski. I also own a 7.5kg Nelo sprint K1 which has not stood the test of time very well. How can we expect large fields if it costs over ?3k to be competitive. With a weight limit we would have more competitive races, more people racing and hence a better profile. The manufacturers would sell more skis and the same people would win!

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14 years 11 months ago #3393 by SS@Bermuda7
Replied by SS@Bermuda7 on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Brilliant idea. And then we can weigh in each paddler before a race and get everyone to compete at the same level. The same as handicapped horse racing. The overall weight of each and every competitor shall then be, oh lets agree on a round 90kgs. If a competitor weighs in with full kit (boat, paddler, juices) anything under that we can sandbag his (or her) boat to bring it up to the race weight. And then all the manufacturers can save costs on r&d and we'll be paddling sturdy 14kg boats into the next century. Sounds great.

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14 years 11 months ago #3395 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Re:Lightweight skis
amaycock... not Andy Maycock from Exeter?


We have discussed similar thoughts on here previously, in particular, how does surf ski go about being incorporated into the ICF. As you know, all ICF disciplines have tight restrictions on the craft used, with minimum weights, dimensions etc. Quite a few people think this would be detrimental to ocean ski racing.

We can probably argue 'til the cows come home about craft design, and what restrictions would mean to the development of new skis. Hey, I sell Think skis and we have some of the most radical designs around, so any restrictions imposed would impact what we do massively, so I am al ears and would love to hear people's ideas on the subject.

Marathon racing introduced a minimum weight years ago as it was getting out of hand, with guys showing up with 4 and 5 kg, one race boats. It meant that the guys who could afford the very lightest gear were at a distinct advantage. To even the playing field, an 8kg limit was introduced. The result, the best paddler on the day won, no questions asked. Same applies for sprint racing with the 12 kg weight minimum.


What concerns me more with ocean skis is the safety aspect of such light skis. I was recently sent photos of a ski which had been damaged (I'm not saying who the manufacturer was or what the internal issues were, so don't bother asking) and it was an eye opener into how some skis are so light. I would not like to see any of my family of friends use such a craft as I would have genuine fears for their safety.

That is why I think a minimum weight on skis would be a positive for the sport, and I would even put it out there that we look at each ski being certified like Surf Life Saving Skis in Australia are, where they have to conform to strict internal buoyancy as well as weights.


Paddling in the ocean, miles from shore is dangerous, but that's part of the thrill of ocean racing. But we need to minimise risk, and a minimum weight would help in this regard in my very humble opinion.

From Think's perspective, safety is a huge focus for us, that's why we have internal seams, leash anchor points, bright colours, robust constructions, internal stringers. We want you guys to get out there and have a ball, but come back in one piece and be ready to do it all again tomorrow.




Cheers. :)

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14 years 11 months ago - 14 years 11 months ago #3396 by AndrewN
Replied by AndrewN on topic Re:Lightweight skis
I cannot disagree more guys!

The reason the development curve is so steep and fast in surfski is because there are no rules.

This is what makes it so much more exciting. Coming from a flatwater background I love ski racing because theboats are all so different and the technology is just incredible. The moment you start limiting things, the question has to be asked, "Where does it end?".

Do we then have limits on scupper design (Bye bye Red 7 Brilliance), rudder design, minimum width, a set length etc etc?

And as someone who weighs 74 kg if I have to put 6 kg of sand bags in my boat and a girl has to put 15 kg in her boat (or paddle a heavier boat) and a big strong guy like Matt Boumann or Oscar Chalupsky can have the lightest boat he wants because he weighs more, I will stop paddling!

Lighter paddlers are already at a (small) disadvantage because we have to pull more weight as a percentage of our body than heavy paddlers.

Look at the "Science of Paddling" article and see the difference between a 60 kg girl paddling a 14 kg boat (0.23 of her weight) and a 90 kg guy paddling a 14 kg boat (0.16 of his weight) - BIG DIFFERENCE.

We are all concerned with safety so introduce a load test to check strngth and a minimum bouyancy test but I honestly feel manufacturers should be rewarded for pushing the envelope of design, not limited.
Last edit: 14 years 11 months ago by AndrewN. Reason: Wanted to add more.

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14 years 11 months ago #3397 by amaycock
Replied by amaycock on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Interesting thoughts! Listen surely the sensible middle ground is where we should be. I am not advocating rigid control of every parameter...I just think that 3K disposable boats subsidised to the top paddler(s) is a massive dis-insentive for large numbers of very good international and ex international paddlers to compete competitively.
You only have to look at the vac bag boats de-laminating and quickly dying on the marathon scene and the empty div 1 fields to see where skis may remain stuck at. I have no problem spending good money on a 'triple layer'carbon battleship that I can race for many years and then sell on and will remain racing on the circuit.
What I think we all want to see is large fields racing with all the top spec ski paddlers, marathon paddlers, sprinters on reasonably equal kit.
The safety issue is compelling and in reality makes the cost/fairness arguement pale into insignificance if there is an incident in the future when a second hand patched up ski (made of eggshells!) breaks up around some headland in a big sea.

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14 years 11 months ago #3400 by rojo
Replied by rojo on topic Re:Lightweight skis
So if it is about durability and good built quality just spread the news if something is amiss with a certain product.

As it is absolutely possible to build light and durable boats we should not discourage development. Discouragement of cutting corners is absolutely nessecary though. That is my personal opinion.

A friend of mine built 6.5kg K1s especially for river racing (first as simple hand lay-ups, later vacuum bagged). Many of these boats are still around although being used for about 10 races per year for quite some time now.
He simply knew his business and was trying to built the best possible product instead of maximising profit. Maybe that is the reason he is still highly regarded in the paddling scene.

cheers

RoJo

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14 years 11 months ago #3401 by amaycock
Replied by amaycock on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Well Nelo (premier K1 manifacturer)hadnt cracked it.
However the original point is that I have done 3 races this year of fields of less than 20 competitors. I want to be in fields of over 100. At over ?3000 to be ultra competitive we wont grow. Most of the talented up and comings are students or in their 20s and they dont have that cash. One simple change in the rules would halve the cost of racing, probably provide safer craft, maybe dramatically increase the number of craft being built by manufacturers. Without labouring the point, to go running you need a pair of trainers. Tens of thousands rock up to city marathons.

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14 years 11 months ago #3402 by rojo
Replied by rojo on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Just another thought:
Does imposing a weight limit make the product any cheaper?
I do not think so! Just take a look at the pricelists of majaor racing kayak suppliers. Nelo for example, offers kayaks from 900,- to 3400,- Euros. All of them are designed to compete as regular sprint kayaks at 12kg or more. all are 12kg or less (which means you can spend extra money to buy specially made weights to get it up to 12kg again LOL).

Which boats do top paddlers use? Guess what, not the ones for 900,- but for 3400,-?.

Does it make a difference if you use a expensive or cheaper boat? Physically very little but psychologically very much.

I think, the overall picture would not change. Most racers believe they need the most expensive model of a certain make to be competitive. This will not change, regardless of a weight limit or not.

RoJo

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14 years 11 months ago #3403 by amaycock
Replied by amaycock on topic Re:Lightweight skis
From what I can see, the top boys paddle boats given or are heavily subsidised hence they can race the most expensive. There are many racing at no dis advantage in sprint with boats that arent the most expensive. In marathon they just dont turn up!
As I have said in reality I will spend the money and continue to race in small fields of 'middle' aged paddlers who have the money. It may be an opportunity missed for the sport as a whole.

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14 years 11 months ago #3404 by AndrewN
Replied by AndrewN on topic Re:Lightweight skis
With regards to the cost of boats and our sport in general:

Admittedly the top guys get the use of super light and very expensive boats but that is the reward for training your ass off every day for years and years.

One cannot compare paddling to running because you need a boat, a paddle, a PFD etc etc instead of just a pair of shoes. It is a fact of life that even a glass ski costs R 8 000 in SA and a top of the range Epic R 50 000 plus (I think). A middle of the range ski only costs 50 % more than an entry level one and this is very competitive - normally 10 to 12 kg - so suck it up, save for two more months and buy one of these.

BUT, a glass ski of 15 kg does not prevent you from training and racing as hard as you can and there are guys here in Durban who get top 10's in races with these boats and they will get at least partial sponsorship eventually.

Please don't let envy of the top guys and budget constraints destroy the awesome technology in our sport and the rewards we enjoy for spending our hard earned cash on the most exciting products in any paddlesport out there.

PS I earn nothing and struggle big time for new boats just so any doubters know that I am not a millionaire with a garage full of carbon!

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14 years 11 months ago #3405 by nell
Replied by nell on topic Re:Lightweight skis
There certainly is something admirable to be said a sport like running, where there is essentially no equipment, just purity of sport.

However, equipment can be pretty darn cool in sports like ski paddling and bicycling - all that carbon, titanium in radical designs. The "gear factor" definitely attracts some people to a sport, and I suspect that ski paddling would be much less popular if we were all paddling 38 lb one-design spec skis. Plus, there would be nothing for surfski.info to talk about.

Plus, there is more to the "sport" than what happens between the starting gun and the finish line. More important is the culture and lifestyle that that springs forth from discussions and dreamings of new equipment and innovations, matching paddlers to proper skis, and where to find that next downwind run and which ski and which rudder to use for it . . .

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14 years 11 months ago #3406 by wizard1
Replied by wizard1 on topic Re:Lightweight skis
To me, this is a debate that boils down to 'what can be done to grow what is, especially in the UK, a minority sport'. Whether or not ultra lightweight boats give a significant advantage is secondary to the perception that to win you need to be paddling a ?3000 boat. Certainly in the UK, this does put people off, especially those from the ICF marathon/sprint community who are the perfect feeder ground for the sport. Personally, I can see the benefits of introducing a minimum weight limit and I can't for the life of me see how it would stifle innovation or R&D - if anything it would concentrate minds on real innovation rather than the more straightforward route of 'lets just make it lighter'.
Maybe the middle ground would be to have a 2 teir system where all local/national races would impose a weight limit (and hence encourage more entrants) whilst the international events would be open to any weight of boat.

Just a thought.

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14 years 11 months ago #3408 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Re:Lightweight skis
rojo wrote:

Just another thought:
Does imposing a weight limit make the product any cheaper?
I do not think so!




It does actually.





rojo wrote:

Which boats do top paddlers use? Guess what, not the ones for 900,- but for 3400,-?.

Does it make a difference if you use a expensive or cheaper boat? Physically very little but psychologically very much.[/quote]


Your last line sums it up well. A 12 kg sprint K1 made from glass or carbon, if made with a good quality core, there is very little difference (if any) in performance.


That said, big guys "may" notice a difference due to their weight and power.


rojo wrote:
I think, the overall picture would not change. Most racers believe they need the most expensive model of a certain make to be competitive. This will not change, regardless of a weight limit or not.

RoJo[/quote]

Maybe so, but you are inviting new people into the sport and giving them a chance of winning without spending a fortune. The guys with cash can still fork out on a fancy looking ski.



I still think a lot of you are missing the safety aspect here.... that is what concerns me.

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14 years 11 months ago #3409 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Oops.... quotes didn't work.



But you get the idea :cheer:

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14 years 11 months ago - 14 years 11 months ago #3410 by superted
Replied by superted on topic Re:Lightweight skis
I agree on building skis with safety/ strength as the first priority. That to me is where a set of standards need to be applied since so many guys paddle solo. Once the safety aspect is met, if the manufacturer can make skis lighter and stronger by using advances in technology/materials and charge for the priviledge then fine. I'm sure everyone will be happy knowing they can trust the product no matter how much they paid.
Last edit: 14 years 11 months ago by superted.

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14 years 10 months ago #3413 by firecon
Replied by firecon on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Just spitballing here, so feel free to disagree. The safety/strength priority is a great idea, but essentially irrelevant to increasing the number of "racers" who are participating with mandatory safety boats-they don't need anything but the fastest boat. Heavier doesn't equate to a monetary savings either. Why should a manufactuer make boats that a racer can paddle for years and then sell to someone (like me) who will slap stickers on the dings and keep riding it?
EPIC and FENN et al probably won't lower prices if they are forced to design additional safety and durability into a boat. I am thinking that I want to see the best paddlers on the most extreme boats and then I will save my pennies and buy that one...otherwise it turns in a nice safe day at the ERG races (which, it just struck me, probably have more participants-but less fun) or a spec ski race. Sorry for the long-winded reply.

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14 years 10 months ago #3414 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Re:Lightweight skis
firecon wrote:

Why should a manufactuer make boats that a racer can paddle for years and then sell to someone (like me) who will slap stickers on the dings and keep riding it?



I really hope you are joking with this statement.


As a manufacturer, who am I to know how hard a guy has worked, how long they have saved to buy a ski or kayak from me? It is up to me to provide a customer with the best possible craft at an affordable price.


Skis and kayaks are not consumerable items, with inbuilt life spans. They are tools which guys rely on for fun/racing/pleasure. But they must be able to trust their lives with their craft. Therefore a manufacturer should be focussed on paddler safety, as well as all that goes with performance, looks and finish.

If there are manufacturers building craft to the principal you have outlined, then they have issues. Please don't for one second think that there are those of us out there building craft who would think in such a way. For some of us, there are far more important things that shifting numbers and worrying about balance sheets.

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14 years 10 months ago #3415 by dolphin
Replied by dolphin on topic Re:Lightweight skis
I have just joined this thread and have found all of the posts very intersting. I paddle an Australian made spec ski, have done for the last 10 years. My ski is about 8 yrs old, has internal buoyancy, strong construction, and gets along quite well.

Over the last 10 years I have seen a great change in my local racing scene, I believe, for the better. More paddlers, more races, prize money etc.
My Aus spec ski can be bought new for about $2800 Aus. Once upon a time it was all that was needed. I am not the best paddler by any means, but I'm not too bad. I am now looking for a new ski. I accept that in order to be competitive I need to move to an ocean racing ski to compete against the group of paddlers that I used to duel with.

I find the search for my new ski a little disheartening, for two reasons.
1) To be competitive in my division my ski will cost $4000-$5500.
2) Several of the skis I have tested contain no internal closed cell foam buoyancy. This was a shock to me.

At the moment I wish we were all on spec skis. They still require skill, still many models to choose from with different characteristics. However with a known standard of safety, and at a price that allows most people to buy new while supplying a quality 2nd hand market.

But in reality, my search continues.
PS The 10kg ski ocean racing ski I tested was a real blast!

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14 years 10 months ago #3416 by amaycock
Replied by amaycock on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Hi Dolphin. You are on the same wave length as me. I will no doubt join the 'arms race'. In the UK there are few new ocean skis being bought and raced. All the new skis are spec skis. There are next to no second hand skis on the market, less than 15 ocean skis are racing and the price at the top end has doubled. A recipe for nobody racing! I could maybe double the entry with my own contacts but guys who have raced at a high level (k1s) will not race at a significant disadvantage. Entry level construction skis are not exactly cheap but as someone said earlier we don't want the cost of racing competitively to be absolutely prohibitive!
This is really not about envy of the top guys! Being at the top of a large field is always better than a small one. Maybe internationals events no weight rules and rental access for all who demand it? Local event weight limits?
Stew - Spoke to your bro at the weekend - and your skis look good.Your safety arguements actually make what is above seem peripheral. I am totally with you
Happy days
Andy

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14 years 10 months ago #3417 by dolphin
Replied by dolphin on topic Re:Lightweight skis
Perhaps what the ski racing scene is facing now is somewhat similar to some of the issues faced in sailing. Competitive sailors priced out of races due to equipment not abilility.
Andy perhaps you are right. Creating some races with "one design" classes such as spec skis or "over 14 kg" skis may help.
The point to remember is "what a great problem we have". What I mean to say is, we have as a paddling community, have a vast choice of boats, a growing grass roots racing scene, and a great sport that is dynamically growing and changing.

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