Adjustable Surfski Cradles

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8 years 10 months ago #20293 by foundwood
I designed and fabricated these adjustable width cradles to fit my Epic Surfskis. They fit the entire range of hulls from the V8 to the V14, and everything in between. A secondary criteria was the need for cradles that would hold a surfski securely in high winds without the need for straps:

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8 years 10 months ago #20294 by wesley
Replied by wesley on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
Excellent looking cradles for the craftsman you obviously are and thanks for taking the time to share with us.For the not so handy paddlers like myself who can't make our own,we use Goodboy Kayaks V Bars out of USA, that fits all makes of skis and with a simple bungee that holds skis securely in any conditions. Loading and unloading is takes a few seconds and if you have to remove bars, it only takes a a few minutes. The least expensive, and best system you can buy. Just about everyone I know know uses these. They can be shipped in a few days, installed in about 30 minutes and you never have to worry about how secure you skis are. Just make sure your Thule, Yakima, or other bars are secure to your rails on your particular vehicle. Wesley(SurfskiRacing.com)

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.

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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #20295 by foundwood
Wesley: I agree with you on the Goodboy racks. They seem to be a quick and easy solution for a lot of paddlers. There were a couple of criteria that I hoped to meet with this design:

1. The stirrups had to be able to resist any side wind loads. Winds that would gust to about 30 mph.
2. The stirrups had to be at least 5 feet apart: nothing new there...
3. They had to be adjustable to fit a wide range of hull dimensions.
4. The cradles should provide support at the lowest point of the hull, and not the sides between the seam line and bottom.
5. Counter the wind loads at the seam line height, or as close to the ends of the arcs where the top and bottom meet as possible.
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by foundwood.

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8 years 10 months ago #20309 by jonny250
Replied by jonny250 on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
The rack looks really good and well thought out. i like the adjustment method. I just recently used the 'Goodboy' idea and made my own using 2.25m box section and 6mm alu plate which i cut and bent in my garage.
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8 years 10 months ago #20311 by MaxB
Replied by MaxB on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
You guys cannot be serious - these are about the worst systems I have ever seen. The V10 Sport literally had to be thrown to load it in the cradle because the side arms were so high, and the V8 in the other pic, as well as being perched dangerously high, is going to get snapped in two the way the tie down straps are attached over the sections of the boat that are not supported. I'm sorry to sound critical, but I think it is irresponsible to be promoting these systems as vehicle roof carrying 'best practice'.
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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #20314 by foundwood
jonny250: Nice work! I would suggest moving your tie-downs to the end of your spreaders, just inside of your cradles. Trust me, the straps will not slide off...

MaxB: No surfskis were injured during filming! Thank you for your criticism. I take no offfense. I apologize for throwing my V10 Sport, but I wanted to show that the boat would not ride up and over the cradle when being loaded by hand or wind. I should have clarified this in the video.

I have to load and unload by a four lane highway where people are driving recklessly to fight for parking spaces at the beach. I simply cannot risk having my boat being blown by the wind during the handling process. I load from the rear 90% of the time, and then I have to wait for a break in traffic to walk beside my truck and tie it down.

My method is the "best practice" for me. As stated in the intro: "If you live in an area where the wind blows hard and often..."
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by foundwood.
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8 years 10 months ago #20315 by jonny250
Replied by jonny250 on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
ha - thanks - i didnt think of that! i will move the straps for next time, cheers.
I also changed the box section to run underneath the cross bars of the roofrack, so its 90mm lower now. seems to work really well imo.
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8 years 10 months ago #20316 by foundwood
jonny250: I like your idea of suspending the spreader bar beneath the cross members. I wanted to do that with mine as well but I would have to eliminate the fancy "Thule" air deflector.

What did you use for padding, and how did you secure it to your cradles?

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8 years 10 months ago #20317 by Jmuzz
Replied by Jmuzz on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
V-bars with just bungees sounds horrible to me.
V-bars don't cradle that great and any sideways pressure creates an equal upwards pressure too. Foundwoods at least cradle with vertical sides not a 45deg V.

OK for a low speed drive to nearby waterway, but I hope people aren't using just bungee on the highway.
Just irresponsible to the lives of other road users IMO.
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8 years 10 months ago #20318 by steveb
Replied by steveb on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
Nice jobs! No reason competent DIY'ers can't design and build a saddle system to meet their needs. It's hard safely transporting 20+ foot skis on compact cars, or on vehicals without good after market options.
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8 years 10 months ago #20319 by jonny250
Replied by jonny250 on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles

foundwood wrote: jonny250: I like your idea of suspending the spreader bar beneath the cross members. I wanted to do that with mine as well but I would have to eliminate the fancy "Thule" air deflector.

What did you use for padding, and how did you secure it to your cradles?

for padding i just used the foam that the ski was delivered in - i've not even owned it a week yet! in time i plan to replace the foam with a more permanent fitted foam solution. I will also open up the rear vee a bit more and will bend the top of the rear vee plates to more horizontal.
i attach the box section using 2 x 6mm plates with 2 bolts. piccies attached.

for info, i live on a small island [Guernsey] and the max speed limit is 35mph. i drive more like 25mph with the ski on. so loads are not very high on my setup.
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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #20320 by foundwood
jonny250: Looks fantastic in the pictures. Microcell foam from the paddling or outfitter shop works great. I wrap my padding around the top of the cradle to pad the edge and back side.

Here's a good tip: shipping companies use a version of microcell in different densities and some of them throw it away in large quantities. Call around and see if some of them are willing to part with a piece. A small square to an importer will be a lifetime supply for you.

***Don't forget to cut pieces of microcell and stuff them into the ends of your spreader bar to keep it from from moaning in the wind***
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by foundwood.

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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #20321 by Sandy
Replied by Sandy on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
Following up post from another thread. V cradles work fine , have a set of Goodboy V-bars . No problems with the following
1) 8mm bungee loops with durable woven sheath ( available West Marine) , I thread mine through mini cell foam to disperse the load on the composite a little bit
2) ALWAYS a backup cam strap for highway speeds
3) added custom fit mine cell wedges to accommodate specific hull shapes and provide greater surface contact area.
It ain't rocket science and of course is personal choice. No one I know who uses V-bars has ever reported any problems with this system.
That being said , I would not chose to be cranking down on cam straps located over unsupported (not at the cradles) portions of the ski.
Last edit: 8 years 10 months ago by Sandy.

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8 years 10 months ago #20323 by waterbornewarrior
It's funny to see the time and expense people go to in order to transport their ski. A certain Epic Kayaks founder just carries his around on un-padded cross bars (upside down). Although, you have to believe the a replacement ski would be easier for him to acquire should anything go awry!

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8 years 10 months ago #20326 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
Upside-down on the rails of the ski on rubber is the best possible way to transport your ski! The point loading is on the rails in 4 places where the ski is its strongest (in most skis), the straps then contact the hull 100% reducing point loading on the hull, as opposed to V cradles that can only point load and damage the hull, well unless you have a V shaped hull!

I repair more skis from rubbish cradles than anything else as a percentage of my general repairs. I cringe when I see skis on V cradles, but then I do need the income from the repairs so it is a bit of a two edged sword!

Cradles are a convenience, easy to use in windy conditions but do not hold the ski very tight and generally you will have some movement even when tight.

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8 years 10 months ago #20327 by Sandy
Replied by Sandy on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
prior to the v-racks I carried skis as you have described Ranga.....they both had failures and required repairs at the rails , where they contacted the padded crossbars. And No I did not over tighten the cam straps . Even with the bow and stern ties the skis moved around way more using your prescribed method. Same car , a VW Golf with thule bars mounted to the factory bolts under the weatherstrip in the door frames , bar spread about 38" ( another reason I opted for the V-bars , So....to each his own.

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8 years 10 months ago #20328 by Rookie
Replied by Rookie on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
hi the designs look fantastic but i do know at least 2 ski manufactures that would pefer their skis to be transported/ stored upside down. so i would check with them first.

Focus, Apex 2, Zeplin

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8 years 10 months ago #20329 by Kocho
Replied by Kocho on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
A few points. First, on the V-racks. Indeed, they create undue pressure points, often on the side of skis, where they are not always the strongest. Fortunately, easy to remedy - use shaped closed cell foam instead of the stock flat slabs of foam. I have seen versions that have a wide strap between the V ends, so the ski is suspended on that strap and does not ever touch the V, this way there is no need for shaped form and all shapes and widths can fit - the V (or U) can be wide enough for 22" boat and still securely carry a 17" one without any modifications.

I use Yakima Mako saddles, which bend around the ski and are always form-fitting. Mine are mounted on two separate rails (left and right). I can simply slide one set a bit away from the other, and I can accommodate any width boat - from a 17" wide V10 to a 4' wide canoe or a small sail or row boat, to a white water kayak, or a sea kayak. Can't do that with V bars. Additionally, the plastic Mako saddles are not as rigid as metal supports, especially when mounted on a somewhat flexible extension - they absorb shocks and wind gusts, offering a bit of give rather than ask the ski to take it all. They also have rubber inserts to hold the ski in place with barely any need to tighten the straps or bungees around them, so no undue extra pressure from straps. At the same time, before they are strapped, the rubber is recessed out of the way and you easily slide the ski over the soft felt on the saddles. Best thing - they often come up for sale used for something like $25 a pair (you need 4). They offer plenty of wind resistance before the ski is strapped, but not as much as those in the video above.

As for carrying skis upside down, it works well with some skis, I would hesitate with others. Most skis are strongest on the bottom of the hulls, often the decks are weaker (to save weight). So damaging the deck is more likely than damaging the hull. Plus, the rudder sticks up another 10' above the ski and can catch on things more easily.
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8 years 10 months ago #20336 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
Hi Sandy, I did mention that the ski has to be strong enough on the rails. I also owned a Golf had had no problems for many years with the Thule racks.

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8 years 10 months ago #20339 by Metro
Replied by Metro on topic Adjustable Surfski Cradles
I am surprised that there is so much disagreemnt on this topic (which is why forums are good I suppose!). In my opinion, V bars are the safest way to transport skis, both for the ski itself and other drivers who prefer not to have a 21 foot craft in the middle of the motorway. With V bars you have no side to side movement and have a much longer expanse on which to support the ski. A ski bungee-d snug down into a V is much more secure than cam straps and Yakima, Thule, Rhino cradles. I find the standard Thule cradles especially problematic in strong winds and had a few sets break before I moved to V bars.

V bars are not perfect - horrible for gas mileage and difficult to get three on top of a car without risking some questioning by the gendarme at exactly the wrong time. But if you want to transport your ski safely, I think nothing beats them.

A lot of folks have been questioning the use of bungees. You need to use a V to understand how it works. It is not like bungee-ing your V10 onto your padded bars and hitting the gas. The boat drop into the V and the bungee (which is relatively tight) simply keeps the ski from jumping out of the V. Short of a rollover, I cannot imagine a ski coming out of V bars. Certainly I have never heard of it happening, but perhaps somebody out there has an interesting story ....

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