The holy grail of surfski design - ultimately ...

6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29673 by Uffilation
Our kids will feel deceived because our generation still goes on and screws up this planet, but none of todays egocentrics gives a sh.t or twists facts in order to not change a thing.

We are deceived every day by our governments and large corporations, but none todays egocentrics gives a sh.t or twists facts in order to not change a thing.

Comes a surfski marketing prank the wrong way for some which thereafter feel deceived. Hmm.
Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by Uffilation.
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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29676 by Boyan Zlatarev
Hi Sandysan,
thanks for the comment.

Again I would like to clarify that the Surfski 600 campaign is not about getting everyone to paddle V5. It is about selecting a stable surfski that provides good base for learning and experience.

I would like to point out that I am not a theorist. I have been lucky to learn from some of the best in the sport always taking their best experiences and then implementing the knowledge into practical coaching.

We have had the opportunity to coach between 1000-2000 people for the last 6 years (some for just clinics and others at Tarifa) and so far I have never had any success coaching someone in a tippy surfski to change and improve their technique.

The reason for that is not in the will of the paddlers or their motivation and hopefully not in my coaching abilities but in the physiology of the brain and the learning process.

Kayaking stroke technique is a very complex movement of the body that involves almost the entire count of skeleton muscles. All those muscles need to be moved in synch or in a specific order so the final technique is developed.

As I wrote earlier, the way our brains function is that they will never execute repetitive motion in a specific manner if that motion wasn't pre-programmed. This function of the brain to program itself by repetitive movements is evident everywhere, and this is one of the reasons forensic experts could recognize handwriting of a specific person...the movements of the hand holding the pen have been programmed in the workflow of the action "writing".

The way you write now is the end result of what you learned in school and have practiced over the years. It is exactly the same process although kayaking technique is far more complex but still a coach can recognize their paddlers from far just by the look of their paddling technique.

So my question is, why don't we learn writing in hydraulic desks where the desk jumps up and down providing us with the most unstable surface to write on?

The learning process principles are always the same:

• From simple to complex
• From easy to more difficult

I agree that sitting on an unstable boat (example V14) can make you realize that your stroke extends too far aft as fast boats really make you sense when you start digging the paddle stroke. But the ability to recognize a mistake has nothing to do with the ability to correct it and very often an unstable boat actually leads to the same mistake of extended stroke and micro dragging of the paddle in order to remain in control of the boat.

Our process of stroke technique relies heavily on breaking down the technique and practicing each segment of the stroke separately and then using specific drills to bring the stroke into one fluid motion.

For the 99% of the people out there doing those drills would be simply impossible if they had to do them in a V14 and the result of course would be that the only thing they would learn is how to be better at paddling worse.

I think understanding Physiology and Biomechanics together with basic understanding of coordination and brain function can really help understand the proposed perspective.

To conclude in brief:

If you came to me and asked me "Boyan, my goal is to paddle my boat at average 12 kph over 1 h" I would say we could do this by working first on your technique and by applying focus on Stabiliy rather than speed.

Don't misunderstand what focus on Stabiliy means. This is just a way to deliver on your goal it doesn't imply you will go slow just because you feel stable.

You can run a company and be profitable without focussing on profitability. You could just focus on great customer experience and the profitability will arrive with that.

I really hope this makes it clearer.

As for the delivery of the message...Well...if it wasn't for it we would never have spoken...even if it is at a virtual forum.

I am glad we have had the opportunity to exchange ideas.

Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by Boyan Zlatarev. Reason: Autocorrect....agian :)

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  • photofr
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6 years 10 months ago #29677 by photofr

zachhandler wrote: I have paddled old v12 in ultra layup as well as fiberglass and do not find the balance significantly different in the two weights.

I have seen people super comfortable with a V8 Performance (about 17 kilos) WHO have felt very uncomfortable with a V8 GT (about 10 kilos). Different layups (and ski weight) will yield different results in stability. Stability differences, while very present, is highly subjective. Sadly, not everyone is equipped with the same "sensors".

Will a stable ski promote better technique?
(but read below)

Will Practice Make Perfect?
(Because only perfect practice makes perfect)
One must first learn good technique and practice good technique if he or she wants to improve.

However, one will have huge difficulties taking 5 good strokes in a row on a ski that is not stable enough for them to venture outside of the comfort zone of their bad habits.

There's always that possibility of someone getting into a stable ski, paddle like $@&ˆ%* for 4 years, and then wonder why they aren't getting any good or any better.

I guess two thing we can take out of this:
- You are better off on a more stable ski, get good instruction, practice good technique, and aim at improving.
- Sadly, very sadly... not everyone will agree.

There's probably only one thing we will all agree on:
Paddle often, or at least get a ski that allows you to paddle often.

(Brittany, France)

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6 years 10 months ago #29679 by Spacehopper
Hehe, Boyan suggests the emperor has no clothes and everyone loses their mind...

There seem to be three separate ideas being mixed - paddle/balance technique, surfing technique and overall safety on the sea.

The 'train hard - race easy' approach can work for balance - paddling a K1 or elite ski on flatwater in parallel with a taking a stable ski on the sea may well speed up the learning. However it doesn't follow that an elite ski on the flat will equal even an intermediate ski on the sea - the sea will decide on the stability level offered - on a minute to minute basis...

Locally a few good flatwater paddlers have been dismissive of the idea of getting a stable ski - then come a cropper very quickly in 'fast' boats and in some cases sold up or stopped ski paddling.

It was interesting to see some of the UK dealers offloading elite skis at major discount - I think many are realising that you can have 99% of the fun with something in the beginner-V10Sport range. It also illustrates the error elite paddlers (often also dealers) make about how representative their skills are of the average level. Ditto the fact that many manufacturers provide 99 flavours of elite ski but only a one-size-fits-all beginner boat.

Many 'kit' sports seem to steadily kill themselves off - the equipment and techniques move further from the skill-set and motivation of the 'average' beginner. People then vote with their feet. Windsurfing and flatwater kayaking are two obvious examples and by all accounts competitive SUP racing is heading into a similar dead-end, with narrower and narrower boards.

In contrast surfski has been given a second chance - the V8 and the part of sport it has spawned, helped along by guys like Oscar and Boyan has taken it from an obscure activity pursued in a few localised spots by the only those willing to take on it's high bar of entry - to something that is now growing steadily in many corners of the globe. That the kit can be used on flatwater by any average joe is key and the greater safety margin on the sea is also significant - especially when safety cover for DW races is rarely comprehensive and in reality we can often only rely on ourselves and our competitors if things go pear shaped.

It's all very well to talk of 'active' stability - right up to the point at which you break your paddle, your rudder or yourself. Suddenly you might be very glad of passive stability offered by the boat. :unsure:

When somebody (often male, often middle-aged ;) ) buys an expensive camera, fishing rod or road bike that's beyond their actual abilities, they might take crap photos, scare off the fish with awful casting or wheeze their way up pathetically small hills (might be describing myself here) but other than maybe becoming a figure of fun there's no real harm done. When someone want to take a shiny, speedy ski on the sea without the skills to stay in it, the consequences are somewhat different. I don't doubt that the hard-school method works for some, but probably for every success story there are 10 guys who've scared the crap out of themselves. And funnily enough they probably don't come on the forum to tell us about it...
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6 years 10 months ago #29683 by Spacehopper

Watto wrote: And so it is with both skinny wheeled carbon fibre Boardman pushy and my motorbike. I enjoy the challenge of mastering or endeavouring to master (we never truly master) something always a little beyond me.

John - so you don't have a unicycle to practice for the road bike then? :)

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6 years 10 months ago #29686 by Cryder
Boyan, very curious what ski you'd choose to race at say the Gorge, the Doctor or another big pure downwind race with modest conditions (let's say 15 to 20knots), and why?

Would you race a V5? V8? V8Pro? V10S or a V12? V14 with an outrigger?

Would you want a GT? Ultra? or a Performance?

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6 years 10 months ago #29688 by Boyan Zlatarev
Hi Cryder,

If I was at the Gorge and I could have any boat I would probably want V8 GT or V5 GT. I love surfing in those boats and the reason I would go to Gorge is surfing.

V14 with outrigger?


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6 years 10 months ago #29689 by Uffilation
Spacehiopper, yep, Joe Isuzu + that kid of emperors new clothes got less critics than Boyan, ok, except for Hiob lol ...

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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29696 by rickbinbc
Hi Boyan,

Thank you for sharing your expertise, and for prompting such a lively discussion.

As a beginner who purchased a Gen 1 V10 to begin, I agree that stability and safety are better for technique development and for fun. After struggling for about 1.5 years (in waves where I wanted to be surfing); I acquired a Gen 1 V10Sport. Much better but probably still too tipsy for the big stuff. Last night I went out in a V8 Performance in 25 knot winds and choppy conditions and loved it!

My question is about the "displacement wave". I cannot seem to sustain my V10S above 11 or 11.5 kph on flatwater. I thought it was my fitness, technique. paddle size, etc. etc. but perhaps it is merely the hull design. I know that I can push it to above 13 kph for very short bursts, but it is energy intensive. Would you say that my "cruising speed on flats" will likely never exceed about 11.5 kph?

Thanks again, and my bucket list includes a trip to Tarifa to really learn how to surf!

Best regards,

Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by rickbinbc. Reason: typos

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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29698 by Boyan Zlatarev
Hi Rick,

Thanks for the message and also for sharing your experience. I am not surprised you loved the V8 in the rough stuff. This is still my favorite all around boat.

About your question regarding V10 Sport I think that from average speed on flat water about 11.5 kph onwards it will require significantly more power over time, which would be harder to sustain. V10 for example will give you additional 0.5 - 1.0 kph before you start digging into your red zone, provided you are not troubled by stability.

I have to make a note that hull design (speed) is still just one factor and your fitness, technique, paddle size etc still matter. The boat is just a platform that allows you to perform techniques of very wide variety.

I would say that if you are planing to upgrade V10 Sport to a next level surfski you could check if you are ready if you:

- are able to maintain 11.0 - 11.5 km/h for one hour paddle without killing yourself (you still get tired but you are not totally spent)
- are able to sprint on flat water up to about 15-16 kph (max speed for very short duration 5-10 sec)
- have stability factor in V10 Sport about 8-9 (out of 10) in all reasonably challenging open water conditions (Not extreme, like 40-50 knots where loss of paddle control can sometimes be the main reason for loosing balance)

I hope this helps!

If you manage to make it to Tarifa it would be nice to share some open water paddling together!

If not, I will still continue sharing videos and tips from here and I hope that would help you practice at your local paddling spots.

Best Regards
Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by Boyan Zlatarev. Reason: Autocorrect "factory" instead of "factor"

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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29701 by davgdavg
I totally disagree with the premise that a stable "beginner" ski is safer. I would say it is actually much less safe. Here's why:

Its a beginner that's going to get themselves into trouble in the ocean 9 out of 10 times.

There is virtually no chance that a beginner is going to get themselves to the point of no return on an elite or even intermediate ski. Even an intermediate paddler on an elite ski will have had enough experience on the water to keep or get themselves out of most situations. An elite paddler will have had lots of time on the water. Sure, things happen, but from my experience its the beginners in all walks of water sports that are dangerous to themselves and others.

A stable ski/kayak is, in a sense, an enabler for people without experience to get in a bad place. I just watched a video of a person in a V7 nearly getting himself smashed against rocks in a sea that is notoriously fickle (and cold). Had he been in a different ski, he never would have even made it out.

I'm sure most of you grew up in and around the ocean and I did too. The ability to read the water, weather, waves, etc. and not panic when things go slightly awry is something that we take for granted most of the time. But they take years and decades to develop. Even then, the learning never, ever stops. AND even then, things go wrong, break and we can find ourselves in an emergency. An experienced person's mindset is often the case between tragedy and playing another day; the ski itself is a totally moot point.

The beginner skis are the only ones that let beginners get themselves out into the ocean and in unrecoverable situations...
Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by davgdavg. Reason: sp
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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29702 by Boyan Zlatarev
Hi Davgdavg

Interesting perspective but this logic is incredible. If we decide to follow it then the best way to get more people to enjoy surfski and be safe is to create a boat that no one can paddle?

That way we would know that no one will get in trouble.

I would say that a stable boat doesn't replace common sense.

I have seen more people get in trouble in a surfski that was out of their abilities than one that was more stable.

Just reasearch all the reports for rescues and accidents from around the world and see how many of the people who got themselves in serious trouble were sitting in V8.

I saw a video of a person jumping a fence and crossing the street at the wrong place and almost get hit by a car. Does this prove that we should all walk on 20 cm high hills so we become better at selecting safer way to cross the street?

Surfski 600 advise is:

1. Get a stable surfski
2. Practice your skills
3. Have fun

Best Regards
Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by Boyan Zlatarev. Reason: wrong phrase correction

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6 years 10 months ago #29703 by Boyan Zlatarev
Humour warning:

The idea that tippy surfskis will deliver better results in paddling are as aplicable on larger scale as the story below for making people rich:

"In the beginning, Rockefeller was a completely poor fifteen-year-old kid who had only a single dime to his name. With this dime he bought an apple, which he polished with the edge of his only shirt and sold for twenty cents. With this twenty cents he bought two apples, polished them both with his only shirt and sold them for forty cents. The four apples which he bought for that forty cents he again polished with his shirt and then sold for eighty cents. With that he bought eight apples, which he, of course, polished with his shirt and sold for a dollar sixty. This dollar sixty meant that he could buy sixteen apples, which he polished, still with that same shirt, and then sold for three dollars and twenty cents. But by now it was already evening and our poor, tired little Rockefeller went home, exhausted. During the night, however, his aunt died and left him two billion dollars. And that is how Rockefeller became a billionaire."

Best Regards
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6 years 10 months ago #29704 by LakeMan
It all boils down to personal responsibility. I don't want the governments getting involved, telling us what we can and can not paddle. If you paddle flatwater then get a sleek fast ski, if you're paddling in seas that only kick up when a hurricane comes through then get an elite or intermediate ski and if your ocean is always full of giant swells then get a stable beginner ski. Use your own brain and good old common sense. If you're one of those that can afford a ski for every occasion then count yourself one of the fortunate ones. Know your limits while still challenging yourself. Life is too short to spend it on the couch watching TV.

Just have fun, stay healthy and don't die until you've lived a long life.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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6 years 10 months ago #29705 by Dasher

I have been paddling for about 2 years now. I weigh 200 lbs. I was wondering how long you have been paddling for and how much you weigh? Are you still paddling the Gen 1 V10 Sport? I am looking at getting my next surfski and am torn between the V10 Sport and the Stellar SR. Those seem to be pretty good speeds you are putting up with your V10 Sport. How long do you figure you could sustain 11 kph for on flat water?



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6 years 10 months ago #29706 by Boyan Zlatarev
Hi LakeMan
i'm not sure who suggested for the government to step in?

Surfski 600 proposes change of mind that makes learning and developing surfski skills in more efficient and safer manner.

But as you said if anyone finds their fun in doing it the hard way then who are we to judge. I am only concerned when such ideas spread to new comers to the sport and we end up as an exclusive elitist community instead of open one where people get easier access to the water we all seem to enjoy so much.


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6 years 10 months ago #29707 by Cryder
So you wouldn't be racing? You'd be surfing, but not against the clock and your fellow paddler. Makes sense, and of course my question was framed if you were to race... which you don't / wouldn't so it's a bit of a trick question I guess. And yet it still informs the conversation at hand because if your premise and POV doesn't concern racing... and it would be strange to conflate the two and in some ways we're talking about two radically different interpretations of the sport of surfski.

This has been a really interesting thread! I've found myself thinking a lot about it.

One of the suppositions that interests me and that I am chewing on is "stability before ability" concept that I hear repeated so often it's dogma... and that somewhat presumes the boat equates to balance? I've always thought of balance as a skill that can be learned, and as a skill is a big part of the essence of surfing and paddling itself. I don't feel unstable when I am on a ferry, but I don't connect with the joy of surfing either.

I wan't to feel every impulse of the water around me and the super stable skis blunt that sensation in a way that reduces the surfing / paddling aspect to the lowest common denominator. It removes a huge swath of my faculty from the equation in a way that just doesn't satisfy me, regardless of speed. I don't particularly care for flat bottomed hulls either, but that's another conversation.

When I paddle an elite level ski in huge conditions I do find that joy, not because I am out of balance but rather because I am realizing the art of surfing in a finite way that greatly contributes to my satisfaction that I've invested immense amounts of work to master. Just like I've invested a lot to develop a powerful stroke, strong mental frame of mind and the cardio system to race competitively (surfing is just one aspect).

I fell in love with surfski paddling precisely because it's hard and the difficulty demands progression. And yet now that I have developed my surfing to the level that I rarely if ever feel out of balance, I've been moving on to new challenges to stay engaged and challenged because I am interested in breaking new ground.

Anyhow, good stuff. I've enjoyed your perspective and gracious engagement.

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6 years 10 months ago #29708 by zachhandler
I think that Boyan is like most people (myself included) that go to gorge; we go for the week of downwind shuttles and dont care nearly as much about the race.

That said, I do really really love that race and to be able to race and downwind at the same time is combining two great pleasures of mine. Kind of like in the Seinfeld episode where George sneaks a huge sandwhich into bed with his lover.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #29709 by malvina
I am surprised that so many forum members seem shocked by Boyan´s statements. For me, the time to get shocked was some time ago when I saw Greg Barton´s "Epic surfski speed comparison". Here is the link:

In it, Greg estimates the time it would take him to paddle 10k in flat water using the different boats in the Epic line. He also estimates what would be the times for an intermediate paddler. In my view, this exercise yields a couple of pretty clear conclusions:

1) A top paddler (Greg) benefits significantly more from changing boats than an intermediate paddler. Greg speed would increase from 12.93 kph in a V6 to 13.84 in a V12 (a 7% increase). The intermediate paddler average speed would only increase from 11.21 kph to 11.66 kph on the same boats (a 4% increase).

2) an intermediate paddler speed would increase gradually but very marginally up to the V10S. From the V10S to the V10, speed improves from 11.64 kph to 11.67 kph (go measure that) and start declining as he moves to the V12 and V14.

And, again, that is flat water speed. It does not take a genius to figure out what happens to those marginal improvements in speed as soon as conditions worsens, even mildly, and how easily those margins will turn negative.

I am aware that Greg´s numbers are just an estimation with no scientific value. But if Mr. Greg "Epic" Barton himself thinks so, who am I to disagree

Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by malvina.

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6 years 10 months ago #29710 by davgdavg
I think you are missing my point, that a more advanced ski is normally going to equal a person with more experience in the ocean.

Your metaphors and similies don't make any sense at all in relation to this (at least to me, maybe they do to others).

The best example is in aviation. What kind of aircraft have the most of the accidents? In single piston engine, low performance aircraft. Why? That's where the least experienced pilots are (most of the time). It has nothing to do with the aircraft themselves.

I'm not talking about having fun or getting people to paddle, I'm just talking about your particular point that a stable ski is safer- I don't agree with that at all. The ski itself has nothing to do with it in my opinion.

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