Beginner's Tips: Time & Money

Thursday, 15 December 2005 02:00 | Written by 
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(Editor: thanks to Nico de Wet for a fresh viewpoint on Getting Started!)

Firstly the assumptions: your leisure time is limited and cash is a factor in your quest to be involved in surfskiing. You are probably a student, young professional  trying to impress by burning the midnight oil, or an old fashioned workaholic. So how do you manage to go from zero (hardly ever paddled anything in your life) to a I-can-handle-most-conditions-the-ocean-throw-at-me hero? Here are some tips.

1. Go to the surfski school and do at least 4 sessions, get one of your buddies to go with you because talking about the coolness of the experience afterwards over a couple of cold ones can only be a good thing. Being very eager you will probably start planning to get your equipment ASAP.

2. You might be concerned about the effect roof racks will have on your fuel consumption, you might also be concerned about whether your tiny car can handle carrying a surf ski. Well you could see roof racks as an added safety feature, I rolled my FIAT UNO with roof racks on, the roof racks took most of the impact and I emerged without a scratch, unbelievable. Secondly your car can handle carrying a surf ski, granted it might make people stare, but it can handle it. Just think about it, 800kg of metal is not going to be much affected by 20kg on top.

3. You might also be concerned about rust on your car, that’s a good thing but don’t get too worked up about salt water on your car, if your car still has some resale value wash it off with fresh water when you get home. Alternatively keep water in the back of your car, Outdoor Warehouse stocks a couple of options, one of which is a collapsible 5 gallon item for a lowly R 50.  (Editor: it helps to rinse your ski with fresh water before stowing it on the roof racks; if there’s no water to hand, dry the ski off with a towel or chammy leather.)

4. Your first ski does not necessarily have to be second-hand, I was fortunate enough to have a custom Hammerhead built for R 3500 which is just about the price for a second-hand ski. Find the manufacturer who is willing to do that, in my case it was somebody just starting to make skis.

5. You can get a second hand paddle, I found a wing paddle at “2nd Hand Surf” in Fish Hoek for R600.  One of the blades eventually snapped but I had it replaced at SET in Muizenberg for a very reasonable price. (It might not be best to go second hand with your paddle though, it’s clearly a critical piece of equipment and an incorrect length can affect your stability and hence confidence.)

6. Since time is a problem for you, quick access to water to train on is important.  It’s equally important to be able to paddle in winter and this is where your closest canoe club comes in. Take part in their time trials (mostly be in the dark, especially in mid-winter but don’t be phased by that). Join the club (most clubs welcome guests) and if you are lucky you can pick up a canoe at next to nothing in an auction. I got a Sella for R480 at the Milnerton Canoe Club. Joining a canoe club is very important since you can hit the water at all kinds of hours and the hot shower afterwards will do you wonders! It’s also socially a good idea since it can get lonely out on the ocean, but you'll see familiar faces on your local vlei all the time.

8. Get on all the email and SMS mailing lists, they'll motivate you to get onto the water.

7. You are unlikely ever to regret time or money spent on surf skiing.  (Be aware that your values are likely to change somewhat, so much so that you might feel that not going for that paddle is cheating yourself!)

Well that’s it for now. Have a good one,


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