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Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:59 pm
by Arthur
Hi all.

Hope I'm in the right section of the forum.

I've been flip-flopping between open canoes and kayaks for the last couple of years, not really knowing which I prefer (and not really being able to afford both at the same time). I recently bought a Wavesport Hydra and have spent this week blasting up and down my nearest river, the (w.midlands) Avon - from Eckington to Pershore and back, for anyone who knows it.

A week's intensive paddling has given me the taste for two things:

1. another open canoe... now I've got the spare cash - I do still like pootling around with a single blade... will probably buy another Wenonah Argosy.
2. a faster kayak (or surfski?)... for when I want a good fast workout.
3. Instead of 2., I might buy a fast open canoe.

Q. What speedy, reasonably stable, kayak or surfski(?) would be suitable for river and estuaries? I like the look of Epic and Fenn, but I know nothing about surfskis.

I probably won't go so far as racing, at least, not seriously, but I do like nice kit.

Sub £2,000.00 budget, but I'll buy secondhand if I can find what's recommended.


Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:34 pm
by Arthur
PS. The other thing I realised this week, is that a 25kg kayak is not as easy to portage as a 25kg open canoe... another thing that might be in favour of a surfski.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:43 pm
by Jim
Douglas Wilcox has been using a Think Zen surfski for pretty much exactly what you are looking to do (maybe a little less river and more ocean) and has been raving about it on FB. It is a more stable design than the out and out race skis. I believe the Epic V6 or V8 would also probably do exactly what you want (roughly speaking, the higher the number the less stable).

Personally I paddle a Rockpool Taran fast tourer sea kayak which is fast and relatively stable (perhaps not for complete beginner), but not really a match for most skis. If you aren't going to use it for sea kayaking (i.e. overnight trips with camping gear) you will probably be happier with a ski, which even in the heaviest construction will be lighter than the lightest built sea kayaks. I have been training on the loch in my Taran for the last couple of weeks (race prep) and even just doing 2 sessions per week I am already starting to wish it was a little lighter (I do other sessions in slalom and WWR boats which are much lighter). I reckon the lighter the boat is, the more likely you are to use it every day (or somewhere near).

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:40 am
by Arthur
Jim wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:43 pm
Douglas Wilcox has been using a Think Zen surfski ... It is a more stable design than the out and out race skis.
That's probably what I'm after - nothing too radical, with good stability. Thanks Jim.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:43 pm
by jamesl2play
In my fleet I have a surf ski, a K1 and a Taran and I flip flop between them.

My feeling is that if you are going to paddle on just a river then go for a stable racing boat (rocking horse manure) but with your budget
you could easily buy new.

Undoubtably you would need to try before you buy. The main reason I suggest a kayak is getting in and out.
I find a surfski very tricky to portage because it does not have a cockpit to grab hold of. Fine in the sea if you are knee deep but tricky off a pontoon or muddy bank.

Racing kayaks are graded for stability 1 -10. One is for the elite and ten for the novice.
I suggest you go for a six - ten depending on your ability. Most of the dealers will give you a demo and advice.

Makes to look out for are: Marsport (Reading) Knysna - Southampton (S.Africa), Kirton - Devon
Just a few that come to mind its a whole new world for some of us.

Try and join a club to get more of an insight as what would suit you.

Good luck.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:02 pm
by Arthur
Thanks ^^^ - That's interesting because I've seen a guy on the river in a K1 (didn't get chance to speak to him, he disappeared so fast!) and have looked at them online, but didn't understand much about them, or the stability thing. They are super-lightweight, which is definitely a plus. I know it sounds like a case of listening to the last person I spoke to, but I really should have included them in my original question. I'll check out if the dealers have any demo's - I'm a sucker for nice looking gear and those Kirton's look really tasty.

Coincidentally, I'm buying a K1 singlehanded keelboat next year, to keep down in Chichester Harbour - that scratches the salt water itch, so the kayak is really just for the Avon and Severn.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:37 pm
by Simongelder
For a very common, good value stable K1 design used by many clubs, Arden Kayaks make the Trimmer K1 and are based in the Midlands. Isn’t as fashionable as the other makes listed but does the job the same as the Marsport Hobby. Daffryn Conwy club use theirs as part of the fleet used on the Conwy estuary. If you Google search for them, follow the link to the Facebook page and then email them. He got back to me very quickly with more info and can arrange to try the boat out on a local canal. Makes the boats to order and is looks like very good value.

Several paddlers at Chester have skis and are very positive about them. Use on the Dee and on sea in North Wales. Must admit I quite fancy one too, although suspect a K1 at the more stable end of the range may be a less fashionable but more suitable acquisition. Fine for the river but I am lucky to live in walking distance of the canal so carryability is an important factor in favour of a K1.

I have a sea kayak too, but it’s weight means that it has to be transported by car or trolley and the hassle puts me off using it for a quick blast.

I use an old Prijon carbon kevlar WWR which works very well as a fitness boat for flat water and is super light to carry. Good second hand bargains about if you keep your eyes out and password around. Helps if you are able to patch a damaged write-off for a major bargain.

You could get an old, serviceable WWR, new wing paddles (expensive!) and a new Canadian for your £2k if you are canny!

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:59 pm
by Jim
My WWR K1 is terrible on open water if there is any wind, I did a 10k lap on the loch in it last year and my arms almost fell off by the end of it, better to stick to something with a lower wind profile and/or rudder if you are going to paddle on open estuaries. Fairly squally tonight with changeable direction, would have been hell in the WWR, but I'm feeling fine having just done 16km in my Taran (10k lap with an extra short lap around the island in the middle), although I reckon I would feel more fine if I'd used a boat half the weight with a rudder (i.e. a ski).

Not convinced a marathon K1 would be ideal on open estuaries, probably fine on sheltered ones, but it is not a boat type I am familiar with. Although I train on flat water, I really like rough water!

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:57 am
by Simongelder
Completely agree with Jim’s experience about WWRs in open water in respect to wind. Fine on sheltered water. As a fettling project, I experimented by fitting a hybrid foil rudder to my WWR and making a foot bar for steering along the lines used in adventure racing kayaks in Australia and NZ. It worked well but in its original size the rudder was too long and slowed the boat down by about 1 minute per mile. Eliminated weather cocking trait in wind on lakes. For use on the sheltered river and canal it was OTT and has now been removed.

Regarding skis, I was asking one of our local paddlers about whether they had problems with the rudder picking up weed. Depends on the rudder length and profile but not reported to be a problem.

Also noted that for beach type launches, because of the fixed rudder you have to get your feet wet when launching.

Reported that because they always dress for immersion, this helps a bit with stability compared to K1s. The consequences of a capsize on wider, more open water are far less on a ski and this helps mentally with stability.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:14 pm
by Arthur
Thanks chaps. Food for thought... will continue chewing until I get my tax rebate. Hope to demo a couple of K1's next week.

Nice to hear from Chester, too - lived thereabouts for most of my life, but it's nice down here in Ye Olde Cotteswoldes.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:25 pm
by Haddock
If you are considering estuaries of any size then a ski may give you a few less worries than a K1. You can actually get some decent rides on estuary waves, especially on a shorter ski.

Think Zen as mentioned is a good boat - other boats that might be worth a look are Epic V8, V8 Pro & V10 Sport & Nelo 520 & 550. There are some other ski importers but I'd say that Nelo/Epic/Think probably have the best reputation and keep their value well. I think they all have an option of a flatwater sttle rudder and this is usually more than adequate for estuary paddling.

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:10 pm
by SteamBear17
Arthur wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:34 pm
PS. The other thing I realised this week, is that a 25kg kayak is not as easy to portage as a 25kg open canoe... another thing that might be in favour of a surfski.
Yep. Surfskis are heavy enough. But it's really fast! I have borrowed some surfski from friend once. We were at Aveyron in spring. It was hard to hold speed and maneuver while i'd avoided pitfalls. But it was really fun and interesting! So if you going to place with pitfalls or stones or rocks i'd recommend you something like Eddyline Caribbean 14 or even Old Town Predator 13. On the other hand you can buy (or rent) inflatable kayak for just trying it (inflatable kayaks are easier, of course). You'll understand wich speed is for you. :)

Re: Fast fitness kayak - surfski?

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:26 am
by SJD
I have not owned a surfski for roughly five years, so I will not comment on the latest and greatest but will mention that if your local river has underwater hazards not easily seen then a surfski with an over the stern rudder option may be worth considering.

Regarding your option 3, you mentioned your Wenonah Argosy, have you considered some of the more performance oriented Wenonah solo canoes? The Prism is a beautiful canoe. The Advantage (now discontinued) is also excellent, if you can find one. The marathon J boats are also interesting but if your local river is subject to wind, then they may not be suitable.