2012 turned into the “Year of the Surfski” for many in Team Fat Paddler. My own journey started at “big fat guy trying to climb aboard and stay upright”, through to developing a love of surf and competing in the World Surfski Series in Mauritius. Along the way I met many wonderful characters, got in some incredible travel and shared some unforgettable moments with my fellow team mates. The Top Ten in this category was going to be tough, but here they are in order of popularity during 2012. Cheers, FP
#10 – Dare to Dream with Candice Falzon, Professional Ironwoman, Surf Life Saver and Paddling Instructor
When people think of Australia they often think of white sandy beaches, beautiful surf and of course our iconic bronzed surf life savers. With a nation surrounded by water and hot summers it’s natural that both Aussies and tourists alike are drawn to the sea side to swim and cool down. Whichever way you look at it however, surf beaches all have the potential to kill and it is our surf life savers that that take on the job of rescuing swimmers that struggle in rips and other dangerous conditions.
Surf life saving has therefore become an integral part of Australian life, with young kids joining their local Surf Clubs’ “Nippers” programs where they learn their surf skills and compete against each other in various surf sports including swimming, paddle boards and ski paddling. [ Read More ]
I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to have met and been coached/mentored by some incredible paddlers. When you think about it, I’ve had rock gardening lessons with Tsunami Ranger legend Jim Kakuk, rolling classes with Greenland rolling legend Helen Wilson, spent time with World Record HolderJoe O’Blenis in Canada, and mixed it with the World’s best surfski paddlers in Mauritius.
Sometimes though the people that have the biggest impact are the quiet achievers. Paddling mate Malcolm Hall (the man behind Carbonology Australia here) is a softly spoken giant of a man who has been paddling offshore for much of his life down the coastline of his native Natal in South Africa. You don’t see him on the water racing much, and you never hear him talking himself up. But when you get on the water with him it takes no time at all to realise his mastery over the ocean ski. [ Read More ]
I’ve been paddling for a few years now and have gone through a few different iterations of paddle-craft and techniques; flat water kayaking, canoeing, rock gardening, white water, Greenland paddling and surfski paddling (to name just a few). Other than a day of basic sea kayak training and some good mentoring by paddle-genre specialists, I’ve never had any real coaching, and from watching my paddling technique from the many videos I’ve made it’s becoming embarrassing looking at how rubbish my forward stroke technique is.
With the 111km Hawkesbury Canoe Classic coming up and the prospect of doing it this year in a surfski, I figured it was time to get some real coaching. Many of the Team Fat Paddler crew are in the same boat as I so with this in mind, I contacted my friends at Sydney Harbour Kayaks to to book in a group session with one of their pro-paddlers. With flat water in mind, they suggested ex Polish national kayak squad member Mat Gorzkiewicz. [ Read More ]
[Author: Nat Bradford] Being very new to the whole surf ski caper, my introduction to the water on the Epic V8 has been a great experience. The boat is stable – really stable. My first test runs on various skis involved me under them more than on them, but with the Epic V8 I was able to get underway and stay upright without needing to resort to major pilates-style core strength and balancing exercises.
I’ve become very comfortable with my Epic V8, but the recent arrival of the stunning looking entry-level ski/kayak hybrid, the Think Fit, had me intrigued. On first impressions it looks as though someone had stuck the front of a Think Evo to the back of a sea kayak and just blended them together. That’s not to say it doesn’t look good, it’s just hard to get your head around. [ Read More ]
There’s nothing quite like a mid-week paddle. With work taking up most of my waking hours, the only option was to go at night, and what better spot to paddle at night than the magnificent Sydney Harbour. Of course, paddling at night has a certain surreal and somewhat fearful ambiance to it. The water is inky black, and in Sydney Harbour lives a healthy population of sizeable and aggressive bullsharks.
Keeping this in mind, Gelo and I set off for a leisurely paddle from Luna Park to Taronga Zoo, dodging ferries and pleasure cruisers. For me, it was just another chance to enjoy the city lights whilst surfing ferry wake in the dark. For Gelo however, it was a far scarier journey. [ Read More ]
It’s quite the journey from Sydney to Mauritius, with the Team Fat Paddler crew of Nat, Josh and your’s truly arriving after 20 hours of door to door travel. But what a paradise to arrive to – warm sunshine, azure seas and the friendly banter of South African and Aussie paddlers.
Keep in mind that neither Nat nor I have ever really done a true ocean downwind run, so this was a big moment. The swell, at a leisurely 2.8 metres, was jacking up over the reef into giant crashing tubes, sucking up over the rocks and tearing the water up into a frothy maelstrom. The channel through the reef runs on a diagonal so even as you get to it, it appears that everyone is going to get hammered by the house-sized breakers. And then even as we find our way through the surf, the resulting rebound twists our skis left and right as we try to get out ocean-side. [ Read More ]
My old friend Nat, fellow Team Fat Paddler and blogger of Sydneysurfski.com fame, dropped around the other day with his family to spend a day of fun with us. We’d planned on an early morning paddle the next morning and decided to lay out the two surfskis we’re using side by side for comparison – his Think Evo II and the Stellar SR that I’m currently learning to ski-paddle on. This post is the outcome of that exercise.
Let me state up-front that this is in no way a performance comparison piece. This is simply a visual comparison of the two surfskis that Nat and I are training on for the Mauritius Paddlers challenge ahead. We are two relative newcomers to the sport and have no basis of expertise whatsoever – ha! [ Read More ]
In the surfski arena the biggest barrier to growth of the sport at the bottom end is the inherent instability of ocean skis. A few brands have started to address this with surfskis featuring hull shapes with kayak-like width and stability, opening up the market and helping new paddlers try the sport for the first time, and I’m excited to see that Stellar has joined the fray with their new design, the Stellar S18S.
The Stellar S18S is wider than my Stellar SR, a touch shorter, and features a number of additional features not always found on other surfskis (an in-seat drink bottle holder plus front and rear storage hatches for starters). By all accounts it looks like a great beginners boat or crossover boat for kayakers wanting a little more speed and downwind ability. [ Read More ]
In my early paddling days, I debated whether to get a sea kayak or an ocean ski, since the latter goes FAST and looks awesome. I quickly discovered however that I didn’t have the balance to stay in a ski, even a “beginners/intermediate” ski like a Fenn XT or an Epic V10 Sport. In fact, with my “additional weight” I could barely stay on an ocean ski, and would pretty much sink a surf ski!
So I was pretty excited to read about the new Epic V8 Ocean Ski, specifically designed with stability in mind to help new participants take up this exciting form of paddling. Epic CEO Greg Barton had the ski designed on the Epic 18X Sport sea kayak (which Freya Hoffmeister recently paddled around Autralia), utilising the swede-form hull (extra width behind the cockpit for more stability) and the Epic V12 bow with cutaways for better paddling technique. [ Read More ]
#1 – Boat Review: Stellar SR Ocean Ski – A Beginners Perspective on a Beginner to Intermediate Surfski
The SR comes in four layups ranging in weight from 15kg to 10.9kg. The version I have is called the “Advantage” layup, which is 14.5kg and appears extremely well finished. A criticism I’ve had of some other ski manufacturers is that the quality of the finished product isn’t particularly consistent, with areas of particular concern being the areas around the venturi drain, the foot plate mount and around the rudder fittings. The Stellar appears extremely well put together and for the one I have in my care, I cannot see any production issues at all including these three problem areas.
A unique feature of the ski is the adjustable footplate attachment system.Whilst the side mounts use somewhat annoying butterfly nuts to secure themselves, the addition of the rail-mounted centre mount (an idea taken from the mounts of rowing shells) makes the footplate solid as a rock, and an excellent base to get leg drive from. I also like the padded covers on the foot-straps which make them a tad gentler on the feet. [ Read More ]