Fly with the wind, ride a wave, and be one with the water. You’re paddling a surfski.
If you find yourself facing a body of water somewhere with a surfski at your feet and a paddle in your hand, contemplating the experience you are about to have, count yourself lucky that you are living the dream. The location could be anywhere, Hawaii, Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Israel, and the body of water might be a lake, a river or the ocean. Chances are that you will have an amazing experience.
There are articles still being written in the mainstream paddling media defining surfskis as “long, tippy & unstable”, however, today, nothing could be further from the truth. There are now surfskis for every level of paddler, from extremely stable surfskis designed to be responsive, safe, efficient, and fun compared to other kayaks, to intermediate surfskis that can be paddled by more advanced paddlers, to elite level surfskis, that can only be handled by extremely experienced watermen. The amount of surfski instruction, coaching and surfski schools taking place today did not exist four years ago and they are becoming more accessible and popular.
One element of paddling that surfski paddlers crave is called “downwind paddling”, defined as having the wind at your back and pushing you in the same direction you are paddling. The aim is to ride as many swells or catch as many “runs” as you can from start to finish to maximize the thrill of riding waves. Surfers will sit and wait on their surfboards for hours, just to get a few good waves. In a downwind paddling session you might ride many, many waves. That sensation typically gives you a feeling of, “pure bliss,” and puts a huge smile on your face. You are truly “living the surfski dream!”
The question has been asked many times. Is surfski an art or a science? Some will say that one has to understand wind, waves and current to enjoy it. They are not wrong. You will need to understand all these things. Others will tell you that it is an art, that you can understand all you want but if you don’t bond with and feel the ocean you will never become one with it. There is truth to that as well. The exciting part is to combine both of these elements and to have a lot of fun. Surfski is about a celebration of the ocean and having the most fun paddling on the water you could possibly have, no matter what the conditions are.
- Vincent Bechet