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Many beginner to intermediate paddlers think narrow surf skis are faster and will catch more waves.  This is the case if the paddler is 100% stable in the boat in all conditions.

But if you’re slightly or very unstable in waves and bumps you’ll be spending more time swimming and remounting vs paddling.

“I’ll Grow into It”

Even on flat water, I’ve had students who bought the fancier more narrow skis thinking they’ll ‘grow into it’ but end up capsizing during most of our class.  After a few capsizes they become tired, fall in more and are less likely to get back on.  Glad they found out in my class vs alone in open water.

Benefits of a Beginner Ski

I recommend getting a wider ‘beginner ski’  to start out and if over time you need something ‘faster’ upgrade when ready.

  • Learn basic strokes.
  • Get comfortable with the wing (paddle). As we see with those learning to wing foil, learn the board first, then add the wing. Learning both at the same time can be difficult.
  • Master your remounts on both sides
  • Learn how to surf and downwind and/or play in rough conditions
  • Beginner Ski specs – Usually 19.5″ x 21″ wide

Big Folks Stability and Comfort in a Ski

For me as a big guy (6′ x 210 lbs) I’m sticking to my beginner ski as I can surf in any conditions with no worries of capsizing. And I also fit in few narrow skis both lengthwise and with the width!

My main ski is the Carbonology Cruze which is super fun to surf and downwind.  I rarely capsize but do practice remounts just in case.  I tried the Stellar s18s EXP which is slightly narrower, a bit faster than the Cruze but still very stable in big conditions.

Here’s another link about ‘The 5 Myths about ‘Stable’ Slow Kayaks”

Learn more here with this great video by top South African paddlers Jasper and Dawid Mocke..


About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.” Rob owns SUP, Surf Ski and Kayak school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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