Monday, 10 April 2006
S.A. Extreme Sport How To's: Surfskiing
By Jacques Marais
The surfski craze originally started off as a niche paddling discipline reserved for an elitist group of super-fit lifesavers. Times have changed however, and these days this sport rates as one of the must-do action options on the marine sporting scene. If you have a good sense of balance (and are prepared to square up to the occasional great white shark), it is time to take to the water.
The Discovery Men’s Health Surfski Series is your obvious entry point if you’re keen to take on the waves. After all, South Africa boasts superb surf conditions along a scenic coastline blessed with blissful beaches and relatively good weather. It is therefore no wonder that some of the world’s hottest paddling events happen right here along the southern tip of the African continent.
Once you’ve mastered the basic skills of your craft during the Sunday Surfski Series, you will be well equipped to take on some of the more challenging events presented around the country. The Cape Point Challenge sees competitors taking on a 60km route circumscribing the Cape Peninsula, and will pose a formidable challenge in the stormy Cape waters.
If you want to stroke with the big guns, the 244km Port Elizabeth to East London Challenge will test you to the limit. Day One kicks of with 80km of hard core paddling, and after that you have three more hectic days on the water.
The Scottburgh Challenge is an interesting option, giving surfskiers the opportunity to teach the landlubbers a thing or two. This unique race pits runners against paddlers on a 46.5km route along the KZN coast. And if you don’t feel like racing, there’s always the option of a leisurely Sunday morning glide while soaking up the sun …
Paddle Power DIY:
Learning the correct paddle stroke early on will stand you in good stead, and joining a surfski school is a great way to do this. Balance is key, so start off with the most stable surfski while you’re getting the hang of things. Chances are you’ll want to upgrade your boat in a year or two, but surfskis hold their value well and this should pose no problem.
Make 100% sure that the ski you buy has the correct leg length for your body. The only way to be sure of this is to sit in a ski with your heels pressed up against the foot wells. You should just be able to fit your fist between your knee and the ski, or you will be sure to lose out on stability and comfort.
The paddle is next up on your list of must-have items; go for a carbon blade as you’re bound to get years of good service out of it. Play it safe with a quality PFD (personal flotation device), and keep yourself well hydrated with a hands-free hydration system like the Tripper. Finally, add neoprene shorts, a wet suit, paddling jacket, sun block, waterproof compass and a dry bag to your shopping list.
WESTERN CAPE: Darren Sturgess at Brian’s Kayak Centre, Cape Town, Tel. (021) 511 9695
KWA-ZULU NATAL: Gary Clarke at Erick’s Canoe Shoppe, Durban, Tel. ( 031) 563 0874
EASTERN CAPE: Fenn Kayaks, East London, Tel. (043) 7434 800
SET PADDLES: Contact Julian by email at email@example.com
SURFSKI LESSONS: Dawid Mocke at Solo Energy Surf Ski School, Cape Town, Tel (084) 511 5903
WEB RESOURCE: Comprehensive details on everything surf ski is available at www.surfski.co.za