Words by Doug Copeland Photos by Rory Taylor
i k s e v a W Surfing please remain seated
come all things summery, it’s also As we wave goodbye to winter and wel resurface and dust off their various the season in which our water babies weather. Yes, it’s time to hit the pool, water toys in celebration of the warmer not try coast or planning a holiday there, then why river or the big blue. And if you are living at the work off those extra winter kilos challenging and a great way to something different, like waveski surfing? It’s while having loads of fun in the sun.
96 • DO IT NOW Magazine October | November 2012
A waveski is a surf craft designed to ride waves while seated, and combines the paddle power of a kayak with the manoeuvrability and performance of a surfboard. They handle very easily on a wave, in much the same way as a surf board, but instead you sit on top of the ski and turn with body movements and a paddle. Surfers are strapped on with a seatbelt and their feet secured by foot straps. The paddle propels the surfer onto the waves where they can do similar manoeuvres to stand up surfing. Now when it comes to fitness, waveski surfing is guaranteed to give you a good upper body and cardiovascular workout. It’s also ideal for anyone with knee or ankle injuries that rule out stand up surfing. So whether you’re male or female, a beginner or someone who simply enjoys the excitement of riding big waves, there’s a waveski to suit everyone. C
To make the transition into this sport looking like a pro, selecting the right waveski for you is all important, and the following factors should be taken into account: • Weight and size - The length and width of a waveski relates to body height and weight. So the smaller you are and the less you weigh, and the better you become, the smaller the ski. However, I would recommend purchasing a larger ski when starting out, as this will help with stability and staying on the ski for longer whilst surfing. Then as you progress and get fitter, you can start to look at smaller, more manoeuvreable boards.
• Height - It is imperative to sit right on the waveski. So the distance from the seat to your feet is of the utmost importance, as sitting with your knees bent too high or low is uncomfortable, and will certainly contribute towards the unstableness of your craft. The ideal position for your legs is one to one-andhalf fists lengths between the back of the knee and top of the board, while sitting in the seat pan with your feet in the foot well under the straps and belt on. The knees should be slightly bent. You should be able to pull your feet out easily to hang over the sides of the ski, and you need to be able to lean forward with the belt on. Ensuring a proper fit can also assist stressed muscles when surfing for long periods of time.
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The accessories you select are equally important, in terms of safety and performance, and here are some pointers: • Paddle leash - All beginners are strongly urged to use a paddle leash, as this will save many long swims to retrieve your board when wiping out. It also prevents other people in the surf being hit by a riderless ski. • Seat belt - The seat belt or lap strap is best used for your own safety and that of other surfers. Until you are able to eskimo roll, always wear the belt done up so that you remain strapped in if you wipe out, and when the wave washes under you and stops throwing you around, then unbuckle the belt and climb back on. Important: familiarise yourself with the seat belt in flat water first before wearing it out on the waves, by practising turning upside down and releasing the buckle. Do this a number of times to ensure you know how to release it, so that you don’t panic when you overturn in the waves. • Foot straps - These straps provide frontal control and allow the feet to remain secured to the board. They should be set so the feet are held firmly in position, but don't restrict movement. • Deck - The deck is the uppermost part of the ski, and all fittings except for the fins are located there. The design properties are such that the position of the seat and foot wells are in relation to having full control of the ski and rider comfort. To achieve this, the rider must be able to rotate freely from the torso; therefore, the seat and foot wells need to be set at a distance where the rider has sufficient and comfortable bend in the legs. • Bottom (rails) - The sides of the ski are called rails. The part where the rail becomes round and bends to join the bottom is described as the rail shape. The rail shape varies along the length of the ski, and the volume and shape affect the stability of the ski. Stability is determined by how easily the perimeters of the ski sink. • Fins - The fins provide traction and help guide and manoeuvre the waveski into the body of the wave. This means they provide little resistance moving forward and greater resistance to sideways skip. Fins come in a range of size and shapes, and at a beginner’s level a large fin will provide the rider with the maximum amount of stability. • Wet suit - A wet suit provides the rider with thermal insulation from the weather and acts as a barrier from scratches and sun burn. • Seat pad - The seat pad is for cushioning your bottom, adding traction so you don’t slide around in the seat pan, and contouring the seat to fit you specifically will make the ski fit your leg length better. It is recommended that you wear wet suit pants or baggies (cotton is a no no, as it can give you a rash if you ski for long periods of time).
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Looking the part
There are a number of reputable suppliers you can go to for your equipment: Macski: Ian Macleod on email@example.com / www.macskisurf.com Second Nature: Trudy le Roux on firstname.lastname@example.org Carstens Skis: Nikkie Carstens on email@example.com A new custom waveski will cost you in the region of R8,000 and a paddle around R1,500. But if you are just starting out, or on a budget, I would recommend looking around for a second hand ski. You should be able to pick up a complete board, plus paddle, for less than R3,000.
Where to start
Once you have your new water chariot, the best place to start out is on a river or estuary. Use this time to practise your balance and as mentioned earlier, make sure you know how the seat belt operates. Only progress to the ocean when you can balance on your ski, and when you get to this stage, start off paddling out on the big blue on calm days. NEVER SURF ALONE and always have someone to assist you should you get into difficulties.
Make it official
If you are interested in joining this rewarding sport, contact any one of our regional associations and the members will guide you through the entire process; from purchasing a waveski to your very first wave in the ocean. Contact details are as follows: • • • • •
Western Province: Bruce Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org Eastern Province: Ian Macleod, email@example.com Border: Jan Brand, firstname.lastname@example.org KwaZulu-Natal: Darryl Moodie, email@example.com General: Doug Copeland, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out more about the sport by visiting www.waveski.co.za or the South African Waveski Surfing Facebook page. •
è Related article:
• 2011 Glacéau Vitamin Water SA Closed Waveski Champs (Issue #11, p 84)