I practice a sport called Surfski which is like kayaking where you have a paddle with a blade at each end, but Surfski is done in the sea and is designed as a sport to be practiced with waves.
There are some major differences with the two boats. With a kayak, you sit within the plastic shell of the kayak and have plastic parts inside to put your feet. Sometimes you have the skirt which you wear around your waist and then attach it to the kayak so that your legs and feet don’t get wet.
In the Surfski you sit on top of the boat and have a long rudder at the back to change direction. The Surfski is made of plastic for the beginner models and carbon fibre for the more professional models.
You sit in the well section of the boat and the plastic or carbon fibre is moulded to fit your bum.
Then you have adjustable pedals to fit to your leg length but the pedals also split into two parts. The lower part is for you to apply pressure with your heel to help your balance and the top part is for you to steer the rudder left or right.
The technique is quite difficult to understand and do at the start of learning to Surfski. In a kayak you would usually just paddle with the strength from your forearms, but with Surfski you need to engage your core and say for example if the left blade of the paddle is in the water, you would need to push the right blade forward with your right hand to create leverage and therefore traction against the water.
Professional Surfskiers make it look very easy, but trust me, it’s not.
The boats are also very unstable, especially the professional ones as they are so light and the underneath of the boat is curved. So if you want to rest whilst out on the sea without falling in, you would need to put your feet and legs over the side and try to balance.
Going against the waves is fun because the boat cuts through the water that is coming towards you and you can paddle against the waves easily. It’s fun when the waves are bigger because they lift you up and drop you down.
Turning around is a challenge sometimes depending on the type of waves that are out there. If you get hit at the side of the Surfski by a wave, more than likely you will fall in as the wave just tips you over. If you wanted to stay in the boat you would have to put the blade in the sea on the opposite side of the wave hitting you and push hard to keep yourself upright.
Going with the waves is quite scary to begin with because you have no power of how fast you can go or which direction you want to go. The waves pick you up and push you. So when you paddle when going with the waves, it feels like you’re not doing anything, but it’s very important to paddle because putting the blade into the sea helps with balance. If your paddle is in the air and out of the water, chances are that you will fall in.
So you have to paddle fast and then use your body weight to help with your balance and adapt to which way the wave is pushing you.
It’s a full body and mind workout. Your core, arms and legs are engaged all the time with moving forwards, adapting to the water, waves and wind and your mind has to be 100% focused on the conditions and you have to adapt to the conditions every second.
My problem is that I get injured quite easily with muscular problems so at the moment, I can’t practice Surfski which makes me sad.
I do Surfski at the port in Badalona at a place called Barcelona Caiac.