Ski Stability Versus Speed

Find Out What Brought Me Back to Earth This Week

Do you prefer ski stability or speed?  I’ve made my choice.  Here’s why…

After a few lessons with Buck in the last 2 weeks I have been feeling quite confident in the ski.  So today I decided to test myself in the surf.  Here’s what happened…

After considering all the advice about what sort of ski to buy, I chose to opt for ski stability over speed.  The conflicting advice consisted of two main perspectives:

  1. Stability over speed – the logic here is that if you’re falling out of your ski all the time, you’re not going to get to the finish live very fast anyway, and
  2. Grow into your ski – select a ski that’s a challenge right now and you’ll grow into it within a few weeks or months.  The logic here being that you don’t want to invest in a new ski only to have to replace it in 6 months.

My goal was always to join my friends catching runners off Mooloolaba beach.  To do that I would obviously have to venture out of the calm waters of Mooloolaba river and into the sea.  So I opted for the stability over speed argument.  I bought a stable ski.

Ski Stability or Speed – what’s your preference

Last Sunday I took possession of my ski and decided that I would practice what Buck has been teaching me every day.  So, apart from Wednesday afternoon when we have our lessons, I have practiced for an hour or so in the Mooloolaba river every day.  My stability has improved quite significantly.  So much so that I began to doubt the ski choice I had made.

During paddling lessons, I notice that I’m not very fast.  I realise that having a flat bottom ski is part of the problem (not to mention the poor technique I am still working on).  This made me question the sense of choosing a stable ski over one I could grow into.  Today something happened that confirmed for me that ski stability as a priority is a good choice.  Let me explain…

This afternoon I decided to paddle out of the Mooloolaba river and into the sea.  Confidently I set off from the shed and paddled up the river.  About half way, two surf ski paddlers passed me with a brief “gday” as they went past.  They reminded me of my slow speed but I felt confident that the trade-off for stability would pay off once we hit the surf.

The waves were quite big as I moved out of the shelter of the river.  Initially I was taken aback by the challenge of steering as the waves threw me about.  It wasn’t long before I fell out of the ski.  After a quick remount I was back into the swell.

After ten minutes or so I decided to turn and run with the waves.  I was feeling a little nervous about turning around but managed to do that easily.  Then, paddling quickly, I tried to catch some runners.  Wow, wasn’t that challenging.  The ski kept moving in directions not expected.  I managed to stay aboard but was unable to get enough speed to catch a wave.  I wasn’t unhappy to enter the river mouth and the relative calmness of the waters.

I guess this was a bit of a reality check.  I now know how different it is to paddle in moderate seas when compared to the calm river system.  It was a relief to return to the river today but my resolve is strengthened.  I definitely want to get into those waves again; once I have a bit more “time in the seat”.

What a great sport paddling is.  There is so much to learn and so many challenges to overcome.  I hear experienced paddlers talk of how they’re working on improving this or that part of their technique.  Ski stability is one that beginners discuss regularly.  The journey is a long and exciting one and there’s learning all the way.

Here’s a great article on the subject