Choosing the right craft for you
Choose the right craft for you
Paddling is becoming more popular each year and if you’re an adventure freak you will eventually come to that point in time where you will need to know which craft best suits you. To ensure you have the right craft, it all depends on your experience and paddling capabilities. So here’s an article that can help you identify which craft best suits you so you can perform you best out on course. Tip for the newbies – Always start with a beginner craft if new to the sport and build on your skills. If you start off in a craft way above your paddling level of experience you will see yourself struggling with even the basics – stability, ability & technique. You will also feel that the sport is unenjoyable.
So firstly, the three main questions you need to ask yourself.
1. What is your level of experience?
2. Where will you be paddling most?
3. What are your paddling goals?
4. Paddling with friends
1. Level of Experience
Do you fall under the lines of:
Level Description: Just starting to paddle, had some practice and stepping into ocean paddling
Craft Option: Craft with stability to help you build beginner skills – paddle forward technique.
The most important thing at this stage is to get your paddling technique right. The last thing you want to worry about is continually falling out of your boat. At this stage, choose a stable craft which gives you a solid platform for trying out ocean or harbour paddling. Once you get the hang of things this is the time you will really get a feel of the ocean. You can learn to use the ocean as an advantage through runs but also noticing how side chop can affect your performance.
Most Stable- S18S (if you are on the very tippy side or likely to be in really rough conditions, the other benefit with this boat is the hatches for gear storage and the trailing rudder add on options)
Stable- Stellar SR (if you feel comfortable after approx 30 minutes of paddling this boat then it can be a good step, as it is narrower, lighter and faster than the S18S) the choice for most starting stellar customers as it allows a lot of progression in skills without feeling hampered by the ski.
Level Description: Have a good paddling technique and a reasonable feel for the ocean. Look for a little stability but also a faster craft.
Craft Option: Intermediates will still want a little stability in the craft but at the same time have that eagerness to go faster. At this stage, it is important that you are confident in your strokes/technique until you make the step up to the intermediate level. Once you feel comfortable in rough, messy ocean you will want to look into craft similar to below.
The New Stellar Intermediate ski has arrived and in the first weeks of its Australian launch was sold out nationwide. The boat is designed for intermediate paddlers sitting between the SR and the SEL for the larger paddlers and between the SR and SES models in the stellar range for the lighter paddlers.
What are the three stand outs of this ski?
This ski will fit a wider range of paddlers offering greater speed and stability. Being the newest in the series there have been some refinements to the boat:
- The cockpit has less volume around and behind the footbrace
- The hull(deck) has been narrowed in the catch area for tighter entry
- There is a slight rounding on the top of the seat back so it is more comfortable going down wind. The shape also allows greater hip rotation.
Elite Low volume (SEL) or Elite (SE) (very popular amongst 80kg Plus paddlers)
The SEL and SE models are a good combination of stability and speed for the Intermediate to an Advance paddler. The SE is just a higher volume (made to have more flotation so it pops out when the nose barrels into the trough of a runner) this feature is really suited to a large swell but can cause more cross wind interference for a lighter paddler, hence the SEL was created…each of the ski’s is popular for different reasons. Other than this these 2 boats are identical.
INTERMEDIATES BE WARNED – you need to try it as its tippy for the intermediate paddler but quite stable for the advance paddler, its only 44cm wide however has GREAT secondary stability which allows the boat to lean a fair amount without going in…especially good when you start to tire and when it gets rough. Its longer construction is suited to larger swells.
Level: Advanced paddler
Level Description: Hold a strong and solid paddling stroke with no stability concerns in windy conditions.
Craft Option: Elite shaped ski
It will be quite obvious if you are in the advanced level. Usually this comes with years of practice to build up a great foundation and is time to transition into an elite shaped ski.
(Made to suit smaller paddlers approx 80kg or less) Stellar Elite Small (SES) is an amazing piece of technology which has been paddled by some of the best Adventurethon and Ocean ski paddlers around the country and the world. One of the biggest pieces of feedback about this model is how the SES fits the smaller paddler and responds to the twitch of the hips for stability. From a performance point of view the SES Accelerates fast as it is only 41.5cm wide which allows it to easily pick up small runs or get off to a quick start. The trade off with a 41.5 cm wide boat is stability and although the stellar SES stacks up more stable than any of the other performance skis of similar size bracket, it’s an entirely NEW step to go from an intermediate boat to Performance boat so like any New boat, get in it and trial it out before buying. Elite Low volume (SEL) or Elite (SE) (very popular amongst 80kg plus paddlers) The SEL and SE models are a good combination of stability and speed for the Intermediate to Advance paddler. The SE is just a higher volume (made to have more flotation so it pops out when the nose barrels into the trough of a runner) this feature is really suited to a large swell but can cause more cross wind interference for a lighter paddler, hence the SEL was created…each of the ski’s is popular for different reasons. Other than this these 2 boats are identical. This leads into the next point Outlaw-Paddle-310LQ
2. Where will you be paddling most?
Match your skills with the water type you will be paddling in most. Whether it be the ocean or flat water; there are a range of ski’s to match these conditions. If you are planning on paddling ONLY in flat river water you may want to look into the level of ski above what your ocean ski might be (e.g. an SR paddler in the ocean could look at an SEI or SEL if only using them in the flat water). The other option is to buy a River specific boat like a K1 which is a light weight racing machine made entirely for the river. On the other hand, if the ocean will be your dominant condition it would be best to look into the ski that allows you to stay upright when it’s in the ocean. Trial each craft type till you find one that you that you can stay in, then try one you definitely can’t stay in and you should have a scope for where you are at stability wise, then its just a process of elimination. You should get an idea within 20 minutes of paddling the boat if it’s suitable to continue or not. Another aspect to keep in mind is whether you will be travelling to a destination. If so, you will want a lighter ski which you will be able to lift and remove from roof racks. If you struggle to walk far with a ski you can get a lighter build which not only responds more quickly in the water to acceleration, but also is easier to lift off the roof racks (in the stellar range this is what the sport, advantage, excel, and Ultra build means).
3. What are your paddling goals?
It’s always good to set yourself a goal, but this doesn’t mean being the number one paddler in the Olympics… Set yourself a small challenge that will encourage you to do your best every time you get out on the water. This could mean beating your PB, competing in a paddling event or even smashing your mate in a 10km race.
Your goal will also depend on what Ski you will want. For those beginners who are fast learners and will most likely reach the intermediate level in little time, don’t spoil the fun in getting a ski that will be too challenging. Many people make this mistake and don’t realize they are actually faster in a more stable craft than struggling to balance in a ski suitable for a more advanced level. Being able to use all power from your torso and back muscles to paddle is a stronger technique than just using your arms.
For the advanced, we know you will want the latest and fastest ski on the market. But remember “The only fast boat is the one you can paddle”.
4. Paddling with friends
Paddling with a friend has also become very popular especially with beginners. Although, there are still advanced/elite paddlers out there who like to paddle with their mate. Double crafts are made to cater for two paddlers and is another fun way to get out on the water. If you think you will be most likely paddling with a friend, go with the Stellar Double.
We hope this article helps you in identifying which ski will best suit your needs. Thanks to our 2014 Coffs Harbour Sponsor Stellar Kayaks, you have a range of crafts to choose from. Search their range at www.stellarkayaks.com.au.
If you have any queries on these products or on what type of craft you should use, feel free to talk to Joel Savage on 0447 496 489 or firstname.lastname@example.org where he will then pass your enquiry to the closest Stellar dealer with a possible recommendation of craft styles to suit your chosen activity.
Thanks our Adventurethon Coffs Harbour Sponsor:
Search their Range of crafts at www.stellarkayaks.com.au
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