OC-1 vs. SurfSki.....Why??

I have been looking out at Catalina Island for the last two years and thought it would be great to paddle out there. I knew nothing about anything related to paddling. So the first thing I encountered on the net was "surf ski" which was sold as the fastest, funnest, most sea worthy thing out there. The videos of surf ski are amazing and caneo was portrayed as slow outdated technology. I ended up buying an OC-1 because

1) The paddling motion of a canoe feels better to me than a surf ski. After getting off a kayak I feel it to be a little more of a shortened torso twisting motion than a long powerful pull through. It has a great flow but my body feels better after canoe than kayak and I feel like I can put my whole body into the canoe stroke though a longer range of motion.

2) There seemed to be more community around outrigger here in so cal than in surf ski and the possibility of being part of a team and having some comraderie was appealing. This is just a perception and may not be true!

any thoughts?? I am a novice so take it for what it is worth. I dont think it has to be either/or but I am curious if anyone else leans toward or away from OC for these reasons.


Submitted by Shawn Michael on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 3:51pm

When you gonna paddle to Catalina?

#1 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 3:58pm

They both have great attributes and are similar but different I started in dugout canoes, and out rigging in 1990 and two years ago started learning surf skiing But I try to keep an open mind and learn as much as I can from each. My roots go deep hear or I would move to Hawaii and pull there with the big boys.


#2 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 4:59pm

Hello Shawn
I really think its a great personal advantage to try your hand at as many water craft as you can, coz the benefits feed off and into each other. You learn something from each one, which contributes to you becoming more of an all round waterperson.
For example, I have paddled outriggers canoes for nearly 10 years. Mainly OC6 (paddling and steering), but never felt inclined to buy an OC1. About 6 years ago, I bought a racing ski and am totally besotted with it. The main aspect that attracts me to my ski is the symmetry and balance involved and being low to the water. To me, it is a highly technical stroke, and if you felt like you could get more power out of an OC1 stroke, I think maybe your technique was faulty. That is not hard to do, coz I find the technical side of an efficient stroke is very complex on a ski, and after 6+ years, I am still learning. Pushing off the front foot, engaging your abs and rotating your body through the stroke are all similar to OC1ing, without the added safety of an outrigger to give you 'free' balance.
If you are going offshore, the safety of an outrigger attached to your canoe is a huge plus...coz there are lots of places I would go on an OC1, but would never go on a ski...coz if you are really tuckered and you are knocked off your ski and the wind has pulled your hull broadside to the wind...it can be tricky to get back on before fatigue takes over.
In Australia, ski paddlers usuallly come from the Surf Life Saving Club background and are usually VERY selfsufficient, so they are usually not into paddling for the social side...so I agree that outrigging is probably way more social than ski paddling.
So enjoy your OC1, but still keep your mind open to what you can learn from a racing or ocean ski. Actually, I paddled a specific ocean ski a few weeks ago for the first time..and now I am secretly planning how to add an ocean ski to my collection of water toys....coz it does allow you to slice through the chop and not plough through it.
PS. Have you ever tried Stand Up Paddling? That will take you on another very educational journey and you will learn heaps about balance and rotation and using your legs and hips and it goes on and on and on...
So...my advice is close your mind to nothing and open it to everything and you'll learn bucketloads and get to enjoy the ocean even more than you do now.
All the best
Janita K

#3 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 5:18pm


Check this race out,


I don't know anything about your fitness but theres one man and two man relay divisions.

See you there,

#4 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 6:27pm

Janita, I figured that I was missing something with the double paddle stroke, I think the initial ease of paddling and balancing the OC-1 makes it more approachable.

Going on an OC-6 to across the channel looks like a ton of fun.

My wifes family has serveral are all elite rowers...they travel all over the world competing and have such great friendships with the guys they row with, just seems like a blast. I imagine going to Hawaii someday and paddling out to an island just being a very amazing experience.

#5 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 9:29pm

nb1376 I think the catalina challenge is way beyond my current level, , but I will get there next year.

Thanks for posting the link. I was thinking of going going Avalon to redondo beach or san pedro..26 miles but maybe not a good route for some reason.

#6 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 9:32pm

I was wondering what the oc-1 times are on those crossings vs surf ski?

#7 Mon, 01/14/2008 - 9:33pm

The stroke techniques and boat designs are so different, as to make it very hard to compare. I would say that due to the lack of an ama, and a paddle stroke that allows for a faster cadence, the surf-ski engenders a more aggressive aproach to how I maneuver through the water. In extreme conditions, I find myself to be more seaworthy on a surf-ski.

#8 Tue, 01/15/2008 - 6:29am

Surf skis are faster, generally.

#9 Tue, 01/15/2008 - 6:35am

Surfskis are faster than oc-1. Surfskis have a slower learning curve because they can be hard to balance in so hardly anyone paddles them. anyone can paddle an oc-1.

Surfskis have always been the faster craft. No ama to add drag, surfs super good. These days it seems that because of the huge oc-1 market surfski technology is falling behind and I think soon oc-1s will be just as fast.

This is all under the assumption that both crafts are being paddled by equally talented athletes.

#10 Tue, 01/15/2008 - 8:56am

You wouldnt think the ama would add that much drag but I caught a little peice of weed on my rudder yesterday and I could feel it instantly...that must be a problem in racing condition!

Maybe the choice for many comes down to just that, OC-1 is easier...but for me it was the feeling of the stroke (which is also easier I guess and I "got it" and felt it broke up the monotony to switch sides as desired, fry one side and then go back to the next etc.

the oppurtunity to be in a 6 man was the other.

#11 Tue, 01/15/2008 - 10:57am

Surfski also saves time because you don't need to rig--take it off your car and go directly to the water.

#12 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 9:34pm

Shawn Michael, I have something else for you to consider. Instead of a one man or surfski why not consider a nice high end recliner. I figure you're going to have to drop $3500 for either a one man or kayak. So instead buy a 42" LCD Hi-Def TV and a nice comfy recliner and go that route instead. I can guarantee that you'll use that wayyy more then a one man or kayak.

#13 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 8:16am

Hey Shawn Michael,
I started surfskiing last year as a way to crosstrain for the OC-1 (and 6-man I guess) and ended up totally falling in love with it! So much that I have only been on my one-man twice since..
It's faster, you catch waves better and it's a great workout!
I'm sure I will eventually do some OC-1 races but for right now, this is still a challenge and SOOO much fun!! Try it!

#14 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:48am

Im going to give the OC-1 two years and then I will try the surf ski, esp if the novice team boat thing does not work out.

Thanks for replies.

4000$ for a pair of arm chairs from ho hum crate and barrel last month, boats are a better buy than I thought

#15 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:00am

Try both now. Each has its own benefits, especially when learning how to paddle. I'm relatively new to OC and Surfski. I find the learning curve in surfski complements OC and vice-versa. Best to develop technique right from the beginning than fixing old bad-habits. Plus, surfski is lots of fun and you develop great balance that makes OC1 like sitting on a barge.

#16 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:02pm

Aloha Shawn,
It has been my experience that learning both technics will make you a better paddler. Kayaking is a stroke for maximum stability and great conditioning. (That is where I first started) Then when I jumped into a one man, there was a minor learning curve to develop the techniche. The balance was solid and the confidence in big surf was tried and true. I believe that the paddler that takes the time to learn both, expands their experience to levels few realize. Consider it!

#17 Sat, 02/02/2008 - 11:46pm

I never paddled a surfski, and try hard to keep an open mind.
But I did paddled a lot in a sea kayak in challenging conditions, and it was fun until you had to reenter your capsized boat.
Not an issue with OC.

Moreover, I like better the canoe stroke. More elegant. Period.
Not everything should comply only to effectiveness.

Anyway, if going fast on water is your motto, paddle isn't the good answer, no matter which one.
So enjoy the ride at your pace whatever your choice of boat would be.

Team work is the other great deal coming with OC and va'a.
Something very hard to come by in the kayakers world (as I see it around me)

#18 Mon, 11/19/2012 - 11:23pm

I notice that paddlers that do both SS1 and OC1 prefer the SS1 in flat conditions and the OC1 in rough conditions. Paddling an OC1 in flat water is the pits. But paddling a very narrow and tippy SS1 in the flat ocean is more enjoyable, for you go faster, cover more ocean and makes for a shorter day.

#19 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 7:30am

Skis have wider hulls at waterline, so I don't know why everyone says OC1 is slower because of the ama. That's like saying catamarans are slower because they have 2 hulls when really it's a faster design because 2 skinnier hulls are faster than 1 fatter one. I flipped through a naval architecture book at the library one time, so I'm basically an authority on the subject. Skis are faster because the kayak stroke is more efficient. Which is why the speed difference isn't as great when going downwind, because you get your power from the bumps and not as much from the paddle. Anyone wants to dispute this point, please route your comments to my administrative assistant HealthyEarth who recently beat me for the first time in Manny's race and is therefore qualified to clarify any of the finer nuances of my theories.

#20 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 9:20am

"I flipped through a naval architecture book at the library one time, so I'm basically an authority on the subject."


#21 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 11:33am

True, I do have a little more authority on the subject at hand, and it is true that some of my knowledge has to do with me being a winner and pswitzer being a loser. It is true that the better paddler you are the better knowledge you have about all things paddling and canoe building, towing, rigging, coaching, and paddle nutrition . So since about 11:30am Saturday, Nov 17, 2041 years after the death of baby Jesus (2012) I am one of the five most athoratative figures in paddle thinking. My words on this forum should spread like viagra laced red bull at the end of the Blue Makua race.

#22 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 12:02pm

Ball busting aside ... If your gonna flip through any book ... Start with this one from this Guy:



#23 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 2:50pm

Interesting thoughts on OC1/SS paddlers. I have been paddling an OC1 for about 4 years now, but started skiing in the early/mid 80's lifeguard events in SoCal and moved on to open skis after that. Its probably more a matter of hours (years) than any other more technical reason, but I find that because of the agility and quickness of a ski, it is actually easier than dealing with an ama and single bladed paddle in downwind conditions than and OC1. Recovering on one side while pulling on the other has, for me, been much more natural in rough water than flat with the ski. So I am much more likely to race or just train on my ski when the wind is up, and paddle the canoe in milder conditions.

#24 Thu, 11/22/2012 - 5:36pm

in my case you do whatever's cheaper.

#25 Fri, 11/23/2012 - 12:54pm

Then why don't we enjoy the benefits of both and ditch the single blade paddle and use a double blade wing paddle on an OC1 .... can't get any faster than that...and might even cure your sore ass....lol.

Healthyearth and Pswitzer... how can either of you claim to be ALL knowledgeable when you don't even have your own Blog yet.... isn't that the defining moment, or am i loosing my mantel as well as my memory in old age?......hop to it gentlemen....hahaha

#26 Sat, 11/24/2012 - 2:39pm

Rambo, I think you have uncovered the real difference between OC1 and ski paddlers: The canoe guys chuckle at the sheer absurdity and uncoolness of using a wing blade on an OC1 and then the thought leaves their head forever. The dorky ski paddlers, however, begin calculating how much extra power they'd get from the higher seating position, and how they'd modify the i'akos to accomodate the wider stroke, and it becomes an itch that must be scratched..... If I'm not mistaken I recall someone employing this approach during an ultra-distance event somewhere in the U.S. years ago. Maybe one of your R.L. research assistants can dig up the goods for all of us to enjoy...

By the way, how do you have time to doodle around on OCP during Movember? In fact how do you even eat, or sleep? It must be exhausting dodging all those groupies, yet you still were able to crank out another ass-kicker of a video for the masses to lap up? Do tell!

#27 Mon, 11/26/2012 - 7:37am

Pswitzer, i had miss MoneyPenny scan the archives ( my long suffering frontal cortex) it was Dave Anderson that won the non stop Missouri 340ml on an oc1 with wing paddle. It allowed him to take 30 sec shut eyes to ward off sleep fatigue without falling in, 45 hrs I believe. Cool?...... I think wrong C word, I think it's maybe Tradition ( shit that's a T word ) reason for outrigger guys sniggering at 2 blade OC1ing, but yeah the looks arn't too cool when you do it in public. There's a photo on OCP somewhere of a advert for I think a Hurricane copy ( could be wrong don't shoot me Mike) with a Chinese guy demoing with wing ski paddle, funny at the time but gave Dave his win.

See ya somewhere round the World. Merry Xmas everyone and don't forget to shave off those horrible Moe's end of November. R

#28 Mon, 11/26/2012 - 11:16am

The Anderson twins, Will and Dave are still paddling here in the Pacific Northwest, and while they usually paddle their OC-2 with single blade paddles, on occasion they do use kayak wing paddles. There was some controversy a year or two ago when they won an event using the kayak blades.

I asked them about the use of the kayak paddles, and they said that they actually prefer using the single blades, but in ultra distance races they use the kayak blades for part of the race just to use slightly different muscles and stroke technique...and maybe for a quick snooze too.

#29 Mon, 11/26/2012 - 5:05pm

Rambo- I would go start my own blog, but I'm loyal to Keizo and trying to get him page views. For every 100 extra page view I get him he'll return 1 of my text messages to him. I'm trying to negotiate him picking up my phone calls, so far we are pretty far apart on any agreement. It's sad cause I know he would really enjoy more of my company.

The Ski- will teach you how to surf better and increase your cardio when training in the non-surf conditions.
The ski is difficult to learn the balance in the beginning and for some they never get it, actually most don't seem to.
There's a lot less maintenance with a ski, that is why I got on it. Someone like me who is short on time, I just leave ski on my truck and that saves me enough time to get in some better practices.
I think the ski is better on your body, just anecdotal evidence.

#30 Tue, 11/27/2012 - 1:34pm

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