Which is better for cross training for OC paddling, SUP or surf / ocean ski ?

Just after opinions as to what people have found beneficial. I paddle OC6, and OC1 and was wondering "if I could have one only, would a stand up paddle board or a ski give the best performance gains for my OC paddling"
Or should I just spend all my time on my OC1 and in an OC6.

Submitted by jasonp on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 2:15am

I`d go with a stand up board , fantastic cross training benefit , cheaper to buy than a ski .


#1 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 2:54am

If you want to improve your balance in an OC1 and correct any left-leaning tendencies, the surfski is an excellent option. While people I know swear by the SUP workout, I just don’t see it translating into better paddling technique in a canoe (unless your goal is to stand up in an OC1/OC6).

There are typically more used surfskis on the market than sand up paddle boards, so I would not necessarily agree that a SUP is the cheaper option.

#2 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 5:15am

Surf ski - by far better cross trainer than SUP, but not a good replacement for good ol fashioned time on the water in the one man.

aukaiNYC hit it on the head, surf ski helps the balance and really helps you get a better twist and lean on both sides to help your 6man canoe paddling.

Even new skis are reasonably priced.

#3 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:02am

Although its not on your list, cross training on a Paddleboard has many benefits. Its physically demanding and can improve your ability to read the bump.

#4 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:34am

I think the ski because it uses a faster stroke rate would also help to improve your aerobic strength.

#5 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:50am

My favorites--

OC1 downwind for speed
Standup for power - I love to surf on my standup short board cheat - standup long board for balance
Running for cardio - boring and yuk [put on the MP3]

I agree jibofo, ski is great and if I had one in my quiver I'd be using it!

#6 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 9:26am

If your wife or your life can only fit one...go with the ski for reasons already stated. Be prepared for a longer learning curve. Prefect world...go with all of them for the variety using the ski as your base training toy.

#7 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 10:08am


SS awesome balance while sitting in a boat (if a good fast ski) and unreal twisting of core that translates to OC. Very good complement of activities. SS's are FAST too, so lots of fun.

SUP is also good paddle training IF you use a good stroke. Lots of SUP paddlers don't have high performance paddle skills. If you focus on same techniques as paddling an OC/SS, you'll incorporate good twisting and forward reaching strokes. Plus you pull more of body into it. Not to mention building new skills surfing waves..

They're both different, both awesome fun.

But, if I had a choice of only one I'd go with a SUP (especially if you like surfing waves), followed by a ski soonest...

#8 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 5:43pm

lets put it this way, if u want to do cross training for your paddlling and you have the time to do ski or sup, why not just take the that time and go on your oc1. the only way to paddle better is to paddle more!

#9 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 7:44pm

I have been pounding the miles on the SUP for a few weeks. I have a long paddle (84 inches, 12 inches overhead) and a 10 inch blade at the end. I take a long stroke and pull hard the length of the board and dip my legs and flex my abs down (sort of following arron napoleans style) and I feel really strong...the OC1 paddle has such great leverage you feel like you can rip through the water after pulling a big blade at the end of such a poor lever. After not doing much weight training for some weeks I easily hit a personal best 12 reps with a 200lb dumbell in the 1 arm row and doing roll outs with the ab wheel feel easier than ever so I guess I am pretty amazed. Cardio improvement, none noticed...I think the lower stroke rate and having to do only a low number of strokes before switching sides makes it more of a strength exercize. Balance improvement not really that I notice in the canoe..


1) if you want to get strong and work your whole body SUP is amazing and theraputic to the back.

2) I think the high stroke rate from SS would be more of a benefit to OC but you can work till you puke paddling a SUP into the wind so I guess it is hard to really be sure but my gut tells me SS (I have done more kayak miles but I think I get it.)

3) The balance from SS would be more of a benefit

4) Sitting down in a surf ski with you knees in your chest and blowing out your lower back while working over you rotator cuff???

Just kidding! I think mixing it up is a great way to add years to whatever you are doing by not hitting the exact same grove over over and over again.

It is this. Make your weak link stronger. That is what a good coach can see. If you have cardio for days and no balance problems and need to get stronger, forget the weights and pull a long stroke upwind with a big blade on the end of a 84 inch paddle and you WILL get strength specific to paddling.

For me I hate the hamster wheel feeling of a double blade even though it is more effecient. Check out Arron Naploean on the SUP and when you dig a deep stroke like that putting your whole body into it I love it. And my whole body feels great after SUP is theraputic. Just sitting in a SS (epic V10 sport) the position is kinda harsh but I think the learning curve is daunting as you are spending more time in the water and balancing that cranking.

What is your weak link? Mine is balance and maintaining a high stroke rate so I am doing the wrong thing but I am having fun with my SUP while I wait for Scorpius or Naia test ride so I can solo over to Catalina. Woo Hoo!

#10 Wed, 09/10/2008 - 9:45pm

Some days I don't have much time for a paddle, but I really want to get some watertime...even though it's not much.

A Surfski has no set up (or pack up), you just get on and go.

It really gets the heart rate up, if you want to go hard.
I found that it got the heart rate up, way more than I could on an OC1.
I think there are lots of transfer skills that have helped my OC1 racing.

It does take a little time to balance, but it is worth it.

When starting out on a ski I would try and keep my nose to the nose. If I was to turn my head, I would tend to lose my balance. If so taking your legs off the foot peddles and puting them in the water will hold your balance.

It is a craft that suits all water, flat or big (depending on your skill level)
They do come pre-made for limited height ranges. I am a shorty and not alot of secondhand surfskis were made for me, but I got a mate to make up some simple plates that can place the rudder peddles where I need them.

If you have a novice friend that wants to try your OC1, you can tag along on your ski and use your OC1 paddle. It is an OC1 without that trainer wheel on the left.

They are cheap secondhand if you are not too fussy. Even those 20 year old clungers go fast.

A ski is an awsome second craft.

#11 Thu, 09/11/2008 - 12:14am

A ski is an awesome first craft.

#12 Thu, 09/11/2008 - 10:10am

I think if you are looking to improve your stroke and technique stick with oc1 and oc6

If you are looking for a different workout go SUP

If you are looking to improve your ability to read the ocean go paddleboard

Balance improvement SS

Hope this helps

#13 Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:18pm

Huki hit it right on the nose. Ive heard the same thing from some really good watermen here.

#14 Thu, 09/11/2008 - 10:50pm

Improved balance is something that you can get from SUP, surfski, high-kneel canoe, and flat-water kayaks. Since we are sitting in OCs it is probably best to work on balance while sitting (flat-water kayak and SS). However, SUP and high-kneel are great workouts for the core muscles and your stroke and we all know that core muscle work is transferable to paddling (and since you're paddling already, all that much better). All paddling is transferable to other paddling. Just go out and paddle anything you can get your hands on!

#15 Fri, 09/12/2008 - 6:54am

OCPaddler makes a good point about the amount of attachments between the surfski and OC-1 but I guess the same could be said about the SUP and being the SUP storage is probably easier since its shorter, I'd have to go with SUP first but Skis a darn close second, but I'm shopping around for an OC-1. I'd like to see the SUP prices come down to under $1000 if I was to get one since you can get a reasonably sweet tanker for under that price.

#16 Fri, 09/12/2008 - 9:29am

It seems that there are a couple guys (like Arron Napolean) who can train SUP and win there and then hop back in the OC1 and be a top competitor...would seem to indicate great crossover between the two. Other than the Laura Bartlett phenomena is that the case with surfski too?

#17 Fri, 09/12/2008 - 3:31pm

Maui Kjedson has a surfski and Olympic K1 back ground.
Lewis (Tahiti) who won the world surfski started out in Outrigger, Va'a and paddled K1 also.

So maybe K1 for flat water speed and balance.
If you want to learn how to balance, try sitting in a K1 kayak.
I didn't learn to balance too well but my hula and breath holding is now awsome.
K1 kayaks are suited to those that have time to master them and have access to flat water. They are not too cheap even second hand.
I have seen guys paddle them with an Outrigger paddle. I have also seen some guys stand up in them...why??? maybe because they can... and we can't?

#18 Fri, 09/12/2008 - 9:32pm

My thoughts...

Cross training should be different from your chosen sport. You ought to work different muscle groups as it is, after all, your day off from paddling OC-1. Choose to run, cycle, or strength train. Better this way for active recovery from your, hopefully, grueling preceding day of paddling. For what it's worth, my two cents.

Otherwise, why not be sport specific and paddle OC-1?


#19 Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:09am

IMHO your accessory training should focus on your "weak link" or what might be holding your back in OC. For me my balance is crap and I dont have the best tolerance for keeping a high stroke rate up so if I was going to do something else to improve I bet surfski would help. As my SS friend says, "after this the OC will feel like a barge" and I think the variation of the movement will allow more training without putting more miles on the OC groove. After doing SUP I would say it is first rate for someone who wants to get stronger in a way that will carry over to OC....after pulling a 10inch blade on a 84inch lever upwind, the 53 OC paddle feels like nothin.

When they interview the top guys it seems like weights and running. While it is good to balance out the body, I dont see that running is going to help you paddle as much as cranking on a SS as the muscles groups efficiency is key rather than vo2max

#20 Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:24am

Thanks everyone for your comments. That has now given me some good information to base my decision on. Who knows, maybe this season I'll get a SUP and work on my strength and next season a SS to work on balance and aerobic fitness. Will let you know which way I go and how useful it is proving. One added bonus of the SUP, I borrowed one last season and took my 4 year old son for a safe stable paddle. Don't think it's so easy with the SS or paddle board.
Cheers and see you on the water.

#21 Sat, 09/13/2008 - 2:40pm

Standing in the K1 is just another balancing exercise that we do, you can do it in a surf ski as well.

jason; you won't be disappointed with whatever you decide to do. there all great watercraft and they are what you make em.

#22 Sat, 09/13/2008 - 6:52pm

After all the good advice, I have spent much more time on my OC1 and am trying to push my limits with regards to distance, stroke rate and conditions. All of which is providing improvements. I also got lucky and last week purchased a second hand eleu 12ft paddleboard. It's one of the earlier ones shaped by Jr himself when Outrigger Connection were still doing them. I'm still amazed at the glide on the thing, that man knows a thing or two about building good ocean craft. After a couple of test paddles, I'm getting to grips with the balance and positioning, and I find it's different enough from paddling an outrigger that I think I'll make further gains with strength, balance and endurance. Maybe even cardio. I now want to get out and chase some bumps, as I hear that this board is one of the best. Thanks again all for your wise words.

#23 Wed, 01/28/2009 - 12:12am

I vote for swimming, because how many I went help save who no can swim when they fall off their oc-1 or ski. I tell you, eventually, most of us going lose our boats way off shore, so we better be in shape for swim the 1/2 mile or more back to shore in strong current.

Kden, now I remember asking the advice of one elite paddler on the Big Island, who use to make both skis and oc-1, about why he only paddle oc-1 and not his ski anymore? His answer was specificity, for the oc-1 stroke requires considerable amount of skill to remain efficient, and if you don't practice it, there will be considerable stroke deficiencies. So stick with your oc-1 and improve your distance per stroke, for you won't improve doing anything else.

#24 Wed, 01/28/2009 - 7:13am

Thats funny you say that. In one of the videos on here Luke sais that if you stick with 1 man the better you get the more fun it becomes. Couldnt be more true.

#25 Wed, 01/28/2009 - 8:30am

Right toe! Yeah! Doesn't it amaze you that in order to improve and go fast, paddlers will do everything else, but paddle? Just amazing, for I no understand the logic for that. Go take a two week ski vacation, then come back and paddle. You'll notice quite a bit of stroke deterioration, which will take 4 to 6 weeks for get back up to speed again. Of course, if you not racing or it is off season, by all means go play with your SUP, surfski or bicycle. But if you in the middle of the racing season, no fool around and get sidetracked by all this x-train nonsense. Be serious, go show some respect for the other paddlers gunning for you, for they expect you to stay in top form and at the peak of your game or else no fun...............right?

#26 Wed, 01/28/2009 - 10:23am

Well !!........... times when surfski oc1 and V1 are competing in the same event, then the X training in a ski would allow performance to beat the oc1.
Does respect go to the top dog because he is the fastest and lightest performer?

#27 Thu, 01/29/2009 - 3:06pm

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