Equipment
 
                 
 
                 

The minimum requirements:

  • A waveski with footstraps which are supplied standard.
  • A two-blade paddle - wood, aluminium or glass-fibre shaft.
  • 1 to 3 Skegs depending on the slots on the bottom deck
  • Seatbelt to enable you to learn to Eskimo Roll and surf properly.
  • Buttpad - foam seatpad for comfort and to minimise slipping.
       
                 

Suggested extras:

  • Wetsuit shorts for belt and seat padding or wetsuit in cooler water.
  • Paddle-leash - rubber bungi-cord attaching paddle to waveski.
                 
       
                 
Selecting a board
                 
             
                 
       
                 

Choose a board suitable for your weight and skill and in this regard your local Waveski Surfing Association can be of great help in advising on a board suitable for your needs and within the budget you set.

There are three types of board manufacture:

Pop out design - (obsolete) Solid fibreglass shell with a hollow core made in a mould (hence the name), the cheapest, strongest but heaviest boards with limited wave riding potential. Incorrectly this is what people might call a paddleski and when carrying it you have to carry it on your back holding the footstraps above your head. These boards are not recommended as they are difficult to control and even dangerous in the surf. They leak and have plugs to drain the water which ends up rusting your car and are not any cheaper than mass produced moulded foam filled boards.

Modern Factory Produced - Thin fibreglass shell with usually a brown foam filling that results in a lightweight and strong construction. These boards have modern shapes which perform well in the surf and are durable and easy to carry stylishly under your arm. New boards are available at most surf stores and big supermarkets. They come in different sizes for deferent weight categories. When starting it is advisable to select a board that is over buoyant and makes balancing and catching waves easy. For your first board select one above your weight category. New boards start at around R1800 and can be bought second hand for around a quarter to half that price depending on their condition.

Custom Shaped - To make lightweight but strong boards 99% of all custom waveskis are made from shaped polystyrene and glassed with an epoxy resin. This makes them stronger and lighter than using surfboard type blanks with polyester resin which ding easily. Selecting your shaper is a personal preference, like selecting an architect and a lot depends on how you relate to the design philosophy of the shaper as you will get what you want within their parameters. It is recommended that you only have a custom shaped once you have been waveski surfing for a while and know what you want. Second hand custom boards are great for starting with or progressing to and often cost the same as second hand factory produced boards because they are not as durable. Some shapers build quality boards that are very strong and have great resale values. Custom boards range from R2400 to +R4000 depending on design and colours, plus accessories.

The following notes on equipment indicate influences that will affect your waveski surfing experience that you should take into account to shape your style.

Knee Height - This is determined by the seat to foot well distance and affects the height of your knees above the board. The higher they are the less stable the board and this also affects your style when riding waves. With knees high they tend to work opposite to what you are wanting to do by getting in the way and causing a bad counterbalance. South Africans tend to ride with knees lower than the Australians and French. As a general rule, when seated on the board you should be able to place you fist upright between the board and your knees.

Paddle length - A shorter paddle produces less paddling power, but are less obstructive and allow for more radical manoeuvres and rail to rail transitions. Another advantage of short paddles is that they allow for rapid paddling which allows for maximum acceleration over a short distance such as when catching a wave. Paddle length affects style when waveski surfing and shorter paddles look less awkward and thus improve style. South Africans tend to use shorter paddles compared to the rest of the international community. Paddles cost from R150 - R800 for metal to carbon fibre construction. In cold water and weather a fibreglass or wood shaft is recommended as it is not as cold on the hands.

Skegs (fins) - Skegs provide thrust and directional stability. Skeg placement takes place in constructed boxes on the bottom deck and are secured by pins and screw(s). Ancient boards used paper, which expands in water, wrapped around the skeg at the base inside the box thus holding them securely in place. Hitting the sand or rocks causes them to be lost easily though. This method can be used in an emergency if you have a broken pin or screw slot. Your whole wave riding experience with a board is affected by the skeg size, shape and positions.

By trial and error you can determine what makes the board easiest to turn but not slip out in a bottom turn. Generally waveskis have a tri-fin set-up with two smaller outer skegs and a larger centre skeg set further back toward the tail. Skeg placement is orientated around the belt position (side skegs behind the belt) and the back of the seat (centre skeg furthermost forward position is below the coccyx).

Seat Belt - This is a critical safety device stopping you being washed off the board and having your ankles trapped resulting in injury. Seat belt also allows you to Eskimo roll which vastly increases your enjoyment of waveski surfing by not having to mount the board every time you fall over. A seat belt allows for controlled manoeuvres such as powered bottom turns which without a belt would not be possible. Re-entries and aerials where you get airborne are simply not possible without a belt. Use one from the start! Later we discuss how to work with one and become exercises to be confident using one without feeling trapped.

Leash - The only benefit of a leash is that you can hang on to the paddle when a wave comes and not loose the board. However a waveski caught in a wave becomes dangerous to other surfers and should always be held a leash does not stop the board accelerating before being restrained. Use a leash to retain the paddle and always hold the board by the footstraps with both hands facing nose first into the wave. Learn to Eskimo roll by contacting your local association. It's easy and you can get it right in a day or at most within a few weeks.