New Bullet Single SurfSki – Colorful Designs
Mark Lewin, Custom Kayaks
 

MOTIVE AND TARGET MARKET – Technically minded paddlers, in discussion, have often heard me say that if we are going to advance in surfski design, then we will have to go back about 20 years. 20 years ago, all the top paddlers in South Africa, built their own surfski’s. The real innovator in ski design and the father of the shape of our open ocean surfski’s today, Tony Scott, had a quiver of surf skis. We would all arrive at a race with more than one, sometimes 3 surfski’s. We all had a “Bullet” for flat conditions, a good downwind ski, and a good “surf” ski that we used for lifesaving races in big surf.

Inevitably though, you could not always travel to other venues with 3 surf skis so you would take the fastest one and just learn how to use it down wind conditions etc. Managing the low profile fast ski’s though remained the art of the top paddlers who spent hours on them. The advent of one design for all conditions has helped the intermediate paddlers to cope with varying conditions.

We currently have a perfect new generation novice ski in the HORIZON, and the popularity it is attracting, is proof of this. Our SYNERGY caters for the intermediate paddler in all conditions and for A grade paddlers, particularly in down wind conditions.

To complete this range we need to have a “BULLET” option for the Elite paddlers.

The significant features and changes from our previous surf skis are as follows:-

The central flat section of the rocker has been extended from about 2m to 4m, (2m on either side of the tipping centre immediately under the paddler) Most of the current top surfski’s including our previous models has a 2m flat section only.

 
 

The ski has been narrowed throughout its length quite substantially compared to most of the competitive single surf skis. The deeper displacement overall and deep seat position makes both the primary and secondary stability a big improvement on the ICON in comparative tests.

The sitting position is subtly further forward than most leading surf skis out there, contributing to the acceleration, paining speed and responsiveness in down wind conditions.

 
 

The volume above the waterline has been shaved away completely, but there is noticeably more than enough volume in moving water to cater for light to heavy paddlers. We have allowed for a large cut away at the paddle entry point, but instead of the deck volume ballooning again, we have continued the cut away all the way to the nose. (Pictures 2-8)

We have been waiting for some real strong wind to make some final small changes to the top of the deck shape, to maximize the displacement and deflection of sea spray.

I am not a fan of the “hoods” on the front of the cockpits of some of the present surfski’s. While their primary function is to keep water out of the foot well, they are mostly a hindrance in many other ways. A big Westerly blow has come through Durban this morning and we are doing a downwind run this afternoon. If all is well, then we will start the cleaning up of the prototype this week and after molding will be in production in three weeks time.

Very fortunately, we are spoilt in Durban by having a complete choice of conditions in which to test new craft and I have access to a crop of some of the best paddlers in the World who are always keen to assist and be part of a development process.

I hear many comments like, “designed on a computer”, “shaped on a C&C” machine. Who is pushing the buttons? Are the shaped plugs ever tested? A computer can give you all the info in the World on drag co-efficents, displacements etc, but cannot tell you how a surf ski will surf a downwind run. How the ski will behave over a 4ft wave. How easily a tired paddler will handle the ski in a strong side chop. We have made manual adjustments to the prototype each time we have paddled it. I will not get trapped into a deadline or fall into the safeguard of sticking to what is out there right now to be safe.

I think that what we have in the BULLET is very different, very fast, and will catch the attention of the elite paddlers. Results and time will be our judge.

 

PIMPING YOUR RIDE

I just thought it would be of interest to include one or two pictures of how one or two customers are decorating their surf skis. These have been done by the customers privately, and are digitally cut out vinyl decal material.

 
 

Picture above are is of a SYNERGY with a deck cut out design by the owner Trevor Vernes who is an architect, and has the facility to digitally create the design.

Picture below is of the nipper board is a hand made creation, from scrap day glow vinyl material.

 
  Next week we have the Dolphin Coast Challenge along the KZN north coast. 74km, downwind over 2 days. Characterized usually by classic down wind conditions and often big inshore surf. Watch this space for comments on the race and feedback on the “BULLET”

See you on the water