Skrivet av: Peter | oktober 25, 2010

So what ski is faster?

So what ski is faster?

Let’s say that I want to buy a new ski. I live in Europe where the ocean waves rarely reach 2 meter. Should I then go for a 6,4-6,5 m racing ski from Epic, Fenn, Think, Nelo etc, or should I search for a shorter, older racing ski, like the ones that they used in the fastest Molokai races 13-15 years ago?

The slower ski is faster!

Clyde Hedlund gave me an answer to this tricky question;

”I noticed that I’d get more fatigued paddling a long distance ski than I do paddling the conventional ski. 

I first attributed this effect to maybe I was going faster in the ski.  But then I notice I’d be slowing down because of the fatigue setting in. 

I suspect this all has to do with hull efficiency?  That is a low efficiency hull, although faster, requires more energy to paddle.  While a more efficient hull, that is slower, requires less energy to paddle. 

So for a long distance race over three  hours, I’d paddle the more efficient (slower) ski, and use the less efficient (faster) ski in shorter (under 2 hours) races. 

This is why, the Molokai record is still held by the ”slower” more efficient (surfing) hull”.

The faster ski is faster!

But when following the discussions on the forum at , the topic ”shorter boats for wind chop” , ”Red Pepper” says something else;

”I can’t see where a shorter ski would have much advantage in wind chop – I would think the period between the waves is too short for a few feet of length one way or the other to appreciably change the wave effects on a 17 – 21 ft boat.

In my experience the lighter boats pick up the wind chop better (which may explain what you notice in an ICF boat).

In a couple of races this year, using either my V10L or my Thunderbolt, I’ve had a distinct advantage when the winds kicked up because I could blow through the waves that were giving fits to the racers in ICF boats.

I’m sure much of it has do with hull designs in this class of boat that are oriented towards working waves – in either direction”.




  1. on very long races (50 km +) I am pretty sure that more stable boats have an edge over very fast boats, at least if you are not an elite paddler. Fatigue and low blood sugar levels worsen your balance, which is the reason why faster but tippier boats require more power than more stable ones. Being afraid to capsize under rough conditions also strains your mental power.

  2. Theoretically a longer kayak is faster, if the engine is strong enough. But the longer boat (6.50) will need more power in slower speeds like 10-11 km/h. If you have the same hull in two different lengths, 6.50 and 6 m (same weight), the shorter will demand less power in speeds like 11-12 km/h. That is why you “hit the wall” earlier when paddling long distance with a long boat. But are you strong and keep the speed up you would probably not feel this. When designing a kayak hull you need to decide what speed (type of athlete) it should be optimized for in flat water conditions. But in practical it is much more complicated than just this. Then you need to add benefits of easy acceleration, waves, headwind (speeds going down), downwind (speeds going up)… etc.

  3. The french champion, Benoit Leroux has a 6.05m long, 40 width surfski , the brand is Okrea and the boat name : Le 16. This boat won many medals and titles. It is interesting to think about it when you read this topic … Is it a better boat for european seas and a better boat for long races ?



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