While you are walking along the broad water or running around your favourite lake, have you ever wondered what it would be like to paddle? I hope the answer is yes because now is the perfect time to start learning as ocean racing is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia. 

What’s stopping you? 

In the past you may have seen iron women greats like Karla Gilbert, Hayley Bateup and new young gun Amy Nurthen paddle out through massive surf with ease and return to the beach safe and well. Add to this the skis length, width and 18 kilogram weight and you will be thinking ‘I could never do that’. So you are aware, these surf skills are developed over a long time, as a beginner paddler you would never be expected to paddle in these conditions plus this is surf life saving, not ocean paddling

Ocean Paddling – Its new!

Ocean paddling is a more gentle and relaxing sport. The skis are super fast on flat water as well as in open water. They are a little longer than the standard surf ski but are up to 10 kilograms lighter, making them easier to handle. This not only helps in carrying the ski to the water but also lifting the ski back up on your car after training.

As the sport has grown, so have the number of manufactures who have all recognised the importance of supplying an ocean ski that is specifically build for you, the female paddler – like the Epic V10L. While the weight of the V10L is still the same, the volume of the ski is reduced and the seat has been moved forward making the ski more efficient. 

Other ocean skis are designed around a paddler’s ability like the Think Evo 2, Ozflyte R21 and the Epic V8 and V10 Sport. Core stability and a great centre of balance are key skills to have when learning how to paddle. All these skis are designed to help you improve your balance over time so you learn proper technique faster and limit the number of swims you might have. 

Female paddlers make the best beginner paddlers

You might not know it but you have the makings of becoming a great paddler. You have a natural build in grace and for a coach this is a dream come true. Paddling is all about rhythm and developing a good feel for the water. Where male paddlers try and muscle their way along, a female paddler does not have the same strength so you tend to focus in on efficiency and correct technique. 

Correct technique is king and with it you will be able to travel further each stroke and hence the ocean ski will move faster and faster. With more and more time on the water you will find that you will be beating some of the male paddlers in your new training group. 

What you are saying?

“I was looking for a new sport as I injured my ankle. I still wanted an individual sport but after learning the basics of paddling I am now really enjoying the social interaction of training in a group as well as having the confidence to participate in time trial / handicap races after only 6 months of paddling” Dee-Ann Jackson Qld

Do I have to paddle in open water? 

The joy of ocean paddling is that you can paddle any where you like. Most beginners will start out in flat water to build confidence and skills. Over time you can start to venture out into open water on flatter days. With the current increase of novice and recreational paddlers coming into the sport, flat water community time trial and handicap events are popping up all over the country, none more popular than Blast Paddlers.com. 

Most racing organisers are now including races for novice / beginner paddlers. Currently in Queensland, a new two part series has formed where the first three races are in rivers or calmer waters to introduce paddlers to racing (Pacific Ocean Series) while in Sydney, paddlers can enjoy the Sydney Harbour Challenge which is part of the Harbour Series. These organisers understand that you might never wish to go in open water but would still like to be part of a racing series. 

How do I start?

Before you go out and purchase a new ski and paddle, find a coach in your area. A number of former world champion paddlers have started their own ski coaching businesses. A one on one lesson will generally cost between $80-150 for a 60-90mins session. This will include all your equipment and the coach will ensure you start in calm water. Simply Google ‘surf ski coaching’ and you will find a coach near you. 

Its time to start

Ocean paddling is a great low impact sport that works the whole body. It has a strong power to weight ratio so small lighter paddlers can go as fast as heavier paddlers. You will have access to some of the most beautiful waterways in the country and be able to paddle along with a school of dolphins if you are lucky. 

Be sure to be patient when starting out and give your body time to adjust to sitting on the water as it will be nothing like you have done before. 

Have fun and see you on the water

Julian Norton-Smith

Your Personal Paddling Coach