Review: SURFSKI with the Pros
SURFSKI with the Pros, by Kevin Brunette, is probably the best collected wisdom any newcomer to surf skiing could ever hope to come across.
I saw Rob’s recommendation on surfski.info and thought it would be worth a look. I, like a lot of newcomers to the sport, have a heap of questions that we’re afraid to ask because we’re afraid it will make us look like the complete noobs we are.
On this blog, I openly questioned the differences between paddle construction and blade sizes, and got roundly slapped for being such a dumbass, which in fairness, I really was on that topic. If I’d had this book, I would have had some of the answers already in plain English even I could understand.
I had a head slapping moment when, after reading it in the book, I realised why when I was travelling at a snails pace in the water, my rudder didn’t seem to work. Of course, it was stalling, creating a tippy nine-inch anchor, but up until then, no one had explained the phenomenon to me (and physics was never my strong point at school).
But that undersells this book. It is a comprehensive overview of the things you need to consider before getting into the sport, including explaining all the trade offs between speed and stability in ski design, safety issues and equipment, basic and advanced skills and some race craft tips. Kevin has worked in conjunction with Dawid and Nikki Mocke to produce this book, so isn’t using only his own suggested approaches to the sport, rather he’s taking the wisdom and experienced of two of the world’s best paddlers and condensing it.
It is laid out in a very user friendly format – if you were an “advanced beginner”, you could probably skip to the race craft section to get the info you need. For me, with a grand total now of exactly 12 months paddling under my belt, I’ve gone through the whole thing several times cover to cover.
It mixes description with easy to understand diagrams, so if the explanation about how to perform a certain stroke or turn didn’t make perfect sense, a quick check of the corresponding diagram should clear it up.
And being a sucker for great images, this book is full of them. Photographer Jean Tresfon has filled this book with some great instructional shots and some brilliant location shots, like the one below.
A couple of small things I didn’t like about this book include the repetitiveness of some of the sections. Safety is of paramount importance, but it is a message repeated in a similar way just about every chapter. Given I’d guess the intended audience has my level of experience or less, this is a small gripe. I’d also have liked some more depth on the race craft section, but I guess just as Kelly Slater doesn’t give away all his secrets on how he’s a multi-time world champ, I can’t expect the Mockes too either .:)
For Australian customers, the only way to get the book at the moment is through the South African publisher direct, and being a small independent publisher, you’ll need to have a little bit of patience in getting your order. Landed, the book coast about AUD$50 (including shipping), which whilst I thought was a little on the steep side, the knowledge I’ve already gained from it has been well worth it.
A highly recommended read – I suspect it will become something of a bible in the beginner community in the coming years.