Today’s Surfski Training

With the air temperature in the 40’s and no wind it felt like a spring day here in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  I launched from my familiar Jamestown site, Bay Voyage Inn.  I did a 6 mile Sakonnet River tempo paddle yesterday, so today was an easy paddle to get use to paddling in bumpy waters of Jamestown that most of our races include. There was no wind but that rarely makes the leg from Bull Point to Mackerel cove flat and today was no different. So with just enough refractory waves and incoming tide, the conditions were lumpy on this leg and flat for the rest of the paddle. So just right for a winter paddle without worrying about capsizing in the 30 degree waters.

Think Evo 3 Ultimate, Braca XI.

House on the Rocks

Surfski Gear for Today’s Paddle

With a garage full of skis, for today’s paddle I chose the Think Evo 3 Ultimate, that you can find on the links below.  I also chose from the selection of paddles I own, one of my Braca’s XI’s, 705’s, that you can find from the link below. From my performance PFD’s closet, I used my Vaikobi Ocean Performance PFD. Stay tuned, more to come from

Newport Bridge in the Fog.


Think Surfski Journal, Think Surfskis


  • Peter Lohse says:

    Hi Wesley,
    What type of clothing do you wear when paddling on the ocean in winter? Do you use a dry or a wetsuit? Do you wear gloves and insulated hat? You said you did a tempo paddle; how do you dress to avoid overheating while still being prepared for the possibility of a capsize in the fridge waters at this time of the year?
    Many thanks for this and the many other informative articles on your website.

    • Just like running, I use different base layers depending on how cold it is.

      Outer Layer: I always use one of three of my Kokatat “paddling/drysuits for the outerwear, 2 are is goretex, and one is not. My newest Gore Tex paddling suit, breathes the best, and yes there are differences in breathability in the different fabrics used for drysuits.

      Base Layers: So if 40 degrees air temp, I use mid weight layer, 45 to 50 I use very light layer, and below 35 I use a heavy weight layer. All layers are smart wool, polypro, lightweight fleece, etc just different weights. Despite this I still sweat and I am a heavy sweater.

      So when I finish a tempo paddle like I did Saturday for 10 miles, I was very wet inside my drysuit from sweating so much. So while I am paddling at whatever pace, I feel fine up to 2hr to 2.5 hours then I start to become cold. My feet(3m NRS felt boots) with heavy wool socks) are really the limited factor since they get cold the fastest since there is always some water in the footwell for the most part.

      Hands: While I use pogies for my hands with no gloves while paddling, my hands would be exposed if I capsized and would last only 2 minutes before becoming frozen.
      I have 4 different thickness pogies for my hands all with extra wide openings for easy access and for different temps too so my hands don’t sweat too much.

      If I were to capsize, I would cool down exceptionally fast if in the water for more than 5 minutes since I am wet from sweating. I rely on my experience including my remounting skills, more stable skis, using bigger rudders, paddling closer to shore, staying on the leeward side, etc. If I am paddling at slower pace which is very rare, I don’t sweat and could tolerate being in the water for much longer. So there is no perfect solution, I just try to minimize how much I sweat within my drysuit on any given day, and use my good judgement on conditions, and know I can remount within a minute and be back in my ski. I am in a drysuit 6 months out of the year so plenty of experience paddling in winter conditions since 1993 with sea kayaks and 2003 with skis. Hope this helps.

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