I love your site and the expanded coverage of other paddling disciplines got me considering trying something new. I’ve been standup paddling for a few years and have gradually stepped down from my 30 inch beginner board to a 25 inch Infinity for fitness training and touring. Question: Do OC-1s and surfskis come in different widths to accommodate a range of skill levels like SUPs do?
Thanks for your time!
Zach from Minnesota
Thanks for reading! I’m happy to hear you enjoy our site and thank you for submitting a question to Ask a Paddler. The short answer to your question is yes and no.
When it comes to OC-1s, width is not a factor between beginner and elite models. The majority of OC-1s currently in production are around 16 inches wide at the center point. The difference in design between the canoe a top paddler might use and that of a beginner comes in the overall weight of the canoe, not its dimensions.
Top OC-1 paddlers will paddle a lighter canoe (less than 20 lbs) made of high-end carbon. The latest trend is to not even paint the canoes (they are left primer gray), as the paint adds unwanted weight. The OC-1s are as fragile as an egg shell, but super fast. Beginners can easily paddle the same model canoe, but will typically opt for a more durable construction weighing between 20-25 lbs.
An experienced OC-1 paddler may also choose to adjust the position of the ama (that floaty thing on the side of the canoe) up or down to make the canoe sit lighter in the water.
Surfskis do come in different hull designs and corresponding widths. I have less experience with surfskis, but do know the major manufacturers offer a range of models from beginner friendly designs to sleek models for experienced elite paddlers.
As with standup paddling, I recommend starting out in flat water and then progressing to more challenging conditions.
Thanks again for taking the time to write in. Have fun and see you on the water!