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North Wales’ first surfski centre opens with a splash

06 Jun 2021 3 minutes Read
Photos by permission of EPIC KAYAKS INC and Epic Kayaks UK and E Wilkinson

The first Surfski centre and school in north Wales has been set up on Anglesey.

Surfskiing is a new paddlesport offering participants an experience of adventure on the sea and a new way to get fit and active.

The crafts themselves are a cross between a kayak and a paddleboard.

Surfski enthusiast Eila Wilkinson, of Holyhead, who is behind the new venture called Epic Wales, said: “Surfski originates from beach life saving. They are in the kayak family, designed to be faster and more straight running.

“They are steered via a foot controlled rudder system and you sit on them, as opposed to being closed in, like in a sea kayak.

‘Excitement’

“They are designed to surf the waves and downwind runs are a popular activity. They are excellent for fitness and general all round excitement and fun.  The first level surfskis have the capability of being used for coastal tours.

“The paddle you use is a “wing” paddle. It’s like the paddle you will see in sprint or marathon K1/K2 etc at the Olympics.  It’s is more spoon shaped and designed to be more efficient than a standard “euro” blade that most paddlers would be familiar with.

Eila said: “The kit used is very minimal.  You can compare surfskiers to fell runners, travelling fast and light.”

The intermediate surfskis have nowhere to carry any kit, other than under the bungies on the back deck and a water bottle in the footwell.

The first level surfkis do have a water tight back hatch compartment so some kit can be carried.  These are the models that will be used for coastal tours.

Open days

Eila, an accomplished canoeist and kayaker coach and trainer, said: “Our full range of top-of-the-rang EPIC surfskis are specially designed to deliver the ultimate paddling experience.”

An open day, held last weekend offered free starter sessions to the community and raised £165 for Trearddur Bay RNLI station.

There will be another couple of open days in July and August but no dates set as yet.

Eila said: “As we grow and establish a much needed base we will be endeavouring to engage the local youth and community groups, and get many more females to participate in this sport.”

Safety is of paramount importance. Surfski paddlers are taught and learn how to remount if they capsize.

VHF radios, mobile phones, PLB (personal locator beacons) and an electronic flare are items that “Epic Wales“ paddlers would carry as standard.

She said: “I am involved in the Active Leisure, beiginner to intermediate surfskis and come under the British Canoeing (Canoe Wales) banner.

The intermediate – advanced side of surfski is governed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and moves into ocean racing.

Beginners

Eila said: “The first stage beginner surfskis are stable and most generally active people would be able to paddle one. They increase in length and reduce in width as we move up the range.  I have four different models and a V8 double in my fleet.

“I’m fully qualified with British Canoeing as a UKCC performance advanced water sea kayak coach.  A Moderate and Advanced water sea kayak leader assessor and trainer, coastal and open water navigation provider, provider for personal performance awards through to advanced water and a National trainer for sea kayak leader and coastal navigation.

“There are only a handful of females qualified to this level worldwide.”

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