Padding Out A Surfski--Flex Maslan

One man's take on personalizing fit in his ski--coming from a kayak and looking to keep it tight.

Author: Flex Maslan

Surfskis are high-performance craft that need to be a good fit to achieve optimum performance. Although different, I would group surfskis with low volume Greenland style kayaks in the sense that they should really fit the paddler like a glove. The goal is to feel as one with the boat. This is why there are several makers and many models of surfskis – different boats for different folks!   


At 6’2″ and 160 lbs (188 cm x 72 Kg) my dimensions indicate a good fit with the SES model in Stellar’s surfski lineup. Although I am at the top end of the height range, there is plenty of room for even longer legs. I contemplated the SEL model, which would also fit me well, but do not need the extra volume (weight capacity). The Stellar SES surfski is a great fit for my lightweight anatomy and I made it even better with some custom foam padding!


I sourced two sheets of self-stick adhesive backed closed cell foam on eBay for $10.50 delivered (no affiliation). It even came in gray to match the colors of the “Grey Ghost“!


The foam is 6mm thick which is just a hair less than 1/4″.


Stellar provides a very solid adjustable 3 point attachment system for the footplate on the SES surfski. The foam padding makes my feet feel like they are on a pillow and actually slightly improves rudder response!


Stellar does a very good job in chamfering all the exposed edges of the aluminum foot plate parts. However the bottom adjuster lever could prove to be painful to toes when doing remounts. So in a flash of inspiration while paddling, I realized the best cover for this piece was probably already somewhere in my garage! A rubber 90 degree spark plug wire cap is a perfect fit and slips over the aluminum piece. It allows for full functionality, but I doubt I’ll be moving it much since my foot plate is already properly adjusted.


Mine happens to be red because that’s what I found in the garage, but black is a more common color if that matters. These are typically for old school engine distributor caps and should still be available in auto parts stores, online or local junk yards.


Moving towards the seat is a raised part of the surfski bucket that also contains a molded bottle holder. I put these two pads there not for paddling but for carrying. I find it easiest to carry the lightweight 20 foot boat on top of my head, and this is where the balance point actually is on my SES!


The way I carry the ski is usually with the left hand holding next to the seat while my right hand grabs the foot strap in front with the boat balanced on my head. That’s where the foam padding comes in!


One of the reasons I like the SES is that the seat bucket fits me well. The foam pad adds comfort and pretty much eliminates any pressure points!


The two cutouts really help to “locate” me in the seat and are for the bones in my pelvis called the “Ramus of ischium” (also known as the bony part of the butt).


The foam thickness and density are just right and do not impact the stability of the surfski!


I’m pretty happy with my foam customization! I never get numb legs and feel no pressure points anymore. I can achieve really good forward leaning form with proper rotation and excellent leg drive.


Man and boat, merged into one!


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