I always say that paddling a double is double the fun! It offers a great opportunity for beginners to come along and get a shortcut to see what surfski paddling is all about. I also enjoy taking the double out for a paddle (or should I say battle?) with one of my surfski friends around the local cape when the winds are really strong. We scream and laugh together while enjoying the ocean roller coaster. The double is also often used during interval sessions, both with experienced and less experienced paddlers.
Trent, Evy and I have been friends since 2011 and we live and paddle in the waters off the Swedish West Coast. Together we owned and paddled the Epic V10 double (ultra) and the CS Zest double. For me, these two doubles are fairly equal in stability and speed. I find the seating comfort better in the Zest and I liked the feeling of a somewhat shorter double. Both surf well, no question about that. A few years ago, I bought the Fenn Elite S double (carbon), a truly beautiful elite surfski. After my friend improved the cockpit drainage by replacing the rather poor Fenn scuppers with the efficient DeBrito bailers, it changed from being a bath-tub to a rocket-ship.
The Fenn double is still on my surfski rack while the Epic and Zest now belong to other happy paddlers. The newcomer is the Nordic Kayaks (NK) 670 double. My two friends and I got interested when we heard that NK was about to build a double surfski. We were looking for a double with great seating comfort, since this has been the issue for some of us with both the Epic and the Zest. Evy, one of the part owners, is pretty short and has been longing for a double with a low hump and a foot rest possible to adjust for her leg length. Since we are all paddling NK singles we were sure the NK double would fulfill our requirements.
Weight and materials
The NK Double comes in three materials/weight classes, Carbon Hybrid 18 kilos, Carbon Lite 13.8 kilos and CarbonX 13.4 kilos. NK skis are currently built using prepreg material with autoclave curing, creating an extra light yet strong construction. We decided to go for one of the lightest ones as I wanted to be able to load it on my minibus on my own. In retrospect, I am so happy we chose to spend the extra money on the lighter one. I just love to handle it, to me the light weight turned out to be more important than I thought. More to come about that later.
When replacing the Zest double I was looking for a double in the same range when it came to stability. The NK double is 50cm wide, which is one cm wider than the Zest, which is 0,7 cm wider than the Epic. I would say the stability of the NK double and the Zest are about equal.
Oh those NK buckets – how I love them!
The main reason why we wanted to upgrade the double is because of the bucket and cockpit. To me, the NK cockpits (since 2017) are the most comfy I have ever tried, especially the bucket. Also the humps are low and positioned a bit closer to the bucket, which I do appreciate even though I have long legs. Another thing I enjoy with these cockpits is that they offer a higher seating position than I encountered on previous skis.
The cockpit rails are a bit lower than on the Zest, which makes re-entry a bit easier but results in a wetter ride.
The front cockpit fits persons 155-195cm tall (beam 43cm) and the rear cockpit fits persons 165-200cm (beam: 45.5cm).
The paddle entry for the rear cockpit is a bit wide, today I find myself hitting the deck a bit too often.
The NK Double comes with self adjustable steering and with a foot rest that is easy to adjust. In the double it is possible to steer both from the front seat and from the back seat. We thought this may be a problem but also knew it would be possible to replace the foot rest in the back with one without pedals. In the end, when using the double, we found this only to be a nice feature. I will now be able to let my friends take the front seat because I can steer from the back seat.
Our double came with the race rudder, which was too small for the bigger waves. We have now replaced it with the wave rudder.
The NK double is 670 cm long. The Zest is 725 cm long and the Epic v10 Double is even longer, at 760 cm to be exact.
This short double truly has some advantages but maybe some disadvantages. With the shorter length I have got a double that is very easy to maneuver, it is very easy to drive and, in that sense, it feels like paddling a K2 when sitting in the front seat. It is also easy to carry around and load on roof racks. What are the disadvantages? Well, when paddling upwind meeting choppy waves, it can be a bit wet in the front seat. During the first test I did the conditions were pretty wild with winds over 28 knots and waves over two meters around the local cape. The first 30 minutes was a great upwind struggle, with strong wind and small but very choppy waves while we were still inshore. And yes I got swamped every now and then, definitely more frequently than if I had been sitting in a full length double. The integrated wave deflector helps a lot but still, I got wet. To me that’s no problem since the bailer is so efficient but ask me again in January when the water temperature is a bit different 🙂
When meeting the bigger waves the ski behaved just like the full-length ones, going up and over them. Surfing those beautiful waves was great fun, and with the NK double it was easy to hold position and maintain the wave. When going downwind in smaller and slower waves (0,3m waves) I noticed the speed was great as long as I could surf the waves at an angle, but when trying to go straight downwind I would get a bit stuck. With a full length ski it would probably be easier to climb over the smaller waves. On the other hand, I found it easier to surf the waves with an angle and the ski showed up to be much faster than I thought.
With the shorter length/shorter nose, the buoyancy of the ski is of course lower and this becomes obvious in some wave conditions. I have used the double a lot since we unwrapped it, both in flat and big conditions, with beginners and with more experienced paddlers, and I am very happy to pay this price of less buoyancy since the advantages of this ski far outweigh the disadvantages to me.
I have got a double that I really look forward to taking out for a paddle. It is comfy, fun, easy to paddle, it works fine for me bringing beginners out and it is fast enough to race. Family members enjoy it as well since it is a great and fun means of transportation between the rocky islands in the small archipelago where we live. It is so light we can lift it up at almost any rock and go for a swim or a coffee. I have noticed that I use this double more frequently than any of the other doubles and right now, it seems that I only need one double.
Two one-minute videos from one of the first downwinds in the double
Checkout the review in the PaddleMag Issue#5 2020 click here