Beyond SUP: The Surfski

So maybe you just got the hang of stand up paddle boarding … believe it or not, there’s something else you’ve got to try.
The surfski. Part kayak, part surfboard, the hallmark of the surfski is its open cockpit design with foot-controlled rudder.
Easy to learn and a blast in Lake Michigan (and surrounding inland lakes), there’s one go-to guy for all things surfski: Nick Murray, who owns TC Surfski in Suttons Bay.
Nectar interviewed Nick recently; here’s what he had to say about his latest obsession.

Why a surfski over other water toys?  
It is all about the versatility. Zero wind or 30 mph wind, you can have fun in a surfski. Inland lakes, rivers, the bay, or Lake Michigan … it all works. Flat water is great for technique work, but waves are great for surfing and having fun. Plus, it's a great total body workout, very low risk of injury and very low impact.

What do you tell committed paddle boarders?  
A surfski will always be faster than a paddle board. It’s simple physics. Plus, the surfski can go upwind. You can have a lot more fun actually surfing in the lake chop we get in the bays and on Lake Michigan.

Can you rent one to try it out?
They will be available this summer to rent in Suttons Bay at Suttons Bay Bike Shop on M22.

How do you transport the surfski? Can one person do it?  
Any standard kayak rack on a car will work. The ease of loading depends on weight of the boat, which ranges from 20 lbs (full carbon fiber) to 46 lbs. (roto-molded plastic).

Why do people love them?  
Once someone catches a wave, they fall in love with surfski paddling. It’s very addicting! Imagine a cross between snow sledding and surfing, but even better, because on a good downwind run on the bay you can catch hundreds of rides. If you really want to have fun, go to an inland lake, where you can surf behind a ski boat.

Anything new for 2015? Will you have clinics/races/etc.?  
The Paddle Relay is the big event that will absolutely consume me this summer. This comes on top of the Surfski Immersion Camp June 4-6.  
Through the summer we have the Great Lakes Surfski Race Series, of which TC Waterman is the pinnacle race.
We’re also partnering with Suttons Bay Bikes to try and get a Friday Family Water Night off the ground at Marina Park in Suttons Bay. Handicap start, three miles or less course, followed by BYOB at the park.

For more on pricing and clinics, visit and