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Wahoo FSK: Update from Mark Nye

Posted By Dan Caouette

Mark Nye (FL) built his Wahoo FSK using our pre-cut forms last year.  He’s been actively racing with it and has been fine tuning his setup.  Here’s his latest report with some interesting upgrades.  Who knew that Smart Track makes a short race blade?   It sounds like a great option for flat water paddling.

Hello Dan and Lisa,

I hope that all is well with the two of you.  I thought that I would share a couple of Wahoo related bits of info.  First, I was looking through the fall issue of the USCA magazine and saw that Jim Budi won the USCA National Championship in his age bracket.  USCA rates a Wahoo as a SK.  I believe that I mentioned that I met Jim last spring at a race in Apalachicola Florida.  He is quite fast and actually won the open FSK division despite being eligible for the senior division.  Two things that I noted about his boat are that he uses a very small rudder and a rotating seat, so of course I had to try both.

I bought the Nelo rotating seat and almost immediately saw a speed increase.  It allows me to pump my legs more and get more rotation.  In flat water stability is not an issue but for any races in open rough water I will likely go back to the fixed seat.  I also started experimenting with rudders.  I had been paddling mostly with the Smart Track single blade (using the double blade only for rough water).  Initially I experimented with a cut off double blade that extends about two inches below the keel.  I found that this blade has a little less drag but still enough control for flat water paddling.  I then wrote an email to Smart Track asking if they had considered making a smaller racing blade.  I was surprised when the replied that in fact they do sell a short blade that would be suitable for flat water racing.  I could not find a retailer that carries the short blade so Smart Track shipped me two of them.  The short blade performs similar to and probably a little better than my modified double blade.

I have been paddling with the rotating seat and short blade for over a month now and have seen a solid 0.2 mph speed increase.   I also learned the hard way that you don’t want to venture into rough conditions in that configuration.  Two weeks ago I went for a long paddle and the wind unexpectedly kicked up.  When I came out of the protected creek I was faced with ¼ mile paddle through 3’ white caps to get back to the marina.  The short rudder was continually lifted out of the water and it was a fight just to stay upright.  The same conditions would not have been that bad with the fixed seat, single blade (or maybe even the double) and a spray skirt.

It has been a year now since I launched the Wahoo and I still love it.  I get out for fitness paddles several days per week and have logged 535 miles in the boat.  In Florida, we are just starting the race season and I continue to be pretty competitive with anything of similar length, but slower than the 20-21’ surfskis.  In March, I hope to paddle in the USCA Touring Kayak (Length < 20’, BWL > 18”) near Punta Gorda.  I will let know how it goes.

Take care and paddle hard!

Mark C Nye

Lisa Huntington, along with Jim Budi, own the Wahoo design.

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