Surfski Water Safety

Our club’s ocean water sports are granted ‘licence to operate’ subject to various controlling authorities, one of which is the Harbour of Durban Port Captain.

While we have been granted the concession to self govern ourselves, we need to be highly respectful of the fact that we need to come to the party and show mature leadership with regards to safety on the water.

With that in mind, the following pointers regarding safety should be observed by all surfski paddlers using DUC as their base of operations.

With the sport of surfski paddling, there are differing levels of risk exposure and these can be broadly grouped as follows:


This is often the full extent of surfski paddling for those learning or not wishing to take the sport to more extreme levels of participation. Most of this activity will take place close to shore and close to DUC. Close being defined as no further out to sea than the end of the North Harbour Wall.
In these instances, ability to swim, remount, wearing of approved PDF and clearly identifiable craft markings allows most learners to enjoy the sport as they make their way to obtaining their certificate of Surf Ski Proficiency.


This includes paddling further out to sea and can be part of the regular group paddles which often head out to ‘the can’ area or ‘around the corner’ to the second fence on the South side of the harbour mouth.
This is where the extreme component of paddling comes in and requires a whole additional set of safety responsibilities.


Invariably this takes the extreme level of surfski paddling to a much higher level and consequently obligates all participants to rigidly adhere to a more comprehensive set of safety responsibilities.


During organised race events, the obligatory safety regulations are enforced by the organisers, so these events tend to take care of themselves regarding appropriate safety during the event.


Further details are added below to guide you to what is the correct level of water safety equipment / precautions you should comply with, suiting the level of surfski paddling you intend to participate in.

However, no surfski activity should take place from the DUC club facilities without the following MINIMUM COMPLIANCE aspects:

  1. Approved lifejacket
  2. Clearly identifiable ski markings

Additional Safety Requirements for Offshore and Downwind Paddling:
In addition to the above MINIMUM COMPLIANCE requirements, it is recommended that the following is adhered to:

  1. Group / Buddy paddling arrangements with fellow paddlers
  2. Prior notification to shore based connections / next of kin
  3. Water proof pouch with cell phone, full battery, preloaded with the free NSRI app called SafeTrax
  4. Bright lumo colour markings on clothing / ski / paddles

Apart from all these recommendations, it is strongly urged for paddlers to paddle within their abilities and frequently practice remounting their skis in testing sea conditions as well as frequently checking the operational efficiency of their surfski……cables, rudders, carry a wooden clothes peg to help jam a rudder in position if a cable breaks, etc..