Answering my own question - SOF

Recvently I posted a thread asking what it was like to paddle a SOF. The thread became quite lengthy and the comments about uncomfortableness with hamstrings and posture were very helpful, though somewhat daunting. Additionaly, there is a great thread on the quajaqusa forum about seating and posture in a SOF that is quite helpful.

All I can say is that the first day was excrutiating but that every subsequent day was a little bit easier. I am up to about 45 minutes now in the SOF without significant pain and none of it is because of the SOF. The problem lies solely with my posture and tight hamstrings. (well a little with bruises and shins)

I have had the SOF for 7 days. 19 feet 3 inches with a 19.5 inch beam built by Peter Strand. I have between a half inch and an inch of freeboard and it is a beauty in all black. Volume is nonexistant. (I will post pics one of these days)

Because it is primarily a dedicated rolling and greenland maneuver boat, the fit is very very tight. When you are jammed in (and I do not know a better word for it) you cannot raise or lower your legs due to the constraints of the masik. Your legs are flat out. (Sit flat on the floor with your toes pointed with no back support and try to sit up as straight as possible and even lean forward a bit) This automatically changes the way that you paddle as you are not using hip rotation in the sense that you are pushing against a foot peg and rotating your hips by raising your legs a bit. Rather you are relying on your abs and lats and your torso in a different manner and good stretching and warming up (at least for this 51 year old man) is a necessity to get a comfortable stroke. Your turning is different too as you are using your paddle and leaning differently.

An inch forward or back makes all the difference! I could not believe the difference with weathercocking control that an inch forward or back made with this boat. Unbelievable how much less effort with the paddle and torso was necessary just by scooting back or forwards in the cockpit.

Another strange feeling is how low you are in the water. If you lean just a bit your deck on that side is awash! Pretty fast boat too. I did clock 7 miles an hour though on the GPS in a sprint!

Rolling is a non thought issue. I went out with Greyak, Mike Arnett and Lissette Bretos, Charlie, and Peter and we all tried each others boats. Only Lissette, Pete, and Charlie fit into mine. Mike and Lissette are Greenland instructors and gave me a few pointers. My roll was described as a half sweep and half greenland roll and they showed me what I was doing wrong. I have been practicing ever since but the limberness in leaning and laying all the way back is still an issue and the strectching exercises continue! However, getting up in this boat is ridiculously easy so much so that you can develop very bad habits very quickly which is why I am enlisting Michael and Lissette as coaches for the first few lessons.

I highly recommend anyone in the South Florida area to take lessons with them if interested. They are really good at identiying the one or two things that you are doing wrong and telling you what you need to do to fix it.

My thighs are bruised, my shins have bled a couple of times, I have soreness in muscles I didn’t know I had, and the biggest grin on my face since I started kayaking last July.

Couple of modifications I have done and will probably do.

As Bryan Nystrom did , I cut out some foam to fit between the ribs for under my but and placed a piece on top of that giving me a much more comfortable seat.

I am seriously considering taking a rasp to the masik and taking off about a quarter of an inch. Peter assures me that I could take off 3/8th if I wanted to. The masik is very very thick. But I don’t want to do that as I can tell that my body is adapting to the boat pretty quickly and I don’t want to get too loose of a fit even though I could always replace what I took off with a foam pad I guess.

Do you know how much fun it is to lean over and touch your head to the water and just come right back up again with minimal effort? Ok so maybe it is just me but it was fun!

Another thing that I noticed and is really bothering me is the pain in my back from the coaming whan I try to lay back on the back deck. I think I can put a piece of foam between the back coaming and my back so that it doesn’t cut into my lower back as I feel I could lean back further but it hurts too much at that contact point. Course being a bit more limber and able to arch better will help that too.

Anyway… stuff that will increase comfort incrementally until I can paddle for hours.


Almost didn’t reply here…
… as it was funny to see a post titled “Answering my own question…” with no replies!! L

Like you, I’m adapting. Maybe easier in mine as I have more room - or maybe not. I am mostly somewhere between the bent leg position of my composite boat and being totally flat legged. Sometimes I find my self wanting it more one way or the other. I can go flat legged - which is more relaxed in some ways (and drops my center of gravity - but I lose masik contact (still have good toe/butt/hip contact). I can flex feet and raise thighs into masik for control easily/instantly, but it’s a more active posture. Good for what I designed to for - but adaptation is much like paddling position in a surf ski. I can alway make another masik pad for times I want to be tighter.

After I left you guys Saturday I paddled at least another hour. All pretty comfortable. Though maybe not 3 hour solid comfortable yet.

Sunday I went out and headed for a nearby spot that gets steady wind, short period chop and small wind waves, ICW traffic wakes coming in from the East, is shallow so they stack a bit, and all reflecting at multiple angles off walls that curve all around the W side of the basin, so the water gets confused. Wind was blowing a good steady 20+. All small chop - but bigger stuff that you can take one wave at a time I find easier to deal with. This stuff is all wiggle - and just big enough to mask some wake trains so you can’t anticipate them. Taking it mostly on beam was a bit unnerving. An old familiar tense feeling I haven’t felt for maybe 2 years now (except parts of one offshore race). I wasn’t close to going over at all, but felt on the verge the whole time and not enjoying things. This was almost totally due to being sore and tired from the day before. Spent muscles seemed to make it impossible to just relax and trust the boat. Anyway - it was a good reminder that there is much to learn in this boat. I planned to stay there and work it from all angles - but had enough in 10-15 minutes.

I wanted a learning curve, and despite the boat being very well mannered (more than I’d hoped), a learning curve it will have. No surprise really going below a 19" beam. On my way back up river the Water Taxi’s usual attempts to side surf me (at a tight bend this time) didn’t phase me. With more seat time - this will be an awesome boat - I think it wants to play in bigger stuff. Like the posture - I’ll take small steady steps here.

That spot and places like it are where I need to be working on my rolls too so I have no concerns about being upright. Again, all in good time.

One thing that sucks most places I paddle is all the shoreline is seawall - and some in high traffic areas. Not somewhere you want to be if something goes wrong and you end up out of the boat. Maybe I should change paddling spots for a while and work on surf launches in our crappy onshore dumping short period stuff. With onshore winds and a beach to blow up on I’d have less to think about paddling offshore (except the launch and land fun with a nearly 20’ qajaq).

I’m still looking at my outfitting too. Comfort is decent, but with both floorboards and a 1/2" pad I’m up pretty high. My take out the pad next time and see what difference it makes, try a thinner one like Charlie’s, etc…

Good idea you have there taking some lessons. You’re smarter than I am! As you said about Michael and Lissette “They are really good at identifying the one or two things that you are doing wrong and telling you what you need to do to fix it.” Me, I have way more than one or two things wrong - and that would take a LOT of lessons L

Next weekend I want to mess around with wet exits, re-enter and rolls, paddling flooded, and all the other stuff that will tell me what I can and can’t do with this qajaq. Still have to find it’s balance brace point too. Need that before I really start trying anything fancier.

Seat Pad
I use a 1/4" minicell seat. Under this are blocks which are the depth of and immediately next to the keel stringer. The length is the space between the ribs. The blocks tapered away from the keel. The blocks help to keep the pad centered and minimize abrupt depth transitions which can result in the pad ripping. This gives a lower center in the boat but minimizes the feel of ribs and keel stringer on the butt.


There is not “set answer” to the question. Each SOF is somewhat different.

Sounds to me like you have a “rolling” oriented kayak. It would paddle different from a slightly higher volume version. In rough seas, unless you have a perfect seal on your deck stitching and the coaming/sprayskirt/tuiliq, beware of water seepage on a long haul as the water constantly washing over the deck will let water in more than on flat water. It builds up without you necessarily noticing it (except the boat getting more and more tippy).


That set up is I think what Paul has set up. Haven’t seen it as he did his foam after I last saw his boat.

My 1/4" floorboards take care of any keel stringer/rib bump issues and make sliding in and out a breeze - but put me as high or higher (since no sag/flex) than your 1/4" pad would. Pad I have now is 1/2" on top of that. Only reason for it is I had 1/2" foam handy - and one end tucks nicely between skin/coaming and deck beam then just flows down to floor. Simple and pretty comfortable. I’ll try it without again. Floorboards are pretty comfortable as is. I might rig a small pad just at the deck beam/coaming area. Or a much thinner pad at back and seat. Or just get give this setup more time, or…

“rolling” oriented kayak
On rolling vs more volume.

His: 19’ 3" x 19.5"

Mine: 19’ 8" x 19"

His being black makes it look the longer and thinner of the two!

By the numbers they seem fairly similar, but you should see Paul’s next to mine. The real difference is evident from the side (Paul took pictures, maybe he’ll post). Quite a significant difference in volume. Enough that we’ll have very different on water experiences.

Length And Beam And…
Depth determines the volume (as well as sheer and deadrise.) Just .5 inch of depth will give significant volume to a boat over another with with the same length and width.


I pretty much followed Bryan Nystrom with two pieces of closed cell foam in between the keel and the ribs and then a piece over the two giving me a very comfortable seat.

One thing that I was told by Peter is that it is quite common for greenland rolling competitions to put a bead of silicone between where the skin and the coaming attach as it can cause a bit of leakage.

I am in the same boat as Greyak but a little further behind with the practice. I have rasped out a sixteenth of an inch off the masik with rasp and sander and this helped a lot but not enough to allow a full lay back. The coaming lip is also very high and could probably have some material taken off. My problem is that I simply cannot arch enough to touch my head on the back deck and according to my wife, I am a handsbreadth from being able to do so. I will try several things like including another pad onto my “seat” which should raise my back somewhat for laybacks, and I may have to rasp out another quarter of an inch all around. I am really hesitant to do so however as I am getting more and more used to the boat and my body is adapting. As I do more yoga type stretching also I should see better arching and may be able touch my back without any more sanding.

I am rolling easier now and the sculling and bracing is a breeze! Just butt time is what I need.

Greyak. I’ll join up with you next weekend for some confused waves etc if possible. Need to put this boat through its paces. Getting the hang of controlling weathercocking etc.


Damn I just don’t get having such a low
volume kayak that you can’t do a full layback. That’s kind of a stinker. I hope you get it worked out. Possibly add a bit of padding to the backrest to bring you a little further forward?

It’s kind of a myth that the lower the back deck the easier the layback. With all of my homebuilts I can lay flat on the back deck comfortably and all are 6-8" deep, but the backrest is set to the same height. It all has to do with subtle shifts of backrest, I have one that I can adjust the height of by using spacers (the S&G).

Good luck with it though, sounds like a good boat.

Layback should not be that hard particularly in such a LV low deck qajaq. I can get as far as you’re describing in my QCC (can touch head on deck in flat water - but not too comfortably - SOF can get shoulders down comfortably). I’m far from flexible. I’ll have to see you in the boat - should be fixable pretty easy.

I cheated and kept my coaming lip low (maybe 7/8" total coaming height) - and rear edge flattened like a commercial OC - but still total dept should be less in yours, and it still has a bit of an edge. Downside is I have to fuss with seal at the back more to be sure it’s on with just 5/8" clearance between underside of lip and skin.

Several ways to overcome the coaming biting you on layback (best used in some mix) from easiest to hardest:

  1. Scoot farther forward.
  2. Let your but raise off the seat (some +/- to doing this, and maybe you’re in too tight with snug masik to do it anyway).
  3. Mess with PFD and Akuilisaq to get some better pad action from them (I have a little “Akuilislack” I tuck in behind me - for an instant 6mm coaming pad).
  4. Pad up seat as you mentioned.
  5. Pad the rear coaming edge (but so as to not interfere with attachment)
  6. Shave some off the lip height (since yours is straight/vertical with rope for lip you can do this.

PS -
Don’t suffer too long waiting while waiting for your body to adapt. Too easy to injure yourself.

Some arch is OK. Like a good stretch. Really strong and uncomfortable arch and you may be forced/tense/overextended - and at the same time having higher center of gravity. Neither seems useful in real world application. Not to mention the vulnerability of a your lumbar region with all your weight bearing down on 3/8" wide piece of ash.

If you can cut the coaming hoop down without compromising seal - do it!

If you can get some more masik comfort with another 1/8" or 1/4" and there’s enough wood to maintain integrity - do it.

Continue to work on flex/comfort - but I find wood is less stubborn and resistant to change than my body and can be changed much faster. :slight_smile:

outfitting cont

– Last Updated: Jan-23-06 8:06 PM EST –

I will look at the coaming to see if there is any material to reduce and will look at getting another piece of padding under me. If I have to I will take the sander and take 1/4 inch off the masik and I am sure that this will take care of it.

I do think that the combination of adding the foam and maybe taking a bit off the coaming will do the trick.

Looking at the set up airwave has also makes me wonder if I scooted up a bit more and have the foam over the floating back deck beam like he does might do the trick also. Will try all tomorrow.


Some “sculling brace” help video clips

– Last Updated: Feb-11-06 12:37 PM EST –

Hey Paul,

I thought I'd post these clips for you so the next time out you can get someone to help you out. I don't know if you've got past this point or not but anyway...

I like the whole mentoring thing with G-style paddling and I feel paddlers shouldn't be afraid to help each other out even if they aren't "certified".

So if you've a helper here's a good way to learn the back-sculling brace and also a balance brace before learning to roll:

In this clip I'm on the bow (note the way I'm holding it) and I'm able to support Shawn and guide him into proper body position. You'll also see that I right the kayak for him. This gives him plenty of time to learn to scull and to relax (his biggest problem):

This clip shows me letting go and Shawn recovering:

This is Shawn putting it all together for a complete roll. He was only supposed to capsize on left and come up sculling on the right but once you get the sculling down the roll just comes.

a few times out and he got much smoother.

That was Shawn's SECOND time in a kayak and this took all of a half an hour, after that he rolled and sculled 'till he was dizzy and never wet-exited. The first time out I taught Shawn paddle strokes and re-entry.

Have fun out there!


Position for laybacks
" I have rasped out a sixteenth of an inch off the masik with rasp and sander and this helped a lot but not enough to allow a full lay back. The coaming lip is also very high and could probably have some material taken off. My problem is that I simply cannot arch enough to touch my head on the back deck and according to my wife, I am a handsbreadth from being able to do so. I will try several things like including another pad onto my “seat” which should raise my back somewhat for laybacks, and I may have to rasp out another quarter of an inch all around. I am really hesitant to do so however as I am getting more and more used to the boat and my body is adapting. As I do more yoga type stretching also I should see better arching and may be able touch my back without any more sanding."

I assume you are already sliding your feet under the foot brace and sliding as far forward in the cockpit as you can go (stomach against the front of the coaming) for the layback rolls. If not, give that a try, it should greatly improve the laybacks.



much better
I took about 1/4 to 3/8 inch off the masik and I fit much much better (gotta do the right side a bit more as it is thicker by just a smidgen.)

Still not able to do a complete layback with shoulders on the back deck but a whole lot closer.