Cape Falcon F 1

-- Last Updated: Feb-19-10 9:23 AM EST --

Looking for user reviews on the Cape Falcon F 1. Nothing in the p-net reviews section, although it is mentioned favorably in some archived posts. I’m more interested in comments on the boat itself rather than the building process or the classes.


Nice kayak
I had the opportunity to try one at the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat last year. It’s very unique and unlike any other skinboat I’ve ever paddled. The F1 can be classified as an all around or multi purpose craft. It’s shorter length and wide beam made it very comfortable and I was able to relax and feel right at home. Being used to lower volume kayaks I felt very loose but knew I could remedy that with some custom outfitting. The F1 felt quite fast and I was able to carve turns with great ease. This was an interesting change for me since I paddle longer boats with low rocker. My kayaks are fast but track like they are on rails. I didn’t get to play long but I really enjoyed the F1 and would love to include one in my fleet one day. I like to fish and paddle lazy rivers once in a while so it would be perfect for that. I didn’t attempt any rolls but I’m told it can be done with no real problems. I also know that the F1 handles open water and surf very well but I did not have the chance to experience that either. If you’re looking for a good lightweight all purpose playboat the F1 could be just the ticket. It is light years above any rec boat I’ve ever tried although being a skin on frame design I would definately treat it much nicer.

Good luck with you’re research.


Great boat
I built an SC-1 at Cape Falcon in summer 2007 - it’s the design precursor to the F-1, and is an authorized skin-on-frame version of the Mariner Coaster. The F-1 is quite similar, although it has been further optimized for better behavior while surfing, and may be a bit faster, and is a bit narrower. From what I’ve read over at Qajaq USA, the boats behave very much the same. You could also read reviews of the Coaster for more feedback.

After paddling the SC-1 for three seasons, it is still my favorite boat. It is short, but not slow. The maneuverability is good, as you would expect - the skeg profile of the stern aids straight-line tracking while the pronounced chines (from the cockpit aft) allow the boat to carve lean turns fairly automatically. The forward part of the hull is narrow and Swede-form below the waterline, in spite of the blunt appearance of the bow. The wetted surface area is very low, so overall, the drag is surprisingly low - glide is impressive to everyone who has paddled it. I’ve loaned the boat to many people, and in particular women find the boat comfortable and easy to drive. I am not small, however, and I like it fine. I believe Brian tailors the F-1 to the paddler, which is a bonus.

My boat is 13’9" with a beam of about 23.5", and is quite stable at rest. For whatever reason, the boat is also comfortable in confused seas. This is the real merit of this boat for me, as I paddle in L.I. Sound and the Hudson, both of which are prone to swirling currents and really big boat wakes.

The max width occurs behind the cockpit so the hull does not really interfere with the paddle stroke, unusual for a short boat. The peaked fore deck is pretty high, which is nice for shedding waves and gives some space up front. The steep angle of the deck keeps the sheer away from your knuckles.

For me, the front of the cockpit is a little low and I may modify it someday. Some of my problem may be my seat - I have bought a new seat (Bumfortable), but it’s not installed yet. However, I am an anomaly - most people with a sea kayak background find the cockpit roomy and prefer the normal pad seat.

In the end, I think the only thing you give up in a boat like this is some top-end speed. For me, this is not an issue, as I have little ambition to go fast. If I do, I paddle my Struer. Brian is a very talented designer, and the F-1 represents a significant amount of experience and experimentation to generate an advanced hull. The fact that it is hand-made may hide that to a certain extent, but don’t be fooled. This boat is being made and enjoyed all over the world by better kayakers than me. In my opinion, it is the perfect answer to those who think a capable sea kayak has to be at least 17’ long - it just isn’t true.

Finally, no one should be dismayed by SOF construction, it is quite tough. Get a set of Spirit Line float bags and you’ll be fine. I’ve paddled myself at flank speed up onto a rock in the middle of a reservoir in NJ, and had to knuckle-walk myself off. I only scratched the finish - no tears. Oyster shells haven’t been a problem, but I’m careful around them. The only thing that scares me is hidden rebar at the shoreline, but that could hole a glass boat too. SOF boats are very quiet as well, and my boat fully rigged is only about 35 pounds.

You can certainly find a lot more feedback on the F-1 at Qajaq USA, or ask your question there directly:

If you have an idea to go to Manzanita and build an F-1, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. To get a boat this good for such a low cost is really unusual. I guess I should post this in the product review section - it hadn’t occurred to me to do that.

I built an F1 with Brian in Jan. 2009
Brian came out to Raleigh, NC in the dead of winter and put on two kayak-building classes back to back. Yes, he does tweak the size of the kayak to fit the paddler. In our class we had one standard F1, one larger-sized F1, and two F1’s scaled down for lighter paddlers. I think the standard size is more or less 14 feet long and 23 inches wide. (I haven’t measured mine.) The waterline is almost as long as the kayak overall. Maybe that’s why the F1 is faster than my Impex Mystic, which is the same length but with a shorter waterline. The hull shape of the F1 makes it feel pretty stable when the wind is up and it can be held on course, skegless and rudderless, in a wind from the beam or the back quarter. The one thing I can say is that rolling it is different. A sweep roll with back deck recovery doesn’t work well. The paddler sits significantly back of the centerline of an F1 and a sweep makes the boat turn. Brian says you need to do a sweep to C roll. Mainly, I think, you need to finish by pulling the paddle down instead of back – but I haven’t perfected that yet in the F1. The great thing about the F1 is that it weighs so little – mine weighs 28 pounds. It is a very capable boat and no trouble to carry to the water – so it’s the one I grab most of the time. And it sure doesn’t cost much. Great value.

G in NC

I paddled one on a WINDY day
I paddled one on a windy day and couldn’t beleive how well it handled the wind.

And that handling in wind makes it feel like a pretty reassuring ride.

I keep one float bag in the back of my F1. I removed the one in the front for winter paddling – I stick a drybag up in front. I think it would be possible to camp for the weekend out of the F1.

G in NC

This is the what I was looking for.

So, are you going to build one in a class with Brian or use his specs to make one on your own?

The third option
No time to get to a class for at least a year, so I’ll let him build one and ship it to me.

Thanks again for the great comments.

Hi Carl,

I’ve been thinking of building one, though with my covering method. In a couple weeks I’ll actually have shop space I can comfortably use in the winter :slight_smile:

Bill H.

Good idea
It’s a great boat, I think you’d like it. I really do want to rework the cockpit for more knee room, but I’m loathe to replace the skin just for that. BTW, I plan to fit my cat with an electric motor over the summer. I’ll post info when I do it - cheers, Carl.

I once owned a coaster
and thought that it was a near perfect boat except that the low forward deck seemed more of a white water boat fit and a bit uncomfortable. The F-1 looks even better and maybe a bit more deck height. Wish that Brian would come to NJ/NYC area for a building workshop.

He’ll be in the DE area…
… in October, I believe. I’m trying to figure out if my pennies will work for me to attend his class then.

There’s a class at the Delmarva retreat in Lewes DE, Sept 24-30, one space left:

I went to Oregon and spent a week in a motel and he shipped the boat to me later. It was a little pricey, but others stayed in a campground, and one builder camped on Brian’s property. It was a nice excuse to go out west, build a boat and then visit family in Washington.

“I built an SC-1 at Cape Falcon in summer 2007 - it’s the design precursor to the F-1, and is an authorized skin-on-frame version of the Mariner Coaster. The F-1 is quite similar, although it has been further optimized for better behavior while surfing, and may be a bit faster, and is a bit narrower.”

Actually may not be authorized, see:

I hadn’t seen that before. It would be nice if we could have a little plain speaking - it’s not clear from that post exactly who is being accused of behaving badly, at least not without a decoder ring. Circumstantially, it doesn’t sound good, but if it’s really a problem, why not just say so?

Seat update
Yesterday, I tried the Bumfortable seat in the SC-1. It appears it has resolved my leg issues, as I was able to paddle for 90 minutes steadily with no numbness. Time will tell, of course, but so far so good, and I’m hopeful that I won’t have to adjust the fore deck height. I would opt for the Bumfortable, and omit the Snapdragon backband if I was building one new.