Cobra Strike leashing and outfitting

First of all, holy cow is this a fun boat. I have been surfing it in the breaks in South Oahu and while there is a learning curve, it’s amazing in 4-8 foot swell. (Beyond that is a bit scary for now.)

My major question is what others might think about leashes on the kayak. I have some pretty gnarly wipeouts and before I was using an ankle leash this was a problem… the boat is a pretty dangerous projectile in surf and can be carried quite a long ways away in a single set.

That being said, I also don’t want to lose the paddle, and have been leashing that to my PFD. However, 2 leashes seem pretty annoying, and I have already had a few occasions where the two get tangled in potentially dangerous ways, especially over the reefs here. If there’s anyone out there still running a surf kayak in general, I’d love to hear thoughts.

When I purchased the Cobra Strike it was completely bare of hardware save for the connector loops. The idea was I was going to get a backrest/seat, as well as the thigh and footstraps, and maybe a footrest. However, using the boat more and more has me feeling like I don’t want to add anything. Paddling with no back support is definitely a workout, but I am feeling like I need the mobility to really handle big waves where I drop in and have to turn in order to avoid pearling. (Not always successful!) I do wish I could turn and cut more easily, but I am also worried about thigh straps restricting my mobility, especially when I need to bail out. I doubt I could roll the thing in heavy surf.

Happy to hear if anyone else is still enjoying these things.

Interesting. I regularly shook up a few people surfing in on some little 2-3ft surf next to the harbor channel in a 19ft keel boat at Hickam harbor. Those were fun days. Perhaps a little too much fun and not enough work.

So where are you kayak surfing?

I’d be pissed if a Cobra Strike separated from its paddler and came at me, let alone a kid — that’s a heavy projectile. At the risk of entanglement I’d use a calf leash to the kayak. The paddle, on the other hand, isn’t as much of a danger… and yet if you were to lose it, you’d be swimming that projectile in anyway. I say go for two leashes, but adjust your paddle leash so it attaches to your wrist. From PFD to center of paddle seems like you’re asking for it to wrap around your torso or neck.

OTOH most folks who surf those conditions are confident (enough) to hold the paddle even through a nasty tumble.

The Strike is a blast but it’s half fish half fowl— not light enough to be treated like a waveski and not rollable enough to be considered a true surf kayak.

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I bought my teenage son a Cobra Strike in 2002 when he was getting into kayak surfing, he moved on to waveskis, and I used it for several years; we keep the boat around to introduce girlfriends/wives etc to surfing. I sometimes use it on really messy ugly surf days. it’s a great surf craft and I would agree above about 6 to 8’ waves it can be quite a scary ride. If that is 8’ Hawaiian - you are really doing great. After a lot of experimenting around I ended u using an 9’ bungee cord leash attached to the handle padeye at the bow of the kayak, coiled leashes will work, but I prefer the bungee type that are covered in nylon fabric. For a while I used quick release attachments on both ends. I don’t do that any more. I use the same leash configuration on my waveskis. I unfortunately bought several leashes from a local shop, and they have long ago gone out of business, I don’t know who makes them. I attach the leash around the paddle, shaft with a wrapping velcro closure and try to hang onto the paddle no matter what. Using thigh straps you can usually stay in the boat and sometimes right it or roll it and surf out of trouble . I have broken one paddle when a very powerful wave took the boat and I tried to hang onto the paddle without letting it pull me cushion the shock extending my arms. A cobra strike in the surf zone is dangerous if it gets away from you, and offshore in heavy surf and winds you also want to stay with the boat no matter what. Learn to be aware of where the boat is and where the leash is at all times and you won’t need to worry about entanglement issues.

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Ewa Beach and Waianae.

Okay, I want to be clear it usually isn’t 6-8’ swell here, and I’ve only been out on two of those days. They were fun for about 2 minutes (the rain was fun, though). That feeling when you see the next swell coming in and it just… won’t… stop… rising… I have had some scary moments that were too big for my skill level.

Optimum waves on the Strike seem to be head-highs (4-6) which we get fairly regularly in Ewa in the summer. To ride a tall head-high I have to lean all the way back to avoid pearling… lately I am working on trying to mix in a turn at the bottom of the trough. It’s not always successful, and I frequently am scrambling to not get killed by the boat.

I realize a WaveSki might be better for what I want to do, but I do actually enjoy the “boaty” features of the Kayak. For instance, it’s really easy to ditch one part of the break and paddle 100 yards to where there are fewer people. Not sure how easy that would be on a WaveSki.

Something to try to avoid pearling that is counter-intuitive. When you are going straight down the face of the wave and start to pearl tuck your weight forward, with your chest against your knees and tip on edge towards the direction the power pocket is moving brace with your paddle to do a nuclear powered bottom turn in that direction. You boat being almost 90 degrees tipped brings the nose out of the water and lets the rocker of the boat push you down the line in a bottom turn and out of the pearl. It takes practice, try it in small waves first. Once you get the hang of balancing a waveski and taking your feet out of the stirrups to hang down when needed for stability you’ll find you can paddle the ski just about as well as the cobra strike long distances. The Strike is certain a good boat to develop surf skills, but eventually if you keep with it you’ll look for a wave ski. Tyler Lausten, Mac Skis, Infinity Skis are good places to start. The entry level infinity skis are the most user friendly.

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I have been surfing the Strike for quite a while in mostly 4-6’ waves with the occasional 8-10’. The best leash for me has been a paddle leash attached to the bow. I attach it with a double set of pad eyes for more strength. The leash has some stretch to it and with a firm grip it is a rare wipeout that will tear the paddle out of my hands. This is a bungee leash covered in nylon fabric. Several are available but I can’t say which is best. The one I use is from Surf-to-Summit and is no longer made. For the safety of others you definitely need a leash, and it has saved me a lot of swimming. I also use leg straps, a back band and a foam pad in front to rest my feet against. I’m not nuts about foot straps. With this setup I am very locked in but never have a problem instantly leaving the boat when I need to. As far as avoiding pearling, try to angle your takeoff on bigger waves. With the low rocker of the Strike, dropping straight down the face is what buries the nose, at least for me. I hope this helps!

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