Displacement vs Planning Hull

I am thinking of buying a plastic kayak for using on various of the shallow rivers here in south and central Texas. Probably nothing over class 2, but with lots of shallows not suitable for my 17ft fiberglass seakayak. Originally I was thinking of a one of the transitional touring kayaks like a Tsunami 140. Now I am thinking it might be better to buy a white-water kayak that I could also use for surfing at the beach. Since I have never paddled a kayak with a planning hull I was wondering if I should be looking at a creek boat with a displacement hull so it would be more “familiar” feeling when paddling especially in the surf. I like the idea of the performance advantages of planning hulls for surfing, but worry that with the limited time I would be spending in my 2nd boat I might not be able to get used to handling the planning hull. Are the techniques used with planning hulls significantly different than what I have learned in my sea kayak? Thanks for any help you can give or recommendations on a specific kayak.

Creek boats don’t surf ocean waves
very well. You would want a longer planing or semi-planing hull. I am not going to speak to the handling characteristics of planing boats because I only own two, unofficial, semi-planers. However, to surf waves well, you will need a substantial flat or flattish bottom and relatively definite chines.

One reason you would want a relatively long planing hull is that, if you also use the boat to prowl shallow rivers, the shorter the boat, the deeper it will sit. You’ll get better advice when some of the experienced ocean surfers respond, but I think a used Dagger GT in one of the larger sizes might serve for your purposes. If I were buying, I would possibly get a Dragorossi Pintail XT, fast for a 7.5 foot boat.

Is semi-planning a term regularly used in kayak descriptions? I do not recall seeing it used, but I have not done a lot of detailed research. Is there a way to tell the difference between a planning and a semi-planning hull by looking at pictures or by looking in person if it is not listed in the literature.

By the way I should have said I want to “ride” the waves at the beach rather than “surf” since my only experience in the surf has been in my 16 and 17ft seakayaks. I think even a creek boat would be an upgrade from what I have been doing in my seakayak. Maybe if I get the right kayak I can start getting closer to “surfing” those waves.

Rolling 'em
Planing hull boats are fine to roll, but do require a bit more hip snap to get 'em started well than the often more forgiving hull of a properly fitting sea kayak. No big deal, but spend some time getting accustomed to rolling the planing hull boat in flat water before taking the planing hull boat into the surf.

Surfing in Texas …does it really matter
I’m not sure could tell the difference in a two second ride in a dispacement or planing hull kayak.

2-sec Surfing
Wow, if there is a chance to get my skills up so that I can spend a whole 2 sec on a ride then I have a lot to look forward too. Most of my previous surf time is best described as bracing, rolling, and pumping practice. Thanks for giving me hope that there is something better awaiting me.

It’s a matter of degree. One boat
designer and builder recently commented that all ww kayaks are displacement kayaks unless and until they plane up on a steep wave. To do that, they need a relatively broad, flat or flattish bottom. I have a slalom C-1 with a broad, flattish bottom, and occasionally I can feel it start to plane on a fast, broad river wave or when ferrying across a broad, fast jet. “Old school” kayaks like the Dancer and Animas do not have enough flatness on the bottom to plane.

Planing kayaks are designed to have a substantial degree of that planing characteristic, while giving away straight line cruising speed. Semi-planers are usually more multi-purpose.

Flat-bottomed planing kayaks tend to have sharp chines or edges, often with trick creases on the chines, because those help the boat feel “loose” when surfing waves or holes. Even a few slalom boats have such edges, though the purpose there is often to grip the water better when turning on edge in and out of eddies. Planing boats, and slalom boats, tend to have flat sides above their sharpish chines, because it allows the paddler to accept and work with sidewise current force.

Today’s whitewater paddlers seem to prefer shorter, flatter-bottomed, sharper chined kayaks, because they find them more controllable not only for playing, but for much routine river running.

One place where you will not see completely flat bottoms, sharp edges, or marked slab sides is in the most serious creek boat designs. In their extreme, none of these features help with safe creeking. However, while he might qualify it, Corran Addison’s new DragoRossi Critical Mass kayak does have a flattish bottom, and a reasonable suggestion of chines.

Regarding your question about surfing, what I meant was doing the same thing that surfers do on their boards. Some of the faster planing WW kayaks will surf pretty well. I don’t think any creek boat will surf nicely on ocean waves.

Watch your neck when ocean surfing.
A neck fracture can occur even when body surfing, if the wave causes excessive forward flexion of the head against the bottom.

Here are some kayaks you may want
to consider. If you are mainly going to tour shallow Texas flatwater or mild whitewater rivers, Dagger has a new 10’ kayak called the Approach which will draw little water. The hull is conservative, flattened arch bottom, soft chines. It has a storage hatch in the back deck. It would be mediocre for whitewater play or ocean surfing, but very practical for your river touring. It has a skeg which you are free to ignore.

The other two suggestions are made by Pyranha Kayaks. The G3 is a 9’1" rockered, planing hull. The length should make it relatively fast, and while it is long for current concepts of whitewater play, it should be very good for easy ocean surfing. It has good stern storage.

Pyranha also offers the Master TG, similar to the G3, but not as flat and with softer chines. It would be decent for easy ocean surfing and OK for river work. It has a skeg.

These boats are hidden in the school portion of the pyranha.com website.