entry level ocean surf boat?

i'm keen to get into salt water surfing this season. i've looked at the used market for ocean surfing boats and haven't seen much, and what i have seen is pretty pricey.

i know alot of guys start with whitewater boats. they're a cheaper investment and a more active used market.

any models/features come to mind?


Necky Rip, Jive, Zip
All with planing hulls. All available on the used market at around $200-250.

Try to find
a used composite surf boat. The WW boats mentioned are exceptionally slow. You can use them, but they are limited. If you want to “surf kayak”, get a surf boat. Used ones are out there. An old obsolete surf kayak is still better than any WW boat I think.

Also Consider
A waveski is much less expensive than a surf kayak, and may be higher performance. A high performance wave ski is not where you want to start learning in the surf. If you could find an entry level waveski and you live where the water is reasonably warm most of the year, it would be the least expensive way to go.

A sit-on-top surf boat like a Cobra Strike or Wilderness Systems Kaos or Ocean Kayak Rapido will surf much better than the whitewater boats. They can be found inexpensively. Easy to move to a waveski from there.

Getting a high performance surf kayak when you have not surfed before is going to mean a lot of aggravation unless you are fairly athletic and a quick learner. After you get some time in a whitewater boat or SOT, check Boater Talk surf zone and gear swap. You can get a old surf kayak for between $400-$800 that will be orders of magnitude more exciting for real surfing than your starter whitewater boat.

If There Is No “Double Duty…”

– Last Updated: Feb-21-06 1:42 PM EST –

in mind, then go straight for a surf kayak. Folks who have surfed both white water and surf boats will tell you the gap in performance is pretty substantial.

If surf is all you want the boat for, it's worth your while to just keep a sharp eye at BT Gearswap as well as some of the local surf kayaking boards, like the VBSK and SCSK sites.

I have purchased three dedicated surf boats so far -- Riot Boogie, Mega Venom and Wold Epic -- all in good shape from gearswaps. It helps to research the types/sizes of boats you are interested in, know the the prices of the new boats and to make a move really quick when you see what seems like a good deal on a gearswap.

He who hesitates, loses, especially when it comes to a good used surf kayak.


Different Ability Levels
I think your own experience Sing is at the high end of the performance curve. One thing to keep in mind is how much experience some one has paddling before they head out in the surf in Surf kayak. A lot of the older surf boats are not very easy to roll or to get in or out of them. Someone looking to get started has no idea how grabby rails will be, how easily the boat will pearl, how stable it will be for paddle outs. Hard to know what you are buying until you have some experience and tried several boats.

Until you know someone has a fairly high livel of proficiency I think an average kayaker would do better starting on jive or a sit-on-top. A HP surf boat is great, but not for learning. This Fall our local club had an intro to surf day for people who have done some sea kayaking and whitewater, and there was a whole lot of carnage, no one wanted to try my surf boat even in small waves.

ww options

– Last Updated: Feb-21-06 2:24 PM EST –

while many would suggest a 'real' surf boat, I think your question IS what ww boat works for surf.

The Necky's listed are great. Their soul is in salty sea water. I've never met a Necky playboat that didn't do well in surf.

The Wave Sport series XXX, Foreplay, and Score (S-M-L) are all pretty good in the surf. low rocker and a bit flatter/ faster than some ww 'playboats'.

There are others, but these are some that I have found work.

Some of the ultra-low/ short playboats can also work well in soup/ small stuff surfin'. but they are SLOW.

A fiberglass surf boat is BEST. but you already KNEW that.


Go Direct To A Surf Boat…
I’ll second and third what SeaDart and Sing have said above…go directly to a surf specific craft. Otherwise you might wonder what the big deal is if you start with a WW boat. Anything that floats can be pushed shoreward by a breaking wave. That’s not really surfing. What you want is a hull design that allows you to have control over where the craft is headed.

As mentioned, good starter boats are the Strike and the Kaos. From there you could move to a wave ski or if you have a good roll, a surf kayak. Some of the quality skis are made by Infinity, Mike Johnson and WaveMaster. There are a fair number of options in surf kayaks - Mega, PS Composites, Riot, Murky Waters to name a few. Like was said, if you find a good used opportunity…move quickly. Good condition, previously-owned rides don’t last long on the market

Just be forewarned…paddle surfing is extremely addictive. Just ask Sing and SeaDart…and me. Nine surf boats later…and I’m still moving up the challenge ladder.

Woody ski??

another option…

Not my experience seadart.
Some years back I taught surf kayaking for Gronseth’s school based in Seattle. Students who had a decent roll did great in surf specific boats…far better than in WW boats. Seriously, I think if you can roll, you’ll quickly dial in even a high performance surf kayak. Wave ski is another story…harder to paddle out and roll. People will progress faster in a tool designed for the job. Why mess about, if your gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.

A Tool Designed For the Job?
Are you suggesting a wave ski is not a tool for the job? I beg to differ. Wave skis are equal to, and some would say better then a closed deck kayak for executing high performance moves. I went from a plastic SOT boat to a high performance wave ski…and then to a surf specific kayak. I still own both…and surf both.

In my opinion, if you can execute a solid roll in a WW boat…you can roll a ski. The basic mechanics are enough similar that with a few minor adjustments, you can learn to bring a ski over in relatively short order.

"Surf Specific Boats???"
What boats exactly were you using to teach?

I meant that folks with no surf and little whitewater ability should not look for an edgy old “Predator” and head out by themselves…

but I’m an uncoordinated, slow learning wimp.

Not part of your club
Sooo you are not gonna get what I say, no matter how I say it. You try gettin out at LaPush on a big day on a wave ski! That’s my point! They are awesome craft, but IMO more narrow in scope than an all round composite surf kayak. A surf kayak is really not much harder to roll than a modern WW boat. A wave ski is much harder to paddle out, and can be tricky to roll, depending on the ski. NOT dissing wave skis…OK get that!

Got A Point There…
I think having a solid roll really increases the progress up the learning curve. If one goes to directly to a surf kayak, it’s best to get some pool/practice time in to make whatever adjustment needed to roll the boat. It’s definitely takes a bit more than with a whitewater boat and a sea kayaker when first starting out. Once, you get that down, it becomes second nature and is in effect not any harder to roll.

I do think waveski is the hardest adjustment. Not only is it significantly harder to roll but it also significantlly tippier than a kayak of any kind, especially if the model is any level beyond the most beginning one (which makes it almost a SOT). For a less than fully competent roller, the waveski may challenge and confuse your roll. You may not know if it’s your technique or the waveski that makes rolling difficult. On the other hand, if the person is in a warmer climate, I think simply hanging on and climbing back on to the waveski is viable option (not so viable in the colder waters up here in the northeast). It’s more a difficult paddle out but you can also be selective about the conditions you go out in. This applies to any new surf paddler, no matter the craft. Start small, develop your skills and ability to read the break and waves, and move up from there.

I think the choice of the craft really does come down to the individual, his skills and personal inclination. I tend to be very aggressive in the pursuits I get caught in. I wished I got a surf kayak right from the start. But, it really doesn’t matter in the long run since I’ve quickly amassed my little fleet of surf boats and waveskis. This, however, may not be the approach and passion for someone more conservative in nature.


I 'owned’
a Wave ski for a month…the NorPac is too brutal and cold. It was the only time (shutter) that I have swam in surf, un-intentionally, while kayaking. We tried to sell 'em at Alder Creek and this was the first demo boat.

They are high performance vessels for a specific window of conditions. Other than that I’ll take my Score over one, anyday up here.

Now a good surf kayak…



thanks guys…
you talked me into it.

anyone got a reasonably priced surf boat for sale in the northeast?

I’m sure
that you are not a whimp. George is a Mega dealer so we had several of those, and I paddled a Stingray…now a Spyder. People did way better. They went out freaked out by the higher performance boats, but soon were smiling.


– Last Updated: Feb-22-06 12:29 PM EST –

how big are you? Where are you in the northeast?

The other option is to get one of the older, longer planing hulls and add on surf fin boxes. I did that with a Rip and it makes a big difference. Not as good a surf boat but way better than most ww boats in that it can actually climb back up a waveface and get off a wave before it closes out. Several folks I surf with are using Jives and Rips with this setup. I have photos of the process in my webshot account.

Some of us are close to finishing a site for Northeast Surf Paddlers. Will post the site when it's ready in a week or so for new members to register. May be an opportunity to connect up with some northeast surf paddlers and to test some boats. I have a UFO Venom (smaller deriviative of the UFO predator) that can accommodate probably someone up 180 lbs. You'd be welcomed to try (tho I am not selling, at least not yet). We also have several folks with Waveski's that have adjustable foot straps as well, i.e. Wavemaster and Tsunamis.


Surf Specific Kayak
My first surf kayak was a surfyak that I built for about $150. Planning hull, hard rails and swallow tail. WAY different than a WW Boat. Look up surfyak on the web and check it out.


sot or inflatable
I tried one of those small duckie types, surfed very well and I wasn’t afraid of the big plastic kayak bonking me on the head. still the paddle has to be secured… it can fly around