I recently purchased a Valley Avocet rm and I have been loving it so far. Since I learned how to roll I have found myself playing in big waves about 85% of the time. I was thinking about picking up a whitewater kayak so I have a bit more maneuverability and freedom when out on the waves. After doing a bit of research I’m a bit stumped as to what type of whitewater kayak I should go with for surfing and playing in the ocean. Also is it possible/advised to attach fins to a white water to assist in directional control? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
In my limited experience
in ocean surfing with yak i have found the longer the boat the better. Shorter boat such as my Wave Sport Big EZ just made it more of a challenge getting past the break.I now have an older longer Necky Rip and find it faster. I like speed to get past the breaking waves and soup. Some might prefer a shorter “playboat” for cartwheeling or such in the surf but that isn’t my style. Yes, a few people i know have added fins to their wwkayaks and swear by it.
long versus short
Long boats go straight down waves when surfing. Shorter boats can be carved, if they have good enough edges.
Of whitewater boats, I have heard good things about the old Necky Rips (definitely not the new Necky Rip, which is a recreational boat).
You could also look toward true surf kayaks (Valley even has some in their line). Or try a transitional sit on top surf kayak like a Dagger Kaos or Cobras Strike (there is a review of the Dagger in the first issue of California Kayaker Magazine - can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html).
Getting Started in Surf
As mentioned above some of the older Necky Boats, like the Rip and the Jive are good in the surf. Jive is preferred around here by beginning kayak surfers. Face it soon or later though you are going to want a boat with rails and fins. You can usually find a decent used surf boat for about $450 on craigslist, that would be fiberglass, also the Valley Storm in plastic is a decent boat. Good brands to look at are Mega, Mako line from PS composites, and Valley. If you have marginal surf you might look into an old Mako surf kayak or an international class boat which are 3 m and work well in messy big surf and small surf -nofins though.
After several years of surf kayaks I switched completely to wave skis, much higher performance and much more fun. Can be difficult to paddle out in messy conditions. On the East coast there are some folks who like Infinity Waveskis and Island Long board wave skis for messier surf conditions. I have a short custom made Infinity that is really fun, but they are bit pricey to have made if you don't know what you want and probably not something you will find used.
Try asking your question here:
Surfzone is dead .
Not much going on there, everybody is on facebook.
Flat-bottomed with edges
is a must. Don’t get creek-style or plain old-style boats as they are round-bottomed. Look at something with a planing hull and defined edges.
As mentioned, a dedicated surf kayak or a wave ski will be the next level up from a good WW kayak that can surf.
As for WW, playboats will only reasonably surf in steep breaking waves with a foam pile on top to push you. For faster smoother greener waves you want a longer boat, such as the Dagger Axiom or Jackson Zen or Fun Runner or similar. Or even longer, such as Perception Pirouette (not exactly fully flat bottomed and with somewhat rounded edges, but fast and still surfable).
The drawback of dedicated surf boats is that they are not really good for much else. So, if you live by the beach, great, but if you live by the river, not so great…