Newbie boat advice

Hello, I am new to this board. I have been kayak surfing for a few years on an Ocean Kayak Frenzy. I have only paddled in the ocean in So Cal. I will be moving to Oregon soon and am looking forward to getting into river kayaking. My question is, is there an “all around” type boat that I can get that would be good for learning on a river or creek and that I can also use in the ocean for surfing? I was thinking something along the lines of the Dagger Mambo or am I way off on that? I am 6’1 190lbs. I was hoping to upgrade from the Frenzy but also be able to use the same boat for whitewater ect. Please let me know if this is possible.

Thanks, Dave

Lots of Joices

– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 11:45 AM EST –

Jocies ? Choices sorry.

Lots of whitewater boats will surf better than a Frenzy. I got started on a Frenzy and we still keep it around, it;s a fun boat and good to introduce friends to surf kayaking. Very forgiving and easy to paddle out in big waves. I have a necky jive that is a fairly decent whitewater boat for surfing. Once you get into surfing down the line in higher performing boats, you are going to want a boat with fins, some whitewater boats can be fitted with fins for surfing. With factory fin boxes, I can't remember many off hand. Maybe the Riot Techno, you can install fin boxes on a boat like a Jive or a Rip, probably not worth the bother.

A lot also will depend on what kind of whitewater you want to do. The good news is you can pick up an older whitewater boat that will be good for ocean surfing for not a lot of money, so you may be able to have more than one boat if space permits.

Any plastic ww boat will probably do
in the surf but some are better than others in terms of speed. I bitch about the slowness of my Big EZ which is 7’ long and I would like a longer one = faster one like the Jive for surfing. I would think a Mamba should be just fine. Good question to ask the website called Boatertalk.

Older, Longer Style "Playboats"
in my opinion do better in the surf because of the greater speed (relative to shorter, newer ww boats) for surf. For your size, the Necky Rip, Jive, or Bliss may be boats to look out for. If you see an Riot Prankster (big boat in the Dominatrix series), grab that because it has fin boxes. Of all the white water boats I had surfed, my Riot Trickster (smaller prankster) was the best because of the fins and edgy stern. It actually was the closest to my surf boats on a waveface. It also did fine when I was starting out in class II runs. I also surfed a Gliss (smaller bliss) and found it okay. I “surfed” my Riot Booster, Dagger Ultrafuge and Perception Shock. I used “quotation” marks around surfed because these sucked for surfing unless I take the surfing perspective of ww playboaters which is throw ends and spins in the foam pile. And, into the foam pile, they usually ended in quickly because they had no speed to make the clean wave sections.


Mambo is a river runner, yese?
Haven’t been in the boat, but isn’t this Dagger’s current river runner (following the original RPM, Animus, Crossfiire etc)? WW not my areas, but that should put it into the class of boats with some hull speed, unless the volume seems too much.

Newbie boat advice
Thanks for the comments. I took a look at the Riot Boogie and it seems like a great surf kayak, but would this also work in a river or creek? If someone could give me a list of boats that would work well in ocean surf and also help me transition to rivers and creeks then I could do some research on each one. Sorry is this is redundant but I can’t find alot of resources on the net.

Thanks, Dave


– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 5:01 PM EST –

Boogie is a dedicated RM surf kayak. You're the upper range for it weight wise. It would be challenging for you to learn to surf that on ocean waves but doable. In the multicurrent world of white water, however, the low volume stern and sharp rails (edges) will have you upside down more often than not.

Read this to understand the difference between rails (surf crafts) and chines (white water boats):


Where are you in Southern California?
My short list for beginners boats would be the Necky Jive, the Jive 810 (long version) Necky Rip. But I am not much of a whitewater paddler. They won’t be good for creeking or running really big water, although some people do run big water in the Jive. Keep your eyes peeled on boatertalk surfzone, or craigslist. You could probably find one for about $350.

If you are around San Diego you could certainly try out a Jive easy enough. Also sign up for the introduction to kayak surfing with Aqua-Adventures and you could try out some of the whitewater boats they carry.

You are way off on the Mamba
Your best choice is probably a wave oriented play boat but by and large river play boats don’t compare to boats designed for the surf. And the better a boat is for the surf the worse it is for either river running or river playing. For example, you could get a squashtail from Dragorossi. That is the best boat out there now for surfing river waves and is the best river oriented boat you can use in the surf. But it is a lousy river runner and still does not compare to a dedicated surf boat. Probably the worst choice for you is a river running creek boat (which includces the Mamba). It will get you down the river just fine but will be a super dog in the surf and its river play potential is small. My recommendations are the Necky Chronic or Orbit Fish or the Dragorossi Pintail. All three will do a decent job as a river runner (especially the Chronic and Pintail) and will still be fun in the surf. The Pintail comes with fins. If you want to go with used and save money, pick up a Riot Disco. It is a good river runner, plays well on the river, and is also fun in the surf if you use the fins. And, yes, I am biased. My list ID is based on my red Disco.

Where are you in Southern California?
I live near Ventura and do most of my surfing around there. I have surfed some pretty big waves in the Frenzy and have gotten real comfortable in it, but I think I am ready for the next level. I am more confused now on which new boat to buy then when I first started looking.

So I would be to big (6’1 185-190lbs) for the Boogie? It is looking like I should just find the right surf boat for me and then when we move to Oregon buy another boat for rivers.


Possible Help

– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 7:14 PM EST –

The bad news about surf kayaking is that most high performance boats are made for lighter paddlers. There are several good Mega, PS Composite and Wold boats that will fit you but the better boats for surf like the boogie are not going to work fo whitewater. A compromise would be a an older whitewater playboat --- which won't work for creeking..(doing big drops in gnarly canyons.) but I doubt you are going to go from a Frenzy to creeking in one jump.

If you live near ventura there are some folks who post on the Southern California Surf Kayak site ( They might know of some used boats, or might be able to paddle with you to give you some insight on surf kayaks and whitewater boats. Several weeks ago someone was posting on a Mega Marauder for sell. That would be a good dedicated surf boat for your size. In a couple of months it's time for the Jalama Expression Session at Jalama Beach about an hour north of Santa Barbara. That is the yearly gathering of surf kayakers in California and you might be able to pick up a surf specific craft. If you are going to be around then watch Boatertalk surfzone for details, it's the first full weekend in December. The surf there is usually pretty challenging.

One other thing to consider, what is the surf like where you are moving in Oregon. My view of the Oregon coastline is pretty limited, but the places I have seen have been pretty rugged with very unforgiving surf. In those spots you don't want a slow modern playboat, you will get massacred. You also don't want a really edgy HP surf kayak. If you can find some local surfers in the area you are headed to they can give you an idea what works for existing conditions.

Not Too Big…

– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 10:40 PM EST –

just challenging for a first surf boat. I had a boogie as my first surf boat. I am 145 and found it pretty forgiving after I figured where to locate the seat and the fins. Another surfing partner of mine is about 180 and got a Boogie. He ended up swimming a bit with it in the first couple of months. It was tippy for him and he couldn't quite get the roll down with it compared to his white water boat. Now, a year later, he loves his Boogie.

If you want a plastic surf kayak, I think the Mega Maverick or the Valley Storm are higher volume than the Boogie and may be a bit more forgiving for a first surf boat. Of course, if you keep your eyes peel, you can find a used composite that would still be cheaper than a brand new RM surf boat. I think the Mega Cyclone shows up quite a bit on the gear swaps. It's a longer International Class boat, 9' plus, that will definitely fit you. It won't be as quick on cutbacks like the shorter high performance (HP) boats but it's a good transition boat for someone getting into surf kayaks. Plus, it is wicked fast on the diagonal runs.



– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 10:28 PM EST –

That's my favorite white water boat right now. It's pretty decent river surfing boat. Forgiving chines for that but really slow on an ocean wave. It's pretty easy for me to squirt the Chronic. May be too squirty for someone heavier and new to river playboats.

Someone in our 'net group, whom I still have not surfed with yet, went from a Disco to a Jive. I think he mentioned being about 175. He found the Jive faster. He recently moved up to Boogie as well. He is also white water and surf paddler. He didn't believe the difference between the surfing a white water boat and a surf boat was that significant until he got a Boogie. Now, he is among us who have dedicated boat for the surf and a dedicated boat for white water. (Of course, at this point, I have three white water boats, 2 surf kayaks and 3 waveskis. So, I clearly believe in very specific boats for specific venues.)