Sea kayak surfing question

-- Last Updated: Mar-31-11 1:00 PM EST --

Nice video

While watching it, I was scratching my head what would be the more desirable behavior when side-surfing: being able to swing the bow forward and get out of the side-surfing and continue surfing vs. keep side-surfing and eventually turn the bow up and paddle over the wave.

Obviously "it depends" what is better for any given situation. What I'm asking is whether you prefer a kayak that favors swinging the bow forward (like the P&H Delphin) or some others that favor being stuck sideways and hard to move out of that position, or may be that slide the stern down and point back against the wave? Why? Of course, given a choice I'd think a maneuverable and balanced kayak that lets you do either would be best, but I'm interested if you have any thoughts about the other choices.

And no need to discuss if sea kayaks actually can surf or not -;)

– Last Updated: Mar-31-11 2:21 PM EST –

That video has very small and slow spilling surf. Many kayaks with good paddle work can be turned toward or away from shore in very small surf, but yes a kayak like a Delphin which turns extra easy by sea touring kayak standards makes this easier. In much bigger surf not even the Delphin could break free from a bongo ride.

I'm sure pretty much anyone would prefer a boat that has more options on turning in surf though that may come at the expense of good tracking for distance so it's all a matter of trade-offs. As far as whether it will turn easier toward shore or toward sea I suppose I would prefer toward the sea since that makes it easier to head out for more surfing. If I intended to land then staying side surfing is as good as facing the shore though even better often is riding the back of the wave if landing.

I have a Delphin and it is very fun in surf. I once tried to break free of a foam pile that was losing steam to head back out and had the fun experience of instead turning out to sea THEN the turn continued and I was side surfing the same wave but facing the other way :).

I’ve never really nailed it down
That looks like fun. Wish I could have been there.

I’ve never really nailed down which kayaks consistently leave me facing the shore or the water out of a sidesurf. I have messed around trying to control it some, by leaning my body and sliding my brace towards the bow or stern and digging in. It’s nothing I’ve been able to master as of yet, but I seem to manage a minimal amount of control. But I think just as, or probably more often, the wave still decides for me.

I think if I’m traveling through to the beach or into an inlet, it’s more desirable for me to have the bow swing forward. My Kajaksport Viviane seems to fairly consistently end up this way. If I’m playing, I think I’m good with the stern swinging in towards shore first. I seem to be able to point my Capella 169 predictably back out through the surf.

If I could always completely control it, I would probably make different choices all the time. But if I’m making a landing that has me nervous, I think I’d prefer to turn facing shore every time.

it depends
If I went out with the goal of surfing (as opposed to being out paddling and grabbing a ride if the opportunity allowed), I would generally prefer the boat that is most maneuverable yet has the speed needed to ride the waves. Those waves shown likely wouldn’t be that good in a surf specific boat (most were not steep enough). But they were giving nice rides to longer boats that could maintain the speed.

I’ve even seen times where the only boat that could catch the wave was a surf ski (here’s a pic of one time - - I was in my old Looksha Sport, and wasn’t able to get enough speed to catch any waves). So use the boat that works.

Of course, when dong the side surf boogie and deciding what to do next, you also want to consider what is the preferable route. If you are in the foam pile after passing the good surfing spot, so would need to go back out to get another ride, a turn to point you back out and exit would be preferable. Same choice if where you are washing to is dangerous. But if there is more ride to come (the wave reforms), facing back in the direction of travel and getting that ride could be the way to go. Same idea if you are trying to get through the surf zone and to shore.

reforming waves
for me and both my Delphin and Aquanaut I’ve found that reforming waves tend to automatically turn me to shore. I have to be careful about that because if I don’t start paddling a bit my slow speed could cause a perl on the second break. Very fun when you can milk that second brake (on a friendly shore).

It’s not going to happen

– Last Updated: Mar-31-11 4:26 PM EST –

"what would be the more desirable behavior when side-surfing: being able to swing the bow forward and get out of the side-surfing"

The waves in the video are spilling knee high waves, as you notice, even in mild surf once the boat is side surfing you are not going to bring the stern around and head in straight. In large waves in a seakayak the only way to bring the boat to surf forward is to intentionally throw the boat up into the foam pile and pivot on top of the foam .. it takes a lot of skill and alot of luck.

If you want to be able to get out of a side surf, use a surf specific boat under 9'.

waves in that video
barely have a foam pile and they’re often on the verge of reforming. In such conditions I’ve had my boat sometimes accidentally swing to point to shore. But yes give another few inches and I can only swing out to sea and another foot I’m pretty much trapped until it lets me go.

The best behavior
Would be to just track wherever you wanted and link waves together and not worry about turning around to paddle against them. :slight_smile:

Both techniques would need a
maneuverable kayak. I really enjoy surfing in a Pintail because of it’s maneuverability and the skeg. It can easily turn out of a wave or if I get turned sideways by a large wave it will turn itself back down wave if I lean into the wave while it’s breaking over me and let the foam do it’s thing while skeg is down. There have been times that I would have been smoked by a large wave in a less maneuverable kayak but surprisingly found myself coming out of the foam riding the same wave in the Pintail.

Compare and contrast

– Last Updated: Mar-31-11 11:45 PM EST –

Go to 2:11 in above video, watch that ride, then re-view the OP's vid.... That is the difference between a dedicated surf kayak and yet "another" elf shoe.

I would encourage paddlers to experience a real surf craft. I like elf shoes, and whatever turns someone on is cool, but...

BTW, same location.

I guess I'm in violation again.. what an elf shoe bow does when bongo sliding largely depends on what the paddlers upper body does as much as paddle work.

That is an AWESOME vid! Wow.

you can’t surf in a sea kayak
nice photoshop

Nice ride …
now just imagine if he was on waveski :wink:

Explain “Elf Shoe”, please?
You wrote: “That is the difference between a dedicated surf kayak and yet “another” elf shoe”

What’s an elf shoe? The kayaks in the video all seemed like dedicated surf kayaks to me, just the guy at the 2 minute mark got a really nice ride …

Now “Elfin Shoe” is a name that some people apply to greenland inspired boats - both stern and bow rise needlessly high.

Of course, if one cares to examine the typical Elf shoe, say here,

the following design features become obvious:

  • very flat bottom
  • curled up nose
  • lots of volume in the back, at the heel area

    So, then one gets really curious, and wants to take a look at a dedicated surf kayak, say here

    Very quick observations -
  • very flat bottom
  • curled up nose
  • lots of volume in the back
  • funny things sticking out of the bottom

    By this comparison one could venture forth a statement, that an elfin shoe is perfect for surfing when funny things are attached to the bottom.

    Well, then one has conclude that salty is making a Fool’s Day joke by calling something quite unsuitable for surfing (multiple and radical changes of direction of travel on wave face), such as typical sea kayak displacement hull, by the name that is a perfect shape for surfing.

    Happy April 1st

    Oh, do try surfing specific paddle craft, they are a blast.

I thought surf kayaks look…
… More like elf shoes, hence the question… Of course, having never seen an elfin shoe I can’t really be sure -:wink:

To each his own I guess
This does nothing for me, I’ll take the 17 foot sea kayak in surf every time. By the way, I am selling my Valley Storm surf boat CHEAP if anyone is interested.

A agree about the Pintail
It’s the best surf boat of the sea kayaks I’ve owned and tried, at least once you catch a wave. The rounded hull slides around on the water, so you have reasonable maneuverability while riding a wave. Catching waves can be more challenging than with faster boats and one’s success rate really depends on the speed of the swells.

The Anas Acuta isn’t a bad surf boat, but it’s harder to control than the Pintail.

Longer, faster boats like the Nordkapp and Silhouette will catch smaller and faster swell better, but they’re not maneuverable once on a wave.

Greenland Kayaks
The bow and stern on a Greenland style boat rise that way so they can slide up onto the ice rather than just plow into it.

Sea kayak "surfing"
The more neutral a kayak design is, the more control the paddler has. Both above and below the waterline. For example a weather vane works on the principle that one end is affected by the wind more and thereby displays the direction the wind is coming from. If a kayak is neutral, then the paddler can change the trim with his/her upper body to control the boat.

I maintain that sea kayaks ride waves, they don’t surf waves. I have yet to see a sea kayak do a bottom turn or lip turn on a wave.