Surf Kayak or Wave Ski

Does anyone have links to clear photos or articles on the hull shape of surf kayaks or wave skis? They seem to com ein all sorts of shapes and sizes…

I’m just curious as to the various properties that are desireable under specific conditions. E.g. width/length, concave hull or flat, sharp edges or rounded, dove-tail or not, wave ski vs. surf kayak, etc. and when they would be advantageous (e.g. 3-5 foot wind waves vs. not much bigger ocean surf vs. the “BIG” stuff).

More Than You Might Care…

– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 10:24 AM EST –

go to to get hardcore skiers' load down on "why" waveskis are the "best" and the differences between.

Go to surfzone forum, to hear the SINK afficinados talk about the "latest and greatest" surf kayaks and why you should trade up every 6 months.

But, if you are really serious about paddle surfing, I think you would do best to ingrain this in your head and practice. This is far more important that the differences in the surf craft 'cause it'll allow you to surf with greater safety and mutual respect from boardies:


Do you want distance traveled or play?
What are you looking for in this next paddle craft? The 2 types of boats are not comparable. A surf ski is really designed to cover distance quickly. A ploint A to point B kinda thing. A waveski is a play in the surf boat. It was never intended to do the point A to point B thing. Surfskies are more like joging where as Waveskies are more like playing handball. does this make sence? If I were you and I lives on or near the surf, I would own both boats.

Not Surf ski

– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 11:45 AM EST –

I'm not looking for a surf ski info with this post. You are of course right they are different. Looking for surf kayak and wave ski info (both similar in my mind - short, maneuverable, only work for play).

I can't be very serious about surfing even if I wanted to be, since I live no where near proper waves to do it more than a couple of times a year.

Also, I should have provided a bit more infor about me, since a lot of folks ask for something while they actually should be asking for something other completely and you are right to try to figure that out first. Not the case here though. I already have several kayaks that are suitable for my conditions. So not looking for advice on the "best kayak for my needs" - interested with this post specifically for info on waveskis/surf kayaks. And as I said, I probably won't get one any time soon, but interested in the why's of their design neverhteless.

If I saw one at a very good price, I probably would not mind snapping a beat-up surfing boat for the few occasions I might actually go to the ocean. But mainly just curious about the various designs.

I guess, besides the obvious difference of being more exposed and sitting on top on a waveski vs. the sit-in on a surf kayak, what else makes them different, if anything? I fathom that shorter vs. longer, more upswept vs. less so have fairly easy to comprehend implications on the type of waves or the speed or maneuverability, but I'm much less clear on other aspects: fin placement and number of fins, hull profile, tail profile, edges, etc...

Good links

– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 11:36 AM EST –

Thanks. Etiquette is important. From my personal experience (as in being cut off numerous times by one particularly obnoctious surfer), one does not need a PhD in that area to figure out when someone is "snaking" infront of you ;)

"Go to surfzone forum, to hear the SINK afficinados talk about the latest and greatest surf kayaks and why you should trade up every 6 months."

I don't necessarily care about the "latest and greatest", but I can tell you there is a huge difference b/w the 1990s generation of downhill skis and the newer shorter and curvier designs. That's the kind of ball-park I'm looking at ;) Same for wind surfing boards and gear, not to mention the new kites on kite surfing that just appeared these past couple of years (btw, they are a huge improvement in some areas over the "old" stuff from just a couple of years back). I'm sure there is some similar trend there in surfing as well that I would like to know about.

I’ll try
OK, first and foremost is to buy a craft designed to surf ocean waves. You already know the difference between a wave ski and surf kayak. Neither can match the speed or fluidity of a surf board operated by a great surfer. The ski’s are sweet and very high performance for a paddle craft. They are great in clean break situations but can be a challenge paddling out through big soup zones. Some actually swim out and tow the wave ski’s but these were super HP ski’s.

A surf kayak is NOT a WW kayak. They typically have pronounced rails, flattish surf board type hulls and fins. They come in the longer International class or the shorter HP class. Don’t assume the shorter ones to be slow! The longer International class boats catch waves easily but are not as maneuverable. The HP boats require a steeper take off, but are rippin fast down the line. Not unlike the long board / short board balance.

Hull stiffness is important and surf kayaks typically have a cored hull and fins. Fins allow much greater speed as the boat skids less and can be driven hard in the bottom turns, hold the wall etc.

Contrary to common thought, a HP surf kayak is easier to learn in cuz it’s designed to surf. You’d very quickly figure it out and be way more successful than skidding around in a slow WW kayak.

Finding a boat that fits is the key and there are probably sources for used surf kayaks.

Have fun.


– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 1:01 PM EST –

I started to do some digging of my own and links like this below pop-up:

Unfortunatetly, since this and others are manufacturer information, it's hard to take many of the claims at face value -;)

I'm not sure I will ever have the reflexes/coordination that seem to be required for surfing well. The goal for me is to learn enough to have fun and catch more waves. I just this year started to get into WW for a first time and I can tell you my roll has improved a lot - I've been going over almost every time I try to surf the local pourover waves in the WaveSport Fuse I paddle there -;) But getting better, as I can now stay and surf for a few seconds before I get spit out one way or another, so there is hope -;)

I guess I can read-up a bit more at these places too: and at

Here’s A Deal…

– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 2:10 PM EST –



PS. Realizing I'm having one of those moments... Surf is up this week on the east coast. In time for the holiday. Go get some. :)

Surf Craft Shape 101

This link gives you an idea what a good surf kayak looks like… (times have changed and designs are a bit different now).

Waveskis are not that much different except they require volume to provide flotation and that often involves a hump behind the seat, the shape of the rails, rocker, and shape of the bottom determine performance, and depend on what kind of waves you like to surf. It’s a very personal kind of thing. Choose a forgiving intermediate design and get started. Then as you develop a style and skill you tune up your craft to fit the kind of surfing you do.

An infinity tri-plane waveski
is an excellent choice if you want to get started surfing and you have small waves and variable conditions. Would not be my choice for steep, fast breaking waves, which you are very unlikely to be surfing anyway Give Steve Boehne a call and he can get you set up. I also know someone on who lives in texas who is selling a great intermediate Infinity Ski. Also look at Island HP longboard, another good place to start.

Surf kayaks, the Mini Mako, Mako or Aquarius are good places to start and fairly easy to find used.

Interesting read. Also other stuff on that site…

I also found

– Last Updated: Nov-24-09 6:29 PM EST –

some designs in KayakFoundy that show a lot of detail and there is some discussion on their forums as well.

I think I'm set for now -;) My secret goal, I can admit now, was to gather enough info to see if I can make an aluminum folder surf kayak that I can take on occasional ocean-bound trips without much trouble. That would be fun and will take probably half the space and weight of an 18 footer greenland-style boat that I have been contemplating as well ... Probably will not be anything special, but my thinking is that an 8-9 footer should be usable enough for a begiiner surfer like myself even though it won't be nearly as rigid as hard shells. Will see if that gets me anywhere though as I have not built anything kayak yet (except a paddle and some mods/fixes to existing boats), so far...