I'm looking for a SOT kayak that can be used for both surf and touring. I want to be able to do some basic surfing and also be able to go out and tour in the same boat. Some shops recommended the Triumph, Tarpon 120 and the Feelfree Nomad. Does anyone have any other suggestions or comments regarding the ones suggested to me? Any help would be great.
which is more important?
Which trait is ore important - ability to surf or ability to tour? Sounds like tour based on your original post.
If you can find a Necky Dolphin (long out of production), grab one. It was a sit on top version of the Necky Looksha Sport hull. I know some folks who love theirs as a boat, including for surfing.
Surfing a sit on top will pretty much require that you get thigh straps for the boat, so you can better lock yourself into the boat.
which is more important?
Touring is more important, but would really like to do some surfing in it as well. I thought the Feelfree Nomad would be fine, but after talking to someone, they told me that it wasn’t really a touring kayak. Thank you for the suggestion regarding the Necky.
Does touring mean getting out and paddling a few miles, or taking a multi-day trip where you need to carry gear? What sort of distances do you plan to cover?
The longer the distance, or the more you need to carry gear, generally the longer the boat you want (and the narrower, to a point). Longer boats can be surfed, but it more of a straight down the wave action, as opposed to carving waves like a surfboard does. This is how sea kayaks surf, so if you’ve ever seen a video of sea kayak surfing, that is what you’d be doing.
I would be kayaking several miles (5-10), but not anything that would require carrying a lot of gear. I’ve used a Feelfree Nomad to surf on and had a great time, but was told that it wouldn’t be good for going out for any distance. I’m not looking to be a technical kayak surfer, just looking to enjoy a few waves on occasion. I currently have a prodigy 10 and wanted to try something that would work better in open coastal water preferably a SOT.
Surf vs Touring
I think what you really need to do is get some more experience surfing.
I don't think you have very realistic expectations.
Some folks are very good at longboat surfing, but they usually got started surfing whitewater kayaks or surf specific kayaks. Good longboats for surfing are usually fairly expensive and sometimes hard to find like an old Mariner Coaster. Look at the Pand H delphin and hammer. Less of a touring boat is the Jackson Karma. Lots of my sea kayaking friends who are great kayak surfers really like this boat …
If you want to surf in SINKs get started with an old school whitewater boat like a Necky Jive or the old Necky Rip, they can be found used for a few hundred bucks. Learn the basics and then move to trying to surf longer boats.
Cobra Kayaks used to make a boat called The Revision that was decent as an SOT for long distance paddling, and was also quite surf able it was designed initially to be a surf rescue boat.
I would suggest taking a couple of surf kayaking classes and if you are into SOTs get a used surf specific boat like a kaos or cobra strike. These boats used are inexpensive. Both are no longer made. Get a longer boat for touring.
The Nomad may let the waves push you in doing the “Straight in Charlie” ride, but that’s not really surfing. Surfing is being able to do bottom turns top turns and cut backs riding the wave top to bottom and throwing the boat around, in control, and being able to exit the wave without bongo sliding.
I appreciate all the insight you’ve given me. I am new to surf kayaking and yes I have taken a class, but need more experience/lessons.
The Nomad was used for the class I took and that is why I mentioned it, I felt comfortable in it. I’m fine with just having the wave push me as apposed to maneuvering through the waves. I don’t think I want to become a technical surfer. I guess I should have said I wanted a kayak that I could “play” in the waves/surf and still take on a day trip. That is why I was looking for a kayak that could function both ways.
I really liked your suggestions and appreciate you taking your time to respond.
I’m a little biased, but…
I would look at the new rotomolded surfskis.
It’s sounds like your idea of touring is relatively light and shouldn’t require much gear.
Additionally, a surfski will require less take along safety gear, so you will have less need for bulkhead space. A stern compartment should be plenty.
As far as surfing goes, they may not be perfectly suited for shore breaks, but they are great for surfing swell.
I’d highly recommend looking into the Epic V7, Vajda Raptor Ski or the forthcoming Think Nitro.
Joseph Di Chiacchio
Mountainpaddler’s suggestion is good
I love riding waves in my sea kayaks. It's a lot of fun. If I were going for a sot for 5 to 10 mile paddles, and wanted to ride some waves once in a while, only one kayak, I'd go with Mountainpadder's suggestion for what I would probably enjoy the most. An efficient glide under paddle power is probably a pretty good priority.
I played around a little bit riding some beach surf in a friend's Epic V6 one day. It was a lot of fun. Thigh straps and/or a waist belt would have put me in much better control, but it handled everything quite well besides coming out from under me when I would turn back out over the wave I was riding. But I'm used to rolling, and bracing and sitting up from leans in my sea kayaks. If you can't roll and brace and control overbalance leans well, and don't plan to, a waist belt/thigh strap will prove largely meaningless, and might even do as much harm as good. I've watched countless occasions of people pulling themselves over with tense legs in thigh braces, and I've done it myself countless times through learning processes. So just don't put too much stock in features you don't figure you will advance enough to take advantage of anyway. But most anyone almost instantly appreciates an efficient glide on a 5 mile paddle.
Wow, that is a great wave for long-boating in that video above. That would have been a blast.
Big Question - Where surfing and touring
It makes a lot of difference of the kind of surf, period, size and shape you are talking about playing in.
Surf skis are cool but if you are going to paddling in choppy short period stuff most the time, not really what you want.
I’m a little bit surprised an outfitter would use a feel free Nomad for a surf class. I’d look for better teaching experience, and you’ll have higher expectations of of performance.
Long 21ft Surfskis are not optimized in short period waves, but the shorter 14ft-18ft skis handle these much better.
Joseph Di Chiacchio
Looks like a fun boat.
If You Can Find One…
been kicking myself for not picking up the one I saw up at LL Cote in Errol, NH, about 6 six years ago. Have not seen one around NE since.
Prefer OC-1 for Surfing the Outside
Breakers and for cruising. Much more relaxing than a kayak any day. Paddling an OC-1 is like riding in a limo compared to a kayak. Pick up a 17 pounder and you’re all set.
Looks like a fun boat.
Got out in the surf boat yesterday at Nantasket, had a nice little session. Can only sit in my Bullitt S for about half an hour before I need to get out and stretch. Nice little waves not much shape really only enough push for a straight ahead ride, but fun to get out nonetheless. Water is still warm, no crowds, and the sun was cranking. Good day.