This past weekend I paddle with a few of my paddling buds and at one point we had about 10 miles of following sea with 25-35 mph winds to our backs. I could not have asked for a better time surfing my P+H CETUS, the boat was all over the place, I worked my ass off working this boat, my pals in their NDK’s totally dusted me. I consider paddling in following seas one of my strong points, the skeg/foil on the CETUS is very flimsy at best and I do believe this is the source of my woes.

Any suggestions, short of changing over to a new skeg? A new skeg is not on the market yet, and don’t know that there will be. I placed all of my kit behind me to seat the stern a bit.


Were you out Sunday?

– Last Updated: Mar-17-09 8:10 PM EST –

Did the same thing that day in B'ham Bay. It was a hoot, but a workout. Blew up quick after the barometer nose-dived causing the new waves to be not too well formed and they were choppy 3-5' stuff, but still mangaged to get a few good rides and reinforce how kayaks handle completely differently in winds like that vs. lesser velocity winds and what you can and can't do at those speeds.

I was paddling with some buddies, one of which is a BCU 5*/coach level 4 and ACA open coast instructor. Not sure if this is related to what you were experiencing, but he indicated that most folks, once they get on the wave, tend to lean back, causing the boat to squat down on it's haunches and in effect, shortening the waterline length of the bow, which could cause some tracking problems with the bow suddenly more bouyant and out of the water and the stern squatted in the wave top and pushing the stern around, especially if the wave is breaking and if the bow is now airborne from leaning back and placing gear in the back. He maintains that, obviously depending on the situation/wave shaped, etc., folks need to stay leaned forward a bit when surfing to track and keep the the boat speed up. I'm sure there's different theories out there. I use my skeg windwave surfing as well, but you have to be oriented right before you start sliding, or it'll be a short ride--I know I'm surfing when it starts buzzing...

Carrying gear in the aft, at those wind speeds is also going to raise the bow out of the water more, causing it to be much more affected by the wind pressure against the bow and blowing the bow down wind as every wave crest goes by. Lower winds and when touring, possibly want to trim aft heavy to minimize weathercocking. High winds, trim fore heavier to help keep it down out of the wind, to minmize leecocking AND help you be more able to turn upwind easier--for most kayak designs, that is. Turning into wind at those windspeeds can require some knowhow and technique, obviously. Not sure if this helps or confuses the issue.

interesting notion
When surfing in my sea boat (regular surf that breaks rather than following seas) I normally do lean back after I’ve actually caught the wave (lean forward at first to catch it). I’ve done this both to avoid pearling (nose diving in) and I also thought that a weighted nose would hold firm allowing the stern to more likely rotate the boat into a broaching position. No real instruction and not enough practice to really know if my thoughts were correct.

In breaking waves I’ve got to lean waaay back in my capella 166 rm to keep the stern from flying over my head. Sorry can’t help the OP.

That’s another school of thought…
…and, again, I think it’s very dependent on the wave shape and size as I mentioned AND boat design, primarily the amount buoyancy and shape at the ends has alot to do with it as well, I think. But, I’m no expert, that’s for sure.

Another thought is that if you stay…

– Last Updated: Mar-17-09 8:22 PM EST –

...forward and have enough buoyancy in your bow to keep from pearling, you may outrun the white stuff and avoid the endo, spending more of your time on the wave face manuevering instead of getting pushed around by having your stern in the white stuff. Leaning back and 'anchoring' to a degree with a stern rudder in the moving white stuff, many times, is likely to make that stern catch up with the bow one way or another resulting in a quicker side surf.

I think there's alot of variables that are hard to calculate for certain, but a few general principles that seem to work some of the time with certain paddlers, skill levels and boat designs.

Gordon Brown seems to advocate staying on top of the wave, depending on the type, of course. Yet another twist.

my suspicion would be trim as well
it has a lot to do with how well your boat will perform.

If you lean forward you get more speed and the bow gets traction. It’s counter-intuitive, like everything else in kayaking.

Try leaning forward and put a little weight in the aft hatch for kicks and giggles.

If you want to pitch pole -lean back
It buries the bow and you do an ender.

Counterintuitive but true.

Experiment with knee pressure under the
deck, as in a crunch towards your chest. Subtle shifts of edging will keep you on wave, harsher shifts will typewriter you off the wave.


Windwave surfing
I have the same problem as the op with windwave surfing with my cetus. I also think the problem could be corrected with a bigger, stiffer skeg. I emailed p&h about this but they did not reply. It is too bad because the boat is incredibly easy to catch waves of any size in the first place. Weighting the bow is something I would not of thought of to try, but I will experiment with that. A bit of a problem with this approach though, is that the bow does not have that much buoyancy to begin with, and I like to keep it lighter to help it ride up a bit more over an oncoming wave. I also need to experiment more with leaning the boat both ways while it is surfing- I recently read something that said the downwave lean may be more effective than the upwave lean on a starting broach when sliding downwave. I usually lean upwave for the security, but will try the other way if there is any truth to this.


Surfing/following seas
Peter, thanks for the reply. I thought I was the only one paddling a CETUS that’s having this issue. P+H finally replied an are in the stages of developing a retrofittable skeg for the CETUS. Keep hounding them, it looks like mine will be mailed to me.


I tried all that you mentioned in you reply and it was still difficult to paddle the boat down the face of theses waves.

I had a chance to go out yesterday in ~20mph wind and worked with the skeg by deployng it to variuos positions. With the skeg all the way down I found it to be much more difficult to pull out of a broach vs. having the skeg down 1/3rd the way where the boat responded much quicker to my leaning back and using a stern rudder/edge. I’ve been paddling nearly thirty years and this is one of the more difficult boats in a following sea.

Kayaks with little or no rocker
can be very challenging to keep on course in following or quartering waves. If the kayak has a skeg that is located at the rear of the keeline then it will probably only make the handling worse. If the skeg was located more toward the middle of the kayak then it would help reduce the yawing. A kayak with a lot of rocker will handling these conditions the best. Try paddling a kayak with more rocker in the same conditions and see how it can make it much easier to keep going straight and use less of your effort doing correction strokes.

kayaks with little or no rocker
I am paddling a P+H CETUS which has quite a bit of rocker, the skeg/foil towards the rear. I had a chance to get out yesterday and work with the skeg deployed at different angles and found the boat to respond best with the skeg ~1/3rd of the way down. It was a much better behaved beast than last weekend, and I actually got to see how quickly this kayak can pick up a wave and fly.


…about your observations yesterday. Do you think that resulted in the stern just getting less kicked around with each wave, but still provide a little tracking?

That was quite a blow yesterday. Friends out at Sandy Point said is was making bigger waves than last Sunday.

following seas
Just to let follow-up replies know, I paddle around the Puget Sound area, and winds in March are a given.

I think several things are happening:

1.the stern was not exposed to as much wind yesterday.

2.I leaned back with a much more aggresive stern rudder.

3.I placed more weight behind me than what was with me last weekend.

4.A swedeform hull just has more lift than a fishform hull, exposing the stern to the following wind as it’s being lifted up, couple that with a flimsy skeg/foil, there’s not much to grab with.

I probably will have to change some of my paddling habits developed from paddling fishform hulls all these years.

Glad you found something that worked. nm

Hull form
I hadn’t read this topic before responding to the Bahiya one. One comment that has been made about the Cetus before, despite the design looking swede-form at the seam, the waterline shape is not nearly so, it may be either symmetrical or even fish-form. My Capella 167 has some of the shape of the Cetus at the seam (though not that extreme, certainly), but looking at the chine shape it seems like the underwater volume is fish-form.

In any case, it would be a mistake to generalize on just one characteristic. Putting a lot of vertical surface area at the front and rear, as P&H is doing with these boats, for whatever reason, is going to confuse things a lot.


The two most important things to consider when surfing a sea kayak are the trim of the boat and the stage of development that the waves are in.

Boat trim: I prefer neutral both above and below the waterline. A few boats are designed this way although most have a pre disposition to efficient forward paddling. Above the waterline a neutral trim should result in the paddler able to change the direction of cocking simply by lean forward or back. Below the water both entry and exit should similar in volume.

Wave development: Short interval steep waves are new waves created but a very recent wind and broken tops which push on the stern making boat control even more difficult. Developed waves result from a long duration wind allowing the waves to become less vertical but more voluminous with bigger greener faces. Without the push of the broken tops a neutral boat becomes very controllable. Again a boat that is not balanced will be harder to control.

Recommendation for the most fun in waves is trim you boat and check the weather. My two cents.


Nice info
I suppose that’s why I’ve seldom found surfable conditions on the Hudson, because the waves have usually kicked up while I was out there. Had it been blowing strong for hours before I’d not even have been going out (a bit of a wimp, you see).

I mostly find paddling downwind in waves annoying, not only for pushing the boat around but because they make me half seasick. Can’t get back to port soon enough.