waveski and surf kayak

I paddle a waveski on the east coast and am fairly new to surfing. Go about 3 days a month for the last 20 months. Can roll the waveski almost always but needs more work. I have never paddled a surf kayak.

I was curious to hear from those who have done both about the differences. Not trying to implicate one better than the other but wha advantages a kayak might have over waveski etc…

For me the fact that I occasionaly have to release my seatbelt and climb back on is enough to keep me away from kayak for now. I also tend to get my butt kicked when surf gets head hi IF I can make it out. I am hoping practice makes perfect, if not at least its fun.



High Peformance Wave Ski VS.
Hp surf kayak. The latter will be more stable (lower center of gravity) and easier to get through the break with. Less tiring too, over a session, because you can relax much more sitting in the decked kayak than you can in a surf ski.

I am still wondering whether the “air cruiser” concept and/or CA style ski will allow easier paddle out without sacraficing the “high performance” which in waveskis include a lot of air. With high performance surf kayak, it seems to be the abilty to spin on the green face, fast cutbacks/roundhouses and, with a skilled paddler, the ability to air.

My confidence in the waveski maxes out around 5-6’. My confidence in the surf kayak goes higher. Head high waves are a lot of fun for me in a surf kayak. So far, around 8’ or so, my pucker factor kicks in seriously.



Pretty much the same view

– Last Updated: Nov-30-05 2:56 PM EST –

I now surf:

Cobra Strike Sit on Top 9'6" single fin
Mako Surf Kayak(Mike Johnson, Original 9'6" finless) An antique this is presumably according to legend the first Mako Mike sold but I'm not sure that's true.
Necky Jive (whitewater boat) 8'4" no fins
Wavemaster Strata Waveski 8'2" (Austraialn tri-fin set up).

The Mako lets you paddle out easily and catch the smallest and the biggest waves. Not good for steep walled up surf because it tends to pearl but if you manage to take off diagonally it screams. After surfing an Australlian waveski you feel invincible. I hardly ever need to roll.

Wavemaster Strata let's you cut back by just thinking about it. Very good on walled up and barreling surf. Very fun and very intense. Very hard to paddle out into big waves. I am too old for it I believe; good for the young agile and flexible. I find it hard to roll and usually get knocked down with my feet out of the stirrups so I end up pulling the pin anyway and climbing back on. It seems to magically float and fly through nasty boiling whitewater when waves close out. Very Addictive but I'm not very good at it still.

My Thinking…
is that it’s probably easier to go from a roll on a waveski to a roll in a kayak, rather than the other way around…

If rolling is what is stopping you from a decked surf kayak, you may want to perhaps take a couple of indoor pool sessions with a white water boat this winter.


I live near flat water and have no problem rolling without waves/currents. Just need more practice/confidence in the rough and tumble. Once I never have to release belt in waveski then I think I will consider surf kayak. This I think is the only way of preventing me from buying another boat. I have reached the desperate situation where I am now storing boats at other peoples houses. I am a paddling addict. Keeps me healthy and out of trouble.


OK. :slight_smile: Nothing Like “Good Friends!”

Foot Hook
if you find yourself upside down with feet out of the stirups, try hooking your toes/instep just under the rail and then roll. Doing that foot hook around the rail is akin to having your foot in the footstrap. However, if you do a bunch of of these, your inner thigh will feel it. It’s like doing a session with Suzanne Sommer’s “Thighmaster!” :smiley:


While not experienced riding the Aussie style skis, I have evolved from the plastic SOTs like the Strike and the Kaos, to the classic Cal style wave ski and more recently, surf-specific closed deck kayaks.

I had developed a dependable roll on my Infinity ski and thought I was ready to put on a skirt. I can’t say I was totally convinced I could carry the roll over to the kayak…and my first couple of times out proved I had reason for concern. Escorting a kayak full of water back to shore was a fairly unpleasant experience and put more pressure on me to develop a dependable roll if I was to continue spending time in a kayak. I have slowed down the roll sequence in the kayak, applying more deliberate power versus the quick thrust I use on the ski. The boat tends to rotate up with a bit more deliberation then the wave ski.

Other differences… Obviously its warmer sitting inside a boat then on top of a wave ski. I find the kayak is much quicker to position when readying for a wave in that they can be spun around in short order. A kayak also seems to punch through or over incoming white water with less chance of getting sent back toward shore…usually upside down. At the same time, because there is greater stability, more can be done with a wave once it’s closed out and what’s left is rolling white water.

One last observation…the process of getting into the water with a wave ski is considerably simpler then a kayak. With a ski, you suit up, grab your paddle and head out. With a boat, there’s the float bags, spray decks, sponge, setting for a shore launch, PFD’s. My buddies on skis have already caught a couple of waves before I even get in the line up.

But I still love to paddle surf…regardless of the craft.

It’s The STOKE!
I like to ride any surf specific design. I surfed my waveski for the last time this year, earlier this week. Much warmer to be in my Venom. But what a great summer I had learning to surf the waveski. When the water and air temps were warmer, nothing beats the simplicity of just getting on that waveski and paddling out (within limits of course!). The waveski helped in making me a more confident, if not a better surfer in the decked boat.