Waveski or SOT surf kayak for Boston and 5'9" paddler

Very help, thank you, @Sing.

I won’t get back onto board as fast as you do and I probably don’t have as much cold tolerance. In that regard, should I get the Hyperflex Voodoo in 6/5/4? That price is almost the same as 5/4/3.

Is your 6/5/4 too bulky or too stiff to surf in?

Sorry, I did not understand what your strategy is for changing out in air temperature under 30F, other than using mitts? I was indeed wondering about that.

I haven’t used my 6/5/4 in years. I just have not felt the need and enjoyed less bulk and restriction. For me, a 5/4 works throughout the deep part of winter and the newer, stretchier neoprene makes it much easier to paddle surf for hours without tiring. Even so, if I were to wear my 5/4 now (50 degree water), I would be spending as much time practicing my rolls than surfing just to to avoid overheating. For me a 4/3 is more than sufficient for the water temp now. If their air temp is down to around 40, I add on a detached neo hood to protect my bald head from wind chill instead of my usual poly/nylon surf cap.

Frankly, for you as a beginner, you should not be surfing in any waves larger than 4’ max (chest high). This will be the case for you for first year, if not two. That means in a worse scenario, you should have a very short swim to shore (with only small part possibly in overhead water). A 5/4 should offer more than enough immersion protection for you in this scenario. Your PFD over the 5/4 also will increase protection from wind chill. If you are truly cold, just get back to shore to go back to your car and warm up. Also, just as I would not recommend you surfing in anything over chest high surf, I don’t think you should go out in sub 45 degree water and air temps below freezing unless you are convinced that you can handle these temps. There is no point in putting yourself in conditions that make surfing unenjoyable and/or dangerous. Therefore, getting a 6/5/4 (in my opinion) now is really akin to overgearing for big surf and dangerous water/air temps that you have no business being in. The 6/5/4 will just overheat you and wear you down sooner because of the higher bulk and movement restriction.

I did not give my strategies for changing out in below freezing temps because it really isn’t relevant to you right now. Heck, with Quincy being so close to Nantasket, just cover your car seat with a couple of towels and drive the 20 minutes home in your wetsuit to change and shower.

The one thing you may want to do is to keep a couple liters or gallons of warm/hot water in a foldable cooler. You can poor this into your wetsuit to warm up if you feel chilled while loading your boat back on/in the car.


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Thank you @sing. 5/4, it is. You are so very kind and patient.

I may order a wetsuit today (Wetsuit Warehouse has some Black Friday sales going on now in $210 range). Do you have the 5/4/3 Hyperflex Voodoo model or some other brand/model of 5/4 wetsuit? I will order the exact one you recommend.

I have surfed in chest high Texas waves before in Galveston and am a very good swimmer. So I am sure I will enjoy the surf. Should be able to get used to the cold as I used to take cold water shower when it snowed in college; just need some getting-used-to.

I see that Hyperflex offers some neoprene coated jackets and you seemed to be wearing another layer over your wetsuit. So layering up after surfing may be your strategy, I am guessing? I can surely put on some clothing after I am done surfing.

Thank you again!

One caveat on the wetsuit - I have a thin 1.5mm Hyperflex SUPreme shorty (retail ~$200). I know its thin, but water penetrates the suit much more than my Oneill Psycho Freak (retail ~$450). If you are looking at the Hyperflex, i’d ask about how waterproof the neoprene is compared to top of the line neo like Technobutter 2 or 3 (or equivalent top of the line neo from any brand). I had the same experience comparing the PF in TB2 neo to my old Oneill Mutant 4/3. The old 4/3 let water through and was colder than the PF 3/2. Maybe the thicker Hypreflex neo is more waterproof as well, I would just check.

Just saying, top of the line neoprene is pretty amazing. Might be worth scowering Craig’s to see if any top of the line suits are available in your area for a good price.

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I find the thinner late spring/summer wetsuits, 3 mm and under, will sometimes not have sealed seams (look at the specs). Water flushes through there.

Most of my wetsuits are Xcel, chest zipped style. Even my 2 mm Xcel has blindstitched and sealed seams. But, you pay a premium for the quality of work and materials.

With the Wetsuit Wearhouse, I have two of its in-house brand, Hyperflex. I brought a 5/4 hood last year and was surprised by how comfortable and warm it was. (I was wearing the Hyperflex in the pic of me above, encrusted in ice.) The neo seems even stretchier than the Xcels that I have. I will admit the jury is still out, for me, on the durability of the Hyperflex. If it goes through this winter and next, I will say it is a very good buy as it is about 60% of the price of my 5/4 hood Xcel. I just bought my second one – a 4 mm hood wetsuit – on sale for 50%. A 4mm wetsuit with a hood seems like an odd duck (I am used to unhooded 4/3). I was willing to spend the money to see where this fits in the late fall/early lineup, since I really like the stretchiness/comfort of the Hyperflex 5/4.


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Layering… In the summer, I will go with a lightly padded neoprene impact vest over my wetsuit. I have had surfers drop in on my wave. I haven’t been hit yet but a standing surfer could crash his surfboard into my back or chest. One guy almost did. I saw him coming and pushed his surfboard nose away from me and knocked him over. Anyway, I like the insurance against injury. I’m getting too old to be losing time to injury and physical recovery.

In the photo above, I was using heavier duty foam impact vest. It has 2/3 of thickness and flotation of a coast guard approved PFD. Technically, I am on a surfboard and nobody enforces PFD laws on surfers. Heck, we surfers don’t even observe the “no swimming” flags during hurricane swell season. So there. A reason surfers don’t wear PFD, except on really BIG wave riding, is the ability to duck diver under an oncoming breaking wave to avoid getting tossed around. However, standup surfers don’t have to worry about being speared by a board in the ribs while surfing a sit on top waveski.

I suggest you wear a coast guard approved PFD in your Kaos.


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@sing, did you have to custom order your short paddle from Werner? I am pretty sure 190cm is too long for my surf paddling, but then most venders don’t carry 175cm short paddles. Thank you!

coloradokayak.com offers 165cm or 175cm R30, but I prefer straight paddles.

I am getting a Dagger Kaos by the way, likely from Carl at Osprey on Saturday afternoon, after meeting with you on Saturday noon.

Don’t buy a paddle yet. I have a right hand, 191 paddle that you can try a bit first. The Kaos is wider and rides higher than my waveski. It may be ok and/or it will give you a reference point if you want to go shorter in the future. But, you won’t really know until you get a couple of surf sessions in first.


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You are too kind, Sing.

Do you have a straight short paddle? I have tried R30 or R45 paddles before, for a minutes or so on land, but was not sure if I can get use to them. I prefer straight paddles that are not feathered.

Werner will make non-stock lengths of paddles. When you know what you need just talk to them.

I had (still have) a Werner Sherpa WW paddle, 191 cm standard size. After a few years I felt a slightly shorter paddle would be better. Werner made me a 185 cm paddle at a tiny extra charge. At the same time I also downsized my sea kayak paddles from 205 to 200 cm. They said these lengths were not really a custom size, but that retail shops do not stock them due to low demand.

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The paddle is a 191 with offset of 15 degrees, right hand control, that I modified from an old 200, r30. I think the slight feathering is easy to get used to if you are used to unfeathered. The paddle shaft is oval and so is “indexed” on both sides by the shaped and feel. For me, the length is still longer than I long so I have it around as spare.

You can try/use until you are ready to make a more definitive judgement about your preference.


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Will you surf near Mary Jeanette Murray Bath House? I am not familiar with that area and have to rely on GPS.

I will be there at around 11AM. Thanks.

Yes. in front of that Bathhouse.



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Did you get together?

Yes, it was great meeting Sing and Carl Ladd afterwards.

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Good. I’ve met many p.nutters over the years and continue to. Good times.

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Looks this coming weekend will offer opportunity to test out the kaos, paddle and immersion gear.:kayak::eyes:


I am game. Just need to prepare for it. When?

Sunday morning - 9 to noon - is looking almost perfect if forecast holds. 10 second plus, 3-4’ easterly swells with an offshore wind to clean and steepen the wavefaces. Astronomical high tide, ~ 11’ at a bit past 1 PM. Waves will be slamming into the seawall sometime after 12 PM.

Get your gear ready. Take the fins out of our Kaos, sit on it and adjust the thighbraces so it is snug with your feet in the preferred peg positions. You legs ideally should have some bend in them to keep the thigh braces on and snug. When you take your feet off and straighten the knees, the thighbraces should release readily. Also, find a place to attached you paddle leash towards the front of the Kaos.

Put on you drysuit and check the neck gasket for fit. If it feels too tight now, trim them to a comfortable snugness (google how to trim gasket). Trimming is the way to go. The gasket will not stretch to a comfortable level anytime soon, if at all (I speak with experience with 2 drysuits, and four drytops of my own).

Meet me where you saw me last. If there are too many folks out, we’ll paddle or drive to a less crowded spot. You should not be near boardies on your first outing.


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Roger, Roger!