Fatyak are a British kayaking brand based out of Somerset who manufacture a line of easy to paddle, affordable, durable and innovative products designed for all levels. Keeping their range simple, Fatyak produce three different models – the Surf, the Kaafu and the Mahee. This review is based on the Fatyak Kaafu – Fatyak’s all-round hull shape made for wave heads and fishing enthusiasts.
Unwrapped for the first time, the Kaafu looks top notch and well-engineered. This version boasts a bright green colour scheme and really stands out! Giving the Kaafu a once over it’s clear to see a lot of time and effort has been invested in getting this kayak just right. Featuring well-designed, ergonomic carry handles, well-sealed double storage tanks, a comfy seating area, rear stowage compartment with securing mesh, fittings for backrest/thigh straps and a paddle keeper, the Kaafu looks the business and we couldn’t wait to get it wet.
Worth mentioning in more detail firstly is the hull, as it’s quite a technical shape. With its series of sharp rail chines the Kaafu’s bottom is designed to minimise the wetted area and reduce drag at speed. When rocked onto its edge, the sharp chines bite to help with tracking – such as when on wave. The main spine running down the centre of the hull is very pronounced at the rear and aids tracking. This gets progressively flatter as you move towards the nose and should equate to improved planing speed as you throw your weight forward and drop into a wave. Its nose is extremely acute and designed to cut through chop and flotsam as you paddle along. During wave riding, the nose will rise clear of the water to avoid tripping, as long as the rider shifts his or her weight towards the back of the cockpit. A high level of technical know-how has been incorporated into the hull, which is credit to Fatyak. This is the reason the Kaafu performs well on the flat and in waves.
It’s no secret that siton kayaks can sometimes be mission to cart about but the Kaafu’s light weight and perfectly positioned carry handles make less of a job of this than is the norm. If you take the option of fitting thigh straps then you can sling the Kaafu over your shoulder and walk with it to your drop in spot. The Fatyak sits snuggly on car roof racks and is quite a nice fit inside a van – if you’re lucky enough to own one! Let’s not beat around the bush here, the Kaafu is still unwieldy in the grand scheme of things, particularly when compared to other watersports craft, but Fatyak have engineered a design that makes the best job of a possibly painful situation.
On the water
Once you’re seated comfortably it’s immediately obvious just how stable the Kaafu is. With a considerable amount of width and volume towards the back end of the boat, you feel secure when paddling in a straight line. Even slight wobbles are of no concern – the Fatyak remains upright keeping the paddler locked in. The pronounced middle spine running along the hull’s length keeps the Kaafu tracking smoothly. If you deviate from your course then it only takes half a paddle stroke to bring you back on target. From the cockpit you have a choice of foot rest options catering for different body types. If you have particularly wide feet or you’re wearing extra rubber, such as wetsuit boots, then your feet may slip from time to time. However, pressing firmly against the plastic should ensure this is infrequent and also promotes a more dynamic paddling position. The Fatyak was great to rail (lean over) and it kept tracking beautifully. This attribute will benefit paddlers in the waves no end. The Kaafu’s manoeuvrability is admirable and it can change direction with ease. Leaning back in your paddling position will induce more spin – as will throwing in multi directional paddle strokes (forwards on one side followed by back paddling on the opposite). Unfortunately the swell wasn’t playing ball on the day we took the Kaafu out to play but we’re confident it will be a great surf hull in small to medium waves.
Although we didn’t get a tricked out fishing Kaafu, it’s obvious that the stability would lend itself to a great day casting. The two storage wells offer ample room for bait and, coupled with rod holders (an optional feature), you’ll be all set for reeling in that ‘big ‘un’. Stow an anchor in the back compartment and it would be possible to use the Kaafu as a diving platform. Due to the width and stability of the hull, getting back into the cockpit is no trouble.
The Fatyak Kaafu is a decent bit of paddling kit that’s perfect for those who desire cross over performance. With bundles of features and plenty of scope to ‘pimp your ride’ you’d do a lot worse than getting hold of one of these puppies