Surfing on a sit on top (SOT) kayak is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in the UK. There are plenty of breaks suitable for kayak surfing, and once you catch your first wave, you’ll be hooked. It’s addictive, and the sport attracts people from all walks of life. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with surf etiquette, especially on big wave days when you’ll be sharing waves with surfers and stand-up paddleboarders.
The Appeal of Kayak Surfing
Kayakers can take advantage of smaller surf conditions, expanding the number of surfable days compared to traditional surfers. This is particularly beneficial for SOT kayakers. Unlike sit-inside kayaks, SOT kayaks provide the advantage of being in the surf without the fear of being trapped inside the kayak if it flips. This makes SOT surfing appealing to new kayakers or those who haven’t yet mastered the roll. Even experienced kayakers may find SOT surfing a refreshing change of scenery.
In the past, SOT kayaks were considered inferior to sit-inside surf kayaks, especially the heavier plastic models. However, lightweight SOT surf kayaks have emerged, matching the performance of sit-inside kayaks. Waveski manufacturers have also recognized the potential of SOT kayakers and have designed entry-level kayaks to accommodate them. This article tells the story of the evolution of kayaks, starting with general-purpose kayaks and progressing to specialized surf craft.
The Basic Moves
Surf kayaking involves more than simply riding waves straight to the beach. There are several basic maneuvers that can enhance your wave-riding experience, such as take-offs, bottom turns, top turns, and cut backs. To learn these moves in detail, consult experts like Simon Hammond and Bill Matos, authors of “Surf Kayaking: The Essential Guide” and “Kayak Surfing,” respectively. Advanced moves may require specialized boats that match your skill level. You can find helpful tutorials on YouTube, such as “The Basic Moves of Surf Kayaking.”
General-purpose SOT kayaks offer utility in the surf, providing stability and confidence on the water. These kayaks, such as the Perception Scooter, Tootega Pulse, Bic Ouassou, Fatyak Surf, Fatyak Kaafu, Feel Free Nomad/Roamer, and Ocean Kayak’s Mysto, are ideal for beginners. They allow you to surf straight to the shore with minimal carving. As your skills progress, you may develop a desire to use more of the wave.
These kayaks are designed with enhanced rocker to handle oncoming waves and prevent nose-diving. They provide stability, allowing you to focus more on enjoying the waves rather than maintaining balance, especially in big waves.
The Next Steps
Once you’ve experienced the thrill of SOT surfing, you may want to explore more performance-oriented options. Surf-specific SOT kayaks feature fins, increased rocker, and defined edges (rails). These kayaks excel in carving and engaging with the wave face. Fins play a crucial role in preventing the kayak from spinning out, particularly in big waves.
The Five-O is a robust surf-craft with a single fin, moveable footplate, and excellent reviews. It performs exceptionally well in challenging conditions, providing stability and confidence, even in big waves. Its low-sitting design allows for easy re-entry if you fall off, and the planing hull ensures great performance.
The Strike is a smaller and lighter SOT kayak compared to other plastic models. It features a single detachable surf fin and offers flexibility with both footstraps and thigh straps.
Dagger Kaos 10.2
With three surf fins, pronounced rocker, and a planning hull, the Kaos is a rare sight in the UK. It’s designed specifically for surf, delivering outstanding performance.
Pyranha Surf Jet 305
Unlike other kayaks, the Surf Jet 305 features a retractable skeg instead of a detachable surf fin. Its displacement hull excels in large, challenging surf conditions.
Islander LipStick and Islander BigStick
These kayaks feature a thruster fin setup, adjustable footrest, accentuated rocker, and fishtail design. The LipStick is suitable for smaller paddlers, while the BigStick accommodates larger paddlers.
Top of the Evolutionary Tree: High-Performance, Surf-Specific SOT Kayaks
The world of SOT surf kayaking is experiencing a revolution with the introduction of kayaks that offer higher speed, maneuverability, and lightness. These kayaks, constructed with composite, X-Tech, or full carbon fiber layups, outperform traditional plastic SOTs. SOT surfing now has its own categories in surf kayak competitions. Even inexperienced paddlers can begin their journey with these models and progress to advanced levels. Picking up waves becomes much easier, and the performance boost is evident.
RPF Kayaks – The Shark, Master, and Maori
RPF Kayaks, a Portuguese kayak company, has a reputation for delivering high-performance surf designs. Their three surf-specific SOT kayaks, the Shark, Master, and Maori, offer enhanced performance compared to plastic SOTs.
Each kayak features three adjustable surf fins, allowing adaptation to various wave conditions. The thigh braces provide excellent carving capabilities. The RPF Shark is fast and agile, resembling a short surfboard. The RPF Maori excels in drop and take-off speed. The Master is a stable and agile option for those transitioning from plastic SOT kayaks.
To entice SOT surfers into waveskiing, entry-level waveskis have emerged. These designs prioritize stability, offering higher weight capacities, increased volume (especially in the rails), and lower seat positions. Brands like Atlantic Waveski and KS Waveskis cater to SOT surfers with models such as the Beachmaster, Cruiser, KS ONE 145, and KS ONE 155. These waveskis often come equipped with thigh braces or lapstrap kits to ensure the comfort of SOT kayak surfers.
If you’re looking to elevate your paddle surf session, consider exploring RPF Kayaks for their high-performance options. These kayaks offer unparalleled wave performance, allowing carving maneuvers and tackling conditions once reserved for sit-in kayakers.
Discover the thrill of SOT surfing with RPF Kayaks. Visit their website at Ratingperson to learn more about their range of kayaks.
Remember to stay safe, respect surf etiquette, and enjoy the incredible experience of sit on top surfing!