Surf Kayaking is the sport of taking a craft or 'boat' to surf ocean swells in a similar manner to a surf board.
Surfing is a simple process and is the act of taking off and planing on the wave face of ocean swells. The surf itself can vary massively with size and difficulty due to the wide range of weather conditions our British coastline has to deal with. More experienced paddlers will seek the larger, more challenging surf conditions to go out in but this doesn't mean you have to be a professional to kayak surf. Novices can get a real adrenaline rush with kayak surfing in just 1-2 foot of swell. From the renowned cornish coastline in the South West to areas of Devon and Wales, Britain has an excellent range of locations to enjoy surf kayaking. You are probably closer to good surf locations than you think!
Surf Kayaking can be undertaken in a variety of different craft that have been designed with surfing in mind. For novices, a 3 metre sit-on-top is perfect for messing around in the smaller surf conditions as well as being suitable for some light touring. Models such as the Feelfree Roamer 1 & Nomad Sport are a good example of this. Moving to Sit-ins, general purpose kayaks and models suited to river running can also perform exceptionally well in the surf environment. LiquidLogic, Wavesport, Dagger, Perception and ZET all design kayaks that can take on the various surfing conditions.
For the more experienced paddler, a composite kayak specifically designed for surfing is the general choice. With a hull design that mimics that of a surf board with fins setup for control, these surf specific kayaks can really make the most of a wave. Composite Surf Kayaks are generally a special order made to the individuals specification, with manufacturers such as Kernow Kayaks offering this service. However with their design characteristics, we do not recommend this style of kayak for novice paddlers.
Surf kayaks are just part of the story however. Paddles, bouyancy aids, spray decks, cags and helmets are all essential and should be designed for use in surf conditions. Similar to White Water paddles, Surf paddles are generally shorter, stronger, lighter and have an adapted blade shape to handle airated water. Bouyancy aids are cut to allow unrestricted movement. Spraydecks designed for the Surf are stiffer, harder to put on and off and are far less likely to come off. Cags and other clothing are generally warmer and more waterproof to deal with immersion. Helmets are essential when paddling in the surf zone.
All of our Stores can provide advice regarding surf kayaking and have a great selection of products available.
Although care should always be taken when paddling in the surf zone, it is one of the most enjoyable and thrill seeking types of paddlesport you will find! You don't have to be a top athlete to enjoy the adrenaline rush of a 2-3 foot clean wave. There are clubs and centres all over Britain that can provide paddling-virgins with the knowledge and skill-set for surf kayaking in just a few weeks training; check out the clubs and centres through your local shop for facilities close to you.