How to surf a kayak

How to surf a kayak

So you have discovered kayaking and now you fancy having a little play in the waves? Brilliant idea! Go surfing.

So you have discovered kayaking and now you fancy having a little play in the waves? Brilliant idea! It's great fun despite the fact that the majority of kayaks are not designed specifically for surfing ... but why let that stop you from getting out and riding some nice little waves?

Kayak surfing is fun but it comes with a few conditions!

Just like a surfer, before jumping in the water for a "kayak surf session", you should observe the sea conditions: wave size, frequency, what side the waves are breaking on... Forget about launching if a red flag is flying and never overestimate your kayaking abilities. 

Choose an inflatable kayak which, although a little slower at take-off on the wave, will prevent you from being injured if you collide with it.

Conditions looking good? Find the right waves: small to start with, and above all not too hollow, otherwise you will nosedive into the water... and you will find that not only will you have a lot of fun, but that it is great exercise too!

To catch your first wave, simply paddle hard when it comes up behind you. Then, when you feel the kayak take off on the wave, lean your upper body back to stop yourself from nosediving and use your paddle as rudder to try to follow the breaking wave... happy surfing and take care you don't cross the wave's path as it breaks and capsize!

Watch out for other users: the "waves + kayak" combination is dangerous for swimmers; surf far from bathing areas. 

kayak surfing
surf kayak

How to get past breaking waves in a kayak

When you get in the water, the first thing you have to do is get past the broken waves so that you can catch them before they break. To get over a wave, paddle hard into the wave, don't stop paddling when the whitewater reaches you and lean back to get the front of the kayak over the whitewater. This is the most physically demanding part of kayak surfing because you will have to fight against a lot of foam before you get to the line-up (where the waves start to break).

Are you one of several kayaks? Do not paddle out back in single file, because if the first paddler is scooped up by a big wave, you risk colliding. Punch through the waves side by side instead, leaving a sensible distance between boats.

If you capsize (flip over), always hold your boat between you and the beach, to prevent a wave from chucking it at you, and never let go of your paddle because it would be hard to find in the soup, even if it floats. Wait for a lull between two sets of waves to re-enter the kayak. Whatever you do, don't forget your buoyancy aid so that you can swim easily in the waves and get back up more easily.

Benefits beyond surfing

In addition to thrill-seeking, sea kayak surfing helps you improve your balance and ability to react. It's also a mental workout by getting you used to keeping calm when you fall in the waves.~It also improves your ability to hold your breath, as well as your flexibility and physical fitness, because kayaking in the waves—even small ones—is more intense than on flat water!

It is also a good coordination exercise if there are two of you on the kayak, as you have to paddle hard in sync to take off, steer the kayak in the wave with your paddles and help each other to get back on the kayak.

You can of course surf with your usual kayak, but you will get better glide if it is a wide one and if it has harder rails and a good rocker (curvature of the hull). 

Have fun!

And if you become hooked, you might be interested to know that there is a specific surf kayak called a "waveski" that lets you do the same tricks on the waves as a surfer.

So that's it: you know the theory, now it's time to kayak surf!

kayak surf tomber

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