TopKayaker.Net: Guide To Kayak Surfing

Basic Surf Safety From Tom Holtey:

Tips on helmets, kneestraps, leash & seatback use
for whitewater, surfing, rock gardens & seacaves.

kayak surfing

Helmets are just plain common sense. No matter how great a paddler you are, don't go surfing or playing around rough shore lines without protective headgear. Helmets are available at most kayak shops. Make sure it fits properly and is comfortable or you will avoid wearing it when you need it the most.

Saftey in Surf is very important.
#1 Wear a helmet and Life Vest!!! Every time!
#2 Uses knee straps
#3 Use a paddle leash

The helmet will protect you from you own eqipment in most cases. The life vest will also protect your ribs as well as float you.

*When riding the surf you are going to wipe out and capsize regularly. When you do, follow these steps:
Hold on tightly with your legs to the knee straps.

*Tuck your head and body to your legs, kind of like a crash position.

*Keep both hands on the paddle shaft and aline the shaft along the left side of your kayak with one blade to the bow and the other to the stern.

Now you are ready to tumble in the surf. You have protected your face and belly, and you are now in a pre eskimo roll position. Even if you do not know how to roll, the wave may roll you up right while in this posture, and a quick brace will put you back on top.

If this fails, from a violent wave or you run out of air, keep holding on to the paddle leash to maintain control of your kayak. If the wave pulls realy hard, hold with one or both hands near one blade of the paddle to streamline your self.

TIPS: Attach the paddle leash to the bow handle of the kayak. A good back rest can act like a knee strap for your butt to further hold you in place. It really helps to scout out your surf zone carefully to find rip currents, rocks, reefs and sand bars. I have surfed alot solo, but a buddy sure is nice to have.

"Helmet? I Don't Need
No Stinking Helmet!"

As told by Greg C. of Ocean City Maryland

From a good discussion on the Forum about Surfing Alone. This story was related by an unregistered visitor and we can't resist drawing attention to his entertaining yet educating narrative:

At Tom's
TopKayaker Shop:


Paddle Leash
Use a paddle leash in surf & wind (NOT in whitewater) to maintain control of your kayak. Cobra Fin

Surf Kayak Fins/Skegs
The addition of skegs/fins add performance, increases the ability of the Kaos Finkayak to hold position while trimming along the wave face and aids in tracking.

We carry fins for both the Cobra Revision & W.S. / Dagger KaosSurf Helmet

These water sport helmets can be used for all paddling disciplines that can involve risk, such as white water rafting, river boogie, rock gardens and sea caves.

knee strapsKnee Straps

Like these contoured ergonomic design, padded knee straps. Suitable for all rough water and flat water activities.

"I really enjoy STP kayaking on my tandem Malibu with my wife. When down in Ocean City, MD we often will take it out on the bay and enjoy a cople hours of fun paddling.

Then I had this grand idea: Why not take the kayak out into the ocean? Solo of course! After all, I am a strong swimmer, experienced bodyboarding and body surfer, and have surfed occasionally, how hard can it be?

Thigh straps? Who needs them!...certainly not me!

Helmet? For sissies!

At least I conceeded to the life vest.

After being shooed away by the lifeguard (no boat launching from the shore) I waited until he was gone, and the beach nearly empty, before beginning my adventure.

Man, I had a great time blasting through the surf beyond the 4 to 5 ft waves, it was exhilirating! Then I rode up and down the coast for about a half hour enjoying the waves.

Then came my decision to surf some of these waves in. All I can really say is, it started---but did not end well. I suppose sitting in the middle seat of a Malibu, with no seat rest or thigh straps, isn't going to give you a high level of control...and it didn't.

After enjoying about 2.1 seconds of the ride, the wave flipped the kayak over and deposited it heavily on my unguarded head. Ouch!

So, you figured I learned my lesson. Nope.

I had to repeat this process two more times until I was beaten nearly senseless. I am still a little woozy.

I, of course, referrred to the section in Tom's book regarding this subject upon my return home. Hey, why read it before I went?

So word to the wise: As in any endeavor, learn as much as you can before undertaking the task, and build up to what you want to accomplish.

I myself will be better prepared next summer. :-)

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