Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: It's all about territory
In Response To: It's all about territory ()

Solo Man, I'll address your question of "Have I met mean kayakers?" first.
Not outwardly. What I have seen MANY times are kayakers either in river boats or touring boats who are ignorant of surf etiquette, and have surfed over surfers. So while not mean spirited at all, they can, have been, and will continue to be unwelcome. Many of these folks are shocked and confused, not knowing why they are so poorly received. I can absolutely tell you that not all kayakers I meet are receptive to new information, no matter how politely I try to deliver it. I can tell you also that it wasn't until I began surfing with my friend Spike ( a world caliber surfer ) that I started to really understand how to interact with surfers. So I don't disagree with your assertion that some board surfers are nasty....they can be, and there isn't much we can do about that. We can however be open minded and try to play by the rules.
Your second question about right of way gave me a huge clue as to why you may be having trouble!! You state that kayakers surf straight ahead and not along the wave face. This would be true only of a beginner surf kayaker in a kayak poorly suited to wave riding. Here's the rub...A surfer takes off on a peak (highest and steepest point on a wave -- closest to the breaking peak) and starts firing down the line working the face, lip, and pile. Suddenly he or she is faced with a kayaker or other board surfer who took off way early on the same wave and is front surfing straight to shore. Not only has this person violated the basic rule of Do Not Drop In, but they have little maneuverability, speed, and skill (self derived or craft derived), so they are an obstacle that the surfer must avoid. This is very annoying and I would tell you that I frequently get annoyed at kayakers who do this to me. And it happens all the time.. They can't believe I'll cover that much wave so fast. Most are not interested in learning and could care less if they spoiled my ride.
Modern surf specific kayaks are designed to carve on the face and be riden along the face just like a board. Speeds are increasing all the time with newer designs, fins, composites. You may think that you are not in the way taking off 100 ft. from the peak, but you are. My experience has been that the surf boarder culture teaches it's necomers these rules from the start.
To close I would say that I have had fewer conflicts on the water with surfers than kayakers. I'm at the point where I too cringe when I see a big group of kayakers. Recently at the Elwha mouth I saw such a group pretty much take over the scene. With each of our recreational sub-cultures there seems to be attached a series of biases that are sub-conciously or consciousy absorbed. I hope a hatred of surf boarders does not develop from a few bad apples. I do very much like kayakers as well, I'm just sharing a different perspective. You will find my attitudes to be quite different than those of many paddlers. Take care MH