Kayaking Technique Forum

Find advice on all aspects of kayaking and using small boats on big water

Basic Conflict

There are two areas of basic conflict between board surfers and sea kayak surfers that make it very hard for the two to co-exist on the same waves.

1) Sea kayaks surf best close to 90 degrees to the waves. Board surfers travel at a much smaller angle to the waves, sometimes almost paralleling the waves. A group of sea kayaks can surf one wave and a group of board surfers can all get up on one wave, but if you mix the two groups their paths will cross frequently. A surf board is a lot more maneuverable. Most of the time a board surfer can avoid a collision. Which means that the board surfer is more likely to be the hitee and the kayaker the hitter. And just like with automobiles, when the there is a collision, it's better to be in the heavier vehicle.

2) Sea kayaks travel fast and are easy to paddle back out through the break to catch another wave. Surf boards are slow and propelled by hand paddling, which is a lot of work. The result is that board surfers work a lot harder to get in position to catch a wave. They are more selective in which waves they will ride. So when they get pushed off a wave by a sea kayak, they have more to lose in terms of getting their next ride. One of the good things about a sea kayak is that you can spend a lot more time surfing and a lot less paddling out and waiting for the perfect break.