I first turned an eye towards the idea last year whilst working one day at Cornwall Canoes. A customer pulled into the car park with something quite interesting on their roof rack. A sit-on-top composite surf kayak that looked incredible - it was an RPF Master in Yellow and Green. It just looked awesome!. Most kayak surfers use sit in kayaks but i've never paddled a sit in. The idea of being able to kayak surf on a sit-on-top kayak was appealing.
A few months laster i see a similarly awesome looking RPF Shark pop up on Ebay. I really liked the look of the RPF kayaks and to my surprise the very one i had seen on Ebay turned up at the Penzance Kayak Fishing meet in Richi's van, he was the one who had brought it! Kernow had taken a look too and a few months later he had found himself a RPF Master of his own and with a few other kayak anglers getting into the kayak surfing, on wave skis or plastic sit-on-top surf kayaks, i was starting to feel the urge to get one!
The problem is that RPF's are fairly rare in the UK and finding one second hand is difficult. They are made in Portugal so getting a new one isn't too easy either. I would wait the winter to see if any came up for sale.
Fortunately an opportunity came up at work for me to demo an RPF Master! Excellent, at least i could get a feel for what i was getting into. I even purchased some equipment i would be needing for a surf too.
First up was a Palm FX - A lightweight whitewater spec PFD with a simple design that would keep me afloat in the surf zone should i end up in the water! The FX has decent side adjustment straps to provide a nice snug fit so that it won't ride up on the body whilst your getting thrown about in the messy stuff.
I would also be needing to leash myself to the kayak. If i came off i wouldn't want the kayak surfing off with a wave and me needing to swim after it! After a bit of research and thinking i settled on using a quick release padded waist belt - the Palm Rescue Belt. The quick release would come in handy if i became tangled in the leash at anytime and needed to quickly free myself, and the the padded belt would be comfortable if I'm being dragged along by an empty kayak surfing a wave!! Coupled with a coiled SUP leash this seemed the best option for a waist leash that i could conjure up!
Pull the Yellow toggle to release the leash, Pull the Red toggle to release the whole belt...
A helmet is also essential - you do not want a composite kayak smashing into your head if you bail in a wave! Andrew at Cornwal Canoes let me borrow his Shred Ready Half Cut along with a demo paddle, a Werner Powerhouse, which was great.
With a winter wetsuit i was all set for a go at sit-on-top kayak surfing!
A session was arranged with Gary and we headed to Saunton Sands (the training grounds) in Devon on Sunday morning. Its a 2 hour drive for me but the drive across Dartmoor at sunrise was worth it.
It was time to unleash the Green Machine!
Gary would be on his mean looking black beast...
Time to hit the waves!
Moderate surf of up to 4ft was rolling onto the beach. That would be plenty enough for my first attempt at surfing an RPF Master!
I wouldn't be venturing too far as i wanted to get a feel for the kayak in the smaller stuff. I caught a few smaller ones then ventured out further and started to get smashed up and thrown out! I spent most of the time underwater when on a wave but i was just looking for fish...honest! I got the hang of it on a few and had a couple of short fun rides. I couldn't stop laughing it was great!!
Gary was catching a few good ones and getting thrown off too.....
The session was ruined slightly by the thigh straps on the Master. The metal clips used to attach them to the kayak had corroded and whilst bracing in some bigger waves i managed to snap 2 or 3 of the clips! That involved pulling the kayak back to the sand each time and tying them back on with some cord which i manage to salvage from my leash and Garys PFD! A nightmare as this wasted loads of time (sorry Gary!) and annoyed me greatly. Oh well, i know how to attach them for next time.
Anyhow, I was quite happy getting the hang of paddling through the surf and catching waves and then remounting once off the kayak. Its a different feel to any kayak I've paddled before so it was a steep learning curve but great fun all the same. The FX PFD was great and the quick release waist-leash was working spot on even when i was being dragged along by an empty surfing kayak. I even managed to pull of a super cool reverse move without thigh straps on (on purpose of course!) - see the video!
Did i mention it was cold? Yeah, after loads of dunkings i was starting to get chilly even in the winter suit. I got proper mashed on one wave and lined the lungs with saltwater and swallowed some for good measure. That zapped the last of my energy so i called it a day.
A hot coffee in the beach cafe finished the session off nicely. It was great fun, but hard work too. My muscles are now nicely stretched after a fairly dormant winter period. Thanks to Gary for his useful tips and help with the thigh straps. I'm looking forward to the next time. I can see this being a great way to get on the water when the conditions are no good for kayak fishing!
I managed to salvage a couple of short clips from the Go Pro footage - see the video below....
Other surf sessions....
Since my first session documented above, i have been kayak surfing a few more times and with each session my skills are progressing. It really is great fun! Here is a video from my latest session (Oct 2016)....
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