New Surf Kayak question

I would like to hear from someone who has actually surfed the CLC surf boat and has compared it to other planning hulled kayaks.  I ran into a couple tourists this past summer who built a set of the boats for their own use but hadn't really aquired the skills to use them.  I have yet to paddle one of these myself.  I like the looks but how does it it handle.  How is the fit inside the cockpit?  How is the outfitting.  A rotomold poly boat is hard to beat for comfort and padding.  I have plenty of work to do on the house this winter; so do I build the surf boat (which looks sweet) or do I save a extra hundred bucks and buy a new plastic surf kayak.  I have a glass wave ski already and a few whitewater hulls that I use in the surf so I have a good feel for what I am looking for.  I appreciate anyone who has the time to share.  please no photos showing the designer in his boat, just those that have paddled this boat and know how to surf.  I dig the wood kayak deal but when you are riding waves in a kayak it has to take one hell of a beating and spending time on repairs ...well it just sucks

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RE: New Surf Kayak question

I posted a similar question here and on Boatertalk. it seems that most of the Matunuks currently out there have been made by er.... recreational boaters. The hard- core surf kayakers don't seem to be on board yet.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I saw one  live, in the water and got to talk to it's owner (A guy with strong skills). He was about 6'-1" 185 lbs. He loved the boat. Felt that it was very quick down the line and turned well. His only complaints were the feet-out-front seating configuration (Compared to most river boats knees-up config.), and he would have liked a bit more volume in the stern. But the overall feeling I got from him was extremely positive.

Other thoughts:

The boat is flat gorgeous. This coming from a guy who's built a few boats himself.

A plastic boat will be slower on the water due to hull flex, and will weigh about 50 percent more as well. 

You can source your own materials, cut your own profiles and save about half the cost.

The wooden boat is essentially outfitting free, so you'll need to aquire some foam carving skills.  

RE: New Surf Kayak question

thanks Choate... I have seen the boat and have built a few boats myself and work in the marine field.  I was wondering about the foat set up.  AS for hull flex on the roto boats I haven't gotten that feel for myself so far.  I paddle a Wave Sport 3G and it does great.  meant for WW but has a planning hull so it is perfect.  As for worries.  we can drive on the beach here on Ocracoke, NC.  so it's a matter of dragging it a few feet.  BUt the two I saw were pretty but the owners were definetly rec boaters who did nopt seem to have a clue as to how to answer my questions.  I just liked the way the boat looks and have faith in CLC's kits, as I've put together a few myself.  I just don't want to end up spending hours putting something together that really hasn't been paddled in real surfing conditions by many people.  Beacuse we all know while surfing and getting to know a boat/board/ski you are going to take some tumbles and hit some sand and some point.  And duct tape on varnished woods looks poopie

thanks for the post

RE: New Surf Kayak question

I am coming from a completely different perspective, but I think I can offer some sound advice concerning building this surf kayak.

My kayaking background is almost entirely based in whitewater.  I got turned on to CLC largely because I wanted a sea kayak and loved the idea of building one.  Since then, my heart is still in whitewater, and I have decided to start building my own kayaks for whitewater.  What I find really appealing about a kit surf boat like the Matunuck is that the hull follows a relatively friendly dominant surf style design, but you aren't stuck with that. 

If you have a strong idea of what you are looking for in a planing hull, you can modify the hull considerably.  If you want those edges super crisp, or a slight bit of concave just before the edge, you can add that in.  If you want a slight bit of hollow in the bow, and/or maybe a slightly hollowed section down the center line of the hull, you can add that in.  Think of that wood the way a surf board shaper thinks of a foam board.  While hollowing out sections may reduce some thickness, you can make the hull as stiff as you want depending on what material you are looking to use.  And when all is said and done, I would use a graphite epoxy mixture on your hull, as its going to get scratched up a ton if used as a true surfing craft anyways. 

The real benefits of building a kit over a Plastic boat, or any other high end composite boat are in the power that you hold as the builder.  And beyond all of this, you already know the rewards of building it yourself.  Modifying a hull to your specific tastes just ups the anty a little bit; takes bigger risks to reap bigger rewards (cliche i know)~


RE: New Surf Kayak question

In reply to Jonathan, I'm not sure that changing the plans would be as easy as you mention. In fact, one could take a nice design and bugger it pretty good too. 

In reply to Hicup: If your wave ski is relatively light you probably already know this, but there's a surprising difference in the way a heavier playboat feels relative to a lighter one. a 20 lb. boat feels more lively than a 30 lb. one, not to mention the easier carry.   

RE: New Surf Kayak question

I built and surf my Matunuck and I can support everything Berkeley says. The boat is probably most comparable to a composite surf boat than a plastic surf kayak (mine weighs 26 lbs outfitted and two layers of glass on the hull). My step up was from a ww boat (Redline and Jive) and it is night and day. The Matunuck is fast and edgy. It's also somewhat longer in the nose than many of the current cutting-edge carbon and kevlar boats.

I can also confirm that the main challenge of handling this boat is the fact that your knees are constrained (slightly together and low). My knees fit nicely at the point where the deck, side and cockpit rim come together, this maximizes the knee space.

Regarding the beating the boat will take: I surf mostly sandy beach breaks and I get a few scratches in my varnish on each trip. One thing that really mitigates this is the good will I get from board surfers showing respect for a slab of plywood zipping past them.

If you have doubts, get a plastic surf boat, they resell very well. I mainly chose the Matunuck to have a winter project and because I was cheap. I bought okoume locally and used fiberglass offcuts and spent abut $400 to build my Matunuck.



RE: New Surf Kayak question

oh yeah, the foam carving is pretty trivial. I bought a couple of giant chunks of black minicell foam from ebay and cut them with hand tools. Takes some time, but it doesn't require any knowhow to make usable outfitting.


RE: New Surf Kayak question

I like your info Frank. I will be starting to cut my plywood in the next week or so.  i am 6'0" tall.  would you change anything to create more room for the knees?  i have been thinking about what Berkeley said about the feet-out-front seating and the knees-up config wondering if i should add just a little to create more space for my knees.  i would add a little bit to the lengths of the sides of the cockpit piece and lengthen/fatten the curved part of tthe deckside piece.  that would raise the forward part of the cockpit and the rear part of the foredeck a small amount.  that would alter as few parts as possible.  trial and error with cheap plywood first to achieve the proper fit.   still thinking about it.  if i add any to things, i can always cut it down to the plan size if needed.  just thinking.

and Berkeley and Frank, Berkeley you mentioned the guy you talked to said more volume in the stern, what would that do?


RE: New Surf Kayak question

If you aren't an experienced surf kayaker, don't change anything. Nick's a hell of a designer, and the design looks clearly influenced by current Mega designs (A very-well-thought-of British manufacturer).

Get a baseline. Learn to surf, then if you still want to, you can change it. I've never been bothered by low decks. 


RE: New Surf Kayak question

appreciate the input.  as for design changes and the all that I rather not bother with it.  The building myself gives me a project other than home duties for the winter 5pm ldaylight cutoff time.  I seem to have gotten what I was looking for in replys' which was how does it handle, cockpit fit and feel and has someone who has built and surfed on gone all out and slammed this baby around.  Screw dings and scratches, it is not going to be hung on my wall but actually used.  I am just weary of self made outfitting.  sit in a CLC or Mark Rogers built AH and then sit in the composite Wilderness System Hawk and you will see.  Factory produts can be rather beast when it comes to that. 

*note* use automobile clearcoat to avoid the easy scratches of marine varnish

 my other wooden kayaks are beat to hell and still look good (to me)

extra thanks to the WW paddler who posted recently.  my first WW boat was fiberglass, made in West Germany and it held up fine until...well paper, rock, scissors....

RE: New Surf Kayak question

You're probably sick of all my posts but the subject of outfitting is near and dear to me. I have a physiology wherein a bad seat will put my legs to sleep in literally 10 minutes. Boat control is difficult if you cannot feel a thing below your waist.

An approach that I've used on sea kayaks, but not yet on ww or surf kayaks is to carve out a cardboard form and tape it to the boat. Then I wrap my midquarters in saran wrap and pour expanding foam into the area in which I sit.  

The sensation is weird, because the foam releases heat as it expands. ultimately there may be enough foam to lock you into the cockpit, which is why I recommend that you have a knife within reach. After it sets fully you cut yourself out, then carve the foam to the desired shape and glass over. What you end up with is a seat that fits both the boat and your body perfectly. It's hard and unyeilding, but that's OK because it presses on you evenly. With one of these seats I can sit comfortably until by bladder tells me to get out. it's really quite amazing. A perfect fit. It should work well for white water or surf as well. Race car drivers have been doing it for years. 

RE: New Surf Kayak question


  all posts are welcome.  Anything that helps me in making my decision on what "fun" project I set out to do this winter/early spring is helpful.  Looks like this new nor'easter off the outerbanks is going to slow things down a bit.  I will be using my smaller greenhouse for the project and all this rain creates too much moisture for the time to be enjoyable.  A few of us made longboards last winter and the finish was iffy on them due to all the water droplets falling from the ceiling.



RE: New Surf Kayak question

Hey, guys.  I hope you will read my post, staining a surf kayak.  Hopefully you will have some input for me about stain availability, where to get the powder form or concentrated forms that is talked about in Boatbuilder Tips.   I found some at Lowe's but it was a small selection.  Water base, of course. 


RE: New Surf Kayak question

Berkeley,  your post about the foam is interesting.  do you put anything under you to lift you off the hull?  or are you sitting on the hull?  the foam doesn't seep under you, does it?  isit comfortable for you because your whole seat is evenly supported?  i was thinking about it and thought maybe a small layer of the minicell foam on top of the fiberglass cockpit form might be good.  my padding is not what it used to be.


RE: New Surf Kayak question

Regarding customizations to the plans and making more room for the knees: I doubt that either are very feasible without some boat design software. The process of bringing together the deck and hull is extrmely finicky and the join sets the final shape of the boat - and took me three tries and some moments of worry. Any modifications would have to very cleverly take the join and final shape into account. I'm sure it's possible, but it would take more time and knowhow than I have and might risk changing the shape of the hull which would be bad.

Regarding stain, I replied in the other thread that I bought water-based stain at my local Rockler woodworking store. If you buy plywood locally, that shop should also be able to help you.


RE: New Surf Kayak question

Very interested in the expanding foam seat idea, for the surf boat and the rest of my fleet. Be nice not to have leg numbness.

RE: New Surf Kayak question

There's a commonly held misunderstanding that soft equals comfortable. Try sleeping on a really soft bed, and your back will disprove this concept. To me, even pressure distribution equals comfort. Let's say you're sitting on an inch of soft foam. The foam compresses, and you still have 90 percent of your weight sitting on say, 6 square inches. If you weigh 200 lbs. that's That creates a focused load of 30 lbs. per square inch. In reality it's worse than that, because your "sits bones" protrude, and the pressure can quickly become problematic.

Now if you use the expanding foam to create an exact mold of your butt, then cover it with unyeilding fiberglass, the pressure of your weight is spread out over your entire posterior and as much of your thighs. The difference is night and day.

On touring kayaks I let the foam go up my back so that I get lumbar support. That keeps me from doing a layback roll, but whilst touring, that's fine. For a WW/surf kayak, I cut the back down to allow greater range of movement.

I have a long torso and want my center of gravity as low as possible for stability. If you want a higher cg for greater leverage (at the expense of stability) you can use the same technique - just put a spacer between your rear end and the boat before you pour the foam.


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