It takes more to control a traditional five-meter sea kayak or recreational kayak, as it is heavier and bulkier than a short, lightweight surf kayak. However, there are benefits in using a sea kayak— it can move very fast, so you can reach your destination in a shorter time, and catch waves one after the other. Sea kayaks surf best on shallow gradient, rapid waves. Provided you’re not heavily loaded, and not going against the tide, that is.
Board your kayak where the surf hits the coastline to ensure the vessel won’t move too much along the beach. To catch the swells, you might have to paddle in through or over some waves. A sense of timing and balancing is required (and you will build this over experience) to catch and ride the wave.
Before the wave begins to break, position yourself on its top right, facing the shore. Once you catch it, lean forward and ride it straight back to the beach, or angle yourself slightly in the same direction of the wave break. If it’s a sharp wave, you would want to lean backwards so that your weight is towards the wave, and preventing the vessel from going too deep into the ocean and capsizing.
Make sure you’re not catching the same wave with another sea kayaker! If you both turn towards one another, you’ll end up running into one another, and that’s going to hurt!
Once on a breaking wave, you won’t have much control until the wave loosens its grip on you near the beach. But doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Do a brace in which you lean INTO the wave, and stick your paddle blade horizontally into it. Raise the side of the kayak that is facing from the wave to prevent capsizing. Maintain this for the next few seconds. It works with any wave, big or small, but remember to keep your hands on or below shoulder to prevent dislocating your shoulder.
Pearl Diving and Dry Loops
When running on a steep wave, the boat will start to go under. You want to prevent this by leaning backwards on your seat. Pearl diving occurs if the vessel topples over forward in a loop, this is where your rolling practice kicks in to get yourself upright again and move onto the next wave.
Or you can paddle to twist your kayak 180 degrees, and land upright, but in a backward position. This maneuver is known as the dry loop, or a pirouette – more here. This is easier to do in a long sea kayak, because it loops around slower than shorter boats, giving you more time to react.
Of course, as waves are turbulent in nature, there’s a big chance that you’ll lose control going back to the beach. But as long as the beach is sand and not rocky, and with proper knowledge and training of surfing techniques, surfing in a traditional sea kayak can be a lot of good fun.
A short drive from the provincial capital of A Coruña, the Pantin Beach can be found about 15 kilometers north of Ferrol City in Galicia, Spain, between the towns of Cedeira and Valdoviño. The location makes for a perfect beach vacation spot, and the area is known as one of the best places to surf all year round. Pantin Beach is widely considered to be one of the best surfing beaches in Europe. Soon as you get to Pantin, find the wooden walkway that would lead you straight to the beach.
Pantin Beach is referred to locally as “The Wave Factory,” as it boasts of consistent swells all year long. During summer, the waves are steady, and it is a great spot for beginners learning to surf. During winter, the waves are wilder, smashing on the coast from every possible direction, an excellent condition for surfing experts looking for a challenge and that adrenaline rush. Truly, Pantin has one of the best surf breaks, not only in Galicia, but in the whole of Spain.
Pantin Beach has numerous peaks, but the main one is at the north end of the beach. The beach break features both right and left hand waves, with a power of 50 to 150 meters. Groundswells make up most of the surf here, with the best swell direction coming from the northwest.
Of course, there are other beautiful, white-sand beaches nearby too, in case you want a quieter spot, away from the weekend crowds. After all, overcrowding is one of the dangers of surfing.
It’s no wonder a lot of competitions are held here: the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro is one of the longest continuing professional surfing contests in Europe, and has held its 28th event in 2015, and the ASP World Championship’s World Surf Circuit has been held here for 26 years.
Whether you’re an expert or a rookie in surfing, Pantin is a great destination for you.
So you love surfing—the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, feel the salty spray of the ocean as you expertly manoeuver yourself through the crashing waves. Only problem is, no matter what you do, you could never stay on your feet for long enough to experience this on a surfboard.
Before you completely give up, expand your repertoire of water sports and consider kayak surfing. Essentially, kayak surfing is exactly like board surfing: it is chasing after fast ocean waves and riding on them, only you’re sitting down in a kayak instead of standing up and balancing on a board.
Just what is kayak surfing, exactly?
A surf kayak is very much alike to small white water kayaks, but instead of plastic, surf kayaks are mostly made of fiberglass. The design is slightly different too—there are different types of surf kayaks, but basically, the design of the vessel has a curved nose, and is flat at the tail end. This design allows the kayak to move at fast speeds and does not require big, fast waves to move.
While kayak surfing is an exhilarating sport, it is generally a safe one. But just like any water sport, there are rules and etiquettes to be followed for an extra dose of safety. First things first, whether by spray skirts (these are worn around the kayaker’s waist and forms a sort of “seal” at the kayak’s opening) or straps, quite obviously, the kayaker needs to be attached to the boat for him/her to be able to control the boat. And having control AT ALL TIMES is very important, especially when there are other kayak and board surfers nearby. You never know the devastation an out of control kayak might cause.
You will also need to learn moves as a safety precaution, such as rolling. After all, you are going to be strapped to the vessel, and you will want to prevent capsizing and getting trapped while attached to it. Use your paddle, or a push-and-pull movement known as the “hip flick” that uses the buoyancy force to get yourself upright. It would be wise to do practice sessions with an expert before attempting to do it with the waves.
Helmets and personal floatation devices are a must too. Remember, you cannot bail as fast as surfers can from their boards. Lastly, assess the waves carefully and NEVER overestimate your own abilities. When in doubt, don’t.
Surfing is a never-ending learning process. There’s just so much to learn about sharing waves with other surfers—both on boat and board— and so much to understand about the waves, the tides and the amazing force of nature. It’s not only fun, but also a rich and rewarding experience too.