I bought an S4 a few months ago and wanted to share what I’ve done with it and how I’m using it.
Couldn’t be happier with the boat.
I bought an S4 a few months ago and wanted to share what I’ve done with it and how I’m using it.
Couldn’t be happier with the boat.
Today Wavewalk stopped offering the F model in the 500 series.
The W500 F featured two flush mounted rod holders, and it was an iconic product for almost a decade.
But flush mount rod holders are less popular these days, and our rotational molders asked us to make their job easier by simplifying our product line.
Years ago, Rox discovered the clamp mounted rod holders, and since then we’ve been advising our clients to use these detachable and versatile rod holders instead of the fixed flush mounted ones, and indeed, these days most of them do.
This advice has become more relevant in recent years, as a growing number of Wavewalk users outfit it with a motor, and no longer use the flush mount rod holders installed at the back of its cockpit, since rod holders and motors don’t go together well when they occupy the same place.
So, from now on, Wavewalk offers three kayak models: The W500 R, W700 R, and S4.
No more W500 F
We will keep offering the Tite-Lok clamp mount rod holders as an optional accessory with all our kayak models.
Here are some images that show the S4 in the new Gator Drab Green color.
This color and similar ones are popular among Jon boat users, since it blends well with the surroundings in inland fisheries, and it serves as a good base for camouflage.
Duck hunters will be interested in it as well, for similar reasons.
On lakes and slow moving rivers, marshes and flats, and whether it is paddled with kayak or canoe paddles, or outfitted with outboard motors and mud motors, if you’re able to see this boat, it will look good anywhere.
Click on the images to enlarge –
Typically, kayak and boat reviews are written by clients who mean what they say, but aren’t necessarily professional, or by people that the manufacturer paid to review their product. The latter reviews are not objective to begin with, and in many cases they are not even professional. Designers seldom publish reviews of the kayak or boat that they designed.
Other reviews commonly found on the web are fake, and they were written by individuals who are affiliated with the manufacturer of the reviewed product (fake positive reviews) or with their competitors (fake negative reviews). Some fake reviews that appear on websites that offer people to publish kayak and boat reviews appear to have been written under an alias by the website owners, probably in order to make their website look more popular than it is in reality.
Wavewalk does not pay people to review its products, and it does not post anonymous reviews on websites that offer to do so to anyone who can come up with an alias and a few sentences. We think that such websites have a low credibility from the beginning, and their credibility has declined over the years, as people who read the reviews that these websites feature have become used to apply critical reading, and common sense.
We decided to publish our own review of the Wavewalk S4 after it’s been out there for nearly a year, which is enough time for us to see what it can do, and what our clients think of it (Read S4 clients’ reviews » ). In this review of the S4, we try to compare our initial plans for this boat to what it does in reality, and we also try to look into the future, as much as possible, and see what it could still do.
Many Wavewalk clients are interested in the design of kayak and small boats, and we think that such people may have a particular interest in reading this review.
It takes close to a hundred thousand dollars to produce a new product such as the S4 in terms of time and money invested in the design and manufacturing of a capital tooling (rotational mold) for it. Once the product is out there, it takes more time and money to test and promote it.
This means that before a small company decides to invest in the development of such a product, it needs to make sure that it has a good reason to do so, and preferably more than one good reason.
Before we started defining the requirements from a future Wavewalk product, we looked at existing products in various markets, including our own W700 that we had launched back in August of 2015 –
From the moment we launched it, the W700 became an immediate, remarkable success, both as a tandem kayak for touring and fishing (and hunting, photography, etc..) and as an ultralight portable motorboat / microskiff. This success gave us the motivation and the funds to take the Wavewalk concept to the next level. Our clients loved to motorize their W700, but few were willing to give up paddling altogether, and this convinced us that paddling was important, so we decided that our next product, namely the S4, will be more of a high performance, fast and seaworthy motorboat with a bigger payload capacity, but it would still offer good paddling capabilities as a kayak and a canoe. Another thing that our clients love in their W700 was the ability to car-top it without a problem, and this meant that the next Wavewalk had to be a car-top boat too.
Before we started to design the S4, we looked at different products in a number of markets, and tried to identify unfulfilled needs as well as opportunities for our new product –
A new boat often starts as ideas that the designer’s mind generates in reaction to external stimuli, such as impressions, challenges or compliments. The general idea and major challenge with the S4 was to create a boat like which the world has never seen before, and no one had thought would be possible. We knew the Wavewalk invention would guarantee that whichever design we choose for a Wavewalk boat that’s wider than the W700, it would automatically become the world’s most stable kayak, as well as the world’s most stable boat for its size. Within this framework, we still had a lot of things to think about, including –
Launching the product, and testing it – We launched the S4 in May of 2017, and since then, the S4 has kept growing in terms of proving what it’s capable of doing. We were pleased to see that a 214 lbs guy could easily stand with both feet in one of the S4 hulls, and turn around, without flipping the boat, and without even making it tilt by much. We were more pleased to see three adult paddlers standing in it and paddling without any problem. But we were astonished to see three full-size guys fish standing out of a motorized S4, with one of them landing a good size fish in the boat. Many thanks to Mike Silva for these amazing pictures!
We loved watching the videos that showed the S4 driven through lily pads, propelled with a surface drive powered by a 6.5 HP motor. But driving an S4 powered by a 9.8 HP going at full throttle was a blast, and it was such a smooth drive that it certainly opened the door for testing it with more powerful motors, as a couple S4 owners already said they will do.
Multi-boat configuration – Another innovative and inspiring development was Captain Larry Jarboe’s S4x3 multi-boat, composed of a motorized S4 hip-towing (side towing) an S4 on each side, and thus allowing the driver to transport a much larger number of passengers, in full comfort, and with the stability of a large size pontoon boat. Captain Jarboe uses the S4x3 multi-boat for his guided diving tours in Key Largo.
Big boats, seaworthiness, maintenance, etc. – Interestingly, the S4 is already used, successfully, as an alternative to full-size skiffs. Its users prefer their S4s to the large size boats that they had previously used because of its easy launching, shallow draft, and better seaworthiness in choppy water. Indeed, we found that if you happen to get seasick in a boat going or anchored in the chop, riding the saddle of an S4 would instantly cure you, whether you’re driving it or just taking a ride in it as a passenger. The S4 is practically immune to other motorboats’ wakes, including big and fast boats traveling at a short distance from it, and this is not an exaggeration but an accurate description of a pleasant reality. And the S4 works as a paddle craft, so that it’s practically impossible to get stranded at low tide when you fish from it. Another reason to prefer the S4 over a full size boat is that it’s totally maintenance free, and if you’ve never owned a boat, it would probably be hard for you to appreciate the importance of this fact.
Spray shield – It turned out that when one person drives the S4, even at high speed, and even in the chop, the hulls and front deck deflect much of the spray that’s generated when they hit waves. However, when a passenger sits in front of the S4 driver, their weight lowers the bow, and it tends to generate more spray when it hits waves. And this is when a spray shield can still be useful.
A new type of watercraft – The S4 has already shown that it’s a new type of watercraft with a performance envelope that sets it apart from all boats of similar size. But it still has room to grow, in the sense of showing that it’s capable of more. We’ve already mentioned more exploits with mud motors, as well as bigger and more powerful outboard motors. We’d also like to show how a sculling (shell rowing) coach from Massachusetts uses his S4 as a coaching boat because he’s found that it generates a much smaller wake than other boats of similar size, and a small wake is the name of the game when coaching this sport is concerned.
On the other side of the performance spectrum, we should find an opportunity to run the S4 in rough seas with inflatable flotation modules attached to its sides, RHIB style (RHIB stands for rigid hull inflatable boat).
And on a completely different angle, we’re waiting for clients who use their S4 in whitewater, as a guide boat and a raft, to send us pictures too.
Extreme efficiency with a 1:6 weight to load ratio (payload ratio) – The S4 weighs a little less than 100 lbs without a motor, and it can carry a payload of over 650 lbs including a motor. This is a solid 1:6 weight to load ratio that shows how efficient the S4 design is.
We could have talked more about our S4, but with 3,700 words, this review is getting too long for a reasonable person to read – Thank you for making it this far 🙂
The world’s fastest kayak is the Wavewalk S4, propelled by a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor. The S4 can go at a 17 mph speed (27 kmh) when propelled by a 9.8 HP motor, with only the driver on board.
The current kayak speed record is 17 mph (27 kmh). This speed record was achieved by Captain Larry Jarboe, in Key Largo, on January 17th, 2018, in a Wavewalk S4 outfitted with a 9.8 HP outboard motor.
The factors that contribute to a kayak’s speed are its Size, Weight, Dimensions, and Propulsion.
Human Powered: In a paddling or pedaling mode on flat water, mono-hull kayaks with a high Length to Beam (L/B) ratio, namely very long and narrow kayaks, are generally faster than kayaks with a low L/B, which are more stable.
In choppy water, the kayak’s Stability and Balancing capabilities offered to its crew play a more important role.
Motorized: At high speeds, such as when the kayak is motorized by a powerful outboard motor, Stability and Balancing capabilities are the dominant speed factors, as the kayak moves in a planing mode and no longer in a displacement mode – The stabler the kayak, the easier and safer it is for its driver to drive it at high speed.
Additionally, kayaks that offer their driver to drive while seated closer to the motor are safer and easier to drive than kayaks that have the driver separated from the outboard motor by a longer distance.
Stability is defined as resistance to change. A kayak driven at high speed can flip over more easily than at a lower speed, and better lateral stability means that it can be driven at higher speeds with a lesser risk of overturning.
The world’s most stable kayak is the Wavewalk S4. It is the only kayak that enables a 200 lbs full-size adult to stand on one side of the kayak with both feet, and turn around themselves as if they stood on the deck of a full-size boat. It is also the only kayak that can be driven at high speed in rough water, namely the most seaworthy kayak.
This unmatched stability results from the fact that the S4 features a patented twin hull. In this full fledged, true catamaran form, the boat’s volume is distributed along its left and right sides, where it is the most effective in offering maximum buoyancy and therefore best support for the shifting weight of both passengers and gear. This optimal performance is in contrast to other kayaks that feature conventional mono-hulls, where the hull’s volume is concentrated along the boat’s center line in a way that makes it the least effective in stability terms.
Being a small vessel, a kayak is inherently less stable than bigger boats, and therefore the ability of the kayak’s user(s) to balance themselves and their kayak effectively is key factor in the kayak’s overall stability.
Balancing capability is a key ergonomic factor for driving many types of small vehicles, both human powered and motorized.
It is particularly important in bicycles and motorcycles that offer no stability of their own, and therefore depend entirely on their users’ ability to balance them. Other vehicles that offer their users good balancing capabilities are All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), snowmobiles, and Personal Watercraft (PWC).
A type of seat known as a Saddle is what all the above listed vehicles have in common. A saddle allows the user to balance themselves with their legs straddling the seat, in a manner similar to horse riding. The user straddling the saddle seat can easily and swiftly shift their weight from one leg to another, in a way that resembles balancing while running and jumping, namely more naturally, intuitively, and effectively than when seated in other positions, such as on a bench, swivel seat, chair, or in the notoriously uncomfortable and unstable L kayaking position.
The Wavewalk S4 is the world’s fastest motorized kayak due to the fact that it is the world’s most stable kayak. This urivaled stability is made possible thanks to its twin-hull (catamaran hulls) and the ability of its crew to balance themselves effectively while riding a saddle seat, similarly to the way that Personal Watercraft (PWC) and other high performance vehicles (e.g. motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles) balance themselves and their vehicles.
The world speed record for vessels designated as kayaks:
Captain Larry Jarboe driving his S4 at 17 mph
High speed motor kayak in the ocean chop:
Speed comparison of S4 powered by a 5 HP vs 9.8 HP:
The main advantages of a faster kayak is that it saves you time when you want to get somewhere, such as a productive fishery, and it makes it possible for you to access remote locations.
In addition, speed is enjoyable, and driving a fast kayak is fun.
Practically speaking, a fast and stable kayak that’s also highly seaworthy presents the advantages of a microskiff (micro skiff), in addition to being a car-top boat, and the ability to carry it to and from the beach, without depending on boat ramps.