Tag Archive: stability

SOT kayak stability, or lack thereof

Three anglers fishing standing in the world's most stable kayak, the Wavewalk S4

Why do you need a stable kayak?

Simply, stability is key to your Safety, Comfort, and Successful Fishing. Without it, you could end up swimming, or worse – drowned, and if you happen to lose balance, you could also lose some precious gear that would slide down from the deck and into the water, never to be seen again. Any stability issue that you have to deal with while fishing automatically draws mental and physical resources from you, and mobilizes them for the task of keeping you balanced, and your kayak level. This continuous effort affects muscle tension in your legs, your back and your shoulders, and it reduces your casting performance, as well as your ability to turn and to focus. But most importantly, the feeling of instability leads to discomfort, and this hurts your well being. In other words, fishing out of unstable or insufficiently stable kayak is not fun. 

Under such conditions, your ability to land big and powerful fish is significantly reduced, and you can’t expect to be very successful in your fishing trip.

Now you know the reason why despite the fact that kayak fishing looks so easy, simple and fun, and most kayaks are cheaper and easier to transport than boats, the number of kayak anglers has stayed stable in recent years, after years of growth. Many people have tried fishing out of kayaks, but the combined effect of instability, wetness, discomfort and back pain, and not enough catching has led many of them to quick this sport, or outdoor activity.

What’s the most popular fishing kayak?

The primary concern of any angler who fishes out of kayak is stability, of course. The inherent poor stability that kayaks offer make it the first and foremost concern, which is why fishing kayaks are typically much wider and often bigger than kayaks used for Recreation, Touring, and obviously speed competition. The fear of capsizing their kayaks and the potentially disastrous results of such event drives kayak fishermen toward sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, and therefore, they are more popular than sit-in kayaks.

Are SOT kayaks more stable?

No, they are not. In fact between two ordinary (mono-hull) kayaks of identical size, namely the same width, length, and overall buoyancy, a sit-in kayak will always feel ore stable than a SOT kayak. Why is that? Simply because the sit-in kayak offers its user to sit lower than the SOT kayak, and the lower you are the stable you are. Therefore, SOT kayaks are the least stable kayaks out there. If this is hard for the reader to understand, they should try standing on the steps of a ladder, and once they start climbing up, they will feel the decrease in the ladder’s stability. Now you know why the typical SOT fishing kayak is so wide and so huge – It’s because if it wasn’t that big, fishing from its deck would be limited to children and very small and lightweight people. And you you also know why pictures that show anglers fishing standing on the deck of SOT kayaks are typically not very big, and if they appear to be big, or at least just tall, the image appears to have been doctored…

In this context, it’s interesting to observe that people who fish from boats are frequently seen standing, while people who fish from kayaks rarely stand up in them. The reason for this is stability, or lack thereof in kayaks.

What’s the problem with big SOT fishing kayaks?

The problem that users of big SOT fishing kayaks users face is twofold – First, these behemoths are are to transport and carry, and the biggest can hardly be moved even on land. Second, these huge kayaks don’t paddle well – They are slow, hard to move, they track poorly, and they are mostly for short trips on flat water. People who are not in good shape find it hard to handle these large size SOT kayaks, both on land and on water. The same people also find these kayaks to be most uncomfortable.

What is the most stable kayak?

The Wavewalk S4 twin-hull is the world’s most stable kayak, and it beats kayaks that are much bigger and wider.  Three large size guys can easily fish out of an S4 standing up, in full confidence and comfort. The S4 powered by a 10 HP outboard gas motor can go at full throttle in rough water, in the ocean, and its driver can stand up while driving it. Three adult passengers can stand up in a Wavewalk S4 and paddle without any balancing or stabilizing issues.

The world's most stable kayak is the Wavewalk S4
Stability tested in various environments, crew size, and propulsion modes

What makes this kayak more stable?

The sides of the Wavewalk S4 are more buoyant than the sides of ordinary (SOT and sit-in) kayaks, which are generally oval. The S4 features two large size, straight hulls, separated by a wide saddle seat. The people who sit on its saddle have their feet rest at the lowest point of the hulls, and the same is true when they stand up. The riding posture is similar to the posture of people who ride large jet-skis, ATVs, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes. The posture offers a higher degree of balancing capability that simply sitting with our knees in front of you, such as when you sit on a canoe or Jon-boat bench, and it is also more stable than the very unstable and most uncomfortable L position, where your legs are stretched in front of you.

Big wake coming? No big deal – Wakes are fun!

This movie illustrates the concept of Wake-Immunity, which is part of the broader concept of Super-Stability.

A Wavewalk S4 motor kayak skiff is going in choppy water, in the ocean. This portable boat is so stable and its driver so much in control that a series of big lateral waves from the wake of a fast motorboat passing nearby at full speed does not present a problem or even a challenge to the S4 driver – It is just a new opportunity to have some wake fun in the sun…

 

Testing the Wavewalk S4 in our maiden offshore voyage

By Magnus Chung

San Francisco Bay Area, California

I finally got a chance to take the S4 out and test it on the water. It’s working beautifully with the Honda 2.3 engine. We actually have 3 people seat in it comfortably and both paddling and using the motor works quite well.

We launched the S4 at a rocky beach, and dragging the S4 over the sharp rocks caused some scratches on the bottom of the S4. This is a minor issue, and I’ve decided not to worry about it 🙂

Overall, I am very satisfied with the S4. Great Kayak and I can’t wait to show it off to my friends on the next fishing trip!

I was too busy with the S4. There aren’t any pics while the S4 is cruising in the water since all three of us were in the S4 and didn’t have anyone to take pictures from the shore.
Here are some of the pics my friend took on the beach –

 

 

 

UPDATE – August 2018

I have been taking the S4 to many fishing and clamming trips and it’s working great and impressed a lot of people!
A couple times we encountered bigger than expected swells so if it wasn’t the S4, we would have tipped over for sure. Most of the people who ride on it confirmed the S4 is the most stable kayak compared to everything they have seen.
One small thing I noticed is that when we have close to max load on the S4 in the bigger waves, the water splashes front and gets in the cockpit, so I think the splash shield may help with this.

 

The world’s fastest motor kayak

What is the world’s fastest motor kayak?

The world’s fastest motorized 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.

What is the world’s speed record for kayaks?

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.

What makes a kayak faster?

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.

Why is stability a key factor for speed?

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.

What is the most stable kayak?

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.

Why is balancing capability a key factor for kayak speed?

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).

What gives a kayak user better balancing capabilities?

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.

What makes the Wavewalk S4 faster than other kayaks?

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’s fastest kayak in action (movies) –

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:

What are the advantages of a fast kayak?

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.

Wavewalk S4 “kayak” with 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, offshore, in waves, at full throttle

Kayak, skiff, or PWC?

“Kayak”??… This is likely to be the last thing that comes to mind of anyone watching this movie, but indeed, the S4, like all Wavewalk’s patented catamaran boats, is officially designated as a kayak, not just because of its light weight (98 lbs) and high performance as a paddle craft, but mainly thanks to certain design features required by law.
Skiff?… The kind of performance seen in this movie is not what you’d expect from a skiff or skiff by name.
Wavewalk likes to bring forward the S4’s performance as a skiff, namely a fishing boat for flat water, but there’s no flat water to be seen in this offshore movie… far from that!
PWC?… Such comparison would have been more appropriate if we used wheel steering instead of direct steering with the tiller, and possibly an even more powerful motor than the 9.8 HP Tohatsu that features in this movie. Nevertheless, the movie conveys some of the action and excitement associated with Personal Watercraft (PWC), sometimes referred to as jet-skis.

 

PWC stability at high speed

This video shows the Wavewalk S4 powered by a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, driven at full throttle, offshore, in choppy water and waves.
It demonstrates a performance level that’s new in the world of small boats and watercraft, including both unrivaled speed and stability that enables stand-up driving and wave-hopping that one expects to find only in Personal Watercraft (PWC).

 

Perfect balancing and ergonomic saddle seat

The Wavewalk design and PWC have one feature in common, which is their similar saddle seats that deliver the best balancing capabilities to the driver and passengers. But the advantage of the saddle seat doesn’t end there – The saddle also allows the driver and passengers’ legs to act naturally as powerful and effective shock absorbers that protect their backs from the unwanted impact of the constant leaps and bounds, and high speed clashes with waves.

Being officially designated as a kayak, the S4 delivers these capabilities in a paddling mode too, although at much lower speeds…

 

A most seaworthy small boat

The performance seen in this video is not the kind of performance that flat-bottomed boats such as Jon boats or skiffs can deliver. The S4 is seaworthy, while these traditional small fishing boats aren’t.
What cannot be well perceived from watching this movie is the fact that the S4 is dry too – Frontal clashes with waves do not let water into its hulls, and the only time when spray gets in is when the boat is hits a wave with its broadside. Even then, very little water gets inside.

Shooting this video

The cameraman was Captain Larry Jarboe, standing on the deck of his fishing boat, the Line Dancer, that was anchored in the same choppy waters as the S4 is seen going in. The Line Dancer was constantly bouncing and tilting, which made it particularly difficult to shoot video of another, distant and fast moving small boat.
Larry used a Nikon Coolpix 900 digital camera with a powerful x83 optical zoom lens, in an auto-focus mode, but since placing this camera on a tripod would have been useless under these hectic conditions, Larry’s sea legs were the decisive factor that helped produce the video footage for this movie.

The White Knight – Larry’s workhorse S4

The boat in this movie is Larry’s personal S4, dubbed the White Knight. Larry offers fishing and diving tours in Key Largo, and it is this boat that he uses in these trips, and on a daily basis. The White Knight features a base for a diving ladder at the bow, and foam boards on its sides, since Larry sometimes uses it to side-tow two other S4s,each attached to a different side of the White Knight.

The White Knight is powered by a 9.8 HP 2-cycle Tohatsu outboard motor, and Larry recently clocked 17 mph with it, which is a world speed record for kayaks.

Driving the S4

The S4 operator in this movie is 56 years old, and not in great shape. An athletic driver half his age would have probably driven the S4 more aggressively and spectacularly, but that tired-looking, gray haired driver adds a feeling of reality to the video, or so we hope…