Jack, a middle aged owner of a motorized S4 from Texas writes -“Love to jump the wakes of jet skis and other boats.” Anyone who owns a Wavewalk would immediately understand what Jack is talking about, and identify with him, but other kayakers, canoeists and people who fish out of Jon boats, dinghies and skiffs would probably raise an eyebrow when they read this sentence –
For people who go in small watercraft and fish from them, a wake is a series of fast moving waves created in the water by the passage of a fast motorboat, and it is a threat. Kayakers hate wakes, and canoeists dread them, because a wake hitting their unstable vessel on its broadside can capsize it. But even passengers on board bigger and most stable boats, such as dinghies, skiffs and Jon boats, are not big fan of wakes, to say the least, and they would not associate wakes with fun. Although wakes are typically not powerful enough to capsize a good size Jon boat or skiff, a wake suddenly hitting such a boat on its broadside is enough to destabilize passengers who stand in it, or on its deck, if they are unprepared for the sudden sideways tilt induced by the wake. And losing your balance in such a small boat can mean that you’d go overboard, or worse – capsize your boat, frequently as a result of your abrupt change in position causing another another passenger on board to lose their balance, in a chain reaction…
It is easy to destabilize a person standing on the deck of a Jon boat, or a skiff, but it is almost impossible to destabilize a person standing in a Wavewalk S4, with a leg in each hull. Why is that? It’s because a person standing this way in their S4 and momentarily losing their stability would simply drop on the S4’s saddle, to the lower Riding posture, which is the same position in which people driving a personal watercraft (a.k.a. “jet-ski”) drive their fast ride, or by extension, the same position offered by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and snowmobiles.
All these vehicles, namely Wavewalks, PWC, ATV and snowmobiles are the most stable in their domains, and for their size, and they all offer similar saddle seats and riding postures to their users. There is no coincidence here, since the riding posture they offer is similar to the riding posture on horses and motorcycles, and it is naturally stable, namely that a person riding with a leg on each side of the saddle has the full ability to react intuitively, instantly, and most effectively to any change, and thus balance themselves in the most efficient way.
To put it clearly – a motorcycle is a vehicle with no stability it itself whatsoever. It you try to make a motorcycle stand without a person driving and balancing it, or without a mechanical support such as a metal leg or a wall, it would always fall on its side. But give that motorcycle a driver who rides its saddle, and it could go over the roughest terrain, and at high speed. This is to say that all the stability perceived in a moving motorcycle comes from its driver, and only from them, and it is the result of ability to balance themselves effectively while riding their vehicle’s saddle.
In comparison, a Wavewalk kayak offers the same balancing capability, plus its own stability as a twin-hull boat, namely a catamaran.
Tracking is the main problem that paddlers need to overcome when paddling in strong wind. Wavewalk paddlers usually report excellent performance of their boats under wind, since catamarans tracks well, generally, and also thanks to the fact that it offers multiple means for power-paddling, as well as for counter-affecting the wind. Since 2004, thousands of people have been paddling Wavewalk kayaks from the 300, 500 and 700 series, and none of these paddlers outfitted their Wavewalk with a rudder – that cumbersome device that has become an integral part of all other types of high-end kayaks used for touring and fishing.
Here are some tips that can improve your Wavewalk kayak’s performance when you’re paddling in strong wind:
1. Paddle only in the Riding Position, which is the optimal posture for power and balancing, and lean a bit forward, with your knees lower than your hips – That would give you extra power.
2. Paddle from the middle of the cockpit, as much as possible –
If you paddle from its rear it would raise your W kayak’s bow and expose it to the wind, and the boat will turn away from the wind.
If you paddle from the front of the cockpit, the stern will go up, and the kayak will turn into the wind.
3. Lean your W kayak into the wind – That would make it harder for it to affect the course of your W kayak.
4. Apply short J strokes on the side from which the wind is blowing, and more powerful strokes on the lee side (the sheltered side) – That would help you track. You may even hold the paddle not from its middle, so that you can apply longer strokes on the lee side.
6. Any object protruding from the deck is exposed to the wind, and therefore generates additional drag – Detach the spray shield if you have one attached, dismount deck mounted rod holders, and store your fishing rods inside the hulls whenever possible. A milk crate would act as a small sail that’s controlled by the wind, so you’d better avoid using one altogether.
7. Keep paddling in a steady pace and a straight course – This is not about one-time corrections, but about minimizing your effort and getting there. Precision and efficiency are as important as power.
8. IMPORTANT – Remember that you can easily move fore and aft along the Wavewalk’s saddle, and by doing so control the angle in which your W kayak will point relatively to the direction from which the wind blows: Paddling from a forward position will tend to point the kayak’s bow into the wind, and paddling from a backward position will tend to point the bow away from the wind. By applying small changes to your own location on the saddle, you can minimize the wind’s unwanted effect on your Wavewalk, and keep it tracking with little effort.
Biomechanical and Ergonomic Solutions in Kayak Design
This article defines the causes of back pain and discomfort that most people feel when paddling kayaks and fishing from them. It also explains how Wavewalk’s patented invention solves these problems, and why people who paddle these kayaks and fish out of them feel neither back pain nor any other discomfort after long hours, including people with various disabilities, back problems and excess weight, as well as elderly people.
Have you ever fished out of a kayak? If you did, you’ve probably noticed that something is wrong… Simply put, you weren’t feeling comfortable, and you may even experienced pain in your back and legs, and after some time, all you could wish for was to get out of that kayak as soon as possible, even if the fish were biting…
The problem you’ve experienced is simple, and sooner or later anyone who paddles kayaks and fishes from them faces it: Spending long hours paddling and fishing in or on top of an ordinary kayak, whether it’s a sit-in, hybrid or sit-on-top (SOT) inevitably causes some circulation problems and leg numbness, occasional cramps, pain in your lower back, and often fatigue and discomfort in your shoulders and neck. In fact, kayaking is so closely associated with back pain that kayakers commonly appear in TV ads for back painkillers and pain relief patches.
After you begin seeking information about your problem and advice on ways to solve it, you realize that the only thing that really works is paddling back to shore, standing up, and performing the exercises that physiotherapists recommend for kayakers. In other words, there is no gear that you can outfit your ordinary kayak with that can provide an effective and long lasting solution to any of these symptoms, because they occur as a result of you being seated in the L position – the traditional sitting position in kayaks, with your legs stretched in front of you while pushing your back against your seat’s backrest.
2. What Causes this Problem?
Being Seated In The Traditional, L Kayaking Position
The problem is caused by a combination of two things:
1. Being seated in a non ergonomic position to start with, and 2. Being unable to switch to other positions and release the stress that builds up in the critical pressure points in your body, especially in your legs and lower back.
Have you ever asked yourself why is it that the traditional, L kayaking position is used only in ordinary kayaks and in no other land, snow or water equipment? The answer is that it’s because although the L position is the worst for you it’s simply the only one that ordinary kayaks can offer.
Double Trouble: The Combined Effect of Horizontal and Vertical Pressure on Your Lower Back:
Figure 1. Horizontal Pressure
Figure 1 on the left shows the horizontal pressure that your legs exert on your lower back in the traditional L position used in all ordinary kayaks including both sit-in (SIK) and sit-on-top (SOT).
The pressure points in the lower back region can cause irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve (sciatica) felt as pain traveling from the lower region of your back down across your lower thigh. Foot braces and other support for your feet actually increase the horizontal pressure that your legs exert on your lower back. The back support and foot braces may hold you in your torso in place and prevent you from falling backwards or slipping downward, but they also limit your freedom of movement, increase pressure on your lower back, cause leg numbness and cramps and result in increased fatigue.
Native people of the Arctic circle who were the first to make and paddle kayaks used neither back rests nor foot braces simply because they were accustomed since infancy to sitting on the floor with their legs stretched forward, unlike us modern Westerners who lose this ability in early childhood when we learn to sit on chairs.
Figure 2. Vertical Pressure (Weight)
Figure 2 on the left shows the heavy vertical pressure (weight) applied on the lower part of your spine when you’re seated in the traditional L kayaking position.
The same sensitive area in your spine that’s pressurized horizontally by your legs pushing on it is being pressurized even more by the combined weight of your torso and thighs, that is nearly all your body weight. Your legs are prevented from supporting your body weight in this position.
In addition, sitting in the L position without being able to change your body position increases your fatigue and discomfort, and reduces both performance and fun. Cushioning your seat doesn’t really solve any of these problems since all it can do is spread the pressure from a single point to a wider area, but the combined pressure is still there and it keeps working on your lower back all the time. Sooner or later you feel very uncomfortable, and sometime it’s too late since you’ve already been injured. Kayaking in the L position with no adequate support for either back or feet is not a sensible solution for modern anglers and paddlers who have to spend hours kayaking and fishing from this low and uncomfortable position.
Food for thought:
If you had to perform some hard work or other physical activity in any position of your choice, would you even consider doing it sitting with your legs stretched forward like this? Do you fish or do you know anybody who fishes seated in this position from shore or from any other type of fishing boat? -The answer is: No.
More food for thought:
Airplane coach seats are fairly comfortable – certainly more than regular kayak seats, but why is it that after some time most people feel uneasy sitting in them? The answer is that the limited space makes it difficult for you to change positions, which leads to the buildup of discomfort and fatigue to a point where many people feel they must stand up and stretch, and those who can afford it promise themselves to fly first class next time – if only for the extra legroom.
Not all damages are felt immediately. Sometimes it takes years for the damage to accumulate, and by then it might be too late to fix it. This is true for back and shoulder problems.
What do cross-country motorbikes, mountain bikes, horses, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and personal watercraft (PWC) have in common? It’s the fact that their user operates them in the Riding Position. And what do skiing, surfing, water skiing, dog sledding, snowboarding, windsurfing, skating and skateboarding have in common? -The Standing Position. This is simply because the Riding and Standing positions are the best for you in both ergonomic and biomechanic terms, which means they offer best control and more power, and result in less fatigue and injuries. When we need to make long efforts during motion we have more available power and better control standing or sitting with our legs lower than our upper body (biomechanical advantage), and we also feel more comfortable and less tired this way (ergonomic advantage).
4. Engineering the Optimal Solution
Freedom to Choose = Less Fatigue = Enhanced Comfort = More Fun + Healthier Paddling and Fishing
Only the W kayak solution departs radically from the L position and offers a new, comprehensive and effective approach to all ergonomic and biomechanical issues in paddling and paddle fishing. The new, patented W Kayak re-distributes buoyancy from the boat’s longitudinal axis all the way to its two sides, and thus offers maximal support to the user’s balancing, control, steering, propulsion and fishing efforts. The central part of the W Kayak, its ‘backbone’, which joins the two hulls, is shaped like a long, 14″ high saddle. W kayakers can move back and forth along the saddle, according to their need (e.g. tandem, surfing, paddling in strong wind, launching, etc.). They can also switch anytime between numerous ergonomic positions, as shown below:
5. Riding (Mounted)
The Natural Position
Riding is the most stable, comfortable and powerful paddling position, and it offers best control over your boat and the most leverage on your paddle. In the Riding position your thighs, legs and feet are positioned directly below your body and take active part in all your efforts: Balancing, Control and Paddling. Riding is the best position for beginning W Kayakers. It is also the best position in whitewater and surfing applications.
Note that your legs support your upper body from both sides, and your feet are in a direct vertical line below your body.
For Fishing: Riding is the preferred position, rivaling only with standing. When you cast riding you have more power than when casting in the sitting position. Riding a W Kayak is similar to mounting a pony: Your upper body rests on the saddle and your thighs hold its sides, while each foot rests firmly on the bottom of a hull, as it would in a stirrup. This position is similar to the riding position used in other high performance vehicles such All Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Snowmobiles, and Jet Skis.
Watch this slow-motion demo video of the Riding position:
Sitting means having your legs positioned in front of your body.
Sitting positions are less stable and powerful than Riding, and not recommended for beginning W Kayakers, or for paddling in moving water. The sitting positions are good for relaxing on flat water.
Adding a back rest (lumbar support) is not necessary in the W kayak, and few W kayakers choose to outfit their boat with such an accessory.
1. Regular sitting, which is similar to sitting in a canoe 2. Sitting with both legs stretched forward 3. Mixed: one leg in the regular position and the other stretched forward
The Stand Up Kayak – For Real
Unfortunately, stand up paddling is often described as a feature offered by many kayaks and stand up paddle boards out there, but nothing could be further from the truth – In fact, when it comes to normal paddlers and anglers, who are neither lightweight nor extremely athletic, only W kayaks offer the possibility to paddle and fish standing up in comfort and confidence, and only W kayaks offer a critical safety feature in the form of a 14″ high saddle to fall on, in case you lose balance.
You can paddle on both sides of the boat or just on one side- in parallel and with a J stroke.
After some practicing you can try to paddle standing in moving water and in the surf.
6. Super Stability
Stability is key to comfort and good ergonomics. The patented W Kayak offers unmatched stability trough a unique combination of three factors:
The boat’s buoyancy is sensibly distributed along its sides, instead of being wasted along its central, longitudinal axis.
The passengers make natural use of their legs and feet to balance themselves by shifting their weight sideways, from one leg to another, and they apply this weight directly to the bottom of the hulls – below waterline, thus creating an effect of ‘dynamic ballast’.
The immersed profiles of the boat’s twin hulls act as multiple ‘Hard Chines’, thus offering maximal lateral resistance, and unmatched initial (primary) stability.
The W Kayak offers you the ability to throw to longer distances, which presents two advantages:
1. Being able to cover more water from a stationary position before you need to move your kayak 2. Some fish species can sense the presence of your kayak nearby and therefore are better caught from a distance.
When fighting powerful fish you want to be in full control of your kayak, and the W kayak offers you all the means for it. Read More »
8. The Cockpit – A Place To Be In, And Work In
Your kayak’s cockpit has other functions besides protecting you and offering you optimal comfort. It is also a workplace in which you store your gear and handle it. In W kayaks all the gear you need is within arm’s reach, and there’s no chance of it going overboard since in case it slips out of your hand it would end at the bottom of one of the hulls, where it’s easy for you to find and reach it.
Can I outfit the W kayak cockpit with a seat on top of its saddle?
Most W kayakers don’t add anything to their W kayak’s saddle, because they find it perfectly comfortable. Some people cover the saddle with a blanket or a thin foam mattress. Adding a kayak seat to the W kayak saddle is easy, but virtually no one does it. We know of a couple W anglers who outfitted their W kayaks with lightweight swivel chairs, and a couple more who added a DIY reclining back rest because of scoliosis problems. In fact, you can simply drop a plastic chair or a lawn chair in the cockpit, as seen here in this image, but hardly no one does it, simply because the W saddle offers the best comfort.
It’s been over a year since I bought my W and I have fished out of it numerous times so I thought I’d provide another review.
Stability This yak is extremely stable. I have not had a single time on the water where I was worried. Not one. I am able to stand, sit in the riding position (by far the position I spend the most time in) or stretch out my legs with ease. This ability to change positions has helped me stay on the water longer than I would be able to in other yaks. I can’t tell you how good it feels to stand up and stretch after a couple hours of bass fishing. I also love to stand up to paddle around. It allows me to see weed lines, beds and other items that help me catch more fish.
Fishability I have to tell you that I own a 17 ft bass boat and it has sat a lot this summer. I really like being able to sneak up on fish with my W. I also enjoy the ability to get into skinny water without a concern about damaging a motor. I have 2 surface mount rod holders and I simply sit my tackle bag in front of me on the saddle but more on rigging in a moment. If anyone has a concern about stability when fighting a fish, don’t worry. I’ve caught some very large Northern Pike and the yak is very stable throughout the fight.
Transportation I transport the W in one of two ways; in the back of my truck or on top of my wife’s Subaru. The Subaru is equipped with some crossbars and I use bath rugs to protect the back of the car and just lift the W up onto the back of the trunk and then slid it up on the roof rack. From there I just strap it down. The design of the double hulls makes strapping the W very easy. When I use my truck it’s even easier. Just two straps and away I go. I haven’t used a cart much because where I fish, I just drag it 20-30 ft to the launch across sand.
Operation The W has been a joy to operate. The W tracks very well without a rudder. While wind may grab you a bit more since you are up a bit more than a traditional yak, this seldom poses much of a problem. Once you get used to turning the W, you won’t even think about it. Frankly, I would rather have the solid tracking. Just a note here, I did have to go up and over a log in my W to retrieve one of my favorite lures. I just sat way back and paddled up to the log and then moved all the way forward and I went down the other side.
Rigging I have tried many things but found the minimalistic approach is best. I have 2 flush mount rod holders behind me, some rod holding hooks I made out of heavy wire, a collapsible oar and that’s about it. I do have a small tray that I sit on the saddle in front of me that I use to hold onto small items. It’s affixed to the saddle using a couple Velcro strips. I do use on inflatable pad so my butt doesn’t get too sore. I use Velcro to keep it secure.
Durability I have beat the heck out of my W and there are no visible issues except some surface scratches on the bottom from me dragging it all over the north woods. I mean I abuse the poor thing. I weigh 255 and I did get one of those saddle bracket deals. Since mine didn’t come with one (I think they all come with them now), Yoav hooked me up. It was easy to install and I was good. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t any sign of stress or anything, Yoav and I were chatting and he said I should have one so I got one and installed it. Believe me, these things are tough.
Overall I am extremely satisfied with my purchase and will be buying another for my wife in the future.
Before getting their Wavewalk kayak, many of our clients had tested or owned common fishing kayaks, and they weren’t too happy with the way these kayaks performed with regards to several basic requirements which are essential to paddling. In contrast, the same people find the Wavewalk 500 very easy to paddle and handle. This article explains some of the technical differences between the W500 and all other fishing kayaks, and how these differences work to the advantage of W kayakers.
What makes common fishing kayaks special as a class of kayaks?
If you walked into a store that sells all kinds of paddle craft (e.g. canoes, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks) and you looked at at the fishing kayak models side by side with the other kayaks, you’d notice that fishing kayaks look chubbier. In other words, they are wider than the other types of kayaks, and some of them are almost as wide as the big canoes displayed in the store. The main reason for this is that fishing kayaks are required to be more stable than other kayaks, and the only way to make a mono-hull kayak stabler is by widening its hull. This gain in stability comes at a price, and you as a paddler pays it by having to paddle harder since your kayak is slower and tracks poorly – It zigzags and responds better to the wind that deflects it from its intended course than to your efforts to go straight forward. For this reason, fishing kayaks have a bad reputation among kayakers, who call them barges, and rightfully so.
What makes the common fishing kayak design so problematic?
Poor tracking – To begin with, a wide kayak hull compels the low-seated paddler to move their paddle more horizontally than vertically. This drives the paddle blade in a curved trajectory rather than an efficient straight trajectory in parallel to the kayak’s direction on travel. As a result, each paddle stroke changes the kayak’s direction in a way that’s easily noticeable, and the paddler must correct it with a paddle stroke on the kayak’s opposite side, which in its turn would deflect the kayak to the other direction… Such alternation between left and right is known as zigzagging, and it’s a most inefficient way to go forward because it increases the actual length of your route, and on top of this, changing course in itself requires acceleration, which is lossy in energy terms, especially when it’s done repeatedly with every paddle stroke.
Poor tracking under wind – This is a special case in which the wind works to deflect the fishing kayak from its course, and since these kayaks neither paddle nor handle well, they become particularly hard to paddle, to a point where getting back to shore may no longer be guaranteed… This difficulty in tracking is why practically every high-end fishing kayak is outfitted with a rudder, which can help the paddler track, but further slows them down – Using a rudder slows the kayak by 10% in average.
Low speed – A boat’s speed is closely associated with its hull’s length – The longer the faster. It’s also associate with its hull’s width – the narrower the faster. In hydrodynamic design terms, a hull whose Length to Beam (length to width) ratio is below 6:1 is considered to be slow, and a hull whose L/B ratio is over 20:1 is considered as optimal for speed. Typically, recreational boats’ hulls have a L/B ratio somewhere between the two. To better understand this, let’s check a few examples –
a typical sea kayak (fast touring kayak) can be 18 ft long and 24 inches wide. Its L/B ratio of 9:1 makes it fairly quick.
a large size fishing kayak that’s 14 ft long and 30 inches wide has a 5.6:1 L/B ratio, which is rather slow.
a fishing kayak that’s 12 ft long and 36 inches wide has a 4:1 L/B ratio, which is extremely slow and pretty much impossible to paddle to a long distance.
a fishing kayak with a 12 ft long and 41 inch wide hull has a 3.5:1 L/B ratio, which makes it really hard for a one person crew to paddle to any distance, and –
a fishing kayak that’s only 10 ft long and 38.5 inches wide has a 3.1:1 L/B ratio, which could make paddling a stack of plywood easier, if you wanted to try paddling either of these floating objects.
In other words, the chubbiest among fishing kayaks are unfit for paddling, unless your plan is to fish in ponds or in small, protected lakes.
How does the Wavewalk 500 compare?
Unlike mono-hull kayaks, the W invention offers a totally different way to make the kayak stabler without making it excessively wide. This offers advantages in speed and tracking as well –
L/B and speed – In comparison, the W500 is 11.4 ft long, and each of his twin hulls is 8 inches wide. This 17:1 L/B ratio for one hull and 8.5:1 ratio for the two hulls joined together is far better in speed terms than the fastest fishing kayak hull out there. In real life terms, this design allows the W500 to be as fast as a 13 ft touring kayak, which is a narrower and faster design than fishing kayaks of similar size and even bigger size. More info on kayak design for speed >
Easy tracking – The W500 is just 29 inches wide, which makes it the world’s narrowest twin hull (a.k.a. catamaran). It also allows the paddler to paddle it from a higher position. The combination of these two attributes makes it easy for the paddler to apply vertical strokes and have the paddle blade travel efficiently in parallel to the kayak’s direction of travel, instead of moving in a curved trajectory. This in itself improves the W kayak’s tracking, but the fact that the paddler rides the saddle in a position that’s more powerful and ergonomic than the L kayaking position offered by other kayaks adds another dimension of efficiency and power to the paddler’s ability to handle their kayak and make it go where the want. Catamarans have a longer wetted length (WL) than mono-hull kayaks of similar size, and this feature makes them track better. In this sense, the W kayak is a catamaran, and indeed it tracks better than any other kayak out there, including sea kayaks that are much longer. In fact, no paddler ever found it necessary to outfit their W kayak with a rudder.
Great tracking under wind – One the the W kayak’s unique features is its long saddle that offers the paddler a simple and easy way to relocate for and aft in the cockpit. By doing so, the paddler can instantly change the kayak’s center of gravity (CG), and with it the way the kayak reacts to strong wind. In other words, the W kayak enables the paddler to use the power of the wind to help them direct the kayak, I.E. to stay on track. This simple, unique and most effective steering method is explained in an instructional article entitled W kayaking in strong wind >
Other considerations – Ergonomics and bio mechanics
Since all mono-hull kayaks offer variations on one paddling position known as the L position, these considerations are not useful for understanding differences between mono-hull fishing kayaks and other types mono-hull kayaks, such as recreational kayak, touring kayaks, etc. In contrast, W kayaks offer several paddling positions, including the Riding position, which is both more powerful and more comfortable than the L position. This offers yet another advantage to the W kayaker, in the sense that they don’t suffer from back pain and leg numbness that are typically associated with traditional kayaking, and for this reason they don’t have to struggle with premature fatigue and discomfort, and thus dispose of more energy to keep paddling even in adverse weather and water conditions. This is why the W kayak is favored by paddlers and anglers who suffer from disabilities, are middle aged or elderly, non-athletic, and by those who don’t benefit from a high level of physical fitness. Indeed, W kayakers can often be seen out there on a river or a lake in poor weather conditions that drive other kayakers back to their homes, or discourage them from going on water to begin with.