Ripping fun! Fatyak Surf sit on kayak review

Having reviewed Fatyak’s popular Kaafu model in 2013 we’ve been keen to get our grubbies on one of the brand’s other models for ages. In particular the company’s Surf sit on top has been intriguing us. Billed as a sit on kayak for surf and/or lightweights and kids it’s an appealing design that we were keen to check out.

First look

When the Surf arrived it was instantly noted how small the boat looked – when compared to the rest of our fleet. Coming supplied in ‘naked’ form it’s super easy to lift, even without moulded handles – simply curl fingers under the gunnels, find the balance point and lift. To be honest, the Surf should be used in conjunction with thigh straps, which can then be slung over shoulders to carry the board like a back pack. The Surf’s compact and lightweight nature does suggest it’s a kiddy boat, but flip the Fatyak onto its deck and the hull contours show there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

In contrast to many sit on kayak designs the centrally located spine (or keel), you usually find, only runs along part of the underbelly. About a third of the way along it levels off to leave a large flat spot. Pronounced parallel rails then run towards a small keel in the tail. Another thing to keep in mind is the buoyancy of the Surf. Although its capacity is specified as 90kg the boat’s lesser volume sits it lower in the water – the heavier you are the lower it will sit. And the lower it sits the more water will be sloshing about.

Onto the water

It’s been a cracking few weeks for chilly sunshine and waves at Sitons HQ. When the NWlies have abated there’s been just enough warmth from that orange ball in the sky to make getting soaked a pleasure. Our testing took place with a decent swell running, minimal chop and clean waves to have. At 85kg our rider is heading towards the Surf’s maximum weight – sure enough the boat ‘dropped’ a fair bit having jumped aboard. The Surf’s stability, however, remained in tact – the boat sitting lower in the water helps keep everything balanced. Choosing to keep the additional weight of the Surf to a minimum we didn’t use a seat but found that wedging our backside right up against the plastic was support enough. After all, we weren’t planning a leisurely cruise – manoeuvrability being the optimum word. The Surf’s short length doesn’t allow for the best glide but it’s a hull that tracks well none the less. Heavier paddlers will certainly work harder to reach their goal whereas kids and featherweights won’t have those issues.

Into the surf

The Sitons HQ wave spot is an offshore sand bar and a jaunt to get to. Once there, however, if the surf’s clean then it’s perfect for a bit of wave paddling. Lining the Surf up at the take off, it became clear sitting in a critical position, just as the wave is about to peak, is the only way to catch swell. It’s also worth noting that due to the shorter more manoeuvrable length, paddlers need to stroke harder to actually make the drop. No tickling the water and relying on the kayak’s glide to help you. Once on a liquid wall, however, the real personality of the Surf started to shine through. Super manoeuvrable and extremely carveable the Surf changes direction with simple head and upper body movements. Unweighting and adding paddle strokes increases down the line speed and it’s actually possible to chuck a bit of spray – so much so that we were taken aback at first. Leaning into the wave, you feel the kayak’s rails engage and even as swells stand up vertical it never feels like sliding out or yawing back up to the lip like longer sit ons can do.

Even without thigh straps it was possible to throw the Surf around and we had a whale of a time. Paddling back out over foam and froth is a slightly wet experience, and we’d definitely recommend wearing a wetsuit, even in summer – just to fend off the windchill. Even though the cockpit does fill up, as soon as you’re planing down the face of a wave, all that additional H2O is expelled through the drainage holes. A curious design then? For the majority of sit on kayakers a stable, relatively manoeuvrable and versatile boat that covers a wide range of paddling disciplines is usually the preferred option – certainly as a first kayak. We’re very keen, however, to promote the fact sit ons aren’t simply beach toys, and Fatyak’s Surf goes some way to prove this. Most paddlers will be somewhere towards the upper weight limits for the Surf, and as such should be looking at it as a wave weapon. If you’re a wee one or kiddy then it’s perfectly fine to have this as your general do all boat. The perfect family scenario would be: mom/dad have a manoeuvre orientated surf boat to play with, while little Jonny/Julie have a robust and versatile all rounder for general paddling fun. We completely understand why Fatyak have marketed the Surf the way they have. But when all’s said and done, the Surf is a cracking example of a rotomoulded wave tool, with added versatility.

Conclusion

A great example of how sit on kayak design can push the upper echelons of performance in a certain area. For middle to heavyweights the Fatyak Surf is indeed a great little sit on for surfing. Carving and redirecting is a breeze while full throttle down the line speed on steep walls is super fun. We’ll not lie, you’ll have to work for your stoke as it won’t just glide onto waves. But with a bit of oomph paddlers will find dropping into swells easy enough. While not matching the level of performance a waveski can deliver, it’ll certainly quench the thirst of progressing paddlers who yearn for liquid walls. And don’t rule out the Fatyak Surf if you’re after a boat for your offspring – the Surf will certainly accommodate.

FATYAK SURF FEATURES

  • Carry Toggles
  • Drain Plug
  • Fittings for Backrest
  • Fittings for Knee Straps

FATYAK SURF DETAILS

Manufacturer Hull Type Length Width Weight Max Load Seating
Fatyak Kayaks Standard 2.37m 0.72m 20.00kg 18.00kg Solo

WANT THIS KAYAK?

RRP: £230

Manufacturers

1 Comment

  1. Bruce Stocken

    I have purchased one recently and went out in some big waves .I found that it fills up with water really easy in the foot wells and the seating area and starts sitting too low in the water as a result. I was concerned and was not impressed with its surf capability’s. I tried it on calmer waters and same thing sits to low and fills up with water in foot wells. I am a bit disappointed needs a redesign in my eyes.

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