Boogie Examined by Preston Holmes (co-designer)

The design goals of the Boogie were to achieve the surfing performance comparable to the Australian and South African waveskis, while at the same time allowing the paddleability, comfort, and three dimensional aspects of kayaking, and specifically rodeo/freestyle kayaking, to shine. The classic short waveski design is the short board of the paddle surfing world. These are usually around or under 7.5 feet (2.5 meters) in length and are very hard to paddle and roll. The extremely light weight of these skis (you really can't call them boats) allow aerials and very fast slashing moves. They only really show there stuff when on a near perfect wave - getting out to the wave, and actually getting on the wave can be a real chore. In less than great conditions, you spend much of your time paddling after waves and not catching them. You are attached to the ski with a seat belt strap and loops over your toes, providing minimal contact with the craft for maneuvers and rolling.


On the other end of the spectrum of performance paddle surfing is the Merv Larson school, most popularized through the waveskis and kayaks of Mike Johnson. These boats tend to be much longer - have a very flat rocker profile, and no fins. They are very fast to paddle onto waves, and have good down the line speed, but are very difficult to make hard turns in. They are fun on really mushy waves, but when the surf has some juice - they are limited to simple moves and turns.




One thing that both Mike Johnson and Dick Wold's boats share is a smaller cockpit and outfitting that requires your knees to be very close together and makes it hard to get in and out of. Neither of these boats are considered particularly comfortable or easy to get in and out of.

The Alamax is the "other" plastic high performance surf kayak, and has been out for a couple years. By most accounts this boat was a flop, the boat is long and very boxy. While the boat has fins they are located far behind the seat, giving you good tracking down big waves, but wrecking your ability to turn. The side walls are high and in a position to bang your ribs. Few people I've talked to were impressed with the boat but it does have its following. The primary designer himself much prefers an improved version now sold as a sit on top called the Kaos.

The Boogie takes more cues from the South African and Australian style waveskis than other surf kayaks. This means that it is designed to perform TRUE carves - only a few other custom hand made surf kayaks out there can do this - none of the production boats (including the small fiberglass makers like Wold and Johnson) can do this. The principle is called projected turns. Its a way of using a specifically shaped rail and fins to take the energy of a turn, and project it into more forward momentum coming out of the turn, like a slingshot effect. The fins must be located properly, under the seat, and work together with the outline shape and the rails to provide tracking (against side slippage) while allowing the boat to pivot at the same time - and the boat needs to pivot from a place pretty far back. Fins are key to surfing, if finless surfing worked, there would be finless surfboards out there - there are none. A paddle blade can act to help prevent side slip, but this is not the same thing as a fin.

With these design elements - the Boogie gets turning performance like that of waveskis and surfboards. To get this kind of performance it needs to be shorter and by being shorter it is a little "slower" than a longer boat (ie Johnson boats). But although it is true that the Boogie is slower than a Johnson Mako - it can go faster! How does that make any sense? Well when surfing on a fast wave and planing, a boat can go much faster than its simple flat water hull speed. The Boogie can reach must faster speeds because its better turning performance allows it to use the "Power Pocket" of the wave more effectively. This power pocket of the wave is where you see surfboard surfers performing the more radical moves - the steep part of the wave right in front of the foam pile. Think about how fast you've seen those surfers go on boards often well under 7 ft. But the Boogie is no dog off of the wave either, its much faster and easier to paddle than a short waveski. The overall outline shape of the Boogie was influence by a form of surfboard design called the hybrid or fun shape. Surfers experience the same trade offs as anyone in the waves. Long boards are fast, easy to paddle around and onto waves, but just can't do as much on the waves - short boards shred, but are a pain. Hybrids have more width and float up front, letting you paddle onto more waves, while the portion of the boat that interacts with the water once you are on a wave has characteristics geared more for high performance .

On top of all this surfing performance, the Boogie also inherits far more rodeo capabilities than any other surf kayak. Water is always a three dimensional environment, and having a deck allows you to interact with that water much more than when you are sitting on top of a board. The Boogie was co-designed with Corran Addison, one of the most influential river kayak designers, and someone who has brought wave surfing to river kayak performance more than anyone else. The deck design of the Boogie was derived in part from the R+D effort put into the Glide series. This includes both performance in the water, but also fit and comfort - as well as aesthetics. The Boogie is NOT a rodeo kayak, its a surf kayak that performs rodeo moves better than any other surf kayak, the same way that the Glide is a rodeo kayak that surfs better than any other rodeo kayak. What were wipeouts in other surf kayaks or waveskis, become dynamic move sequences in a Boogie.

Riot doesn't just stop at the design of the hull and deck.

Device seat: Riots adjustable seat. It allows you to move the seat up, down, forward, and back. This has as many advantages in the surf as in the river, if not more. Being able to raise the seat gives you more leverage and lean for even harder turns, Australian waveskiers have been using raised seats for years - but the California surf kayak makers don't have a deck design that allows this as an option. Being able to move the seat forward and back is good for both trimming the boat for different body weights, and also for tuning performance. Unlike the river, increasing performance of the Boogie is achieved by moving the seat backwards, not forwards. When the surf is good and the waves are steep, moving the seat back allows for tighter snappier turns. When the surf is soft, and conditions are slow, moving the seat forward allows better speed, and easier rodeo moves. The seat combines with the adjustable and removable fins to provide excellent adjustability of the boats performance for a variety of conditions.

Xytec Plastic: Surf kayaks have traditionally been fiberglass, this is mostly due to the fact that they have generally been custom and hand made - but also because traditional plastics don't offer the light weight and stiffness that fiberglass does. With Riot's new Xytec plastic, you can get the durability and resilience of plastic, with nearly all the benefits of fiberglass.

Service: When you buy a Boogie, you buy from one of the best kayak manufacturers in the business. You buy a boat that comes from a consistent manufacturing environment, and it comes with a warranty and service. Not from homebuilt environment.

Some FAQs:

Can you flatspin with fins? Contrary to what you might think, yes. Its not as easy when there are no fins, but can still be done. The fins are right under your seat, which is about where you spin from. Having the two side fins in, gives the best performance compromise between finned turns, and spins. But the truth is, once you experience projected carves, you won't want to "waste" another wave on flatspins. If you think about snowboarding, which is more fun spinning straight down the hill, or carving and shredding sweet turns, with the occasional spin thrown in for style?

How do you launch with fins? This is a little tricky, but possible. You can launch off a sandy beach no problem dragging your fins through the sand. The fins are strong, but not indestructible - they WILL break if you side surf right up onto the beach - so its better to exit the boat when your still in shallow water. Is it easy to roll? Yes, its comparable to a Glide. C1 convertability? Can't speak to how it compares to other surf kayaks as a C1, but when looking at outfitting it, it should be similar or the same as a Glide.

Why are surf kayaks better in the surf than todays planing hull river kayaks? The answer is pretty simple - speed. All river kayaks have a pretty large amount of tail rocker (upturn in the back of the boat). You need this in a river because the water in rivers is very chaotic and unpredictable. Tail rocker and anti trip rails (edges) are needed because current in the river can hit your boat from many directions without any warning. These same things take away from speed. Tail rocker being the biggest drag in any planing boat. The anti trip rails also don't bite into the wave as well as those of surf kayaks. These are necessary compromises in the river, but in the surf - you can get closer to the performance end of the spectrum.

Do I need a surf kayak in addition to a play boat? Nobody can tell you the answer to this question, but what you should ask yourself is "How much time do I spend in the surf?". If its a lot of time, as much as in the river than think about how much fun you are missing out on. Ask yourself if a separate creek boat is any more justified than a separate surf boat.


The enhanced nose rocker in the Boogie (more than in most river boats) means that there is probably more footroom in this boat than most boats a foot longer. I've seen very large people get in this boat without any discomfort at all. But the roomyness comes from the rocker, so the nose itself is still relatively low volume for great rodeo performance.


The Boogie comes standard as a comp weight boat (lighter layup than most Riot river boats) and with the tough Xytec plastic is plenty strong. The boat I'm using weighs one pound more than the fiberglass prototype I have.