The new world speed record for motor kayaks is 17 mph. This world record holder is Captain Larry Jarboe, a retired businessman and county official from Maryland, who settled in Key Largo, Florida, where he runs a Wavewalk dealership and a fishing and diving business. Visit Larry’s website »
When Larry broke this motorized kayak speed record, he was driving his Wavewalk S4 powered by a 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, on flat water. The S4 is a twin-hull (catamaran) watercraft designated as a kayak, and it can serve as such, namely as a paddle craft, as well as a portable boat for fishing the flats (I.E. microskiff) and for offshore fishing.
Note that Larry prefers to drive his S4 facing sideways, in the side-saddle position in which he’s used to drive dinghies. Another position that the S4 offers is riding, namely with a leg on each side of the saddle seat, similarly to the way personal watercraft (PWC), ATVs and snowmobiles are driven. Riding is the most stable posture for driving, and the combination of the balancing capabilities that it offers the driver and passengers with the catamaran hulls, delivers unrivaled stability. Without this extreme stability, such speed would have not been possible.
The unique, patented saddle seat featuring in the S4 is back-pain free, unlike other kayak seats that force their users to sit in the notorious L position, with their legs stretched uncomfortably in front of them, and their lower back exposed to continuous pressure.
Larry driving his S4 side-saddle in the ocean chop
The above photo shows the motorized S4 kayak catamaran kayak driven in the ocean, in choppy water, with the driver facing forward in the riding position.
Elderly fishermen welcomed the kayak fishing trend that became popular about a decade ago, mainly because they felt jaded with having to deal with big motorboats and cumbersome canoes, and they welcomed the promise for physical exercise that came with paddling kayaks.
Nowadays, many senior anglers perceive the reality beyond the hype, and they are not as enthusiastic about kayak fishing as before. The reasons for this are primarily ergonomic, namely the discomfort and fatigue associated with staying seated in a kayak for long hours, and the risk of developing sciatica and other back injuries as a result.
Pedal driven kayaks have failed to provide solace to senior anglers, and in fact they proved to be harsher on the operator’s back and legs than regular, paddle propelled kayaks.
Electric trolling motors proved to be a good solution for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers, as far as shorter fishing trips are concerned. Whether trough assisted paddling or as an alternative to paddling, electric motors have become quite popular with older anglers who can tolerate being seated in the L position, or similar uncomfortable postures.
Wavewalk is a manufacturer of patented kayaks that solved the back pain problem in this field, as well as a host of other physical problems that plague kayaking and kayak fishing. Wavewalk also solved the motorizing conundrum, namely the insufficiency of electric trolling motors as means of propulsion for long fishing trips and for traveling in fast currents and in choppy water – something that only outboard motors can do.
Wavewalk offers three products lines of different sizes, all of which can be easily and effectively paddled and motorized with either electric motors or outboard gas motors.
The Wavewalk 500 is a lightweight (60 lbs) super stable and back pain free twin-hull (catamaran) kayak that anyone can car-top, launch paddle and beach anywhere, including people in the late seventies and even early eighties, as well as people with serious disabilities.
The Wavewalk 700 series is a lightweight (80 lbs), super stable and back pain free twin-hull tandem kayak and portable skiff. Anyone can car top a W700 on their own, as well as carry it and launch it. It can take powerful portable outboard motors, and it’s fun to drive, even in choppy water.
The same skiff serves as a fishing kayak in places that can be accessed only by the smallest and most nimble paddle craft:
Wavewalk is now offering a third line of small craft named Series 4 (S4). This portable (car-top) skiff can take on board two big and heavy anglers, a strong outboard motor, and plenty of fishing gear. It can also serve as a paddle craft (canoe, tandem kayak) when its crew needs to go in extremely shallow water, or in no-motor zones (NMZ). Being more stable than bigger boats makes it an ideal solution for elderly anglers who fish in a variety of waters, and do it either solo or together with a fishing buddy.
This is a most unusual, yet most revealing story.
It says a lot about kayak anglers and the sacrifices some of them are willing to make for their love of fishing.
It also shows that propelling fishing kayaks with outboard gas engines is picking up, has a future, but it also faces certain limitations.
This story also shows that pedal drives for fishing kayaks simply can’t substitute a motor – any motor, in any way, and that when push comes to shove, they can’t replace the paddle.
And last but not least, it shows that two elderly people can go out for a long, offshore kayak fishing trip on a cold day in December, catch fish together, and enjoy each other’s company while doing so, without suffering from back pain, leg numbness, discomfort, wetness, or any other undesirable phenomenon that elderly anglers suffer from when they attempt to fish out of kayaks.
Members of the South Korean Sea Dreamer Kayak Fishing club, who are all courageous and avid anglers, outfitted their fishing kayaks with outriggers and outboard gas engines. These unusual people went out for an offshore kayak fishing trip December 31st, in cold weather. The fishing expedition included a few traditional SOT kayaks, and a W500 kayak, which unlike the other kayaks, was operated by a crew of two: And elderly couple who loves fishing, and enjoys fishing together.
Sungjin Kim, Wavewalk’s distributor in South Korea, published this story (in Korean) on his Korean kayak fishing website, and his post there includes a link to the kayak fishing club’s website.
Here are the fish this tandem crew of kayak anglers caught in the ocean:
The reader should be aware that imported fishing kayaks are expensive in Korea, and so are outboard motors and outriggers. For the cost of their motorized W kayak, this couple could have gotten a nice small motorboat, but not necessarily one that they could car top:
Another inconvenience with a bigger boat could have been the need to launch it from a boat ramp, which is neither easy nor convenient.
But let’s not forget that winters in south Korea are cold, and so is the ocean there. This means that elderly people can’t go fishing offshore out of regular SOT, sit-in or hybrid fishing kayaks: They need to fish out of a kayak that keeps them dry, which wouldn’t be the case if they used anything else than their W500:
And last but not least, elderly people need a level of comfort that can’t be found in kayaks other than the W kayak: They need to stand up easily and whenever they want to stretch, change positions, be free from any pressure on their lower back, and be able to fight and prevent leg numbness.
The reader has surely realized that fishing in tandem out of a kayak can be problematic, due to the small space available, and the reduced range of motion of the crew. But this was not the case for this tandem crew, obviously – They managed just fine.
In other words, while the other anglers who participated in this cold water and weather, offshore expedition practiced kayak fishing as an extreme sport , this elderly couple practiced traditional, cozy fishing – as it should really be. The only difference between their motorized W500 and other motorized W500 kayaks is the fact they outfitted it with outriggers, like all the other participants in this fishing trip did. This safety measure is understandable in view of the hazardous environment and the risk of hypothermia in case of an accident, the fact that two people were on board the W500 and not just one, and the fact that these were elderly people whose sense of balance might be impaired by age: Seniors are usually more cautious than younger people are, and rightfully so.
Interestingly, the other motorized kayaks that participated in this expedition were of the type that features a push pedal drive, but all the other anglers carried a paddle on board as a safety measure in case the motor stalled, and in order to propel their kayaks in shallow water, when launching and beaching. In other words, out of the three propulsion devices (paddle, motor and pedal drive), the drive was redundant. The fact they didn’t count on their pedal drives for such a long, offshore trip also shows that such devices cannot be counted on as means to extend a kayak’s range of operation, and cannot serve as a substitute for some kind of motor when currents and wind are to be dealt with.
This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
Spinal fusion is an extreme surgical intervention performed on patients who suffer from certain chronic, serious back conditions, including severe pain, which have not responded to conservative treatment. One of those patients recently posted a short review of her W kayak. Her testimonial sends a message of hope to other people in her situation:
I had spinal fusion six years ago. I have always wanted to Kayak but I know there is no way that I can sit in the L position on a regular kayak.
I contacted Norm Craig, a W kayaker who had spinal fusion too, and he assured me I would be fine with the W500.
I love my W kayak. I have taken it out about 7 times, and my longest trip was about 2 hours. It is very easy on my back. I just bought a new life preserver today made for kayaking. I am planning on going out tomorrow morning.
I am also going to make a cushion for the seat.
This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
A new article just got published on this painful subject.
Here’s a quote of a couple of comments made by readers:
1. “Glad you mentioned unmanly and bragging about being out for a long time. Heard that many times and still do on a regular basis. Some folks even comment about how they are in such great shape and it can’t happen to them. Frankly they don’t get the joke, being in good shape does not make up for the fact the body is damaged by the wrong position. Now maybe if they commented how much they could stand pain verses someone else OK. But being out there fishing in pain kinda sorta takes away from the enjoyment.” and –
2. “Sporting injuries are more frequent among people who exercise on a regular basis than among people who don’t exercise at all. Each sport and physical activity carries some potential problems that people who practice it should be aware of. Some sports and activities are more prone to get you injured, that’s all. It’s not a mere coincidence that kayakers appear in ads for pain medication – Kayaking has become almost synonym with back problems, and people who aren’t aware of this issue learn as soon as they start.
The main point here, in my view, is that physical damage can happen to you over time – You don’t get a herniated lumbar disc the first time you go fishing in your kayak, but over time, your risk of suffering from such a severe injury increases.”
The article explains what kayak back pain is, what are the nerves involved in it, the meaning of back pain when you’re kayaking, or kayak fishing, what to do and what to avoid, and the benefits of paddling Wavewalk kayaks, fishing from them, as far as your back is concerned.