Surf kayak review–Jackson FUN

I eventually finished a more formal review of the Jackson FUN having paddling it as a surf kayak for over 4 months now. Initially it took some time to get used to, as it is much looser than surf kayaks that I have been into for years. It was like returning to my origins in surf kayaking when we paddled any kayak in the surf, not what was specifically designed for ocean wave surfing. See my first paddle comments here.

IMG_3291    Easy take-off   Fun on small reef break waves

The beginners perspective.
If you are just starting out in surf kayaking this kayak is a really a winner. It is stable and easy to get out through the break with reasonable directional stability for a playboat. When paddling out through broken waves the FUN maintained stability and allowed you to lift up and over the white water simply by leaning back to raise the bow.

On a wave the the FUN was easy to get into the wave take-off area and quite predictable when dropping down a steep face. The beginners who paddled the FUN started off on smaller waves to get the feel of the kayak but were soon confident on larger waves. The kayak has a flat, planing hull design meaning that aggressive leans or stern rudder strokes may cause the stern to break loose. An unintentional 180 degree spin into a back surf is a little disconcerting for beginners but soon most paddlers have it under control.

Intermediate perspective
The Fun is just that, a lot of fun. The comfortable cockpit and easily adjusted outfitting means paddlers are happy to stay out for hours, pulling 360 spins, backsurfs, cartwheels (intentional and unintentional)  and generally having a great time.

This playboat is easy to handle and allows you to try lots of manoeuvres with confidence and when it doesn’t work the FUN is easy to roll. As with most playboats the low volume stern and bow allow ease of manoeuvring, however you still need to drive this kayak or it will break loose on larger wave faces.

top turn and over     Nice top turns

Comparison to specialised surf kayaks

It really does come down to what you want to achieve in surf kayaking. If you are looking for a kayak that equals a surfboard or wave ski then you need to look at the specialised craft. This is a white water playboat being used in the surf and is an excellent craft for playing in waves and having fun. Just a fantastic kayak to paddle when the surf is not so good and you’re looking for a way to have fun and get wet.

Jackson Kayak Specs.
Length 2.03m     Width 68 cm     Volume 238 litres     Capacity 75-100 kg

Paddler 1
Height   170cm
Weight   90 kg (or more after Easter)
Experience  Many years paddling sea kayaks and surf kayaks

Great Fun kayak. A great change from more specialist surf kayaks but especially good when surf was smaller allowing me to still have fun on manoeuvres like 360 spins, catwheels and backsurfs not possible with other surf kayak.

Loved the ease of adjustment on the backrest and the Happy Feet footrests.
Lots of fun to be had even when the surfs not so good.

Backrest cords are a bit of a pain dangling on my legs, but I would soon fix that.

Lots of FUN. Very comfortable outfitting and would recommend to anyone.

Paddler 2
Height 175 cm
Weight 76 kg
Experience  Beginner in playboats and surf kayaks

Had great fun every time I paddled out. Started on smaller waves and soon got the hang of the FUN. I was able to get some nice waves and 360 spins as well great slides down larger green wave faces. Thoroughly recommended as a great FUN kayak.

Very predictable and forgiving handling when the wave closed out on me.  It is easy to roll which gave me confidence to go for bigger waves or faster manoeuvres. Loved the easy adjustment on the backrest making it easy to do a quick launch, paddle out and then tighten backrest.

I would put some sort of grab loop on the rear handle as it was hard to hold onto as I climbed over rocks to get back up the beach.

Very impressed with this kayak in the surf. Just lots of FUN and will definitely be looking to purchase.

Surf Kayaking – FUN at any age

Surf kayaking is my greatest kayaking pleasure; well at the moment anyway. I have been returning to some surf breaks that I first tried to board surf at when I was about 16 and then haunted when I was in my thirties. Now a few years later, or maybe that’s decades, I’m still here with an even greater sense of FUN.

Late 1980's. Bells Beach Victoria. 1 car 3 skis 3 white water kayaks

Late 1980’s. Bells Beach Victoria. 1 car 3 skis 3 white water kayaks and lots of FUN. That’s me in the middle.

I owned and surfed many specialist surf kayaks over the years as well as a whole swag of wave ski’s during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Small day at Pondalowie Bay South Australia.

Small day at Pondalowie Bay South Australia. Marty Williams at play.

As we are the driest state on the driest continent there’s no white water paddling to be had and certainly no playboats in kayak shops, but luckily I was able to borrow a Jackson FUN from a friend interstate . Now this is very much a white water playboat and I am a little heavy for it at 88kg but it is certainly comfortable.

IMG_3291 IMG_3296

First paddle. Nice wave peaked up, paddled to take off, dropped down the face and threw my weight into a bottom turn. The FUN spun 180 degrees, I screamed backwards, lent back too far, dug the rear deck into the wave, back flipped and airborne as my head kissed the deck.  Cleaned out the sinus anyway !!!.
Hmmm…. this kayak needs a little more finesse than I used with a finned surf kayak.

Another hour or more in some pretty choppy waves but lots of FUN. I’ll write a review of the Jackson FUN, for surf kayaking, after I get it a little better under control. We shot a little footage but the camera malfunctioned, however you should get the idea.

Cheers…Ian Pope
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most FUN”… Duke Kahanamoku. 

Spring surf kayak session

At last a couple of decent days of weather in a row.  Today was such a beautiful day, clear skies, light winds and we could almost call it warm. I’ve had enough of winter now and my arthritic joints are certainly looking forward to summer.
Only one problem with the day; the surf was tiny, however Michael and I were desperate to wet a paddle so we opted for a short blast at our local surf spot. Robyn managed to capture a couple of happy snaps which I’m sure you will enjoy, sitting at your work desk.

Have a great day

Ian, Robyn and Michael
PS  You can also see the photos from the slideshow on our Flickr site

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