Submitted: 07-22-2003 by Eyore
I purchased two Islander Hulas this Spring as Great Lakes surf kayaks and fun play boats for my kids (two are teenagers) and as a no wind alternative to my windsurfing addiction. The kids have used the boats a lot and even my eight year old loves it. She can handle it on flat water with no problem. Yesterday was our first chance to use them in 3-4 ft. Lake Huron waves. What a blast. Iíve used a Wilderness System Kaos and a Perception Torrent for surf kayaking at Cape Hatteras and the Hulas compare very well. Iím 6 ft., 180 lbs and, even though the boat is small, I had no problem catching the waves. The Hula felt more stable on the wave than either the Torrent or Kaos although it also seemed far more directional and I had trouble initiating a carve on the wave. The Hulas also seemed less prone to pearling when catching the wave or when trying to bust through them on the way out than the Kaos. The somewhat bulbous nose is probably the reason.The Hula also has a Ďsofterí design than either the Kaos or Torrent meaning I have far fewer bruises today. The Kaos was especially hard on the ankles as the foot braces were molded as hard edges. My 13 year old son (5í4Ē, 100 lbs) also used the boat and had a great time. He didnít feel like he was being overwhelmed like heís had on the Torrent because the Hula is smaller.I wondered about the durability of the plastic fittings but after some great wipe outs, lots of pressure on the thigh straps and the paddle leash being attched to one fitting, there were no problems. There was some water in the hull after our four hours of playing but no more than Iíve had with the Kaos or Torrent and certainly not enough to affect performance. Summary: The Hula is a great recreational surf kayak and play boat with a price thatís hard to beat. I highly recommend it for small to moderate surf. Final comment- wear a helmet on even the small days. I lost count of the number of times the boat grazed my helmeted head during wipe outs.