Submitted: 08-30-1999 by JLK
This is the third in a series of kayaks I have purchased in the last two years for wave riding in southern California. My first was the Riot by Wilderness Systems and most recently, the Strike by Cobra. The reviews for these craft are included in this site.
First, the Kaos is a true surf kayak featuring a relatively flat, wide planing bottom much like a surf board. The on-water profile is low and sleek, giving it the look of a surf ski. The nose is fairly pointed and turned up to handle fairly steep drops and aggressive bottom turns. Three fin boxes allow the kayak to be set up in a tri-fin configuration, which quite honestly, isn't necessary except on larger swells.
The craftsmanship is excellent with all of the mounting hardware in brass and molded in place from the inside. This vitally eliminates leakage... something the Cobra Strike did to access with its through and through pop rivet anchored hardware.
That's the good news. Now...the not-so-good. The seating seems to have been placed too far back resulting in a tendency to cause the kayak to sit aft down and out of balance on the water. If sitting back in the "designated" area, catching waves and generating clean, quick moves, is almost impossible. To achieve maximum performance, your butt must be so far forward that you are at the absolute forward edge of the seating area. This can only be maintained by installing a back band and pulling it to its most forward position.
The next apparent design flaw is the foot rests. They have molded the indentations so deep that once you have firmly anchored yourself in with the thigh braces, the last flanges press so hard against the outside of my calves, that they are actually bruised from the contact! This has necessitated my wearing knee pads moved down to my lower legs. A very attractive look!!
Having said all that, with a few adjustments, the Kaos is a fine sit-on-top surf kayak. In fact I do not believe there is currently a better on the market. While I have yet to test it in bigger surf (7'+), so far it is a very maneuverable yet stable surf kayak. It is forgiving enough to accommodate my wife's early ventures into the surf yet quick enough to satisfy my needs for more demanding, aggressive moves.
I fear that like sail boats and motorcycles, the more performance you get, the more you want. As proficiency grows, expectations increase. I have had this kayak a month and already I am thinking about faster and quicker. I guess that's what makes surf kayaking so addictive!