Quite by accident I just read my review of the KAOS that I submitted in 2004. I am still riding the same KAOS almost every day. It is still giving me smooth fast and controlled rides every time I take it out. I have to paddle from public parking one mile to the point and although I have trouble keeping up with the "standup" surfers it still gets me there in good shape all warmed up and raring to go.
I can surf 1 foot to 8 foot waves in almost any condition although a recent face-plant off an 8 foot lip slowed me down a bit. I have leg straps and a good seat which adjusts my seat to perfect leg comfort. The foot-holds do hit the side of my ankles but I guess I've built in a mental resistance to feeling it anymore. (surf bumps on my ankles?) From the words surf bumps, old farts can tell I have been at this surfing business for over 50 years, I am almost 70. My health forced me to buy a CHAOS.. I have never been unhappy with that decision.
I can run rings around long boarders....they are usually surprised at its ease to drop into waves late as well as its speed across the face. LOVE MY CHAOS. I almost forgot that it does do an "oilcan" suck in right in front of the center fin under your seat...causes it to become concave and to tell you the truth I am still not sure whether that is a help or hindrance to the ride or cut...??? I have owned my Kaos for about 2 years now and I have absolutely no complaints about it. I am 6 foot 180lbs and I have no problems with the boat.
The molded in foot braces are a godsend over the Islander Lipstick’s slide paddles because the slide paddles are force all the way to the longest position if you are struck by any waves over about 2 foot. Also compared to the Prijion Twisters tiny foot braces they offer unsurpassed grip and control. Also the boat has three skeg boxes and there are two size fins available from Harmony, a small 3in fin and a large 9in fin. I use three large fins. The benefits of the triple large fins are extra holding of the tail end in the wave which allows for larger waves and longer runs. I have also used a configuration of two small fins on the outsides with a large in the center. This configuration definitely turns quicker and allows for easier carving but does not hold the tail into waves over about 3-4 ft. I used the 3 large fin configuration when I surfed the 10-12 ft swells of Hurricane Fay at Cocoa Beach, FL and had the time of my life. The only obstacle I faced with such large surf, if I relaxed at all while paddling out pass the break, I would completely cart-wheel bow over stern, but that would happen to any boat in those conditions, as it did with my Prijion Twister and my Islander Lipstik in those same conditions. Compared to the Islander Lipstik and the Prijon Twister in the surf, the Kaos is in a league of its own.
And as for its versatility, I have paddled the Kaos in flat water (lakes and rivers) and it performs decent. The water-line is noticeably higher in flat water than it is in the surf because you are not moving as fast. The boat is stable enough in the water for a first time kayaker to have no problems with it. I have also fished from the Kaos. It was not designed as a fishing boat by any means, and I don’t encourage it, but it is possible. I placed the tackle box under my thighs and I took a 5ft 6in Ugly stick with a small reel and I had no problems.
If you want an awesome surf kayak that you plan to surf with a lot, but want a boat that can do a little of many things, the Kaos is for you. Just keep in mind the Kaos was designed TO SURF!! And it performs its function brilliantly. And just to let everyone know the Kaos is now a Dagger boat, not a Wilderness Systems boat, but the two boats are exactly the same boat.
Out of my 6 kayaks this is the most fun boat to throw up on the roof rack and spend a day with. It has never let me down!I have owned this boat for 3 years. It is the second kayak I have purchased to surf waves at the Outer Banks in NC up to 6 feet. My first was the Dagger Frolic.
The boat is well put together with quality brass fittings and other components. Highly recommend a back band and thigh braces for maximum manuverability. I found it easy to use but beware of leaning too far forward just after you "catch the wave" as it will dig in and you will flip head over heels rather quickly. It has nice edges that allow for carving manuvers. The skegs are useful for big water only.
The molded footbraces should be replaced with a movable footpeg system found on the WS Tarpon when they update the design. They hurt your ankles when you attempt to brace.
It is a dedicated surf riding vehicle not really suitable for other activities like fishing or flat water paddling. Overall, it is a nice improvement over the standard sit on top and I recommend it for those ready to take the next step in surfing.Synopsis: Fun in small waves, get a waveski for larger surf.
Pros: 1) Turns nicely at low to med speeds. 2) Generally fun in small surf. You can actually work the face of the wave. 3) A+ on the fittings. 4) Easy to ride.
Cons: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.
1)The foot wells are very uncomfortable and the last one is unusable. Bruises and loss of skin! Needs a movable footblock with a track. 2) Side slips during takeoffs on overhead waves even with all 3 fins installed. It may not be designed for >6 foot waves but the ads do not specify either way. 3) Scupper hole shoots water directly into riders face. Foam plug that comes with it will blow out instantly in larger surf. 4) Slow. The dimple around the scupper doesn't help either. 5) The bottom sometimes caves in and becomes concave temporarily. A wave or two later, it pops back to normal. Scary.
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!