Rhino  experimental skin-on-frame surf kayak

What's up with the Rhino?  well....  since the text and photos below were posted, I've built 3 more of these, and I just can't get it quite right.   The boat does everything it's supposed to do, holds in tight on a wave with good speed and clean cutbacks,  and functions OK as limited range cruiser.  I'd still rather surf a glass IC boat though.  There are critical finishing touches to the shape that I am having a hard time figuring out how to make in a skinboat.  It's very frustrating, especially because the design actually works pretty well.  It's hard to put so much time and energy into something and have it not work out like I wanted, but I am always a paddler first and I'm not going say "oh, it's pretty good for a skinboat."  It's either great, or it doesn't get to be a Cape Falcon design.   I'm not giving up, but I have a lot of things to do right now so I'm taking a break for a while.

Deep Vee bow, flat hard railed stern, a little under 12 feet long, 21-23 inches wide, less than 25 lbs

The question arises, "What am I actually doing in a kayak?"   Personally, a trip to the beach usually means a bit of surf, some fishing, some caving and rock gardening in harsh, cold, exposed waters.  That means either suffering the shortcomings of one kayak, or bringing a variety of boats, until now.   Whereas the F1 is an excellent sea kayak that surfs pretty good, the Rhino shifts the balance toward an excellent surf kayak that sea kayaks pretty good.   Anyone who has spent any time in a surf kayak knows that they are slow, tippy, very hard to roll, hard to punch out and difficult to drop in.  Sure, on a perfect wave nothing rips like a glass surf kayak, but in mushy crappy blown out conditions with long paddle outs and big scary water, they are essentially useless.  So the idea came to me, could I build I short sea kayak with a surf kayak tail that would give many of the paddling advantages of a sea kayak but could still crank top and bottom turns and hold in on a wave without sideslipping or skipping out?  What if that boat was also capable of short ocean excursions traveling a few miles at slow to moderate sea kayak speeds, carried a bit of gear, and still spun 180 degrees with a single sweep?  The Rhino is my answer to this question, and I'll be the first to admit it's a weird boat for a niche market.  Most people will simply shake their heads, but for the few wave warriors who's desires lean more towards the surf end of the spectrum, this just might be the ticket to refresh a tired kayak quiver.

Comfort is critical in a boat I spend hours in so the Rhino cockpit has the exact same geometry and slidelock footbraces as the F1. 

Here Zach messes around on flat water, we found we could comfortably paddle it alongside normal sea kayaks at sightseeing speeds. (3-3.5mph)

It was super easy to roll and brace.  The rails on the rhino are very special, they actually reverse the flare of the boat at the stern, it took five prototypes to get this right, and it makes all the difference in surf performance.

Now this is what I call a layback.

I took it out for a test in the worst surf conditions you can imagine.  Small, ugly storm surf, not a good wave anywhere.  The high volume slicing bow climbed through foam piles that would throw surf and sea kayaks end for end.

I found lots of fun little rides.

Not as fast or as smooth as a sea kayak in mixed chop, but miles ahead of a surf kayak which have no use in this sort of water.

...and like every Cape Falcon Kayak,  tough enough to take the beatings.

The Future:  Finally, finally, finally, after so many prototypes, I'm getting the Rhino dialed in.   I would call this the final experimental stage, I need to shift the paddler forward 3 inches, and chop a few inches off the bow and I think we've nailed it.   I'm obsessive about things being perfect before I release them, and right now I'm super busy.  I'm hoping to build the final prototype in August, then I'll add it to my list.  Look for more photos and the final boat later in the summer.   Until then, paddle on...


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