Spindrift Build Complete

Yesterday, I completed my Spindrift build.  I wanted to launch it today but my bride told me that she would kill me if I survived paddling in the middle of this tropical storm.

Once I get a couple miles on it, I will post regarding how it paddles.

Spindrift surfski design by Bjorn Thomasson but scaled down (width/height) to 95% and built with a kayak deck.

Construction started – 12/2/2020.

Construction complete – 7/6/2021. 

LOA – 20’7” BOA – 18.0”

LWL – 20’6” BWL – 16.5”

LWL/BWL = 14.9 (HPK for SR and MSR systems)

BWL (4”)/LOA – 6.6% (Unlimited for USCA)

Weight of bare boat was 32.4# and fully rigged, race ready weighs 37.4#

Hull is 3/16” and deck is 1/8” Western Red and Alaskan Yellow cedar.

Cockpit rim and bulkheads are 3mm Sapelle plywood.

Interior is 4oz S-glass (C0427S) and exterior is 3oz tight weave E-glass (C0338) both from US Composits.

Primary seating is a foam seat from Guillemot Kayaks.  For shorter races, I can switch to a fast but uncomfortable raised rotating K1 seat from Nelo.

Steering is via a Stellar surfski foot brace with toe control and either an under-hull or over the stern kick-up rudder.  The under-hull rudder will be used unless underwater obstacles are possible.  The OTS rudder housing is the “ski” model from Smart Track.

The boat has a single Stellar surfski venturi installed centerline to drain water from the cockpit. 

Why this boat? – I built this boat with the hope that it will be competitive with intermediate surfskis like my Stellar SEI(2G).  I plan to race it in Unlimited Class at the USCA Nationals in August.  I will also be racing my Mystery in the Touring Class and Yukon in the Sea Kayak class at this three-day event in Warren PA. 

Why not build with a surfski deck? -  When I first ordered the plans, I did hope to build the boat as a surfski.  I have two commercial skis and would love to have a wooden one.  After all, life is too short to paddle ugly “plastic.”  When the plans arrived, I was a bit surprised that they contained almost no info regarding the bucket/footwell area.  Literally, the only details shown are contour lines on two station molds in the seat area.  As a result, if you want a wooden cockpit area you must design it yourself.  No doubt that this is doable as demonstrated beautifully by Dan Caouette on the Spray that he built.  The real issue is would it be comfortable?  If you have ever paddled a ski, you know that comfort is everything.  So many aspects of the bucket/hump shape are fixed, and everybody’s bottom is different.  In some cases, you can pad out the bucket for more comfort but that often comes with increased height and decreased stability.  Some paddlers can just never get comfortable in some skis because of the bucket shape.  The bottom line is that I was not willing to risk spending all the time/effort/money to build a beautiful boat that may or may not be comfortable enough for me to race.  Other cockpit options that Bjorn suggests are to either harvest a cockpit from a commercial boat or use one as a mold.  Had I been able to find a salvage Stellar SES (2G) or SEI (2G) cockpit, I would have probably tried that approach, but one never came available.  Weight is another consideration, because no doubt that a wooden surfski style cockpit would weigh more than a simple foam seat.


Both rudders for picture only.  

Venturi on the bottom

2 replies:

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RE: Spindrift Build Complete

That is one pretty toothpick, Mark. I'm glad you decided not to break it in the storm.

What's that rigging between the seat and footbraces? Storage?


RE: Spindrift Build Complete

I got a chance to launch the boat yesterday and my initial impressions are quite favorable.  Speed, stability and manueverability appear to be quite similar to my intermediate ski.  My time was quite good doing my standard 8.5 mile workout route even though I was still dialing in seat and footbrace position.

And yes Lazlo, the bungies forward of the seat are for storage.  Two water bottles or a hydration blatter fit nicely.  The srubber stopper is to plug the venturi.

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