The WoodySki
by David Church

I built my first boat when I was 14. Actually my dad did most of the building while my brothers and I watched. We did help a little. I was always amazed with what my dad could do with a stack of wood, or a hunk of metal. So, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when my own teenagers looked at me with doubt when I picked out a couple of sheets of plywood and told them I was going to make a kayak to paddle in our local waves. That was a few years and a few boats ago. And just like with my dad and me they don’t have doubts any more.

A waveski is purely a surfing craft that you paddle like a kayak, except you sit on top of it instead of inside it. Once you take off on a wave it surfs much like a surfboard. The waveski design is very popular in other oceans of the world, but it is still fairly unique here in the United States.

The WoodySki is my own design based partly on other surf design kayaks that I have built. I start by sketching ideas and then turn to CAD and other software to develop the design. I print out small-scale patterns on heavy paper, and then use this to make models of several prototypes. After coating these with plastic I can do more assessments and refinements by floating these in water and adding scaled body weight.

My girls and I had some good times building this latest project and they can’t wait to give it a go this summer, when the Oregon coast weather and waves get a bit milder. I’m already having a ball on it.

The shell of the WoodySki is made from 6 parts that are cut from 2 sheets of 1/8” plywood.

Three permanent bulkheads help make the alignment foolproof.

The hull is filled with foam in the areas of the seat and foot wells, and where extra rigidity is desired.

A durable skin of epoxy, and fiberglass are bound to the exterior creating a strong, lightweight composite.

This WoodySki is designed for a paddler weight between 150 and 200 pounds.

The finished length is 7’ 9”. The standard final weight is 20 Lbs.

Design Details

  • The WoodySki design is based on a combination of surf craft including the Woody 2.8 surf kayak. It is designed for high performance surfing as well as stability and ease of paddling.
  • The final design was developed using a combination of: Computer software programs, modeling, and physical testing, along with the input of other experience paddle surfers.
  • The bottom of the WoodySki is based on a 3 surface planning design, with side lift tapering to a completely flat surface at the stern.
  • Hard-edged rails are combined with the bottom feature for sure carving ability.
  • The nose outline is factored in with bow rocker for steep drops and tight turns.
  • The WoodySki is designed for an O’Fish’L snap in fin system which allows a surfer to add or remove fins while on the water; no tools required.

Construction Details

All of the body parts are traced from full size patterns and then cut from 2 sheets of pseudo-mahogany plywood.

The parts are stitched together every few inches with thin wire.

The interior bulkheads, tail panel, and nose piece help to align and strengthen the craft.

All protruding wire ties are cut and made flush.

The interior seams are glued, the deck is connected and the interior of the waveski gets some foam.

Foam is used to form the seat and foot wells while also adding strength and safety.

The body is inspected, sanded, and detailed with thickened epoxy.

The bottom gets paint, graphics and a layer of S-glass.

After a light sanding the bottom gets a gloss coat of epoxy.

The finbox covers are removed, which completes the bottom.

The topside gets similar treatment with; paint, glass, and gloss.

The WoodySki is finished with foot straps, seat belt, and optional thigh straps for that familiar kayak feel.

WoodySki 3min video, 4MB

The above link will open a sample clip of the full instructional video, which includes some WoodySki surfing.

Full size patterns, builders guide, and 75 min. instructional video will take you through the entire project for $79.95 Shipping is free anywhere in the continental United States and British Columbia.

For more details contact the author David Church at: