Equipment — August 1998
Futura II, Sport Touring by Futura Surf Skis
Futura II Design Statement: We wanted to create a surf ski similar to our world-class racing kayaks with more stability and the added utility of a touring kayak, thus allowing more people to enjoy true performance in a wider variety of conditions.
The Futura II, Sport Touring Surf Ski is the evolutionary result of 25 years of research and development. Inspired by the ancient Polynesian oceangoing canoes, the long, narrow sit-on-top surf ski was originally designed for lifeguards to penetrate the surf zone in order to rescue victims of water sport accidents. The surf ski was mostly used in tropical climates; paddlers would wear only sunscreen and swimsuits, which made it slow to sell in North America. With advancements of dry and wetsuit technology, surf skis have gained popularity in northern climates.
The surf ski is not a dry ride. We recommend that anyone paddling north of Chesapeake Bay or San Francisco Bay wear a Farmer John wetsuit, booties and a dry top during winter months. Dress appropriately to be comfortable in the water.
The Futura II, Sport Touring has the design aspects of the fastest kayaks in the world, but with the added security of a low seat and stable hull design. The seat is positioned below the waterline, increasing the stability. The Futura II can be paddled up to 8 knots by an athletic performer. The low waterline and punch bow keeps most of the composite out of the wind, which helps prevent wind drifting. The kick-up rudder system provides responsive steering with pedals that fit persons with an inseam of 30 or more inches. Regardless of the conditions, you can point this surf ski and it will go. Vince Darwood
KN 5′ 7″, 125-pound female. Two day trips, windy with some whitecaps, small surf and boat wakes.
TE6’1″, 200-pound male. Several day trips in conditions from calm to winds 25 to 30 mph with waves to 31/2′ and whitecapping.
DM 5’10″, 175-pound male. Several day trips in winds to 8 knots, chop to 1′.
Futura II Review:
The Futura II is an open-top surf ski with a “nice gel-coat finish and a smooth hull without ripples” (TE). “Despite its long, sleek and perhaps intimidating appearance, it is very stable and easy to handle” (KN).
The model we tested had no handholds amidships, making it “nearly impossible to carry [solo], especially when wet” (KN). Carrying with a partner is easy, though there are no toggles or handles on the ends of the boat either. Fortunately, the Futura II is not a heavy boat, and with handholds installed it would be easy to manage.
The recess for the paddler is contoured for comfortable seating and has enough length in the leg wells to accommodate a wide range of paddlers. Like DM and KN, TE “missed having some lower back support. The boat calls for an upright racing posture and, for me, required I hold myself upright with my stomach muscles. The recess is appropriately sized to keep me from shifting laterally.” The Futura II fit KN well enough that “its reactions to my efforts were so direct I felt really connected.”
The foot braces are made of aluminum sheet. They adjust for leg length with a pair of wing nuts. The lower half of the foot rest is rigid and provides a solid connection to the heels to drive the boat forward, while the upper half pivots for steering. DM couldn’t get the wing nuts tight enough to prevent the foot braces from slipping under high pressure.
The aluminum rudder has a bungie to allow the blade to ride over obstructions. The Futura II is designed to be used with the rudder deployed at all times: There is no line for retracting the blade. “For a long, skinny boat, the Futura II has a lot of stability” (KN). “It is not a solid platform for non-paddling activities like fishing and photography, but it feels fine while underway. It is not a high-strung kayak that will wear you out just sitting in it. Secondary stability is a moot point since you don’t edge for turning, and when leaning into the face of a wave the boat takes care of itself” (TE). Since the rudder is always down, the Futura II has no tracking problems. “The boat responds well to its rudder, and a little tilt seems to help” (DM). “The only thing it can’t do is spin around as quickly as a kayak you can lean would when set on edge” (TE). KN thought the boat “picks up speed nicely and keeps a moderate pace.” TE and DM summed its speed up as “fast.” Using a knot meter, TE could hold over 4 1/2 knots for miles and sprint at nearly 7 knots.
DM did 5.9 knots for a nautical mile and could sprint at 71/2 knots. It’s not a dry ride,”though water doesn’t end up in the paddler’s face. In a short chop it is fairly easy to fill up the open cockpit with a couple of quarts of water” (DM). Weathercocking is “not a problem. The full-time rudder makes steering and course holding in wind effortless. In 30-mph winds I didn’t feel I was being blown around” (TE). In small waves KN noted “its stability and responsiveness make it very unintimidating to maneuver in surf and wakes” though she didn’t have waves long enough to get good rides. She and TE noted that following waves wash over the stern and the weight of the water on deck makes it harder to accelerate. TE had occasion to try bigger waves: “Great boat for catching waves. The bow would bury slightly and then drive to the surface as the ride picked up speed. The wind waves that made the bow dive were steep and short and I would have expected the bow of most any kayak to go under.
On flatter waves the Futura II gave good fast rides-the bow stayed up on the surface. I was concerned about getting washed out of the boat, but taking cresting 4 footers over the bow or beam didn’t threaten to dislodge me.” The Futura II has two small, clear screw-on hatches for carrying small items for day paddling. They do not open to the entire interior of the boat, but to small molded glass cargo pods. The rest of the hull is inaccessible and serves as buoyancy. The Futura II “lives up to the designer’s claim of being a ‘recreational performance kayak that people can easily take out.’ It is surprisingly easy to handle, moderately fast, and fun. Great for workouts and, if I lived in a warmer climate, I would consider it for day trips as well” (KN). TE “enjoyed it every time I took it out, whether paddling flat water for speed or rough water for surfing. Well suited to the paddler who prefers training and rough water play instead of cruising. I’d keep this one around for fun.” “A fun boat for exercise paddling. Its relatively stable feel makes it accessible to the intermediate paddler. If you like to go fast, this boat is a good choice” (DM).
Wow! I’d like to congratulate the reviewers for capturing the subtle essence of the Futura II Sport Touring model. Our goal was to create a performance kayak similar to our Futura Blade and C-4 racing models, with the added stability and utility for a more practical paddler. The reviewers’ comments were typical of most people who try the Futura II Sport Touring surf ski for the first time. The top three comments are: “It accelerates effortlessly,” “It’s more stable than I thought,” and “Can I get it with ___?” The answer to the third comment is usually yes.
There are a multitude of optional accessories which could have accommodated the reviewers. For example, KN would benefit from our bow/stern handles for easy carrying. The other reviewers could easily carry the surf ski with our side handles. For those paddlers with a casual posture, we could install our custom high-back seat.
Futura tries not to standardize the accessories so that our buyers don’t have to pay for or carry something they don’t use. Customizing our boats keeps the prices low and the satisfaction high. Other accessories include knee straps, water bottle holder, bow foil, deck bungies and three types of storage hatches, including a bulkhead and deck lid design which opens the aft hull compartment for storage and longer-term touring.
The only objection a reviewer had that wouldn’t solved by an optional accessory was DM’s difficulty getting the wing nuts tight enough to keep them from slipping. I’d recommend replacing the wing nuts with Nylock nuts and using a wrench to crank them down with as much pressure as needed. We encourage our customers to contact us before altering the boat so we can help reduce the risk of undesirable side effects.
Options and Pricing
Standard Lay-up: Polyester gelcoat, vinylester resin, hand-laid fiberglass.
Optional Layups: 6-ounce carbon fiber with Kevlar-reinforced hull. Carbon fiber/Kevlar weave with clear gelcoat.
Standard Features: adjustable foot braces, kickup rudder, resin coated marine plywood stringer, choice of colors and striping.
Optional features: small lunch-box hatch, double large hatch for overnight gear, deck pack, highback seat, knee straps, side handles, bow and stern handles, water bottle holder, deck bungies, bow foil.
Approximate Weight: 40 lbs.
Price: custom glass $1500
Availability: 37 dealers nationwide. Call the manufacturer for the nearest dealer.
Manufacturer’s Address: Futura Surf Skis, 180 Southwood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94112. Phone: (415) 586-0331