Are You Ready to Face the Rapids, Face First, on a Bellyak?
The new Bellyak lets you go Bellyboating (Photos: Bellyak)
Shooting the rapids in a sit-in kayak is for wimps. If you really want to amp up the adrenaline level, try doing it while on your stomach, face first. That’s enough to make a class III feel like a class V.
And to help you achieve that rush, is the new Bellyak. Yup, a kayak you pilot on your belly. Created by life long kayaker, Adam Masters and his wife Anna, Bellyak began like most great concepts: with a crazy idea and some duct tape.
After a storm, Master’s tight backyard creek turned into a tempting class II curl. The space was too narrow to use a paddle, so he covered the cockpit of his boat with a spray skirt and duct tape, hugged the boat tight to his belly and launched into the froth. Not only did he live to tell about it, he had a new invention and a new sport, Bodyboating.
“The boats are designed to be ridden lying down, on knees or seated,” Masters says, “but I prefer the sense of control and the natural connection I experience when riding on my belly.”
You can ride on your belly, knees or butt
Since you’re lower and closer to the water, Masters says the Bellyak gives you greater stability and agility, and there’s no need to carry a paddle with you. (Or risk losing one in the churn.) You propel yourself with your hands (and a pair of webbed gloves), like a surfer paddling out to the break. Strategically placed handles let you hang on during wild rides, and perform tricks in less rapid waters.
So, I asked the folks at Bellyak the odds you’ll drown swallowing water coming up over the nose of the Bellyak. The answer: Pretty slim. The boat is designed to channel water up and to the sides, keeping your lungs water free. But you will experience a good amount of splash, “all part of the fun!” they told me. And my next question: “How often do you smash your face on rocks?” was answered the same way, the long front end keeps your mug from meeting stone. (But like any extreme sport, it’s recommended you wear a helmet.)
You paddle the Bellyak with your hands like a surfer heading out to the break
Bellyak is launching with two boat styles for this summer – the larger Frequency ($829), for fun in beach surf, on the lake or river, and the more compact Play ($749), designed for tricks at your favorite stretch of white water or flat spins at the local park-n-play.