TEAM FLI :: Face Level Industries
Forward motion, headfirst & horizontal to gravity!
My daughter was kayaking the french broad and ran into this guy. Looks like a fun boat.
yah though there's no reason you couldn't wear fins while on one. I was just thinknig what one of those would do on the upper Yough.. with all that length, can it turn well?
design wise... I wonder if they are collapsed kayaks.. looking at the handles on the front.. it certainly appears that way.
Kevin you're too nice. :) I'm not going to reserve judgment, they put it out there:
+ It looks like it'd be effective and actually good for really shallow, technical, crappy low water days. How many times have we scooted as far up on a Carlson or Kern as possible to avoid the constant pounding when water is a foot deep? This would be great for that.
- In big water though, yeah right. Unlike a kayak, where your center of gravity and propulsion is centered, allowing you to control both the stern and bow of your boat, on this thing you're completely up front, with zero control over the back-end. Have you ever gotten "caught inside" in the ocean and gotten hit by a wave with your board sideways? You tip over, there's no control. It'd be the same thing with this - unless you keep yourself COMPLETELY straight, you're going to get thrown around. Even the great Laird Hamilton couldn't keep a longboard straight in the big diagonals of the Grand Canyon, and he was standing up and centered. Good luck when you're laying down and all your power and control comes from weak front-wheel drive.
+ I like that they're attempting to patent it. Even though the idea it's patentable makes me do the ol eyebrow raise.
- I don't like the name "bellyak". Nothing with the word "belly" in it is going to ever be taken seriously as a hardcore sport or piece of cool sporting equipment.
+ If you really want to take a longboard downriver, do it on a river SUP. If you feel the need to surf-paddle (all these peeps are really doing), lay down and surf paddle. If you want to stand up, enjoy that thrill. And many more reasons...
Overall, it's a creative idea, but I immediately ask, what's the point? You don't get the best parts of either riverboarding or river SUP (or kayaking), and there are drawbacks with control and performance which make it a viable option for basically class II and maybe some III where the water is shallow and rocky and without formidable undercurrents.
I applaud someone taking risks and trying something new, but I highly doubt there's a market for this, and you can use your imagination to try and find one but there's already better options for anyone who likes swimming, boating, or standup paddling…
Hi everyone, thanks for the comments. I am the designer/builder of the bellyak and the one who Al's daughter saw on the river. We all have one thing in common in that we like to go down the river facefirst...different modes for different folks. What you can't see in the video/pictures is that the bellyak has a planing hull, which allows it to flat spin/change directions easily, as well as length which allows it to glide/maintain speed through whitewater. The body is completely out of the water and supported by the boat, so there is no drag from having legs in the water. This allows for a dynamic ride...you can whip into and out of eddies, making many of the moves that kayakers do. However, the bellyak is multi purpose...we ride it on our knees and paddle it like a kayak...changing position on the water as the need arises. This also allows for many squirt style moves...blasts, splats, stern squirts, etc. Our point is to have fun, and this vehicle allows a person to play the river in a way no other craft provides. Yes, we do look like we're surf paddling, and the argument would be why not just lay down on a SUP? A SUP doesn't have the maneuverability,spinnability or surfability of our design. Contrary to Josh's assertion that you don't get the best parts of kayaking or river SUP...we're going for the funnest, most dynamic ride. Period.
What if you fall off? You get back on. I fall sometimes when doing splats/etc. and just hop back on. I don't know where Al's daughter saw me not be able to get back on...I was probably just taking a leak. We've tried it with a variety of folks...expert kayakers, riverboarders, all the way down to people just getting in a duckie for the first time and all have loved the freedom of it, the relative sense of safety of not being trapped/or having legs in the water, and the excitement of feeling like they are flying on the river.
Yes, we can't run waterfalls yet, and high volume rivers will pose new design challenges. However, we're not trying to create the next extreme sport, or replace riverboarding, kayaking, SUP, etc....we're bringing fun and excitement to the hundreds of Class II-IV runs out there, to people who want a new way to perceive the river.
As for the name bellyak...it's just stuck. We also call it bodyboating and flyaking. Lay down kayaking is a bit cumbersome.
I welcome all your feedback, criticism, questions, etc. If any of you are in the Asheville area and want to try it, contact me.
I've riverboarded and whitewater kayaked for many years, and love them both. The bellyak is currently my favorite way to paddle, and we're bringing the boat to market...and then we'll let the public decide if it's a good idea or not.
Do you have a website up and running for sales? Or is it not to marketing stages yet? This is Al's daughter, Nikki, and I had told him I thought it might be hard to get back on, not that you couldn't, by the by. :) I would like to try it out sometime, looks like loads of fun. Next time I'm in the Asheville vicinity, could I get in touch with you to try it out? I have mainly been paddling the Charlotte park recently for convenience, but am starting to get back out that way. Going to the Gauley next weekend, as well, if you happen to be in that area.
We are in the process of putting our website up...it will be www.bellyak.com .
Still in the process of refining the boats...the boat you saw was the first plastic prototype. We'll be selling by spring. I do make and sell a handful of fiberglass over foam boats. I'd be happy for you to try it out...just send me a message here next time you're in the area and we'll set something up. I may be at the Gauley next weekend, so I might see you there.
just checked out the youtube video. looks pretty sweet coming from someone who is used to arm paddling more than kicking. at the same time i like the fact that you can arm paddle a craft efficiently in shallow waters. I come from a bodyboarding background and typically board on very deep rivers where you are not concerned with legs coming in contact with rocks. I would love to paddle one of these boards for sure! definitely looks like a good craft for shallow love volume runs.
My one question to the riders in the vid:
how do those boof moves feel on your lower back? to me it looks like it would kill my lumbar... at the same time i have issues with lower back pain from years of bodyboarding/riverboarding/rafting/climbing...
I am little experienced in the field of low volume boarding and dont even really consider myself a riverboarder, more of what i would refer to as a river bodyboarder. but this board/boat thing looks pretty rad for someone who is used to arm paddling and whitewater.
Adam I appreciate your response and willingness to take criticism. I did have some compliments too though, not trying to be a grouchy old man haha.
On initial viewing I thought it'd be great for the types of rivers you're running. For riverboarders who want to do a run that (according to gauges or guidebooks) is runnable, but really ends up only being runnable and fun for hardshell kayakers, and totally sucks for riverboarders because of the beat up knees and shins factor. You've nailed that one - it'd be a fun low-water, late-summer type of craft. But, that's where the competition then comes in as SUP.
My completely unsolicited suggestion: own that technical, class II-III niche. Heck, if the board turns as quickly as advertised, you'd probably destroy everybody else in a slalom race!
And in the process, if you can achieve your goal of making it a board that you can stand up and surf on too, ala Alex and his Kern (although I think he's the only person who can stand on one of his boards), then that could be a great product for the more technical, lower-volume type of water and people who like to surf.
And if it's SUP-able, THEN you're hitting the gold mine - SUP's are hard to control if you lay down (if the rapid is too big to stand or whatever) and the bulk of the river SUP market is going to remain in class II and III, regardless of how many big waterfalls a few hearty souls drop on a SUP.
I still don't see how this would do very well though in bigger volume rapids, owing to the length and inability to use your legs for steering or propulsion. But maybe it's not a product for big water, and that's understandable.
Convince me! I'm open to being wrong, especially if you invent a product that gets me the best of my two fav ways to ride the river, SUP and Riverboarding. :)
I'm still not enamored with "bellyak" but then who knew what the heck a "google" was either. If you hired me I'd recommend building a brand around a different word, but again, I could be wrong. You are totally correct there, the market will give you feedback - lay down kayaking probably isn't the term haha.
You have to create that niche for the product though and dazzle people with why it's better than _______ or the best combination of ______ and ______ for it to work.
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