Not quite committed to try whitewater kayaking but still want to have fun on the water? North Carolina company Bellyak has created a new type of boat that sends you face first down the river, starting the new sport of body boating in the process.
Bellyak hopes to break down the barriers to river fun for those that might be intimidated by whitewater kayaking. There is no spray skirt, no paddle to manage, and no worry about being trapped inside the boat. Instead, the Bellyak simply offers a fun and easy way, much like a body board, for anyone jump on the water.
The Bellyak is a boat that is designed to be ridden lying down, on your knees, or even seated. The boat features a planing hull, much like a kayak, that allows quick direction changes and floats you over and through the water. The Bellyak is approximately 8 feet long, 24 inches wide, and weighs 30 pounds.
When you lay on the Bellyak, there is around 2 feet of bow in front of your face to protect you from objects in the river such as rocks and trees. The contoured deck surface, hand holds, and foot braces all provide secure body placement to help keep you in place on the boat. Bellyak does admit however, that if you go over a big waterfall and hit a rock, you will probably smash your face.
Riding the Bellyak requires the use of different muscles than those used in other paddle sports. Since you don’t have the leverage of a paddle, the propulsion comes from your arms, shoulders and upper back, much like swimming. Basic gear needs in addition to the boat include a wetsuit, webbed gloves, a suitable personal flotation device (one without much front padding), and a helmet.
Two boat styles will be ready for launch this summer. The Frequency is a larger boat which you can use on almost any water, from the ocean to your local lake or river. The Play is more compact, enabling more maneuverability through quick river rapids.
Bellyak is currently building out a dealer network so no word on pricing and final availability just yet.