The Ignite strikes an unprecedented balance between speed and stability.
The Ignite strikes an unprecedented balance between speed and stability. (Photo: Michael Karsh)

Current Designs Ignite

Surfski (noun): The fastest, tippiest kayak. If you’re just getting into the sport, this is the boat for you.

Officially, it’s a surf ski—a notoriously tippy breed of boat that’s also insanely quick. In reality, it’s 40 percent surf ski and 60 percent sea kayak, with a wider 24-inch hull and soft chines that make this fiber-glass and Kevlar speedster less likely to roll. Which is to say, the Ignite ($2,599) is a brilliant compromise. Read the full Gear of the Year review. Stability: 3.5 Maneuverability: 5

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I have heard multiple hardcore surfski enthusiasts say that they don’t consider the Ignite to be a surfski at all. That’s exactly what I liked about it. The soft chines on the Ignite’s hull mimic Current Designs’ bestselling Solstice GT touring boat, giving it secondary stability that blew me away when I tentatively first sat down in the boat.

Unlike a traditional touring design, the Ignite narrows at the cockpit—like a surfski. This minimizes the amount of hull contact with the water. Coupled with the boat’s light weight (39 pounds), I was able to rip out glassy miles on Oakland’s back bay. What this wider-hulled boat gave up in speed (when compared to a true surfski), it more than made up for in its stability and ability to edge into maneuvers.

The Takeaway

The Good: A true entry-level option for the aspirational surfskier. It’s fast enough to keep you excited during early morning workouts on glassy water. A hull design based on a touring kayak gives it a comfortable platform that’s perfect for learning.

The Bad: Sluggish when compared to a full surfski. You aren’t going to win any races in the Ignite, and it’s an expensive boat to outgrow if you get addicted to speed and want to become a competitor.

The Verdict: The Current Designs Ignite is an incredibly low-stress way to go faster on flatwater and build beginner surfski skills.

The Specs

  • Weight: 39 pounds
  • Intended For: Fitness geeks and surfski beginners who want to go fast on the water
  • Construction: Fiberglass and polyaramid layup
  • Size Tested: 16 feet
  • MSRP: $2,599

Weight and Packability 

At 16 feet long, you’ll need a garage or shed to store the Ignite. That said, it’s three to four feet shorter than most surfskis. It weighs just 39 pounds, so most paddlers won’t have an issue getting it on and off their car.


The sit-on-top cockpit is wider and proved less claustrophobic than those of most surfskis. As a result, it could accommodate much larger paddlers.

(Current Designs)

The Competition

The Epic V6, another touring-surfski hybrid, is the closest thing the Ignite has to a competitor. The entry-level V6 is also 16 feet long and weighs 39 pounds. It’s about the same width as the Ignite and includes hatches for storage. 

The difference lies in the design process. Epic is a surfski-specific company that started with a surfski hull design as the base point, which makes for a boat with a steeper learning curve than the Ignite. The Ignite is the result of a sea kayak company making a surfski hybrid based on the hull of one of its most popular touring boats.

Both have an approximately 60-40 split; it’s just that the Ignite is 60 percent touring kayak, and the V6 is 60 percent surfski. Make sure to get your butt in both of these boats before picking one, but if you want a bit more stability on the water and are willing to sacrifice some speed, go with the Ignite.  

One last word about fit: If you’re over six feet tall or weigh more than 200 pounds, the Ignite’s larger cockpit will be a better fit for you. 

Bottom Line 

I’ve seen many kayakers who are more interested in fitness than hitting the open ocean get talked into a touring kayak when the learning curve of a surfski intimidates them.

Touring boats are amazing vessels for touring, but they not specifically built for hot laps in a bay or lake. The Ignite is that boat. If your aspirations are to go quickly from learning how to surfski to winning races, then accept the challenge of learning on a traditional surfski. If you’re thinking of dabbling in surfskiing but are more interested in just having fun and going pretty fast, the Ignite is an incredible place to start.

Lead Photo: Michael Karsh

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