Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

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Peter_L
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Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Peter_L »

Hi,

After a several years of kayakking on calm open waters and rivers, I want to venture more into the open water and sea kayakking.
After I tried some sea kayaks on calmer open water, all with upturned sterns, I came accross the Rockpool Taran 16.
I really like the features and quality of this kayak, it seems to be handling well in windy and rough sea conditions and it seems to have a fair initial stability and very good secondary stability.
Problem is, I cannot test it anywhere here in Belgium (only able to pre-order).
Relying on feedback from experienced sea kayakkers at my club and from around the internet globe, it seems a good kayak.
Only ongoing discussion: does a sea kayak needs a upturned stern or not? That and it's price tag of course ;-)

Thanks for sharing any hands-on experiences or insights.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Jim »

The Taran and Taran 16 have neither an upturned bow nor an upturned stern, and there is no flare at the bow either but the bow is higher than a traditional design and carries a lot of volume. The effect is that instead of waves lifting the bow under the flare (the bow is upturned to make this happen later for a smoother ride) the waves will ride up a little higher before the overall volume makes the bow lift - this provides a more level ride than a traditional sea kayak so instead of pitching over every wave, the Tarans slice through more (rasing before the water runs up the deck towards you) so you waste less energy going up and down. I notice the difference every time I paddle my Taran alongside another boat!.

The wind areas fore and aft may not look well balanced but the hull shape also plays a part - the high bow also sits relatively deep whilst the stern rockers up more, so the underwater centre of lateral resistance is close to the above water centre of effort (for the wind) which means it is actually reasonably well balanced, although you can fine tune it with the trim.

Another point of importance is that the Taran has a rudder - ideally you will balance the boat so the rudder is mainly used for steering, not correcting a windage imbalance, and I have found that most of the time this is how mine feels. I have noticed that if I raise the rudder the boat has a slight tendancy to weathercock due to the wind on the rudder, however with the rudder up the boat is surprisingly manouevrable for an 18 footer, it edges well and turns fairly sharply on the edge.

The 18 foot original works very well, I know the designers identified some things they could improve and I'm fairly sure they used that experience whilst prototyping the Taran 16 so it should be even better - I haven't tried a 16, John was still prototype testing when I collected my 18.

They are not supposed to be for compete beginners, but will suit an intermediate paddler and have great capability for fast touring, or touring at regular speed with a bit less effort.

So the technical answer is: a boat does not need an upturned stern if it can be balanced in the wind without one, most regular sea kayaks are arranged to use it for balance, but I suspect that it is mainly done for aesthetic reasons because people expect to see it, the designer could optimise the underwater shape so that it isn't necessary, or the paddler could adjut the trim so that it isn't necessary.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by PhilAyr »

Jim :
The Taran and Taran 16 have neither an upturned bow nor an upturned stern, and there is no flare at the bow either but the bow is higher than a traditional design and carries a lot of volume. The effect is that instead of waves lifting the bow under the flare (the bow is upturned to make this happen later for a smoother ride) the waves will ride up a little higher before the overall volume makes the bow lift - this provides a more level ride than a traditional sea kayak so instead of pitching over every wave, the Tarans slice through more (rasing before the water runs up the deck towards you) so you waste less energy going up and down. I notice the difference every time I paddle my Taran alongside another boat!.
I'll vouch for that !

Phil

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by siravingmon »

As much as I admire the Taran and wish I owned one, what Jim and Phil are saying seems a bit at odds with what Douglas Wilcox reported in his review of the Taran being so buoyant that in a steep chop it can slam into waves upwind/ be thrown about more than kayaks with 'low volume ends' in short steep waves and even ride high enough for the paddler to have nothing but air under his/her paddle in troughs. Is the advantage of the Taran slicing through waves reduced in rougher seas with a steeper chop?

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by soundoftheseagull »

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I took one out this year and loved it saving up for 2014!!!!
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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by EK Sydney »

siravingmon wrote:As much as I admire the Taran and wish I owned one, what Jim and Phil are saying seems a bit at odds with what Douglas Wilcox reported in his review of the Taran being so buoyant that in a steep chop it can slam into waves upwind/ be thrown about more than kayaks with 'low volume ends' in short steep waves and even ride high enough for the paddler to have nothing but air under his/her paddle in troughs. Is the advantage of the Taran slicing through waves reduced in rougher seas with a steeper chop?
In my experience, no, because it doesn't slow you down. You can also modulate the performance of the boat by sliding it down the back of oncoming waves, instead of punching into them.
In my opinion you really only find out good the Taran boats are when it gets steep, and rough.
Mark.
**we sell them in our home country, so please take that as a commercial disclosure....

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by MikeB »

Ugly looking beasts - but, seemingly, efficient ones.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Jim »

siravingmon wrote:As much as I admire the Taran and wish I owned one, what Jim and Phil are saying seems a bit at odds with what Douglas Wilcox reported in his review of the Taran being so buoyant that in a steep chop it can slam into waves upwind/ be thrown about more than kayaks with 'low volume ends' in short steep waves and even ride high enough for the paddler to have nothing but air under his/her paddle in troughs. Is the advantage of the Taran slicing through waves reduced in rougher seas with a steeper chop?
There seems to be a trade off, although I tend to ride flatter through most waves, once the boat does start to pitch it does seem to take off and slam more impressively than most conventional boats. Probably happened about a dozen times on Sunday between Portencross and Gull point but even when it slams it seems pretty rare for the water to run up along the deck. Phil (Quest) started taking the occasional face full of water within a couple of minutes of launching, I had it happen just once about mid way to Gull point. After Gull point the wind and sea conditions eased off. Basically when my Taran was starting to slam, Phil's Quest was starting to plough under the waves with the water running most of the way back to the cockpit.

Douglas' description of a Taran paddler having nothing but air under his paddle in steep waves may well refer to the time at carnage corner where I was trying to surf some steep waves and ended up with air clear under the middle of the hull with a resulting high support - strange things happen over the ledges at carnage corner and I was fully committed to power strokes probably doing about 10-12 kmph to pick up the wave.

Clearly there will be a wave size and length that does get the Taran burying it's bow, especially when loaded, but I haven't found it yet.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

siravingmon wrote:
As much as I admire the Taran and wish I owned one, what Jim and Phil are saying seems a bit at odds with what Douglas Wilcox reported in his review of the Taran being so buoyant that in a steep chop it can slam into waves upwind/ be thrown about more than kayaks with 'low volume ends' in short steep waves and even ride high enough for the paddler to have nothing but air under his/her paddle in troughs. Is the advantage of the Taran slicing through waves reduced in rougher seas with a steeper chop?
Siravingmon, my overall review of the Taran 16 was highly positive so I wouldn't let how it behaves in a particular set of wave conditions put you off. Unlike retailers I can highlight all aspects of a boat's performance and in comparative tests none excel in all conditions. Manufacturers actually like an honest review and Rockpool, P&H and Valley have all linked to my reviews. One advantage of testing boats in the West coast of Scotland is the huge variety of marine conditions encountered in a compact area. We have open ocean with surf beaches, some of the strongest tides in the World. Depths varying from 180m to shallow, tidal estuaries. Exposed headlands and large firths contrast with narrow sea lochs and sheltered bays. Underwater geography varies from gently shelving sand in the North Irish Sea to deep trenches rising abruptly to shallow reefs in the former glaciated areas and to underwater dykes in former volcanic areas. In my tests I describe the areas and conditions encountered to help the reader find how a boat might perform in waters similar to their own.

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I am lucky that several of my friends paddle Tarans and you can also learn quite bit about a boat by watching how it handles in comparison to other boats which are alongside.

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Mark>
In my opinion you really only find out good the Taran boats are when it gets steep, and rough.
I totally agree which is why I refuse to do tests for Ocean Paddler unless I can borrow the boat for at least 4 months so that I can be sure of getting it out in a variety of conditions. For example, I was one of the first people to identify the original Cetus's tendency to broach in certain down wind and wave conditions. In my initial testing involving an open crossing of 35km across the mouth of the Firth of Clyde I completely missed it. However, in different sea conditions the broaching showed up straight away off the exposed west coasts of Islay and Colonsay. I was amazed I had missed it, in fact it felt like I was paddling a different boat. I was very pleased that my feedback to P&H contributed to the development of the subsequent Cetus MV and HV models

Jim>
Douglas' description of a Taran paddler having nothing but air under his paddle in steep waves may well refer to the time at carnage corner where I was trying to surf some steep waves and ended up with air clear under the middle of the hull with a resulting high support


Indeed it was Jim but also my own experience of the Taran 16 over the similar basalt ledges just a little further north. The coast south of Ayr has a series of basalt dykes running out at right angles from the shore. With swell coming in from the south, wind from the south and an ebb south going tide, a very interesting sea is created with short steep waves. As Jim says it is called Carnage Corner and several kayakers have capsized there. A recent kayaking incident generated a full scale air sea rescue with a sea king helicopter and two all weather lifeboats.

This is Jim's description of his experience at Carnage Corner in a Taran.
On saturday I almost needed my drysuit for the first time in my sea kayak (excluding some training sessions around 18-20 years ago in a friends Anas Acuta) when I came the closest I ever have to capsizing a sea kayak.
We were running with the wind (for the sails) and the waves had finally built to a size that could be surfable as we neared the north end of Culzean bay so I had worked my way out a bit to get a slightly better run. In trying to catch a wave that really wasn't having any of it, I had ramped up my paddling to a point where I was going full tilt without a hint of support in my stroke sprinting as hard as I could to try and catch the wave. The wave then manouevred to a position where it was holding the stern and bow up but not the middle and I felt a sudden loss of stabilty and managed to flare my power stroke fast enough to get some support off it and then rolled the blade over to a low brace (given that I was moving forward at probably over 10 kmph at this point) and pushed myself upright. Douglas was lingering behind and to my left me and reckons I was at least half way over and he was amazed to see me recover it.
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As we paddled over Culzean Bay there was a fast, long frequency swell running north. The kayaks with sails could catch it and soon they were far ahead. I buddied up with Jim who couldn't quite catch the waves in the Taran without a sail. Note these photos were all taken with an ultra wide angle lens which "flattens" the sea.

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As we approached the shallow ledges off Carnage Corner the waves behind started to slow and steepen with the result that...

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...they became more closely spaced and easier to catch.

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Jim worked his way out to seaward to get a better run in on the waves...

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...before hurtling in at full tilt...

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...over the first of the ledges where the waves were jacking up steeply and my GPS showed 22km/hour when on the wave...

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Then Jim found his bow supported by the wave in front and stern by the wave behind. I saw air under his cockpit then he was over. He did a high brace which he converted into a low brace and amazingly got himself back up. In this photo Jim is completely hidden in the trough just to my right. To give some idea of the scale, we are 450m off the headland and the white object on the cliff top is the gable end of a two storey house.

Compared to the Taran, the Cetus MV has much lower volume ends and it handled these close, steep waves easier than the Taran. I paddle this coast regularly and have found the Nordkapp LV, which also has low volume ends, is particularly suited the the conditions on this coast. Elsewhere on more open water, I much prefer the Taran, especially downwind.

Since I published the Taran 16 review I have discovered another set of water conditions that are a challenge to the Tarans. Most people only have shore break for about 100 yards or so but in the Solway when a big 9m ebb tide is running out against the wind, a whole estuary of many square kilometres fills with "shorebreak" waves known as the White Steeds of the Solway. When paddling against these waves, the Taran throws its bow very high then slams down hard behind killing speed. If the wind is at an angle to the waves this also leads to lee cocking as the bow gets blown off.

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I don't have any photos of the Taran in these conditions but these photos of the much smaller and more rockered Delphin will give some idea of the problem. In contrast to the Taran and the Delphin, the Nordkapp LV cuts through these waves without throwing its bow nearly so high, though your spray deck needs to have a tight seal!

The Tarans are superb boats and have proven themselves in a very wide range of conditions in their many recent UK circumnavigations. But to pretend that they excel in all the varied sea conditions that you find round the UK coast is myopic.

Peter, to return to your original post, I think the question is not simply about whether the stern above the waterline is upturned or not. The main things to consider are the amount of rocker and the volume distribution. Boats at the extreme ends of these scales like the Nordkapp LV and the Taran 18 do handle different sea conditions differently and it is really only you who can decide which is best for you and your local waters. So you need to have a good demo in both.

For a corollary of this, have a look at traditional work boats at different places round the UK. You can see that there are very considerable differences, as they have evolved for their local conditions over the centuries.

Douglas

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by swagstaff »

Many thanks for that Douglas ,really interesting and thought provoking. do you think the Epic 18 would perform the same in those conditions as the Taran?
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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hi Stuart, I don't know as I have never paddled an Epic 18. I think that long waterline length low rockered kayaks have a great deal to offer many paddlers who might otherwise choose a traditional British style sea kayak like the Valley Nordkapp LV.

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In the early summer we met Rob and Rachel on Gigha during their circumnavigation of the UK earlier this year. I was most impressed by the distances they were covering and the amount of gear they were able to carry in their Taran 18s.

So I see this style of kayak as having a much broader appeal than just record breaking, fitness or racing. The Taran 16 seems to be a real sweetspot between speed, maneuverability and carrying capacity for more recreational use. As an aside I found the Taran 16 gave a most exciting ride downwind with a sail in F5.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by PSK »

Hello Peter

Have PM'ed you.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Peter_L »

Thanks all for The replies and sharing your experiences.
My mind is made up and the taran 16 is ordered.
I'll let you know how things are going when paddling the Taran 16.

Cheers

Peter

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by PeterG »

Sea kayaking is not only about distance, speed and load. My Anas goes quite far enough, fast enough and carries enough for 10 days autonomy. I'd rather spend 3 weeks on every cave and inlet of a bit of coast than speed past in 3 days. Plus the turned up tail is cute and the curvy bow a joy to look at during those long days on the water.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Big Ade »

One thing touched on but not really expanded upon so far is the relative speed thing.
On normal day bimbles of club standard you'll not have much fun in a fast boat.
Many years ago, I tired a Vyneck for a few days with a view to purchase.
I was much thinner in those far off days....
But I spent most of my time, about 90% not actually paddling, but waiting around for people to catch up.
Yes. You can fold your arms in a Vyneck, but once you master that trick, it seems a bit antisocial.

When paddling with Tarran-ers, you're either moving at a good pace, or they're unhappy.
Eh, Curly?
Give me a British fish form jack of all trades sea kayak any day.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

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About 50% of my paddling is solo but I enjoy the other 50% much more. I revel in the shared experience and the chance to see the sea through several other pairs of eyes.

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There are so many different styles of sea kayaks and...

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..seakayaking...

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...but nothing quite beats being on the water together.

Douglas

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by EK Sydney »

PeterG wrote:Sea kayaking is not only about distance, speed and load. My Anas goes quite far enough, fast enough and carries enough for 10 days autonomy. I'd rather spend 3 weeks on every cave and inlet of a bit of coast than speed past in 3 days. Plus the turned up tail is cute and the curvy bow a joy to look at during those long days on the water.
I agree completely that a slow cruise poking around & exploring is brilliant. That doesn't mean that a 2 hour blast downwind isn't every bit as good, and these new fast tourers are sure good at that!

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by The_Azorean »

Forgive my ignorance, but what kind of speed increase, on average, can one expect by going from a 'typical British-style' touring kayak to the new plumb-bow jobs? (Tarans, etc).

A 20% increase in waterline length seems to equal a 10% increase in top hull speed (according to the most widely-used formula).

Is that about right, or is it more? Less?

Also, what are the disadvantages, if any, to the new designs? Most everything seems to have at least some trade-offs.


.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Jim »

Generally I notice no speed increase because I still paddle at the same speed, it's just easier :)

In case it is any kind of indication, the first 2 Oban Sea Kayak races were held in very similar conditions, the first I did in my Sea King, the second in a Taran (can't remember if I had mine or borrowed Richard Cree's), I was about 40 minutes faster (~2 hours 40 vs ~3 hrs 20 if I recall correctly) in the Taran. The following year I was about mid-way between those times in different conditions, and this year I was only just outside my fastest time (I think all the results are on the website so I could look them up).

Possibly, I can go 20% faster in my Taran than in my Sea King over a 20km race course.
Possibly I was much less fit the first time I did it, and maybe the third?

Disadvantages:
- Standard layup is quite light*, mine is lighter still so you need to take a bit more care than in a boat 10kg heavier.
- A rudder can potentially go wrong, but discount this if your traditional style boat has a skeg or rudder anyway.
- It's a bally awkward shape to support properly on the roof of the car**.

When you get into the 'etc.'s it is worth noting that not all of the plumb bow kayaks on the market are designed to work as fast tourers, the XP18 for example is a much more racey craft so may have extra disadvantages related to stability or comfort.

*to me this disadvantage is an advantage, I am far more likely to damage the boat or myself lifting it on the land, my Taran with day trip gear really is light enough to put on my shoulder and carry to the waters edge - similar weight to a modern creek boat with rescue kit inside and people are prepared to carry them up mountains!
**I keep meaning to get myself organised and send Mike the photos of my cradle build, maybe at xmas....

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by The_Azorean »

Thanks for the great response, Jim.

One more thing I wonder about with the new designs is that tall, paddle-shaped (when seen from the side) bow.

Have you noticed that increasing windage any? Seems like in a beam wind, it'd catch a lot of breeze.

Of course, the rudder would seem to take care of that.

.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Jim>
my Taran with day trip gear really is light enough to put on my shoulder and carry to the waters edge
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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Baldy-Old-Troll »

I paddle an Epic 18x which I've been told (by Aled from Tiderace) is slightly faster than the Taran, I can maintain a cruising speed of 10 kmh and have managed an average of 10.8 kmh over a 10km course with 5 180' turns involved. The boat could certainly go faster with a stronger paddler, but this should give you some idea of the speed differential between a fast tourer/ race boat and a more conventional design. I would say a conventional boat, an Explorer for example would top out about 7.5 or 8 kmh, and once you get near their top speed it's a huge effort to stay there, the power to resistance ratio goes up like a wall, the Tarans, 18x's,Pace18's and XP18's on the other hand still seem to have more speed available if only you are strong enough to find it!

Stuart.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Jim »

The_Azorean wrote:Thanks for the great response, Jim.

One more thing I wonder about with the new designs is that tall, paddle-shaped (when seen from the side) bow.

Have you noticed that increasing windage any? Seems like in a beam wind, it'd catch a lot of breeze.

Of course, the rudder would seem to take care of that.

.
Not usually, even lightly loaded the plumb bow extends far enough into the water that it grips pretty well against the additional wind load on the exposed part - it is possible to trim it so this isn't the case and I do split my day trip kit between the day hatch and front hatch just to make sure I don't accidentally release the bow.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Jim »

Baldy-Old-Troll wrote:I paddle an Epic 18x which I've been told (by Aled from Tiderace) is slightly faster than the Taran
I would believe that, the 18X is a more focused racing kayak I think the hull is based on, possibly identical, to one of their racing skis?

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by swagstaff »

Usually with a sea kayak one of the key choices is getting a kayak that is the right size . However no one has mentioned this as an issue . I Do know some quite small people that have Tarans and some that are far less small yet both seem to get on with them. Any explanation?
I note that in surf skis one ski does have a very large weight range , but these are primarily designed for downwind runs.
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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by uxb »

I'm a bit puzzled.( normal state for me...)

Are these designs faster simply due to the longer waterline lengths with their plumb bows? I can't think of any other reason for the speed difference as I doubt there would be a big enough difference in wetted area between the two styles of boat but have never compared them.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by The_Azorean »

uxb wrote:I'm a bit puzzled.( normal state for me...)

Are these designs faster simply due to the longer waterline lengths with their plumb bows? I can't think of any other reason for the speed difference as I doubt there would be a big enough difference in wetted area between the two styles of boat but have never compared them.
I'm no expert, but I suspect it's some combination of long waterline length, narrow waterline beam (Taran, Taran16), fine ends, and a rounded hull bottom which decreases wetted surface area (Epic 18X, a la Nordkapp).

Oh, and I guess paddling position too? Some of the newer designs put your knees higher and closer together, for better leg-drive/power.

I'm doing the educated-guess bit, would be curious to hear others' thoughts on this.

.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by Baldy-Old-Troll »

My albeit limited understanding is that the longer waterline length, and finer entry of the bow along with the swede form hull all combine to allow the higher speed capability, as for wetted area I seem to remember reading that some of these faster boats actually have a greater wetted area than some of the traditional boats. If I understood an article I read in Seakayaker magazine the resistance figures for a fast 18ft boat were actually higher at lower speeds than the traditional styled boat in the other review, however they did not ramp up as severely as the speed increased, Jim may be able to translate this into something more understandable as I know this is his field. As for the 18x and the ski, the V8 ski is based on the 18x kayak's hull.

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Re: Sea kayak with upturned stern or not

Post by soundoftheseagull »

Went out on Friday very strong winds which as usual stopped as we got to the top of Bala and then what fun coming back slight waves 1 to 2 feet and low winds I have never experienced anything like it the 16 and the 18 are fabulous.
http://soundoftheseagull.blogspot.co.uk ... -bala.html
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