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Seat height?

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:30 pm
by on the rocks
Planning on a shakedown this weekend, first time in the water this year. One thing to experiment with is different seat heights in my Isel. Do people find this makes much difference in stability, ease of edge control etc?

Re: Seat height?

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:29 pm
by Chris Bolton
In my experience, while there may be a few occasions when a higher seat might be advantageous, most of the time it's not, and in a sea kayak I would want it as low as it will go.

Re: Seat height?

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:37 am
by John Goldhurst
Well the seat height in my Isel is the lowest of any boat I have paddled.its a good thing! One thing to experiment with is seat position fore and aft. I moved mine a little forward to connect better with the thigh braces and easier for lay back rolls.
Have a great first paddle!

Re: Seat height?

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:05 am
by Jim
My first thought was "Edge control in a sea kayak?", and then I realised you meant how easy it is to hold the boat on edge for steering, rather than controlling how the edge is sliced under the water like in a playboat, squirt boat or slalom boat!

You will find noticeable differences, and which you prefer will depend on your paddling style.
With a low seat you are more likely to shift your weight onto the down-edge cheek and balance your weight against buoyancy which requires pretty much no effort and should not be tiring to do for long distance.
With a higher seat you are more likely to engage your core muscles to hold your lower body at a suitable angle relative to your upper body because a weight shift feels too unstable. This is more tiring and unless you train for core rotation a lot may well lock up your rotation so forward paddling becomes less effective. However, it does keep you in complete control of the boat all the time where a weight shift can allow a wave to take you by surprise.

In terms of stability, your sea kayak will feel more twitchy as you raise the seat, but again this may not be a bad thing depending on your paddling style. For some people it is the worst thing they can imagine and they will get the seat as low as possible almost out of fear of a twitchy feeling boat.

Since I started paddling a wildwater racing kayak my Taran feels as steady as a rock, (noting that someone who tried it once commented that it was quite comfortable for them, but they felt it would be too tippy for a beginner). In the wildwater boat I control the edge steering using my core, and it does tend to affect my forward technique but fortunately I usually only need it for a few strokes at a time. In the Taran, well it has a rudder so I don't even bother to edge it, but if I did I would probably use a weight shift because I will likely need to do it for a long way. I also like to stop and take photos from the Taran which is easier when the boat doesn't twitch, and the same could be said for navigating, eating, drinking, using VHF etc. all of which sea kayakers often do whilst afloat. So I would concur with Chris Bolton, for a sea kayak generally you will probably want the seat low.
The exception might be if you are only using your Isel for short rockhopping trips where you are frequently switching the edge from side to side to steer through gaps and around rocks and not going to be stopping to do stuff afloat, in which case you might want to set the boat up with a more lively feel, but not so much that you make capsizing more likely, because you don't want to be capsizing whilst rockhopping!

And don't ask about wildwater C1, it needs almost permanent edging away from the paddle and whilst it feels initially very twitchy, it has so much secondary stability that I struggle to hold the edge with core alone, but I don't trust it in rapids to balance it with a weight shift. The seat is much higher than any kayak, and I'm kneeling. I am getting better at handling it but steering on flat sections in any sort of wind still eludes me!

Re: Seat height?

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:43 pm
by on the rocks
Thanks all, saved me the hassle of unnecessary faffing, I’m also going to experiment with hip pads