Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

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Ads22
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Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

Hi, Im currently looking for some advice with my current kayak - Im torn between selling and opting for something more stable but want to give it mine a fighting chance.

Im relatively new to kayaking but have tried numerous different kayaks since I have started. After trying a fibreglass racing style kayak at a local club I wanted to have a similar kayak of my own for just general flat water and river running - as I greatly enjoyed the experience.
The kayak I currently own I purchased last year and with the turn of better weather, I wish to get back out on the water.

As a test bed I bought an old Avoncraft Slalom style kayak that appeared to be in a very good condition for its age (Although I was not aware it was slalom model at the time - Is quite a long craft about 13ft and a smooth rounded hull).
I have struggled to get along with it and have tried my best to improve my paddling technique - however it has knocked my confidence somewhat and im struggling to find places I can safely practice on my own.
The overall experience when paddling is very twitchy but fast - with cross winds and confluences in the mix things get exhausting.

It feels as though I am constantly having to correct the direction its going when going at any considerable speed. In hindsight I think id have gone for a much more stable modern kayak but I see plenty of similar kayaks on my local river (The River Wey) so there must be a way of getting to grips with it. I regularly back off moderate paddling before things start to get tippy and it honestly it is a sight to behold!, Making for a very nervous paddle!

So the question is there anything that would help for a more stable experience such as ballast etc (Im happy to sacrifice some speed) or am I best to call it a day and opt for a more modern plastic kayak - which is what I started off with but began to get a bit bored with.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Chris Bolton »

Welcome to UKRGB!
It feels as though I am constantly having to correct the direction its going when going at any considerable speed
This is the key point. As a slalom kayak, it's designed to turn quickly. a bit like modern fighter aircraft, it's directionally unstable, so that as soon as it starts turning, it will tighten the turn without extra effort from the paddler. So the trick is to keep it straight when you want to go straight. Like balancing a pencil vertically on your finger, it's easy if you keep it straight, but gets harder the more it's out of line. Some ways to help keep it straight:

Don't think of paddling as pulling the paddle backwards, think of the paddle as fixed point in the water, plant it deep and pull the boat forward.
By the time your body reaches the paddle, you should be lifting out ready for the next stroke.
Keep your weight forward - don't lean back.
Watch the bow and make sure it's pointing in the direction you're moving - if you're at all sideways to the direction you're moving over the water, you'll turn.
Plant the paddle close to the boat, unless you're trying to correct the direction.
Don't try to go fast until you can go straight.
Understand that everybody else had this problem as well, and practice will cure it.

If you do end up turning sideways at speed, lean into the turn, so that the stern doesn't dig in and trip you up sideways.

I nearly forgot - no, ballast won't help. Making a skeg,ie, a vertical fin under the stern, can help to keep it straight

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Jim »

Does it feel stable enough when going slowly, and only starts to feel tippy when going fast and you end up needing exaggerated correction strokes?
If so, it is something you can practise your way out of, or use a skeg to help the boat track so you don't need wild correction strokes.

If not, it could be the wrong boat for you.

Depending on how old it is, and I'm assuming it is one of the later 4m boats before the rules changed to allow 3.5m boats in 2006, and not a high volume one from the 1970s or earlier, the deck is probably quite low which forces your knees to be low and if you are not used to it and/or have weak abdominal muscles you may well find you naturally lean well back when paddling - this makes any boat feel unstable, especially a slalom boat designed to be able to sink the ends under the poles (there is a technique, just leaning back doesn't do it). The cure for this would be to stretch hamstrings and do some core strength/stability exercises so you can sit properly upright in the boat in relative comfort.
This is especially a problem in cross currents because if your weight is well back and the stern is low it doesn't need much for the water to flow up onto the deck and then try to flip you over, the other trick there (apart from sitting up for neutral trim) is keep track of which direction the flow is running in and very slightly raise the upstream side of the boat by applying a little more pressure to the deck with the knee on that side - don't overdo it and put yourself off balance the other way though.

If you can get the hang of all that, just keep on paddling at low-medium speeds sighting past your bow to an object further away in your direction of travel and keeping track of how much the bow swings from side to side of your destination and get a feel for how much you need to do to keep the amount of swing fairly even. Instead of taking a big stroke to correct it, try taking a 2 normal strokes, or 1 normal stroke, and then a weaker stoke on the side that caused the turn in the first place - your aim is to learn to control the swing without having to put loads of effort into the correction strokes, because that is when it all starts to run away with you. Once you have the feel for it you can increase the power in each stroke and will still be able to keep control, but it takes a while to devleop the neural pathways that allow us to do that.

FInally the second thing I said was to the effect that if the boat feel tippy all the time even when paddling gently, it might be the wrong boat for you. The fact that you say you have used racing boats (slalom is a kind of race, I assume you mean flat water racing boats though) make me think this is relatively unlikley because I'm pretty sure even the most stable flat water race boats are less stable than slalom boats. But a racing boat is much longer and much less affected by trim, also you have no restriction on having your knees at a comfortable height, indeed a highish knee position is favoured for good drive, so all those little things I talked about keeping your body upright/slightly forward for neutral trim, and the issue of water getting onto the deck, don't tend to affect flat water and wild water racing boats the way they do slalom boats.

Have fun seeing if you can get a better feel for your boat before giving up on it!

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Simongelder »

Whilst the weather and water is relatively warm, find someone to look after you and try some capsize drills and rolling drills (if you can roll) in some nice safe water. I have found that after letting the worst happen to you, immediately afterwards you relax in the boat and it becomes fun. If you are stiff and scared of falling in it isn’t fun at all.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by jamesl2play »

'old Avoncraft Slalom style kayak'

I am not surprised the boat is twitchy and all over the place. That is what the boat is designed to do.
Its a white water boat designed for a slalom course so as such it is fairly advanced for a beginner.

'fibreglass racing style kayak at a local club' Was this at the Wey Kayak Club in Guildford ?
If so once again you are jumping in at the deep end they are one of the top clubs in the country for racing.

I am surprised they could not assist in getting you started because that would be my recommendation.

If you want to go the go it alone route I would suggest you get a touring kayak. The Wey is fairly benign, that's where I started.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Franky »

When I started paddling, my club had a limited number of boats, and a couple of times the only one available was a (plastic) slalom kayak. So I went out in that. I didn't know what type of boat it was, and I couldn't work out why I couldn't keep it in anything like a straight line. This was at a time when I was struggling to keep any boat in a straight line, but this one took the biscuit.

When I got off the water, I talked about it to a club member, and he explained to me what the boat was for.

In truth, in your position I'd consider getting a different boat. Getting a slalom kayak to go in a straight line will make you a good paddler, but it will always be hard work, and if you want to paddle for several miles at a time, almost any other type of boat will serve you better. E.g. white water boats and playboats are designed to turn easily, but once you've got the technique, paddling them in a straight line on flat water is no problem (though playboats are slow).

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

Thank you some sound advice on here! @jim and @Chris Bolton i think you may be on the money. It likely is my technique needs adapting to the boat! I find if i sit upright and use tall tight paddling strokes things improve. A relaxed wider paddle stroke does not work with this craft. It can get a little exhausting- at low speeds it does feel tippy even on flat water but at a decent pace there is more stability. But it does always feel as though im skimming above the water and not gliding through it.
Unfortunately i was not aware this was an early white water boat - it is quite high sided and you do sit quite low in the boat.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

jamesl2play wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:26 pm
'old Avoncraft Slalom style kayak'

I am not surprised the boat is twitchy and all over the place. That is what the boat is designed to do.
Its a white water boat designed for a slalom course so as such it is fairly advanced for a beginner.

'fibreglass racing style kayak at a local club' Was this at the Wey Kayak Club in Guildford ?
If so once again you are jumping in at the deep end they are one of the top clubs in the country for racing.

I am surprised they could not assist in getting you started because that would be my recommendation.

If you want to go the go it alone route I would suggest you get a touring kayak. The Wey is fairly benign, that's where I started.

Thanks for the advice also. Unfortunately yes i was naive and mistook it for an old fibreglass tourer but the more similar examples i see im fairly certain its an old small volume white water model. Like they used to make before length regulations change.

A shame as it is lovely to use when you eventually get the hang of it but i feel as though it would take a lot of use even to be fairly confident using it.

I did indeed go to Wey kayak club - i used a beginner racing Kayak that i felt happy In but the club were against me joining as they thought i would be ‘off pace’ even though i only really wanted to join for just general club stints along the river - not necessarily racing, unless i was looking in the wrong place! They suggested i get more practice so i went to purchase a similar fairly basic kayak to get the technique right - but of course have bitten off more than i can chew.

It does seem in the south east in my area most clubs are set up for sprint kayaking. So have been under the impression most kayakers this way persue that rather than touring.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

In terms of what i do now, i think it may be wise to try and sell my current kayak. I thought it would be capable on flat calm water but i feel as though i will always be fighting it even with a skeg etc. Im not necessarily after a fully outfitted tourer but something thats brisk but not too unstable on conditions like the Wey, Thames.
Something quite basic i think would be suitable just in order to get me out paddling, even something used.
Any good suggestions or any other particular types of kayaks i should consider?

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by jamesl2play »

the club were against me joining as they thought i would be ‘off pace’

That statement is a pretty sad indictment, but I am not surprised. Elitist is probably the other word that you are looking for.

How about looking at one of the shorter plastic sea kayaks. I am not that familiar with that sort of craft but Perception sell a few.
The Thames can get quite choppy at times with all the boats passing so a small sea kayak would suit. It would also give you access to the South Coast.

I cannot emphasise enough that you should really find a club that would let you join and get some one to teach you the ropes. There are a few on the Thames.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Jim »

Actually, being off pace would be a potential issue for group paddles with the club, as the beginner you will be more likely to fall in and need help, but paddling a racing kayak slowly to stay with you is difficult, and also doesn't fit with their training plans.

Most clubs though need to bring on beginners or they peter out over time. A lot of racing clubs will mostly be trying to start people at 8-10 years old, it may simply be that they assumed an adult wouldn't want to join the kids group? My own club (which mainly focusses on slalom) advertises summer sessions for 8-12 year olds, but will take anyone not embarrassed to start with the kids. They took me, although I had a lot of non-race paddling experience beforehand. Unfortunately, we couldn't be much further from you!

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

jamesl2play wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:39 pm
the club were against me joining as they thought i would be ‘off pace’

That statement is a pretty sad indictment, but I am not surprised. Elitist is probably the other word that you are looking for.

How about looking at one of the shorter plastic sea kayaks. I am not that familiar with that sort of craft but Perception sell a few.
The Thames can get quite choppy at times with all the boats passing so a small sea kayak would suit. It would also give you access to the South Coast.

I cannot emphasise enough that you should really find a club that would let you join and get some one to teach you the ropes. There are a few on the Thames.
Yes that is the feeling I got, I have no ill feeling towards the club and im sure they are very good but that is the impression I got on the day. I won't go into specifics but I was left with a bad taste with how things were handled which completely put me off joining. And @Jim yes I do fall into an age range where im neither are veteran or of school age new to the sport. Before the Covid outbreak I was travelling quite a long distance to one of the clubs along the south coast - Whilst it was a good club it did seem to sway more towards white water with the odd few coastal runs for more experienced members.

I think a craft of that description would be worth a look...Im under the impression they're not the fastest but sacrifice outright speed with good primary and secondary stability
Something like this?....
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rigid-Kayak- ... SwogVfAiK1

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Perception-A ... SwxmhfAjao


It does look like the used marketplace contains an abundance of old fibreglass kayaks like mine, maybe gathering dust in old garages etc.
So many which appear to resemble this are old slalom kayaks?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rigid-Kayak- ... SwJaVfAibD

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/13ft-Gaybo-O ... Swq7Re~38G

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Chris Bolton »

The boats you've linked:

Orange unbranded plastic - could suit you but needs a lot of work and isn't worth the starting price
Perception Acadia - would be a good boat for you
Orange fibreglass - more of a general tourer than a slalom boat but probably not as suitable as the Acadia, overpriced
Gaybo Olymp 6 - slalom competition boat, probably a bit older and less twitchy than you have but still not what you want (Gaybo only made competition boats)

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:35 pm
The boats you've linked:

Orange unbranded plastic - could suit you but needs a lot of work and isn't worth the starting price
Perception Acadia - would be a good boat for you
Orange fibreglass - more of a general tourer than a slalom boat but probably not as suitable as the Acadia, overpriced
Gaybo Olymp 6 - slalom competition boat, probably a bit older and less twitchy than you have but still not what you want (Gaybo only made competition boats)
Great, thanks for having a look at these! Im just trying to distinguish what style I should keep an eye out for. So ideally it seems best to avoid the fibreglass kayaks! I have seen a few affordable sprint K1's but assume these are not going to be beginner friendly nor stable so ill stay away for now at least.

So a rotomoulded tourer/ sea kayak should be suitable. I think most of my time would be spent on the Wey so guess these might be slight overkill for the conditions (They also are slightly more expensive)
In my price bracket ill certainly be looking at older models too, aside from the Perception Acadia is there any other names I should bear in mind?

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Jim »

I agree the Arcadia is the pick of that bunch, probably also the heaviest.
That plastic boat marketed as a racer... I'm not completely conviced it is, I think it is a touring boat which has probably been used for racing rather than built for racing and may be quite stable, but with the length, small rocker and the rudder it will be pretty quick compared to the others. Wierdly I thought it looked like a bit like an Ace or MI boat, and in searching for them I came across a photo of a yellow Ace voyager 445 which looks identical apart from the rudder (which may be missing) right down to the missing hatch cover! I suspect MI and Ace were making the same boats for a time, I reckon MI 445 would be the same. Ace may still be making these, but age is everything and I remember the being around 30+ years ago, and 30 year old one is not worth £200. Their website only lists canoes at the moment. If you find one with MI on it, it probably is 30 years old, I haven't heard of them for years! In good condition with all its pieces and a good price it might suit you.

Unfortunately these aren't really types of kayaks I have any interest in so I haven't been keeping track of them over the years but a few sea kayak/touring cross over boats I can think of are:
Perception - Carolina
Venture (maybe P&H or Pyranha if really old, all 3 part of the same group) - Easky
Actually, I can only think of 2. There are also some rotomoulded sea kayaks which have been around a while and you might find:
P&H Capella
Current Designs Sirrocco
Prijon Seayak

Some of these are still in production in some form, but go back 15-20 years so older examples should be floating around secondhand.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by jamesl2play »

I would just like to second what Jim has just said.

Venture Easky or old Capella is what I had in mind.

I liked the look of that old Olymp 6. I had an Olymp 4 back in 1972 and strangely enough I was a member of Wey Kayak Club then.

Good luck with your quest, don't be afraid to ask more questions. You will not be off the pace with us :-)

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

@Jim and @Jamel2play Great information and knowledge thank you! Yes looking at some models there does appear to be a crossover where they are manufactured by two companies companies. And some very old names popping up that I've had to look up aswell!

Another find I have encountered are the used higher stability rated beginner K1 sprinters (Rated 1-10 with 10 being most stable) The club boat I used I remember being pretty stable so wonder if its worth contacting some local clubs to see if they are selling something similar. Although I would presume these would be at quite a high price.

But for what I require it appears Venture and P&H seem to have some good options - with just a matter of waiting for a good used example. The Arcadia looks to be a good starter boat but have read numerous stories of people quickly looking for something more challenging before long after owning one. The Venture Easky 15 looks good and there appears to be a good selection of used examples, with the 15 example not being too large for river exploration.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Chris Bolton »

In your first post you wrote:
After trying a fibreglass racing style kayak at a local club I wanted to have a similar kayak of my own for just general flat water and river running
I think you probably meant 'river touring' as 'river running' means whitewater or at least significant speed of flow, and a racing kayak wouldn't be suitable for that unless you had lots of experience, while 'river touring' typically involves gentle flow. An old, stable racing kayak (K1) would have the advantage of being faster and lighter to handle off the water, but also the disadvantage of being longer to store and more delicate to transport. Older K1s are not necessarily expensive.

There is a gap in the market for a 'fast tourer', which is probably what you're looking for; a reasonably light, stable boat that runs straight and is robust enough for flat water but not designed for rough water. The reason nobody makes such boats commercially is probably because they would be more expensive than polythene and do need care in use. Kayaks are now a consumer product not specialist sports equipment; inevitably, a proportion of inexperienced buyers would take them onto rougher water and then complain that they broke. Manufacturers don't want that hassle. Open canoes are a bit more specialist and there are canoes designed for that use.

A used sea kayak of the types Jim and James suggest is probably best. It will also have the benefit that if you want to move on, you could sell if for almost what you paid. I would go for a design from the last 10-15 years. Earlier boats like the Prijon Seayak are more robust than you need and correspondingly heavy.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Jim »

Yes a high stability race K1 or a masters race K1 might suit you - I have never tried these kinds of boats, I paddle Wild Water Race kayaks which are quite different (no rudder) and I don't really know how the stability compares.
If you got on with the race boat you tried definitely do keep an eye out for something locally or ask clubs. My club was given a few old boats of this style which our coach thought we might use sometimes, but really we don't, some have been kept aside, the others we were struggling to store and may have passed on again or had to dispose of - I think there was a stable K1 (in poor condition) amongst them. To be honest we were told we had to move them from where they were stored just before lockdown and the centre has been closed most of the time since then so it may still be laying there looking for a good home, but it is a long way from you (Glasgow). They should be more common in your neck of the woods, and you will probably want to try and get a test paddle before deciding...

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by jamesl2play »

I am dubious if a Masters K1 would suit.

I recently sold an Elio Puma K1 which was listed as a Masters K1 and rated stability 6.
It was a copy of a Kirton Tor also rated 6.
The Puma was a nice boat but took a lot of paddling. Both the Puma and the Tor are fully fledged racing boats and as such I cannot
see that they would suit a beginner.

There are more stable K1's about but they are quite rare. I think one is called a Trimmer. I would look for between stability 8 to 10.

or the sea kayak route.

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:15 pm
In your first post you wrote:
After trying a fibreglass racing style kayak at a local club I wanted to have a similar kayak of my own for just general flat water and river running
I think you probably meant 'river touring' as 'river running' means whitewater or at least significant speed of flow, and a racing kayak wouldn't be suitable for that unless you had lots of experience, while 'river touring' typically involves gentle flow. An old, stable racing kayak (K1) would have the advantage of being faster and lighter to handle off the water, but also the disadvantage of being longer to store and more delicate to transport. Older K1s are not necessarily expensive.

There is a gap in the market for a 'fast tourer', which is probably what you're looking for; a reasonably light, stable boat that runs straight and is robust enough for flat water but not designed for rough water. The reason nobody makes such boats commercially is probably because they would be more expensive than polythene and do need care in use. Kayaks are now a consumer product not specialist sports equipment; inevitably, a proportion of inexperienced buyers would take them onto rougher water and then complain that they broke. Manufacturers don't want that hassle. Open canoes are a bit more specialist and there are canoes designed for that use.

A used sea kayak of the types Jim and James suggest is probably best. It will also have the benefit that if you want to move on, you could sell if for almost what you paid. I would go for a design from the last 10-15 years. Earlier boats like the Prijon Seayak are more robust than you need and correspondingly heavy.
Yes river touring! Ive researched so much I've gotten my jargon mixed! Yes you are right there does appear to be a gap in the market and the sea kayaks are offered small enough to try and bridge that gap I see!

Im planning on now selling my kayak as I don't feel ill truly ever feel comfortable without significant time in the seat and unfortunately I am not always in a position to tour in groups to get more practice in it, I've also struggled finding clubs to join that are biased towards white water. Plenty more sprint/ marathon clubs but as discussed they do seem to be very elite.

So hopefully I will try and secure either a used sea kayak/tourer (Ideally a Venture or Dagger) or a stable K1 with a good stability rating (Im sure they would have quite similar characteristics with the sea kayak being more sturdy). On the used market I have seen a few K1s like this Kirton Tercel

https://www.gumtree.com/p/boats-kayaks- ... 1376689022


I also encounter quite a few cheap un named plastic kayaks that appear similar in shape to the old slalom kayaks but slightly shorter. Im guessing these are just a more modern interpretation of that? Similar to this.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Falchion-385 ... SwyEpe~h1o

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Jim »

Yes a sea kayak is mostly going to be a lot more robust, and therefore heavier, than a race kayak. They will handle a bit differently, many don't have a rudder for steering, just a lifting skeg to stop the stern swinging when paddling down wind, and some, particualrly the more cross over types don't even have a skeg, but you are rarely likely to miss it paddling rivers unless the banks are really open and the wind is howling. There is also a difference in the cockpit shape and whether you engage your knees under the deck or not, but in terms of paddling straight lines easily, and relatively quickly, either will be fine.

For many years we had 'General Purpose' kayaks which were quite long, but quite rockered (keel turns up a lot at the ends), fitting somewhere between slalom style and touring/race style. These have pretty much disappeared apart from with outdoor centres since there are so many highly specific kayaks for different kinds of paddling - even within WW river running. The Falchion 385 harks back to those days of massive GP boats, they are more difficult to drive straight than touring boats, but they are cheap and relatively lightly built as they tend to be used by outdoor centres. My recollection of the Falchion is that the deck is really low compared to even other GP boats and certainly compared to touring or sea kayaks, it really pushes your knees down and this can make adopting a upright/slightly forward paddling position difficult/uncomfortable, so it is one boat I would specifically advise against. Another is the Europa, again long, quite rockered, made from cheap flimsy grade of polythene and popular with some centres - my biggest issue with these is actually that they are often way too big for the kids that get put in them for taster sessions, but still not really the kind of boat you are looking for. Back in perhaps the late 80s or early 90s before playboating became quite the niche it is now, there was a rodeo competition on the tide race off St Davids known as 'The Bitches' which had 2 phases, one was the wave surfing and doing tricks phase, and the other was a race, for which the organisers provided a fleet of Falchion 385s for competitors to use, personally I don't think I would have used one in such powerful water, you would feel it flex onto your legs if a wave broke over you!

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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Ads22 »

Jim wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 3:26 pm
Yes a sea kayak is mostly going to be a lot more robust, and therefore heavier, than a race kayak. They will handle a bit differently, many don't have a rudder for steering, just a lifting skeg to stop the stern swinging when paddling down wind, and some, particualrly the more cross over types don't even have a skeg, but you are rarely likely to miss it paddling rivers unless the banks are really open and the wind is howling. There is also a difference in the cockpit shape and whether you engage your knees under the deck or not, but in terms of paddling straight lines easily, and relatively quickly, either will be fine.

For many years we had 'General Purpose' kayaks which were quite long, but quite rockered (keel turns up a lot at the ends), fitting somewhere between slalom style and touring/race style. These have pretty much disappeared apart from with outdoor centres since there are so many highly specific kayaks for different kinds of paddling - even within WW river running. The Falchion 385 harks back to those days of massive GP boats, they are more difficult to drive straight than touring boats, but they are cheap and relatively lightly built as they tend to be used by outdoor centres. My recollection of the Falchion is that the deck is really low compared to even other GP boats and certainly compared to touring or sea kayaks, it really pushes your knees down and this can make adopting a upright/slightly forward paddling position difficult/uncomfortable, so it is one boat I would specifically advise against. Another is the Europa, again long, quite rockered, made from cheap flimsy grade of polythene and popular with some centres - my biggest issue with these is actually that they are often way too big for the kids that get put in them for taster sessions, but still not really the kind of boat you are looking for. Back in perhaps the late 80s or early 90s before playboating became quite the niche it is now, there was a rodeo competition on the tide race off St Davids known as 'The Bitches' which had 2 phases, one was the wave surfing and doing tricks phase, and the other was a race, for which the organisers provided a fleet of Falchion 385s for competitors to use, personally I don't think I would have used one in such powerful water, you would feel it flex onto your legs if a wave broke over you!
Yes i think i do tend to engage my knees more as id say i paddle more for fitness. My current kayak does have quite a low deck which does mean i have limited movement when sprint paddling. If i did go for a K1 i really should invest in a wing paddle.


It would be good to find a club to join locally to get more practice on a sprint kayak but i do think my age would cause a few hurdles as their intake definitely seems to be those of a younger age. Im finding this at most local clubs.

Having never tried a sea kayak is there a significant feel in difference of weight. Im guessing there isnt a large difference in speed to a more stable K1.

In terms of manoeuvrability im assuming a sea kayak tracks straight nicely but requires some effort to turn. I did appreciate the rudder on the K1 however which is what sways more towards that.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Advice on stabilising a fibreglass kayak

Post by Chris Bolton »

Having never tried a sea kayak is there a significant feel in difference of weight. Im guessing there isnt a large difference in speed to a more stable K1.
For racing, there are minimum weights for K1s - 12kg for sprint and 8kg for marathon. If I remember right, it used to be 12kg for both (I may be wrong) - older boats are likely to be over 12kg but not by a lot. Composite sea kayaks are typically 20-23kg, plastics a bit heavier. My guess is that a K1 will be about 25% faster than a sea kayak, with the same paddler. Race results such as the Conwy Ascent can be a bit misleading as the K1 paddlers will typically be regular racers, and training for it, while many of the sea kayaks will be recreational paddlers having a go (The two fastest sea kayaks in that race, however, were competitive paddlers in one form or another).
In terms of manoeuvrability im assuming a sea kayak tracks straight nicely but requires some effort to turn. I did appreciate the rudder on the K1 however which is what sways more towards that.
Sea kayaks are easy to turn on the kind of radius required on the sea or on touring rivers, all they need is a bit of edge (tilting to one side). Some are easier than others and some even have rudders.

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