Sea kayak speed

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James D
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Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:27 pm

I was wondering what the real life difference in speed was between a 14.5’ sea kayak and a ‘proper’ 17’ (approx) boat is.

There is a lot of very good info here on how hull length, wetted area, hull shape, weather conditions and sea state all affect speed. In fact so many variables that nothing conclusive is easy to glean. Especially as all paddlers are different and personal opinion also further blurs the clarity of outcome.

So I thought of asking the question another way. Does anyone have two kayaks that are roughly 2’ difference in length that they paddle regularly over the same course, that they have kept speed data logged for. In other words, leave out the science and go for a real world benchmark difference. With the same paddler.

I have a Dagger Stratos and am interested how that would compare on a day paddle with a 16.5 - 17.5 kayak.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by OMarti » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:26 pm

On flat water, I really enjoy paddling a longer boat (19,5') than my sea boat (17'). On the shorter one I feel the limit. But my hull is more designed for rough sea and the 19' hull for speed. On small boats, you really feel the limit very soon. On flat water or calm sea the difference between 14,5' and 17' is real.

Rigidity of the hull is also a key factor. One of my coach is affirmative that a plastic boat loose 0,5 kn compared to the same hull in fiberglass.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Fozzy » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:50 pm

I've got 2 16ft boats, A Valley Sirona 16.1 rm and an Epic 16x. The Epic has a full 16ft waterline, longer than some 18ft boats.
I've regularly paddled both around Ramsey Island and the Epic will leave the Sirona for dead in most conditions, but the hull is based on a surf ski design and built for speed.
I can maintain 8.5-9kph without really even trying and can push it up to 12+ for short sprints and I am by no means particularly fit.
Friend has a Taran 16 and they are well matched boats. We find if we're in a group and need a bit of "heads down and just paddle across this bit" we will quickly leave everyone else behind.

The Sirona is happy at 7ish kph and bloody hard work trying to go any quicker but it is better in rough water (just), especially through surf as it doesn't slap down as much.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by charleston14 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:22 pm

I was flat water paddling today with someone in a glass valley avocet, I was in a 14ft Charleston tourer (predecessor to the stratos, but has less rocker than a stratos) as my 17ft sea kayak is off the water at the moment.

The tourer felt fat, slow and boring, compared to my usual sea kayak, and I was doing about 20 percent more stokes than the person in the avocet; I’m a high angle paddler, the person in the avocet sea kayak is a low angle paddler. We are both of a similar build and fitness. When you stop paddling a sea kayak they glide along and slow down slowly, the Charleston by comparison feels like it bleeds off it’s speed more quickly.

The stratos has more rocker than a Charleston so it’s probably a bit slower but I know it’s not necessarily as clear cut as that, as wet area has a lot to do with it,etc etc.

When I first paddled a sea kayak after paddling a touring kayak I was surprised at the speed; it didn’t feel much faster but I kept leaving the rest of my group behind and had to remind myself to paddle less so we could all travel at the same general speed.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:36 pm

Many thanks Fozzy and OMarti, and Charlston14 very useful stuff.

My idea with this question is to make as many things constant as possible in the analysis. Same paddler. Same distance in each case. Same power applied. Sea states and tide to average out over time.

So that all that is left is, for example: Over 10 miles I regularly average 4mph in my Delphin, and 5mph in my Capella. A bit like your circumnavigation of Ramsey Island, Fozzy, with numbers.

It’s a bit of an ask :-) but we are very fond of our gps tracking, so maybe....

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:31 pm

Hi James, I have an Aries 155 and a Cetus MV. I also have a wealth of GPS data and health data (stroke rate/HR/calories burned) from my Garmin Fenix 5 watch.

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As you would expect and the others have reported the longer Cetus is faster when paddling at maximum effort on flat water than the Aries. However, downwind and in waves the Aries is usually faster as it is easier to catch waves and once on a wave it planes longer. 5 of our group have Aries and a longer sea kayak. All find the same. On a 12km crossing from Bute to Arran downwind in F4, Tony surged ahead in his Aries while David, Maurice, Mike, Phil and I had to paddle hard in our full length sea kayaks.

I nearly bought a Taran after that but a recent period of ill health has kept me off the water. On my return to the water, I have treated myself to a 10kg Think Zen surfski, If you want speed (on flat water or downwind) that is certainly something that is worth considering. :o)

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Grian » Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:26 pm

I recently asked a kayak designer about relative boat speeds and he gave me a fabulously detailed and technical reply. It highlighted the different resistance of various boat models and the relative effort required to keep them at a particular speed. In summary his answer confirmed what I was finding, my current boat was relatively more work than another - 1 foot longer - model I had previously paddled. His calculations showed the longer of the two required 10% less effort - I'm not sure if length was the factor affecting resistance though!

I might have that all wrong, it has been a long day I'm a bit muddled and if anyone is an expert on wastewater systems I really need your assistance, but thats what I recollect and it reflects what I noticed. 10% doesn't sound much but over a distance it will make a significant difference, and with companions who are also stronger/better paddlers as well as having boats that need less effort then the margin is noticeable.

I don't have the hard data you are looking for to support this answer but I know I worked less hard to maintain a steady pace and there was noticeably more glide when I stopped paddling the longer boat, having used both boats in the same area with the same company over a fair period of time.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:55 pm

Golly! This is going brilliantly. Thanks very much.

Douglas .. Cetus MV 17’9” and Aries 155 15’, and on consistent days with following seas the Aries is faster. Wow.

You mention flat out (or hard push at least) the Cetus is faster. Just what I would expect and everyone knows, hull speed and all. How about cruise speed: consistent pressure on, but light enough to last a day, with only you paddling both...any gps speed data between the two with that ?

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:01 pm

By the way Douglas, that diagram of your heart and blood flow looks dodgy to me, are you sure your watch is working right ...?

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:52 pm

Hi James, If you just enjoy dawdling along the coast going in and out of every nook, then a whole range of kayaks can paddle together and no one gets tired. However, if you are on a longer camping trip with loaded boats, adverse tide, paddling against the wind, a bigger distance to cover, perhaps a long crossing at the end of a long day, then a longer sea kayak will be much easier. I have done a 150km camping trip in my Aries when friends were in Cetus MVs, I was not front of the pack.

Thanks for your concern about my dodgy heart tracing. It is actually interesting comparing HR when paddling with other sports such as windsurfing.

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Heart rate paddling briskly non stop.

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Heart rate windsurfing. Even with regular stops on the beach, the windsurfing average HR was almost 40% greater than when paddling hard on my own.

Douglas

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:26 pm

Thanks Douglas, I completely get that the Aries was harder work than the Cetus on the 150km trip. Your wonderful info is smack bang on the model I was posing: Cetus v Aries. Couldn’t be better.

Quantifying that is what I’m after really with this question. On average, at cruising speed, do you think you are 1, 2, 3, or 4 mph faster in the Cetus?

Thats the nub :-)

By the way I used to White Water race in the 80’s and my boats were rather like the Taran with a few extra buldges and no rocker. I know about fast U bottom boats that don’t turn. And the Washburn river broke me in two because of it.

Ta for all your input.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:45 pm

I will have a exact answer for you tomorrow when I get back to where my gpx files are stored. I have data with just me paddling the same route non stop, a distance of 11.8km, no wind same state of tide at a comfortable but fast pace. There is not a lot of difference between the Aries and the Cetus but a huge difference moving to the surfski.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:21 pm

Thank you, it’s a small contribution to the small boat/big boat debate. And very helpful to me.

Of course in the back of my mind there is a Greenlander Pro or Taran waiting to be bought, to complement the Stratos :-). This debate could cost money !

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Aled » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:40 pm

Here's an extract from a recent response to an inquiry about the speed of various Tiderace boats under certain parameters. All the boats were modelled specifically to the paddler's criteria in this case, and the results reflect this. A heavier paddler, greater load etc would have a different set of results and the outcomes/recommendations would be different. Of course, this is still a very subjective set of results compared to real life - a paddler might find one boat unstable compared to the others and this would effect their paddling efficiency. The results do not account for paddling efficiency or style - poor paddling stroke would again effect the real life outcome. As a comparative set of results, the data/results are robust as all boats were simulated under the same criteria. I use this data when designing boats - the simulation data gives me a precise comparison with the other boats modelled within the CAD program. The data/pictures shown here are from the initial build phase, further simulation work is carried out to model stability and trim angles with increasing load.

-------

See relevant screen captures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5t6c3vf08akh ... UO1Za?dl=0

I've modeled 7 boats for you at 64kg paddler weight, 6kg of gear and boat weight of 24kg.
Look at the TOTAL resistance values for 3.5knots to 5.0knots - the boats are unlikely to go any faster!

The winner for fast-ish paddling would be an Xplore_M - under these constraints.

A (another boat I designed) totals at 7.27lbs of resistance at 5knots.
An Xcape-S would require 6.3% less effort at the same speed
An Xplore-S would require 8.5% less effort at the same speed
An Xplore would require 10% less effort at the same speed
An Xplore-M would require 13.5% less effort at the same speed

On the other hand... If you intend to paddle at an average of 3knots-ish, the Xplore-S or the Xcape-S would be a good choice due to lower surface contact area.

-------

Conclusion: without simulation data, all bets are off - results are completely subjective as they cannot be consistently verified, in my opinion GPS data tells more about the paddler and the conditions than about the boat. The only way to get decent data out of GPS tracks is to compare like for like - ie wind, waves, heart rate (at anaerobic threshold) and paddling duration has to be identical for all tests. Also, all the boats listed in this test have a different nature or character which is rarely reflected in straight-line simulation data - predicting boat behaviour is down to the interpretation of the 3D shape created during the design phase.

Hope this helps. Aled

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Jim » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:19 am

I can't compare sea kayaks over long distance, but I have (not recently) done sprint training sessions over 200m in both my Taran sea kayak (19.5 - 20kg, 18' full waterline with a rudder) and my Savage 2000 WWR (~12kg due to repairs, 4.5m, full waterline without a rudder) and I was putting in almost identical times in either boat. Come to think of it, I have also used the WWR once for a lap of Inchmurrin which takes me about 63-65 minutes in the Taran, I was slower in the WWR and pretty exhausted at the end of it, but that was due to there being a fair bit of wind and the WWR being a pig to steer in quartering conditions (the outward leg), again I'm pretty sure that in calm conditions I would post very similar times.
Both designs have a flattened U bottom, but the Taran is much wider with a sharp transition to the flat, the U on the river racer is pretty hard to pinpoint, and of course the boat is much narrower except at deck level in the wings.

Many factors affect real life speed of boats.
Although nominally similar in terms of U bottom, bow shape etc. the Taran is a lot wider, more stable and heavier than the river racer - if it was the same length its wavemaking drag would undoubtedly make it much slower, but the increased length and reduced wavemaking make it perform about the same on flat water.

Which is where your idea for comparison starts to get difficult. If you can compare 2 boats that are identical apart from length, the longer one will be faster (at any paddling rate), but designers tend to vary more parameters than just length between models so it is never that simple.

Add rough water and the answer may change again as stability affects your ability to put the power in. Some people feel that in flat conditions Epic 18X is faster than the Taran, but in the rough, the Taran is faster because they can't get comfortable to paddle the 18X fast.

Also consider a WWR boat, in flat water with just the paddler and air bags in, the waterline is such that the hull is very narrow, virtually parallel from close to the bow to close to the stern, it is narrow, fast and tippy - some of our squad can turn up to sprint regattas and take prizes because on flat water the boat is very similar to a sprint K1. Put the same boat in aerated choppy white water and the wave waterline comes up the wings where the boat suddenly gets much wider and gains stability to be able to handle the rough. Most sea kayaks have flare most of the way along the hull, so the characteristics when paddled empty compared to when paddled fully loaded with camping kit can be totally different (apart from the obvious effect of weight), as the heavy boat sits lower in the water, it engages more of the flare and becomes wide and more stable - it might get less fast, but more stable.

In terms of your question about the Stratos vs a 16.5-17.5 foot sea kayak, the Stratos does not look to be a very fast shape of boat, if you tried hard you could probably find a longer boat that would be slower, but it would probably be easier to find a short boat that is faster...

(whilst I was writing, Aled has posted many of the same observations about real life speed).

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:03 pm

Aled and Jim, many thanks. I agree with all of the comprehensive points you make. I’ve read them carefully.

The question I posed is flawed in so many ways. And trying to strip away all factors except the 2’ difference in length is impossible.

Waterline length I suppose would be a better comparison.

However, it will still be very interesting to see Douglas’s data from his Aries and Cetus, I never expected to get such a well aligned answer to a rather complex question.

Whatever that answer is, it will give interesting real world data on how much faster the Cetus is at 2’ longer. With the variables of paddler, route/distance, different physics approaches and subjective opinion, all neutralised.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:08 pm

Some great information from Aled and Jim :o).

For 7 months of the year I live within 100m of the beach and store my kayaks/surfski under an old oak tree which overhangs the beach. We had sustained high pressure with calm conditions in spring and early summer which made for excellent comparative testing conditions. I am 64y, 72kg, was being bled 1 pint of blood per week during this period and was recovering from a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder so I certainly was not breaking any speed records. However, my general cardiovascular fitness is good with a resting heart rate of 47bpm and my VO2max (a measure of oxygen uptake) at 42ml/kg/min is excellent for my age group. For many years I have found that for solo all day touring trips covering about 40km I like to paddle at a heart rate of just over twice my resting heart rate which for me is 110bpm. Each paddle took place in the morning after I had had an identical breakfast. My anatomy, physiology and pathology are pretty unique but at least they were constant in each case.

To ensure tides had minimal and equal effect, I set off 45minutes before HW. Two of the paddles were on 7.2m tides and one was on a 7.4m tide and on all three days the air pressure was 1024hPa so the tidal flows would have been very small and almost identical. The wind on each day was 0-1knot from the SW (I have an anemometer on an offshore rock).The route was from the NW shore of Fleet Bay out round the Isles of Fleet in a clockwise direction and back. The route was 6.26 nautical miles. (See satellite view of area in my post above.)

My Garmin Fenix 5 watch measured progress with GPS at 1 second intervals and displayed my heart rate from a chest heart rate monitor. I paddled each boat steadily to maintain a HR as close to 110bpm as I could. I wore shorts T shirt and the same BA. I used a wing paddle set at 2.05cm.

The three boats are very different. The Aries 155 is short on the water line and wide with lots of rocker, the Cetus MV is longer on the water line, narrower with less rocker and the Think Zen is sill longer and narrower, with even less rocker. All are designed for different styles of paddling and in truth none of them are at their best on flat water.

Results over 6.26 nautical mile course:

Think Zen 1 hr 15mins 2 secs 5.01 knots 415 Calories
Cetus MV 1hr 29mins 24secs 4.2 knots 508 Calories
Aries 155 1 hr 41 mins 57 secs 3.68 knots 579 Calories

So no surprises there. At the same reasonably brisk but easy to maintain pace, burning almost identical Calories per hour, the Cetus MV is only 0.6mph faster than the Aries 155. In practice paddling in a group we are normally doing 3-3.5 knots so the difference will be even smaller.


Image
I have often gone on touring day trips with Jim in his Taran 18 and me in a Delphin 155. We all travelled at the same speed.

Have fun,
Douglas :o)

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by jamesl2play » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:52 pm

A vast amount of information there but I am struggling with the basic point of it all.

A fine example of a sea kayakers discussion though.

I was very interested with Douglas's input from a surfski perspective. A surf ski certainly comes into its own downwind and is a real step up from most sea kayaks.
In my experience it does not really matter which boat you are in downwind because then boat speed is more about the individuals skill level.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:44 am

Thank you all, what a helpful and enthusiastic community.

Thank you Douglas for so much work and zeroing in so accurately on the question.

With the growing popularity of shorter hybrid boats there is always going to be long deliberation about the trade off between cruising performance against play/surf abilities.


The manufactures promote their shorter play offerings as having ‘enough speed to keep up with the pack’ etc. No numbers included.

Your data puts a real world figure on this. So long as the inputs are understood, I think it is very useful for someone deliberating how to spend their hard earned cash. Your Aries and Cetus are well known boats and good examples to compare.

Certainly I found nothing as hands on and definitive when I was in the process of buying my Stratos, and I burnt the midnight oil looking.

I now know that on a calm day at firm pressure I will be .5 -1 knot slower than an average pack of 17’ boats. I know what I’ve bought now. Roughly.

It has also damped my lurking weakness for a Taran 16 as a complementing boat. For now :-))

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:27 pm

Most people here probably think of me as a seakayaker but my main sport (since 1977) has been windsurfing and I have always liked catching waves.
Image

So as a sea kayaker I have always found it frustrating not to be able to catch fast moving waves in deeper water because I could not paddle fast enough. (Waves in the surf line are easier to catch as they slow down as the water becomes shallower.) That desire to catch waves in a kayak is what got me into paddle sailing.

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The sail adds enough grunt to your paddling to get you up the steep part of the resistance curve in Aled's diagrams....


...to go fast enough to catch the wave.


Jamesl2play>
I was very interested with Douglas's input from a surfski perspective. A surf ski certainly comes into its own downwind and is a real step up from most sea kayaks.
Image
Yes surfskis are really great downwind and wave.

Even when there is no wind, a surfski can still make great use of a wave...

I rode this wave for almost a kilometre. It was travelling at over 10knots which made it very difficult to catch in a conventional sea kayak. Not only is a surfski great for catching waves, the under hull rudder means you can control your direction much more easily than with a skeg or overstern rudder kayak. Note how I am using the rudder to ride this wave diagonally, to increase my speed but with no tendency to broach.

Image
JamesD>
It has also damped my lurking weakness for a Taran 16 as a complementing boat. For now :-))
James do not let that put you off a Taran 16. It might only be 16 foot LOA but most of that is waterline length. It is a sublime kayak. It was a toss up whether I bought a Taran 16 or a surfski. Having said that, I am really glad I went for the surfski now.

Douglas. :o)

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:52 am

Just when my bank balance was giving a sigh of relief.

Your surf ski looks amazing!! Which planet did you buy it from

Very interesting to see what they are capable of, and what a ride.

‘Fortunately’ Taran 16 boats do not come up second hand so I am reasonably safe. It has s to be a 16 as have a roof rack on my fiat 500, which as you can imagine looks comical with a kayak on top. 18’ is pushing it.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Grian » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:00 pm

You also mention a Greenlander Pro of which there are a couple for sale at the moment. I would love to know how it compares in Aled's analysis. This was my first boat which I had for many years and despite being even more incompetent back then I found it fabulously fast and effortless. I think the NDK site describes it as the fastest in their fleet. If I wasn't now actually aware of my limited ability and so prioritising stability uppermost I'd have one again in a heartbeat!

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:39 pm

Hi Grian, agreed, I dare not ask for that info having been served such a generous meal of info already.

I’ve discounted this boat simply on the basis of overall length, the Taran delivers a long waterline with a small car frendly length.

But it’s another quirky looking and characterful kayak from a great stable.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Chris Bolton » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:29 pm

‘Fortunately’ Taran 16 boats do not come up second hand so I am reasonably safe.
And within a day ... viewtopic.php?f=38&t=128169

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:38 pm

Hi Chris, this post is from 2017, do you have info that the boat still available?

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:12 pm

Hi Chris, this post is from 2017
Apologies, James. The thread was updated on 10 Nov 2018 and that caught my attention; the first post, I saw, was on 8 Nov, but I missed the year!

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by James D » Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:02 pm

No worries, I went down that route as well, until I steadied down and read back. Anyway, thank you, because it has galvanised me into action, and I’m actively looking now.

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Re: Sea kayak speed

Post by PeterG » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:03 pm

On a long open crossing much of the above discussion holds. However, much of the time you are ducking in and out of the tide or just messing around in and out of the rocks, caves etc, in that case a boat that turns easily will be less tiring over a long day. My Anas acuta is 5.2m overall but with a very short waterline nips in and out and around in half the time and half the paddle strokes of the Taran style boats.

If you are on your own on a long open crossing, a boat which is comfortable in the waves when the wind suddenly gets up and surfs downwind without drama will certainly make the crossing feel shorter. If you are in company, a bit of play in waves or tide will make the miles fly past.

Good tidal planning has much more effect on boat speed over the ground than paddling a longer boat.

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