What's the anatomy of a kayak? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-25-2007   #1
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What's the anatomy of a kayak?

I've never found much in the way of explaining the anatomy of a kayak, and seeing how design differences in different areas of the boat affect performance.

I'm going into my third year, but I don't know much beyond chines and length and volume. I know the classes of boat (play/river/creeker and hybrids), but I'm looking to learn what "rocker" is, and any other advanced design concepts and how they affect performance.

It's not so I can select a better boat - I just want to learn about the engineering of boats. Anyone have any links or know of a good primer?


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Old 01-25-2007   #2
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Rocker is how much the bow and stern curve up from the lowest point of the hull (like a rocking chair). A boat with more rocker tends to be easier to boof but too much rocker will sacrifice a lot of speed.

Definately pay attention to the edges on boats. Sharper edges will make the boat really easy to carve but it also makes it a lot easier to unintentionally catch edges.

Sliciness-When looking at the side of a boat, how skinny or thick is the nose and stern? A thin, very slicey boat (the Slice or Siren, for instance) will be easy to throw ends in because there is less surface area and air to force into the water. But a slice boat will cover and swamp with water easier in the rapids.

Also, in today's playboats, pay attention to how the volume is distributed in the nose. A lot of boats these days are made slicey at the tip for ease of throwing down but then have a lot of volume right in front to the cockpit to give rebound and pop for looping.

That's just what I can think of right now.

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Old 01-26-2007   #3
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Thanks Count, that's helpful.

I was reading the thread where someone was asking opinions on the Jefe and 233, and was reading your post in which you said "Boat X tracks really well"

What do you mean when you say it "tracks" well?

Also, can anyone clarify to me the differences between primary stability and secondary? I've always thought primary was the tendency of the boat to not make the paddler feel he's tipping. I've thought secondary is the "support" the boat seems to give once the paddler IS tipping, and trying to brace.

I sort of drew that conclusion when I switched from my intro boat (Dagger Honcho) to a LL CR250. The CR250 felt like it didn't want me to go over and gave me a big hand in bracing. It could have been that I was just advancing my ability, though.

Now I'm in pool sessions with a Pyranha Burn (and still my CR), and it feels like it really doesn't want me to flip over...
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Old 01-26-2007   #4
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Go here:


A very complete explanation of everything.
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Old 01-26-2007   #5
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Tracking is how well a boat goes straight and holds its course. A boat that doesn't track well will want to veer off of the path you are paddling, requiring constant correction strokes. Obviously, this is somewhat user/skill related because the best paddlers can always get the boat where they want it to be, but good tracking helps. A lot of things affect tracking. Flat hulls, playboats, want to spin and don't usually track as well. Long, round boats will slice through the water and tend to track well. A paddlers weight relative to the boat can have a major affect on tracking. A paddler that is heavey for a boat will cause the boat to sit lower in the water which will usually make the boat really good at going straight but more difficult to turn and maneuver. A paddler that is too light for a boat will often end up sitting too high in the water and this will put less of the boat in the water to help tracking (think about how easy it is to spin something that sits on the ground at a single point like a ball verses the difficulty in turning something with a large contact area). You can see how rocker can affect tracking in this way, too. With flat-hulled boats that want to spin, you can put the boat up on edge to help its tracking.

That website is pretty sweet. I can't do any better than they do on most of those terms.

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Old 01-26-2007   #6
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The best way to find out about a kayak's anatomy is to lift up its skirt.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 01-26-2007   #7
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I was going to go with plastic but thought I was being more of a smartass than usual but you opened the door for me.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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