18X vs Brit in head seas

The Epic web site has two video clips showing an Epic 18X and a Brit boat (looks like a Nordkapp or Aquanaut), side by side. The videos are at the bottom of this page:


The boats are side by side going into head seas, and the 18X seems to take the waves in a much smoother manner than the Brit boat. This surprised me as I would have thought that the greater rocker and upswept bow would give the advantage to the Brit boat in these conditions.

The Epic site goes further and claims that better rough water behavior of the traditional style hull shape is a myth. In any event the videos are very interesting and compelling.



Epic promo… straight through waves

– Last Updated: Mar-14-09 7:26 PM EST –

Been seen and noted.

Compelling for those who wish to run straight through waves. Maybe not so much so for those who wish to play in surf, clapitos, or tide races.

There are many videos of paddlers in 'Brit' boats maneuvering rock gardens, headlands, and surfing to indicate that such boats can do well in such conditions. (e.g. This is the Sea I-IV)

The Epic videos have struck me as needed correctives indicating that such a boat can perform in other than flat water.

BTW - I don't think the non-Epic boat is a Nordkapp.

no doubt about it
and the video is testimony.

A rockered kayak (the British style one) will always splash more than a low rockered one (Epic).

Chances are that a longer kayak might also be faster than the shorter rockered one.

As the video would like to imply it outperforms the British style one… or does it?

All we see it paddling head-on into the waves.

Just ONE aspect of sea kayaking.

What I would be very interested to see it the same boats, same place, but turned around 180 degrees.

Different game I might suspect!

Freya in her blog Race around Australia laments some difficulty in maneuvering the Epic in following seas.

Now, I tend to believe that Freya Hoffmeister ain’t no punter and seems to know a bit about sea kayaking…

Obviously Epic does a great job in going straight into the pitching waves. Needs to be seen what it can do the other way around.

As wilsoj2 point out, it could be a different story in a tidal race, clapotis etc…

The non-Epic boat
I know the guy who is in the non-Epic boat. It is his personal boat. Since I’m not sure if the video or website mentions his name, I will not either. I talked to him about the video and it is what it is. In fact, I guess there is a third video that is even more dramatic.

Just like in the write-up he said those waves were really beating him up in the Brit style boat. I can’t remember the model - I asked him because I thought Epic had specifically picked out the ‘other boat’ but no. It was one his personal boats.

Pretty dramtatic difference isn’t it? Although I think slapping down from a wave is pretty cool feeling as long as the front doesn’t go submarining.


Smell a Rat
I paddle and own boats with and without rudders and with and without plumb bow. I appreciate the strengths of both. The text and video on this link REALLY GRIND MY GEARS bad science is worse than no science.

The one that really made me laugh was the bit about being better to steer a bicycle by using handelbars not by leaning. Since taking off the training wheels the only time I can steer my bike without leaning is when I have my feet on the ground other wise I fall off, poor choice of analogy.

The argument about plumb bows on yachts has an element of truth but I’m sure many modern (non racing) yachts do not have a plumb bow and what about power boats don’t they move on water too, maybe I want to get my kayak up on the plane on a wave.

As for the rudder efficiency argument, yes a rudder is efficient but only while you are moving forwards, what happens when a wave overtakes you from behind? Yes if you are racing you should be going so fast it cant overtake but you wont be going fast enough all the time.

“A corrective stroke can loose more than 50% of forward power and minor corrections more than 10%”. Yes but I don’t do them on every stroke. Unless I’m trying to shave seconds of my time I’m not paddling at 100% in the first place as it is inefficient. I can often afford to glide for a second (even in a brit style boat that should alegedly be in a museum). Some times I want to slow down while I’m turning, wasn’t brakes on a modern bicycle part of their original argument against Greenland technology.

Anyone got figures for how edging to turn effects efficiency?

Video 1; yes the Epic is running smoother but not that smooth. The film is slowed in some very convenient places, watch the bow of the Epic just before they switch to slow-mo to show the brit boat. Also note how conveniently the comentator draws attention to the Brit boat and away from the Epic at certain points. Does the guy in the Epic seem larger in relation to the kayak, would that have an effect? What would it look like if the film was taken from the other side? They seem to be slowing now and then to allow waves to change shape, is this being done to favour the Epic?

Video 2; as above but also, hard to tell but looks like the Epic is choosing a smoother path and is consistantly further from the steeper part of the wave, coincidence or will paddling an Epic automatically make me smarter/better at timing waves? The guy in the Epic is using good technique to pull through the wave, the guy in the Brit boat throws his hands over his head on each wave crest (either thinking it is good practice or to make the video more dramatic) is that a giving a real comparison? I think not.

Doesnt fill me with confidence in any other claims they may make.

some of the claims made may be true to varying degrees, but i noticed the same discrepancies as the previous poster. 2 different paddlers, with different skill levels and techniques could get the exact opposite results in the same boats. this is not objective testing of anything.

very interesting video anyway
and it is what it shows us: a difference in behavior (in comparable circumstances)

nor more – no less.

It doesn’t explain the reasons for the difference though:

is it the bow shape, the rocker, the total design, the paddler or the paddling, etc?

Which design is faster?

Which designs are used? A 16X or 18X versus which?

All in all more questions than answers, exept one thing:

it shows that it is debatable which kind of design is better…

Just wish there were more of these kind of videos

“better in all conditions”

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 7:52 AM EST –

What's "better?" There are times when having more hull out of the water on a wave crest makes it easier to turn.

Nothing against Epic -- they just seem to assume that straight-line performance is the only measure of "better". Some paddlers might disagree.

Given open-water race results, and feedback from folks here, I have no doubt that their designs -- and similar modern kayak & surfski designs(QCC, WSBS, Huki, etc.) -- do perform well in rough water.

As noted, the Epic paddler seems to lean forward and keep paddling while the "brit" paddler lifts up and back on the big waves.

Agree that it would be interesting to see more comparisons like this done by a third party with no financial interest in the outcome.

Rough water is more than such waves.
Performance is more than quickness straight through waves.

but which one is quicker in those waves?

Both types
are excellent designs, but for different purposes. I may be wrong, but the Brit boat looks like it might be a Pintail.

Which boat would you rather have in a sea cave or rock gardening? How about surfing a tidal race? Which boat would you rather have for a long distance open ocean crossing?

Like information from any manufacturer this is hyoe to sell boats. Any boat manufacturer could do a similar video in a rock garden if they wanted to. They could show an Epic getting smashed on rocks with a Brit boat navigating around them. What would this prove? Brit boats are better at rock gardening? Or that somebody was unlucky and smashed their boat on rocks?

thru vs over wave
Just got an Aquanaut (Brit style boat) and I notice that it does go over waves rather than through like on my other boat. So the downside could be pitching up a lot, but I also notice less wave force on me and a dryer ride because I go over rather than through. So like most things you need to pick what’s important to you.

Great video

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 11:13 AM EST –

I think Epic is making the point that British boats which have become the overall excepted best boats for rough water is not always the case. I'll bet nobody thought that the Epic would handle the oncoming wave better than the British rockered boat if this video was not made. Everyone knows that all boats act a little different in various conditions and Epic refuses to be type cast into the roll as a racing boat and one that is not that great in rough water. Can you blame them for defending their turf. People will still pick their boats for lots of reasons some of which might be PR, advertising, BCU affiliations, peer pressure / influence, weight, initial stability or even the color.

Epic 18x vs Brit boats

I’ve had an 18x for almost a year now. The 18x just raises the bar for sea kayaks. Going downweather, it does broach, especially in steep waves. The film clips seem quite representative of how the 18x behaves in those type of conditions. It is my only sea kayak.

As far as rudder or not - Well, the data just supports getting a rudder. Even with minimal corrections, a rudder still wins out for efficiency in boats over 15-16 feet. Some may still pass on the rudder option - and that is great. What counts is one’s enjoyment of the sport, and safety.

No boat design will do it all in every type of conditions. What the Epic excels at is flat water efficiency, and low drag at a “workout pace” - IMO.

It has sufficient capacity for some cargo, but is not a high capacity hauler. It does have rough water capability, if the paddler has good balance and bracing skills.

Sea Kayaker magazine has reviews on many (if not most) boats on the market - including the 18x Sport. I think their data on hull resistance says plenty.

Definitely not a Pintail

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 12:19 PM EST –

It looks to be an Explorer or Aquanaut, but not a Nordkapp.

Heck, I have a skin boat that will punch through waves even better than the Epic shown. However, it also turns into a submarine when surfing. Everything in boat design is a trade-off, though Epic seems to be insinuating that they're offering a "free lunch".

Frankly, they make so many bogus or half-baked claims (like the bicycle analogy) that I don't trust much of anything they say or show. The difference in the wave action where the two boats are is quite obvious. Swap their positions and the results would be considerably different. They're also implying that all Brit' boats handle the same and anyone who's paddled a few knows that's not even close to true.

I would love to see these two boats in a rock garden thrashing. I wonder which one would emerge...?

head to head
The videos are the only attempt to directly compare two very different designs in rough conditions that I have seen, and I commend Epic for posting them, even though they are obviously trying to place their design in the best light. Nothing wrong with that; they are in business after all.

Seems to me there are two kinds of rough water behavior to be considered: traveling in windy waves from A to B, and playing in rough tide races, rock gardens, surf, etc. Obviously the 18X is for the former and should not be compared to a play boat like Romany, Anas, or Nordkapp LV. However, I had always assumed without question that the upswept bow and sterns of the typical open water rockered Brit expedition boat would be superior for rough travel. The videos show that this MAY not be the case. That possibility alone is significant.

I will be very interested in Freya’s report on the 18X and its performance in the rough conditions she will encounter around Australia.

The 18X and the Q700, roughly similar designs, are very different than almost any Brit expedition boat. After the videos I no longer assume that the Brit expedition designs (Nordkapp, Explorer, Aquanaut and others) are necessarily better for expeditions than these more recent designs.

Is that rough water?

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 1:20 PM EST –

You guys are killing me. Barely getting there hair wet! Looks like a sweet day at the beach with 3 foot surf. The guy in the epic might not like it so much when he takes a few Chuck Norris types kicks to the chest that comes with each wave on bigger days. The low angle of the camera makes things look a little tough but the decks are barely getting washed. They look as though the waves would in the video could be taken with very little forward speed. There is no struggle. I would love to see both of these boats side by side in rough water. Maybe they could make a video? Would also love to see both boats getting pushed by steep waves. The lawn dart might not be so good. I mean it looks like it would be forced to broached easily where the brit boat would be able to maneuver. For me, the boat that rides up over the waves would seem easier to control when things get funky. Not funky as in like 3 foot surf but funky as in rough water, water moving from different angles, bouncing erratically. Which boat do you think would be able to pull out of a broach better? Which boat would come up lame with a broken rudder? For me, any boat that is designed to be used with a rudder is instantly disqualified as a good rough water boat. The two are not compatible for me.
I would love to own an epic but not for use as a rough water play boat. That seems all wrong. Nice day tripping lake boat maybe. Like a qcc. ;)

Is that rough water?
scottb, Well, to me it seems like rough water, as least as rough as I like to paddle.


Observation is a Merciless …

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 2:27 PM EST –

Critic of Theory. People assume all sorts of wizardry behind Brit designs when most of it was / is tradition along with some art. People "want" a kayak to "look" a certain way based on tradition. That's not all bad and experienced designers and paddlers have tweaked the hulls to work the way they like. Now toss on some graceful ends and average joe consumer with nostalgic kayaking images, along with experienced folk who've come to associate a look with performance, and you have a winner!

Pure science applied to the same challenge might produce a different hull that would in fact be superior in more aspects but would never sell. Although we have to consider that there is only so much that can be done with a displacement hull within certain common dimensions. You're latest and greatest was essentially done before.....probably several times. There's a lot of the "same" boats out there with different logo's....just tweaks here and there that evoke mega internet thread ramblings.

So, this comes down to dogma in a sense because folk will confirm whatever bias they have.

The vid is a demonstartion of different bow volumes, along with hull volume distribution, rocker etc. Every kayak, including yours is a compromise. Not every pointy ended Brit type bow would react that way, nor would all race type plumb bows act like the Epic. It's more about volume distribution than specific shape.

This message not directed at anyone specifically, just my thoughts on the OP's question.

Tampering with Data
Maybe that’s my point, its not “…a demonstration of different bow volumes…” etc. It looks more like a demonstration of different route finding, timing and technique. I’m gonna try and make the Epic slam of the back of waves next time I get a chance and pretty sure I can, hows their construction nowadays?

And possibly a little smoke and mirrors. I can only assume the hands over the head is a deliberate attempt to make the pointy boat get more air, very nostalgic I remember doing that in the early ‘80’s. Not sure why they are heading directly into a head sea anyhow now I think of it.

I would like to see some more comparisons of kayaks, paddles etc. but they are often difficult to do in an accurate manner and are WORTHLESS AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS if they are inaccurate and sold as fact.

The Epic and other boats like it are obviously seaworthy in rough conditions, I enjoy paddling this style of boat when it is appropriate but stick to the facts don’t try to make it something it isn’t.

By calling manufacturer out on stuff like this, demanding good information from dealers and educating other paddlers maybe people have a chance of getting the boat that fits their needs. That’s at least part of what makes this web site worth while, thankyou everyone.

The scientific process does not stop at “Construct a ypothesis”. There is a word for tampering with data.