a responsive kayak?

What does the term ‘responsive’ mean when applied to a kayak? And how would you apply the term in practice? For instance, is the Nordkapp LV or the Romany more responsive? Of the Mariner boats, is the II, Express or Coaster most responsive? Is more responsive ‘better’ than less responsive? Or, as I suspect, is the term responsive completely useless?

Probably useless
At least, unless the group using it has a fairly common background. Responsive could mean a boat that accelerates quickly, like a racing boat. Or it could mean that it turns quickly and easily, such as a more rockered boat like the Romany.

But switch out the environments - the Romany is a pig w/r to hull speed compared to a racing kayak. And a racing kayak has all the responsiveness of a cruise ship in tight stuff like rock gardening.

I would suggest that a responsive boat would be one that reacts to the paddlers input and does or reacts

predictably to what the paddler would expect the boat to do.

"Responsiveness" to me means that the kayak responds to actions by the paddler (paddle strokes, edging, etc.). To me, this means accelerating easily and turning quickly. Pit my Dagger Meridian, for example, against my NDK Explorer - there is no contest. The Meridian is much more responsive.

I find the term very useful. That said, responsiveness may not always be a good thing. In hairy wind and waves, I might want to go straight and not to accelerate so fast down a wave.

MHO, Alan

"one that reacts to the paddlers input"
When I say responsive I mean a boat that adroitly responds to my actions. Sometimes in my usage it is nearly synonymous with playful.

Both a Romany and a Nordkapp LV are responsive boats in my usage - even though they have very different personalities.

Hmmmmm my definitions
Responsive = Mariner Coaster

Unresponsive = Wilderness Systems Tarpon with a leak .

“Responsive” is in the eyes of the…
paddler !

For instance if my kayak is about to capsize and in my mind I wish it not to, and then it doesn’t, that is “responsive”.

If it doesn’t pay any attention to me and goes ahead and tips over, that is unresponsive, and I would get rid of it.

Playing in surf doesn’t count, since I can’t think quick enough to wish it what to do and what not to do five out of ten times



responds to body movement

Notice how little he uses the paddle.

not useful
On edge the Nordkapp LV does not carve a turn like the Romany or my Seda Ikkuma, yet it is easily turned by paddle stroke. So it responds to stroke but does not respond progressively to edge. Different, but not more or less responsive.

Responsive cannot just mean the same thing as an easy turning boat. Then any non tracking boat with plenty of rocker would be classed as responsive.

All Mariners, II, Max, Express, Coaster, have a similar design motif, and all respond to edging. The Coaster is about 13 ft, while the II is close to 18ft. The Coaster can be whipped around, but the II is still very easy to turn. I would not therefore say the Coaster is more responsive.

It seems to me that ‘responsive’ is not useful at all.

opposite of straight-tracking
I think of a responsive boat as one which turns easily. That may mean it turns when it hits a wave, or when the paddler leans, or either. Every boat design needs to strike some balance between it’s persistance in holding a course, and it’s responsiveness to changing course.

A Pintail is more “responsive” than an Explorer. And conversely an Explorer tracks better than a Pintail.

My Solstice GTS with it’s long straight hull and built in keel and rudder is NOT responsive. It won’t turn quickly even with the rudder. It’s top speed is very nice but it doesn’t accelerate any more quickly than other boats I have with a lower top speed. It’s strong strengths are straight tracking, wonderful glide, and great top speed.

My Bic Scapa is wonderfully responsive. I can turn it 180 in one paddle stroke or two. It accelerates quickly up to 4 mph and decelerates as soon as I stop paddling. It’s top speed and gliding leave something to be desired, so it is not the boat you’d choose for long paddles faster than 3.5 mph.

is it’s ability to turn by edging or corrective stroke…

The Romany is 16 feet and the Nordlow is 17’8’’

So while the Romany is more responsive… the Nordlow is very responsive for a 17.8’and responsive for any touring kayak…

Depends on experience
I like to tell people that to a novice paddler a kayak is tippy but to an experienced paddler it’s

"responsive ".

Agree but would like to add

– Last Updated: Oct-02-09 8:51 AM EST –

I think since the skeg is now the norm, hulls are generally more responsive (turn more easily) than kayaks designed 15 years ago. However the untold truth is that skeg dependent designs loose a noticeable amount of speed with the skeg down. It always seems to go back to the old boat design trade offs - nothing is free. Every move you make in design, you pay for somewhere else.