Adjusting trim on a WW boat

I paddle rec boats and sea kayaks, but picked up a used Wavesport Godzilla from a neighbor last year for a price to good to pass up. There’s no serious whitewater nearby, so I don’t use it too much. (I also built an Arctic Tern last spring, and that got most of my attention this summer.) But I’ve paddled it a few times on local rivers with some Class 1-2 stuff. I’m still struggling to get this thing to go straight.

On slow moving water, if I get it going at any speed at all, it starts to “hydroplane” and spin out. Trying to correct with a forward stroke seems futile, and in fact just seems to make it worse. I moved the seat forward, thinking this might improve it, but this seemed to make it worse. I frankly don’t really understand how seat position effects control on a WW boat. I’m told this is a kind of a transition boat between a displacement and planing hull.

If the issue is just my lousy technique, give it to me straight. Would moving the trim BACK reduce this? Or do I just need to concentrate on paddling technique?

It is not boat trim
WW boats are designed to turn when left to their own devices. It is called spin momentum. The faster you go the more spin momentum you generate and the more likely is the boat to turn. In the beginning, learn the stern draw, which is the last half of a forward sweep. That will give you a correction stroke for getting the boat pointed back in the way you want. With practice you will learn to naturally adjust your forward stroke to make the boat go straight if you want it to. Ultimately you will learn to paddle in arcs when you are doing moves in rapids and often go down current sideways.

No expert
I picked up a used Riot 007 and moved the seat back by about 1.25 inches - the spacing of the bolt holes. I don’t think it makes any significant difference in the tracking but did keep the bow from plowing through the water and gave me enough room for my feet.

So yeah, it’s your technique;-) Or maybe your expectations. Try to paddle only the forward half of the stroke - any paddling to the rear will induce a turn. Paddle high-angle. Say “I meant to do that!-)”

only the forward half of the stroke
I’m new to ww boats as well. I have found that if I concentrate on paddling the front of the boat I am much more successful getting the boat to go where I want it.

Sick of your deal?
I have a friend who would buy that Godzilla if the price was almost right. You don’t want a whitewater boat that will go straight. Whitewater boats need to spin on a dime and the faster the boat is going the more likely it is the boat will veer off course on flat water. There is a lot of physics in play with the interaction of the bow of the boat and the water. The boat won’t start to act right until you put it in its element. So get out on some whitewater and have some fun with the boat.

As Mentioned Above…
short strokes. Dip in between ankle/knee, pull right next to the hull and exit slightly before or right at the hip.

Here’s a thought… See it often with someone coming into a ww boat from longer boats, your paddle may be too long, promoting a stroke that is further out to the side and ending behind the hip. This creates spin momentum.


your paddle may be too long
Good note from sing.

For my sea kayaks I use 215cm paddle. For ww I use 200 and have used as short as 194.

Its a WW paddle
200 cm I think.

I’ll keep working on technique.

probably technique…
The suggestions above are all good and it definitely has to do with the spin momentum that all whitewater boats have. I wouldn’t worry too much about planing vs desplacement vs semi-planing (your godzilla) in regards to tracking. Actually the godzilla is probably one of the better tracking and faster river runners. It just takes some practice and soon you’ll have no problem going straight. Although whitewater boats seem impossible to keep straight versus sea kayaks, they are also ridiculously easy to correct course which offsets that difficulty.

As a corollary to paddle length
I find that it is very important in a whitewater boat to have a near vertical stroke…get that top hand out over the water! Any angle on the blade shaft will create spin momentum.

But you’ll eventually figure that out…the more you paddle it, the more you will anticipate when the boat will start to turn and correct for it without even thinking.

Works in some situations, but Scott
Shipley in “Every Crushing Stroke” recommends a somewhat more low-angle style. If the entry is near the bow and the power comes on early, then a >somewhat< lower angle works very well. Also, if you are so vertical that your upper hand is over the water on the same side as the blade, that’s not efficient kayak body mechanics, though it works well in c-1s.

How big are you?
The Godzilla is, as I recall, a really big person’s boat. It was the one they put me in at my first ever rolling class, and you could have put a couple of me in there. (I had made noises about entrapment concerns.) So in addition to WW boats just not being fond of going straight, you may be really bobbing in that boat.

We just got a couple of used WW boats to mess around with the stuff ourselves, to get some practice in moving water next spring without having to drive over 4 hours to a tidal race, one displacement hull (Piedra) and one semi-displacement hull (Rockit). We’ve had a ton of rain the last couple of weeks that gave us a chance to practice ferries etc in them locally, and they just aren’t the same critters as our long boats. You have very limited opportunity to stop them from spinning around once they start overturning.

And yeah, the paddle lengths tend to be a bit shorter, I assume because of the more vertical stroke angle. I’m using a 188 cm or a 194 cm, 20 of so cm shorter than for the sea kayaks.

There was a thread titled something like “which river kayak should I get” not that long ago that ended up being a pretty good discussion about the behaviors of planing versus displacement hulls, had a lot of info on the behavior of each. Worth taking a read.