There, I knew that that title might get some attention… :- )
Brian Shultz of Cape Falcon kayaks writes:
At 14’3" many people are worried the F1 won’t be fast enough to meet their needs, but in my experience most people vastly overestimate the speeds they actually travel and will never reach the “hull speed” of their kayaks. What this means is that we have a whole generation of paddlers paying a skin friction/drag penalty for boat lengths they don’t really need. For normal kayak touring speeds of 3-4 mph the F1 isn’t just as as fast as these other boats, it’s faster. Reducing the waterline by a couple feet dramatically reduces the skin friction and this results in a noticable reduction in paddling effort. Easier paddling is just the beginning though. By reducing the length we create a kayak that is better behaved in the wind, easier to manuver, fits better into sea caves, tight channels, and your garage. The F1 is a design created not by fashion or dogma, but rather years and years of testing how we actually use our kayaks. … Longer boats are less maneuverable, less stable, worse in the wind, and more work to paddle at normal speeds (due to the increased wetted surface). My point is, if you aren’t pushing hard enough to make use of that waterline, all you’ve bought yourself is a worse version of my shorter boat. The LPB is for the the dedicated fitness paddler who is out there pushing hard. Want to know if that’s you? Grab a cheap GPS and a kayak and push that baby up to 4.5mph. If at the end of an hour you’re hungry and ready for more, you need an LPB. If you feel like you’re going to blow an artery, you want an F1. (https://www.capefalconkayaks.com/choosing-a-kayak.html)
This makes sense to me. Unless you are paddling at hull speed you are paying a penalty for that long sexy boat. So why are all the great kayaks long boats? Sure, the athletes can use them, but I’m am most certainly not an athlete. The best I’ve done is 3.9mph sustain over 1km and that really tired me out. (That works out to about 15 minutes). There is no way that I could ever sustain 4.5mph for an hour. Ok, maybe if you factor in the ambulance ride, but on the water, no.
Most of my paddling is long afternoon trips. Speeding along from here to there on flat water, then stopping for extended periods of time to look at birds, turtles, aquatic plants etc. We stop a lot and look around, that’s why we paddle. (On our last trip to Lake Umbagog we travelled 7.4 miles in 4:55, averaging only 1.5mph!)
So, by Brian’s reasoning above, if I had had a longer boat I would have either paddle with more effort or slower, since the longer boat would have had a greater wetted surface and therefore greater resistance.
I can see the need for a long boat for gear storage for camping, that’s not at issue here. But it just seems that all the fast boats are long and all the medium length (14-15 feet) boats are barges.
Brian’s reasoning makes sense to me but I’m open to other views. And where are all the fast, sleek, sexy 14 and 15 footers?
PS: I have no relationship with Cape Falcon Kayaks aside from a strong admiration for Brian and the high probability of being a future customer.