Best Racing/Fitness K-1 list

I am seeking opinions on what you all think is the best racing/fitness K-1. I have an extensive whitewater background and am making the transition to sea kayaks and flat water. Have raced canoes a bit as well. Think I could handle a “tippy” boat with a bit of practice. I’m not really interested in surfski’s. Too much cold water in Idaho. I would use the boat for citizen races and for general fitness. I am 5’7 and 155 lbs. More desire than skill so, I would not mind a steeper learning curve that may come with a high performance boat.

Many Thanks


P.S. Ice the pics of the Thunderbolt were awesome!

Fast kayaks
I’ve been paddling the Necky Looksha II Race and it dominates the “Fast Sea Kayak” class here in BC. I used it during a 275 kilometer downriver 24-hour paddle this past June( as well. For an even faster kayak, there is the Necky Phantom which I’m getting this Spring from Necky as my Team Boat for 2004. This kayak fits into the “High Performance Class”.

If you are looking for more of a flatwater racer, check out the Simon River Sports kayaks at

The Necky website is at

Cheers…Joe O’

There’s a distinction to be
made between Olympic K1s (which are typically limited to 17 feet in length and take splashdecks rather than sprayspirts) and fast sea kayaks (which take full sprayskirts and can be used in the ocean). Only one boat that I know of straddles the categories (the Moskito FW2000 that Ravn posted about recently).

So your first decision would be which category you’re interested in. You may want to check on the racing classes in your area, think about whether waves, current, and wind are important, and decide whether you prefer leaning/edging (which a sea kayak can do) vs. level paddling (as in an Olympic boat). Olympic boats are usually paddled only with a wing paddle, and their foredecks are shaped to reflect that fact (very pinched at the feet). They are also often extremely tippy–place one in the water and breathe on it, and you’ll capsize it. People spend weeks or months learning to stay upright.

I’m no expert in Olympic boats, and can’t offer you any help there. The fastest sea kayaks I know of are: West Side Thunderbolt, Necky Phanton, West Side EFT, QCC 700, SEDA Glider, P&H Spitzbergen, Necky Looksha II. Which one is fastest depends very much on water conditions–straighter keels and more plumb bows are faster in flat water, whereas boats with more rocker and rise are probably faster in waves (e.g. the Looksha II, which I found quite slow on flat water, but which can win ocean races).

Given your height, you’re going to find many of these boats quite deep–bathtubs. I’m 5’9" and add 2.5 inches of foam to my Spitzbergen, else I hit my hands on the coaming while paddling. I found the Glider too deep. I haven’t tried a QCC yet, but am looking forwards to it.

One other in-between category you might be interested in is Olympic training boats. NELO makes a great boat called the Razor–it is almost as fast as a sprint boat but much more stable, and very enjoyable to paddle.


I just bought a Capella from P&H and see no mention of the Spitzbergen on the website or in the product review section. I am interested in looking at the boat. Can you give me more information or direct to another source?



I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the Spitzbergen was discontinued.

I’ve paddled the Capella many times and it is a great touring kayak!

If you post on a few sites, you may be able to find a used Spitzbergen but I doubt if there are all that many in North America unfortunately.


Hmm… I heard that it
was special-order only, but perhaps it has been discontinued. To bad…


no surfski?
how come? I use them in the North East and have adapted to the cold with various clothing options. Reasons you might consider: for cold water. When you fall in a kayak you must roll and you will get your head wet. In a surfski, you can often fall off the ski and keep your head dry, furthermore you do not need to learn how to roll. some people can fall off the ski and be back on and going in under 20 seconds. Ski hull shapes are great for lightweight paddlers and are faster than kayaks, but are also in a different class. The Mako millenium is one of the fastest out there now, and the MArk 1 is a good choice right below that. The MArk 1 is tippier than the QCC 700 and is faster. One other thing to consider about the ski is: if you are making any trips to the coast and want to paddle the ocean, the ski is truly at home there. ski rudder pedals are in line with your hips and i have found them to be more comfortable paddling over long distances. Hope this helps, I know you said that you were not interested in skis, but if its the cold water that is affecting your decision, you will be in it no matter what you pick.

Development K-1s?
Curious what experience anyone has had with the development K-1s, such as produced by SRS (Laser), Kirton (Tercel), etc. Are these viable for use in training on a variety of conditions, relegated mainly to calm, flat waters, or is this largely dependent on the specific design of the craft?

Special Order?
hmmm…you are probably correct. They did not sell lots and lots of them but I cannot see them getting rid of the mold. You should email Patrick at P&H Kayaks in England and see what he can do.

Cheers…Joe O’

SRS Laser
I’ve never paddled the Kirton but I HAVE paddled the SRS Laser. It is fast and pretty easy to learn in. I have a Prijon DR Race kayak and I’d say the Laser is more stable and is also faster on flatwater. With experience you could paddle it in decent waves as well. The price on these is also extremely good! You should check them out.

Cheers…Joe O’

I’ve paddled the Plastex version of the Tercel. Very comfortable and a notch faster than my Q600. Foot board and tiller stearing with a fairly narrow paddle entry point make it feel sprint K1 ish from a technique standpoint.

ICF boats I’ve paddled:



Cleaver X.

Lancer: I got comfortable in the Lancer within a day. Not the fastest thing on the water but faster than a trainer and tolerates a wide weight range.

Orion: Don’t really know. First tippy boat of any description I’d ever tried. Won a couple of heats and then fell out in the final just before the finish. Was throwing braces during sprints so I wasn’t comfortable enough to judge it. At 200lbs I was too heavy for it anyway.

CleaverX: After paddling a tippy ski all summer I tried a Cleaver X for a 2mile race. Trimmed out really well at speed. Turned well. Faster than a surf ski in a flatwater sprint. Comfortable with a low seat. Immediately dumped with a high seat. It’d be a tough boat to learn in.

I bet the Raptor that Venturesport and Oceanpaddlesport are carrying would make a good comfortable inland marathon and year round training boat.

A couple more
Current Designs Extreme and Vivianne by Kajaksport. I paddle an old Glider and find itto be a pretty fast boat. It is also a fairly cheap way to get a fast boat. Mine was $600 and it leaked like a sieve. I put some fiberglass over the holes, and put in a bulkhead/footrest. I also took off the rudder. It is an ugly kayak but fast and fun. I am 5’8" and 180lbs and I fit ok. I also put in some outfitting to snug up my hips. Lots of footroom for getting in with the Mukluks.

Hi Sanjay,
Did I read somewhere else you are coming back out?

Hoping you get a chance to stop by… maybe you can put another boat on the list.

And another…
What about the SRS Dart/Dart-X? It’s billed as a fast touring style boat. Seems similar to the intentions of something like the EFT, even though the specs might be very different (haven’t checked 'em on the EFT). Fast, light weight, some obligatory hatch/bulkhead storage… Anyone paddle one?

One more
The Tideline 19 might be worth looking at as well. Not Westside fast but versatile.

local races
Go to the local races and see what people are racing and what classe are offered.

Test as many boats as you can.

Happy Testing Dan

P&H Spitzbergen
I emailed P&H regarding the Spitzbergen which an earlier poster suggested was unavailable. The very nice woman that responded indicated that it is still available and she is mailing me the specs, pricing and availability. I will post the results when I get them. Also, she indicated that P&H is releasing a racing boat later this year. She did not have any info yet other than it will be 20’x 17.5". Interesting to see what they release. With their reputation it should be one to consider.