Body Weight vs. Maneuverability

How much does body weight effect tracking and maneuverability?

I recently purchased a Capella RM 166 and noticed while paddling with a friend that I had to work a little more at staying straight than he did. All the reports I’ve read stated that the Capella tracked well. It carves turns nicely and I was able to stay on course, it just seemed like I was trying harder.

I’m new to kayaking and I’m sure my skills could have something to do with it but I was wondering if the fact that I weigh only 150 lbs can have an effect on how my boat tracks as well?

I used to paddle a Capella
and I weigh only 141 pounds. I didn’t have any problem keeping the boat tracking. Especsially in the capella. Now, my paddling partner who used to paddle a Seaward Cosma, found that her weightdidn’t affect the cosma in a very positive way. She threw 20pounds of weight inside the boat and still had a hard time with it. The cosma was a higher volume boat than she was comfortable with. She now paddles the CD Slipstream and feels much more comfortable and confident.

Curse of the lightweight paddlers I guess…its okay, I’m with ya lol


Congrats on your Capella!!!

I Think At 150

– Last Updated: Apr-22-05 3:07 PM EST –

you're light for that boat, unless you plan to pack something in. It won't track the same for you alone as it would for someone heavier and/or carrying a load. Also, the "trim" could also be off to be affected by some weathercocking.


PS. I am 140 and find the Capella to be voluminous.

Have you considered . .
practicing with a WW boat to dial-in your skill relative to paddling straight? (length of stroke vs paddle placement vs boat yaw) Once you’ve learned how to make a WW boat run on a straight line at speed, you will never again concern yourself with how sea kayaks track regardless of how they are loaded, skegs vs rudders or relative boat volume.




– Last Updated: Apr-22-05 4:46 PM EST –

... on the boat itself (multiple interdependent design variables), and of course the paddler - but given that, the design displacement (not same as maximum displacement) should be taken into account.

If you and your gear are significantly below the intended load - it will handle differently than the designer intended. Whether that is OK or not depends on paddler and conditions.

In general - lighter than optimal would be more vulnerable to wind and wave forces - and possibly feel less stable (depends on height of load's CG too - tall paddlers tippier than short).

It should turn more easily with a lighter load, which could translate into less tracking (but also easier to get back on track).

What Jed said is really the way to deal with this. Being a new boat to you - that's probably the heart of it.

Ballast would be a poor option IMO as you just have more to horse around. Might "track" better - but you'd have to work harder at everything else. Always an easy thing to experiment with though.

The design displacement issue has caused the deck design of my kayak (QCC 700) to be changed twice. Originally it was designed to be an efficient (fast) gear hauler - and to be paddled fully loaded. Cockpit was centered - and probably best suited to a rudder. Trouble was most owners were using it as a day boat - and some racing - all with minimal loads - so it was riding high and weathercocking more than it would with the load it was designed for. QCC moved the cockpit back 8" to reflect the lighter loads most paddlers carried (packing it properly would still balance it right when loaded if you were tripping with it). This may have been the best version for use with no rudder or skeg - and OK with skeg or rudder, but the rudder mount dragged excessively due to slightly aft heavy trim (but more due to . This move worked to resolve the primary issue, but some complained it was too much - and that trim was off and some speed was being lost - so they moved the cockpit back forward 3". This seems a decent compromise. I have the 8" aft model, but moved my seat forward 3" to the current position. That gives me a one of a kind 700 with the latest handling configuration (which is better I think - a hair quicker and more nimble) and also better contact with the thigh braces and the ability to do better laybacks! Perfect for my uses.

Anyway, yes loading makes a difference in handling.

My Experience
In calm conditions high and low volume boats behave about the same for me. On a windy day, the higher volume boat is more difficult to maneuver; especially if the wind and waves are coming at a little angle off the stern. Quartering?

I know a few people who

– Last Updated: Apr-26-05 9:49 PM EST –

paddle the capella. I have spent some time on the older plastic model myself. Not what I'd call a strong tracking boat,

Now an outer island, or a surge marine those are strong tracking boats, even the quest tracks pretty strong, but it does weathercock unless you've got some serious weight in it.

Thanks for the input…
The optimum load range for the Capella RM is 143-265 which I fall within (obviously on the low side without gear).

Based on the responses it seems like there are a number of schools of thought on the issue. I don’t have access to a WW Kayak for practice so I will just keep working at this one. I’m sure my skill level has something to do with it and in time things will improve. It’s a great boat and I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time in it this summer.

Thanks again.

the roto capella I own
has quite a bit of rocker.

but jed’s suggestion is a good one.

I’d say work on the engine/rudder (paddler) kayak is not the issue.


paddler weight &
boat volume will affect performance. I have seen 2 big guys in OT Loons’s who had a hard time cause the boats were so low in the water.

Paddle ???
Tracking can also be affected by your paddle and paddle style. Are you sure your paddle is centered? Are you sure you are centered in the kayak? Do you have a good paddle that cleanly enters and exits the water? Is your rotation equal on both sides? Had any arm or shoulder injuries? Can you curl or pickup the same weight with each arm? Do you paddle high or low position? Is the paddle length correct for you? Is the paddle truly symetrical?

See … many different variables beside the yak can be questioned regarding tracking issues.

A good GPS that can record tracks might be a good tool to use in your quest for straighter tracking, as well as a friend with a video camera to record your actions from the front and rear.

Impala Bob

trim has a massive effect
Being too light for a boat will make it a bit more squirrelly but correcting course deviations should be easier as well since the load is light. Bow heavy trim is more likely to make a boat track poorly.

When I first started paddling a lot (2002) with a focus on fitness paddling and rec racing I was about 205lbs and paddling a QCC Q600. At that weight I was probably a bit heavy for the boat actually but trim was still a massive factor in handling. Being in grad-school at the time I was a bit short on time for training so I frequently commuted by kayak and used those paddles to and from school as training paddles. I also usually had a change of clothes, food for the day, books, and a laptop computer packed in the boat. I played with trim quite a bit, usually by accident as I’d put critical things like the laptop in the front hatch because that hatch always stayed bone dry. I found that I could move it faster with the boat a smidge bow heavy but just a tad too much stuff up front and it would bow-steer and weather-helm severely. I would often stuff a dry bag with clothes as far aft in the rear compartment as possible to offset the bow heavy condition created by laptop and book placed up front.

Once I went for a day paddle with my brother and he put a water jug in the front hatch of his NF Legend with nothing back aft. He had a heck of a time holding course with just that few extra pounds up forward. He had to deploy the skeg in the slightest beam wind and that is with the Legend being a fairly neutral boat.