British Boats: Who Likes Them & Why????

I realize this is an overwhelming generalization, but I am just curious to hear what people say…

I am a big fan of British boats. In my limited experience with them I find them to be great overall boats----not necessarily the fastest on the water, but great handling, great feel, and great rough water characteristics. I also think that they have great aesthetics, and a good bit of nostalgia based on the countless expeditions in which they have been used. It seems that they almost have a “cult following.”

I would think that there are few kayaks out there that can compare with their rough water characteristics.

Why do you like them / or not like them? Do you feel there are better rough water boats out there?


good question and will generate
a lot of study in not only what pleases the eye but what lines determine how a boat handles.

My truest Brit boat (not Brit style)is a Nordkapp Jubilee which I’ve paddled the pants off of. I was at Sea Kayak Georgia when I first saw it and honestly I bought on looks alone, to me the red deck and while hull only accentuated one of the most beautiful boats i’d ever seen. Its retired now in lieu of a Lincoln Eggemoggin which is also a Brit style boat with 2 major differences, mote noteable is the fact that the Egg is over 20 pounds lighter. It is the weight thing, or in actuality the Diolene in a true Brit boat to me that determines that it is a Brit boat versus Brit style boat. Here’s why- the Nordkapp can hit a rock garden and survive easily, the Egg would not survive what the Jubilee could. Well the Egg is semi-retired for a QCC700, this reflects the type of paddling I’m doing now…long basically flat lakes grinding out many miles with much camping gear. The QCC will soon be semi-retired when a Feathercraft Whisper arrives. I’ve decided to pursue in greater effort the Greenland rolling techniques and feel the Whisper will be my entry into this sub-sport.

So in a nutshell when I hear Brit boat I think of the Nordkapp with its incredible strength, but also its incredible weight for cartopping.

Also note that the Brit boat in its intent is almost always in possession of a ‘day hatch’ and the Brit style boats have followed suit. Whether you are a believer in them or not (me,not) they are there and copied by most manufacturers.

All of this IMHO :slight_smile:

this will sound silly but
bone dry hatches is the best feature. Yes, my Sirius is lovely to look at and rolls like a dream and tracks well and fits me like a glove, but I do miss the volume of my QCC for camping. If they managed to make dry hatches I’d consider switching back. Lyn

are we talking
british built, greenland designed boats? Or british built british designed?



British Buil and designed
I was referring more to British Built and British designed…but feel free to expand to British Built, Greenland designed.

Good question

– Last Updated: Jan-14-06 10:39 AM EST –

As discussed on other threads, it can get confounding between those that are made in GB and those that are made by other manufacturers who studied those boats as reference for their designs. Then there is the root of sea kayaks that can be traced to some original greenland boat - kinda like the Arab horse which at some point donated DNA to a huge number of breeds.

I tend to get along with Brit boats better than most others, similar to when I rode horses. An honest Morgan or Quarter horse is as good a horse as any of the thorobreds I had the fortune to fall off of, but in the end I always felt more confident jumping with the ones that I could barely control outside the ring.

I could talk about how well various boats handle conditions, but I only notice that after I've fundamentally gotten comfy with the boat. And that topic does tend to get very "lively".

well first off, I am by no means an
expert in this topic. The only boats I have spent any significant time in are the capella, sirius and soon the bahiya.

But, in my opinion, and I hope others can expand on this…boats like the Anas Acuta, Q-boat, bahiya are highly influenced by greenland kayaks old. Each of these boats has an impressive history, which outlines that they did draw heavily for these designs. Those are what I would consider greenlandic design, but british manufactured.

I’m pretty sure I’d be just as happy in either one :slight_smile:


Rolling the Wisper
While the Wisper will roll (Dubside) the rib immediately behind the seatback is quite high and very uncomfortable for the layback. (at least for me) You might consider making a “rolling rib” out of plywood to replace the factory rib when practicing rolling.

To further confuse things,
where do boats that are Greenlandic in influence, designed by a British designer, and built somewhere other than England fit in?

For example, Nigel Foster’s Shadow, Legend, and Silhouette are all built in by Seaward in Canada.

His Rumour is built by Current Designs in the US.

Derek Hutchinson designed the Gulfstream, Andromeda, Slipstream, and the Sirocco. They used to all be built in Canada and now are built in the US.

Do you call these British boats, British style boats, or what?

Brit, Greenlandic, Brit inspired, etc…

– Last Updated: Jan-14-06 3:34 PM EST –

Most I know, myself included, prefer Brit boats first for their handling (especially in rough seas AND when honing skills), secondly for their resilliance, and thirdly for their appearance. Though for many the attraction of their appearance is inseperable from their performance.

Most Brit boats (and many others) have the Anas Acuta somewhere in their DNA. The Anas is very much a Greenlandic boat based very closely on a specific West Greenland kayak. Peter Orton, on another thread, asserts that the Anas is best thought of as a Greenlandic boat. This can be contrasted with the Nordkapp which is often said to be the archetypal Brit boat. As was demonstrated on the other said thread, the Nordkapp derived from the Anas. As a fan of dialectics, I think of the Anas as both Greenlandic and Brit.

Sometime back, and revisited numerous times, there was a thread discussing what constitutes a Brit boat.

My two main boats are both undisputedly Brit. That is, they were designed and built in the UK.
My long boat is a Valley Aquanaut, designed and built in Nottingham England. My day/play boat is an NDK Romany designed and built in Wales. Then there is my poly boat, a Necky Elaho DS. Designed and built in North America, Necky asserted this boat was an "East Coast style" boat. It always struck me that it was inspired by both the Romany and Greenlandic boats with some WW thrown in the mix.

Brit boats
I think Brit boats are very trendy right now. That probably counts for a lot of the hype we here about them (not to mention Q-cult). They also have some very good designs on the market. But the Brits, like everyone else, have also designed and produced some dogs. TITS and TITS2 certainly contribute to the popularity of Brit boats on this side of the lake, but good boat design will be found originating anywhere in the world and most will have some characteristics of other popular boats of the time ($ales).

I do feel that some NA builders produce better quality products, particularly in composites, but the Brits are catching up fast - witness Peter Orton’s remarks regarding Valley on the other threads. On the other hand, I will tip my hat to the Brits for building the best quality poly boats right now (welded bulkheads, water tight compartments, etc.).

I currently own a Winter’s boat (Swift Bering Sea) and a Valley Avocet. Neither were choosen because of aesthetics, but rather because of handling characteristics I desired, and economics.

We are also enthralled with another British import right now, the Mini Cooper. But who knows, in five years we may be chasing after some other hot new car design or the latest and greatest new sea kayak. Will it be Australian, British, North American, Russian?

I found the following an interesting passage in an early edition of John Dowd’s “Sea Kayaking - a manual for long-distance touring”.

“My personal preference in a touring single is for a roomy, stable craft around 24 inches in the beam.”

Granted, he is originally from New Zealand, not the British Isles. I wonder if his preference has changed over time? This was published in the 1988 edition.


Good post wetzool!
Knowing a few designers in the industry, and development history of a few popular boats, it’s always amusing to read internet descriptions of “how” a given boat was derived.

I like mine
Old Valley Nordkapp with the integral skeg. Got it cheap and it is real durable, handle rough and flat water well. I like the Romany in rough water. It is slow but feels rock solid on a broach, handles steep waves well. I just kind of stumbled into these boats. If I was looking for new boats, The Currituck by Impex and the Viking by Kajaksport would top my list.

not to hijack the thread
but I think Dubside removes the rib immediately behind the cockpit for rolling??? read that somewhere but cant remember where…on most Feathercraft bots there is an option ‘rolling rib’ that one can buy for the particular boat in question,i.e. Kahuna, Big Kahuna,Khat, and so on.

For me it is a moot question because my list of rolls can fit on 3 fingers…when I get to the other hand then I will address the rib issue.


– Last Updated: Jan-15-06 10:35 AM EST –

"I think Brit boats are very trendy right now. That probably counts for a lot of the hype we here about them..."


I think everyone I know (you and me included) who has Brit boats has them because of the performance of the boat and the pursuit of deeper skills.

The trend I'm perceiving locally is the desire for better skills in a greater range of conditions. This has resulted in more paddlers aquiring boats suitable for such - whether that be your Avocet or Ken's Ellesmere.

great question
My first class in August 2005 at CCK gave me an Easky and we stayed in the Pillar Point harbor until the end of the class where we paddled past the seawall towards Mavericks and only saw a bump of a swell. One instructor and six students comprised the class…

One week later at my class with Riptides and Rapids they gave me a Posedion and we stayed within the Redwood City harbor. One instructor, five students and one assistant instructor comprised the class. It was windy; we saw chop and we paddled around in circles, one direction then the other!

Not sure of the boat my wife had in the first class at CCK. It was rotomolded. In the second class at Riptides and Rapids she had a glass Avocet.

We went to the San Mateo Paddlefest and tried a lot of boats. Really a good way to demo!

It is January 14th and our Brit boats were picked up in Olympia by Jim who owns Riptides & Rapids in Mountain View and they are waiting to be foamed out. Laurie got a Romany Elite and I got a Romany HV. We don’t even have paddles yet!

I think we like Brit boats because of the experience we had through Riptides & Rapids. They represent Valley, NDK & Lendl. It just felt right. Good boats, good gear, two experienced paddlers (Andy & Steve) teaching the class. Steve was doing rolls to stay cool and I think the potential for skill development. It was cool.

That’s why we like Brit boats.

a segment of market changing
Wetzool and JIm and all,

Beyond fads, hype, etc. there are real reasons for why some Brit boats are one of the best choices for those who are looking for a mixture of performance and fit in bigger conditions and are into skill development.

Although not talked about when you go into a kayak shop, most of the sales for the last years up till fairly recently for the expensive boats has been for a popluation of kayakers who never want their boat to capsize. The boats have been wider, with higher decks, and right or wrong, big cockpits so the yuppie paddler does not feel trapped and can move around. Hey, the dealers know their market!

Now we witness a growth in plasic wide slow rec boats that may threaten the higher end dealers. Hopefully not. But there is a small trend like in our area, of interest in learning futher skills and taking ourselves into more difficult and varied conditions.

So not to disparage american boats, but they have simply been designed downwards and for different configurations than the brit boats is those ways. So imo, not just a fad, but just different. No reason american companies can’t do the same thing, i.e., impex not refining the Force boats. IMO, they will get there with a good boat in small time if there is a market for it.


I just got one this year

– Last Updated: Jan-15-06 11:17 AM EST –

Or I should say just this past year (fall) And I have very little real time in it yet but I can say this. Compaired to the Perception Sealion that I had the P&H Quest handles much better and has no bad all. The build is impeckable, no foam bulkheads, water tight hatches, excellent day hatch, hardware and outfitting is much better and more funtional. In windy conditions this boat is a dream with the skeg deployed. It looks like it may nose dive a little in big waves but there is plenty of volume forward to pop it out. It cuts water and glides better and dose not push or pile up water under it like the old boat at speed. It has rocker and turns nicely for a big boat. You can look at the hull and see that it's much more than calm water kayak.

Great beginer boat
I quite agree with what Evans said: Brit boats are NOT dumbed down for the fat, lazy pond paddlers who fantasize about expedition boats!

Not all North American boats are fat and big. But when a novice walk into a rental shop, that’s mostly what they got: a fat, “stable” boat that doesn’t require, nor allow, skill develpement. They were almost NEVER steared to the, say, Gulfstream, Tempest or Chathem, which are North American manufactured, brit’ style boats.

I’m going to confuse the issue some more by saying I believe brit boats are actually great boats for beginers! At least, that’s the view I got from Jim at Riptides and Rapids!

What Jim in Riptide and Rapid did was great that he almost “forces” you to take some class to get the required skill. It’s not a coincidence that he had some of the best instructors in his shop! Because with Andy and Steve, a couple lessions was all it took to get passed the “beginer blues”. With that kind of help, a novice quickly progress to be a paddler capable of handling different condition and HAVE FUN in them! With a capable boat, that is.

This gets me to what I like about Brit or Brit-style boat. Comapre that to the other extreme, rec-boats: recreational kayaks are easy, entry level boat for non-skilled paddler in flat water. Brit boats are, to me, “easy” boats for the more skilled paddler in non-flat water!

Before I tried the Avocet from Jim, I had already tried a few others good ones, such as Gulfstream, Nighthawk etc. But I’ve also tried a few other NA boats that are way too big and with very high decks. Sure, they’re comfortable to sit in, but a dog to push around in the wind (which, btw, SF has plenty)! So, when I tried the Avocet, I was impressed by the EASE of handling the wind and wave, by an athletic novice! While some boats are clearly for advance paddlers, many brit boats are actually great for beginer who has the basic skill!

I beieve it’s novices
who get all fused over this beginner / advanced boat stuff based solely on stability or dimmensions. Most of the Brit boats talked about on this forum are excellent beginner kayaks for an athletic person getting started. NDK boats, renowned for rough water ability are very stable and predictable. Avocet is a very fun, capable boat that I’ve put beginners in with no problems. A kayak like the Nordkapp may be a little tippy for some, but that is not because it’s an expert boat, it’s because it’s a boat designed with forward efficiency in mind at the cost of some stability. (that may make it harder for a total beginner at first) I believe any expert would grab a Romany, Avocet etc., over a Nordkapp for tidal rapid play, rock gardens etc. The Nordy would be the choice for distance touring. Nostalgia is powerful stuff, and I think people create a lot of it around these kayaks. Find one that fits your needs and paddle the thing, regardless of where it was made!!

Some could, and have, argued that the Brits are making boats to suit the American market more…revised Nordkapp, Aquanaut, etc… I doubt that personally. BTW, there’s a reason most kayaks in a class look similar…it’s cuz they share attributes hydrodynamically / hydrostatically that work for the crafts intended purpose. There’s a reason surf skis look similar!

Give me any boat within a (class that fits my style) and I’ll have a ball with it. Example give me any one of the following: Avocet, Romany, CH16, Pintail, Currituk, T-165, etc., and let me tweak the outfitting to my taste, and I’d have a great time in any of them. They are all good. I may develop a preference based on one boats fitting something unique about my style, but that does NOT make it the best, only the one for me. All of the above are compromises.

The reason fat rec. boats are far more popular is because they meet consumer needs for a stable, easy to use, cost effective, non-intimidating, way for people to get out and have fun. Guess what? There are more of those customers out there than us! I see this as an entirely different sport. Good day ya’ll…