Classic or Quirky Kayaks

Leaving aside comparing them to the feature sets, performance, and designs of newer boats like Tide Race, Cetus, and Etain; curious about opinions of others about older boats that often seem described as quirky as opposed to classic. For example, the NDK boats, AA, and Nordkapp are often said to be a classics, but other boats which seem to have similar traits in terms of more demanding due to low stability are described as quirky. For example the Nigel Foster boats, Pintail, and the Bahiya. Do these boats have some characteristics that makes them unpopular or not good performers? Or just they never became well known? Or just they suit a limited subset of paddlers? It seems one common thread about quirky boats is people either dislike them or they really like them. Perhaps that means some are more willing to deal with negatives to get superlatives as opposed to wanting/liking an all around competent boat. Still, don’t think of the Nordkapp as an all around boat so why is it a classic and the Bahiya quirky?

Question came to mind when I was looking at a real bargain on a Bahiya. Given its orphaned status and reputation, I was faced with conundrum of whether it was solid boat not appreciated or really quirky boat to be avoided. A routine test paddle unlikely to resolve the question.

If you wear a skirt and nestle into a
"cockpit" then ipso facto you are beyond “quirky” and well into “kinky.”

But if you know some all-around excellent kayaks, by all means, tell us!

My take on it.
A quirky boat can become a classic depending on what else was as widely available at the time of it’s original release.

The Anas Acuta was the first commercial fiberglass sea kayak so becomes a classic by default. I still occasionally paddle one and still find it fun.

The Nordkapp was probably the first widely available expedition kayak and was used for ground breaking expeditions eg: Paul Caffyns circumnavigation of Australia. I found my Nordkapp HM to be much less fun to paddle and definitely quirky.

The NDK Explorer is IMHO not quirky in any way and is one of the most capable and forgiving designs I’ve paddled. This combined with it’s use on attention attracting expeditions gives it classic status.

The Bahiya is a much more recent design with many more alternatives so is a small fish in a big pond whereas the others had far less competition and were big fish in a small pond.

The Barry Buchanan
Caribou. Not the CD one in any incarnation

The Pintail has two quirks
Not only does it not track strongly, it tends to hunt around like a bird dog. The standard joke is that Pintail paddlers actually paddle twice as far on any given length trip. The skeg neutralizes that behavior for the most part. On the plus side, it is extremely maneuverable.

It hits a wall at around 4 knots. Trying to go any faster is futile. Trying to keep up with people in faster boats can be exhausting.

Pintail Without Quirks?
I have never paddled the Pintail but I kept hearing about how well it behaved in rougher conditions. Do you think it would be fair to say that boats like the Delphin and Alchemy have replaced the Pintail? That they maneuver well without the quirks?

disagree… for the most part
I am going to have to respectfully disagree with several of the things said.

First, I would say that the Pintail is certainly a classic. It is essentially an Anas Acuta with soft chines. And…the Anas Acuta was largely based off the Greenland kayak brought back by whatever the guys name is from Greenland (can’t remember his name and not going to look it up for this post). I want to say that was in the 50s…and the Anas Acuta then became pretty much the father of all modern kayaks.

Now that is not to say that the Pintail is not without tradeoffs…which I would not necessarily describe as quirks. Although I have to admit that the Anas and the Pintail are among two of the only Brit boats I have not owned, but I can’t fit in them.

The issues described above about the Pintail are completely a function of its high degree of rocker and short water line. These cause it to track poorly and have a poor top end speed, but also give it the great characteristics that people love about the boat–its high degree of maneuverability and playfulness.

There are no free rides in boat design. It’s all about tradeoffs.

So the Delphin and others probably track better than the Pintail, but are not going to be as maneuverable. Speed and tracking, maneuverabilty and playfulness…pick two.

Classic designs: certainly the Nordkapp, Explorer, Romany, Pintail, Anas.

Newer designs I would describe as “innovative” and they differ from more classic designs. They may offer better performance, and may not. I don’t know for sure. Again, there are tradeoffs. I can say I have paddled a Cetus, and found it to have a really neat combination of characteristics, and it was much different from more “classic” designs, but not sure if it is “better” It has its tradeoffs too from what i understand (in high winds and following seas where it supposedly does not track well).

Now…boats that are “quirky” perhaps are ones that appeal to asmaller population of folks. Most boats are designed to sell and therefore aimed at a broad population of people.

I would say that the boats that you describe as “quirky” are mostly hard chined boats. Now they are kind of quirky and do appeal to a smaller population of folks. They have a unique feel that some like and others don’t. And, some would say, that the design of a hard chined boat is largely aimed after a traditional look and does not offer optimal performance.

I am not sure if that statement is true…but it might be. Most higher performance boats do not have super hard chines like the Foster boats, Greenlander Pro, Anas Acuta, Bahiya, etc.

I personally like hard chined boats and think they feel fun and cool to paddle, but am not convinced that they are superior in all conditions.

On the Bahiya…that boat never really caught on i think, and perhaps there is a reason for that. I owned one for a while and did like it, but it was quirky and i found it weathercocked a lot…and i am not going to own a boat that needs a skeg in the wind.

Last statement…you said that NDK boats are classic in that they have low initial stability. NDKs are certainly classic, but are far, from a boat that has low stability. Quite the opposite.

Is it just niche role?
It was an error to imply the NDK boats lack stability as they certainly have that. Interesting point about maybe boats seen as quirky are built for a limited niche market. Not sure why that would be, but good point. Maybe boats seen as quirky just have distinct personalities that do not have broad appeal, but are competent. As opposed to a boat that has some generally bad qualities. If you liked the Bahiya, but it was quirky; what does that mean in terms of what made it quirky?

I think we mostly agree.

I woudl say that there are niche boats that appeal to a smaller crowd. Many are hard chined that appeal to people who like a unique feel or the style of a Greenland boat (like dedicated “Greenland” paddlers) Many of these boats though lack what will make them appeal to a broader group of folks: primary stability, secondary that kicks in early, and perhaps the degree of predictability in conditions that most paddlers want.

I think there are some boats out there that appeal mostly to more skilled paddlers and are less suited to beginners or intermediates. Those boats are going to have a smaller following, be less profitable for the maker, and may be niche or quirky boats.

Then there are boats that are cool but have “quirks” I find the Greenlander Pro to fit into the niche category to an extent and to have some “quirks” in that it can be a bit sticky in rough conditions and gets tossed around a lot, and can be a bit unpredicatable in rougher water at times. But it’s still a cool boat.

The Bahiya was cool, but since it weather cocked a lot I found it not suitable for me since i don’t like to use a skeg. i also think it might have been a little bit of a handful in conditions, but I did not get to try it in big stuff. I think it appeals to a smaller number of folks due to its design and very low stability. I thought it was cool and fun, but a beginner would probably hate it.

I guess we need to paddle a Pintail and an Alchemy back to back to determine which, if either, is more maneuverable. Keep in mind the Pintail is 17-18 ft while the Alchemy is 14 ft.

Jaguar XKE / Nordcapp
How much more beautiful does it get?

An absolute nightmare to maintain and a great classic that newer sports cars can run circles around.

Nordcapp is a classic for many of the same reasons. A beautiful boat for it’s time and there was nothing like it in it’s class. Not forgiving of any mistakes.

Maybe that explains it
"An absolute nightmare to maintain"

As the Car Guys say “Darth Lucas, Prince of Darkness”

I actually owned and red lined an XKE a few times. Maybe that explains why certain boat appeal to me.

Why shouldn’t more recent kayaks be overall better performers just as more recent cars are? Maybe those who prefer classic or even quirky boat are just the kayaking version of those who enjoy driving sports cars from the XKE era and performance as such is not all that important to them.

The Pintail and Anas Acuta…

– Last Updated: Jan-09-13 12:53 PM EST –

...are very different boats, regardless of their common lineage. I've owned both for several years, as has my girlfriend and her housemate (3 of each, total). I've also paddled the old-style Pintail hull (which I prefer) and the post-'95 version, which is squarer in the bilges and higher volume overall.

The tracking on the Pintail is not just loose; with the skeg up, the bow really tends to hunt around and it does not like going straight. I find its behavior to be considerably different from other loose tracking boats I've paddled.

The Anas Acuta tracks considerably better than the Pintail and doesn't require significant effort to keep it going in a straight line. It's not as maneuverable as the Pintail and although the hull speed isn't much higher, it approaches its limit more gradually; there's no "wall" per se.

Unless you've paddled a boat, you really shouldn't try to predict the subtleties of it's handling.

My father drove two Jag XK-120s
in succession, and both engines failed. (Had partly to do with both being supercharged.)

His boss, who sold him the Jags, had a gullwing Mercedes 300SL with which he did speed runs at Bonneville every summer. With swing axle rear suspension, the gullwing had to be driven very carefully when one neared the limit, or it would jack up over an axle and hit the ditch. But a similar design was raced successfully by the factory, until at LeMans, Pierre Leveigh clipped an Austin Healy along the straight and the Mercedes flew into the crowd, with a death toll around 85. Mercedes withdrew, and I believe Hawthorn won in a Jaguar D.

I am not convinced that the Nordkapp is such a “high maintenance” and unforgiving boat. Personally I find it fairly reassuring in rough water–it rides so smoothly over oncoming waves and is so transparent to beam waves. Sure it’s a little loose in the initial stability, but it is very capable, and super maneuverable in rough water.

I would maybe describe it like a Porche–high performance, but maybe a little twitchy…???

i got
the pintail because i wanted the challenge of a kayak that needs to be “paddled” all the time. Mine is the newer versionthat propably sits a bit higher in the water, than the old. Still its an extremely playful kayak. its very smooth in confused seas and it tends to find the best way through comlex waves on its own if one lets it. Im sure its pros and cons to the change from old to new when it comes the (S)pintail. While it is not the fastest on flat water it fast in rough seas. This is a dedicated kayak for playing in waves and rough seas. I tried a Delphin this season and i didnt like it. Too big for me , very high primary. Not my cup of tea, but many like them. I havent tried the etain yet, but many friends have got the and love them. I guess the etain is a very good allround seakayak, in the same league as a tempest 170 or ndk explorer. besides the pintail i use a zephyr 155rm that o love and a arrow ivalu hardchined greenlandkayak. The zephyr is very playful but is more steady than the pintail. More defined primary and secondary. the ivalu is hard chined, but is VERY low, giving it exeptionally little wind resistance. But since it sits so low in the water also on edge its more difficult to turn lets say 180 degrees in rough seas. im not a big guy.174? and perhaps 70kg so thats an important issuse.

The poster above hit on something critical when he mentioned that the Pintail is slow in flat water but relatively fast in rough water.

There is no question that boats perform much differently in flat vs. textured water.

The Nordkapp is one. It is not super fast on flat water, nor super maneuverable, but it seems to come into its own in rough water and seems fast in these conditions and quite maneuverable.

My Greenlander Pro is somewhat the opposite in rough water in that it is very maneuverable on flat water, but somehow less so in textured water. Boats perform much differently in rough water and what may not feel right on flat water (the analogy about the Nordkapp being like a Jaguar needing a lot of maintenance) may not hold true when the boat is used in the conditions it was designed for.

feel free to call me Sven.

Rough water is the great equalizer
Keeping up with other boats on flat water can be a real bear in a Pintail, but it’s no sweat when things get rough. I never found the Nordkapp to be slow on flat water, but it definitely feels more at home on textured water.

i have gotten the pintail almost into planing with my longest 260GP and some kind of racing stroke.