Cockpit widths?

I build SOF kayaks and I while back I realized that my coamings were not wide enough for people with larger builds. I am not small but I have small hips so I fit with room to spare. That makes it hard for me to judge because they just seem huge to me.

Just trying to find out what is typical and what size a stout built person would want?

Rim size hasn’t been a concern
My biggest issue on cockpit sizes has never been the rim width. If I have an issue, it is with the length, which dictates how I can get into the craft. Any width over 16" opening will work for me to get in, the seat width is what counts.

I am 200+ and 5’11", and I am real happy with a 33-35" long cockpit as I can do a ‘butt drop’ entry and then get my feet inside. A craft with a 29-30" length is very challenging.

Of far more interest in fit is the inside dimension (simply called depth), as I don’t like a straight leg, or too far to the exterior placement of the knees.

I have two boats with the ‘same’ cockpit opening, one is comfortable for hours, but it’s wider and shallower WW partner has me wanting to exit after 45 minutes.

My personal peeve on manufacturers dimensions is that they rarely assist me in judging my fit, they are only good to indicate if the purchase will also require a new skirt.

My girlfriend is about 5’ 4" and about 140. We have virtually the same hip width (I can set the hip pads to suit me and they are fine for her) but she is comfortable in shallower craft than I am, including some I can not get into.

That’s all the measurement/size info I can share.

cockpit fit
there is no one answer, regardless of individual build - or whether it’s a custom SOF or production boat.

some folks like a looser fit - for comfort and also for positioning. Others like a close fit; it gives them performance and control. Comfort might be secondary but no one wants to squeeze into a torturous fit!

IIRC it was Nigel Dennis who suggested a finger’s width betw hips and cockpit seat. I actually like it a bit closer (and yup wet exits and re-entries are fine).

for other people they want two fingers, or a fist, etc.

That’s just talking’ butts and hips. Some folks are slimhipped but have robust thighs. Depth of cockpit and placement of thigh braces will need to be tweaked for them.

If someone has large dimensions in all respects (butt, hips, thighs, and abdomen/torso) then depth of cockpit, width of seat, width betw. seat towers (if such apply), location and shape of backband (if such applies) will probably all be greater.

And cockpit dimensions - well, larger folks generally do not take to ocean cockpits, and some keyhole cockpits AWA modified ocean cockpits,. do not allow much leg clearance (for slim or robust physiques).

Height of foredeck is a factor for sure. Larger folks need more clearance - to enter, exit and do rescues.

Fit can go seriousluy awry with a SOF - even if one is building it for oneself…

I know a local paddler who built a fine looking SOF, well made in every respect. But even w. float bags her weight is not properly distributed, and the bow rides quite high (as the stern rides quite low). It’s quite apparent. Don’t know if she realizes it. One solution would be to lose weight, but the suggestion won’t be coming from me LOL

There are many factors to fitting an individual besides cockpit dimension. If you are building to sell, wait and see what someone wants!That is one of the advantages of a SOF And they should have some idea and some preferences from boats they owned or have tried.

quick answer
check out some catalogues, online or hard copy, and look at the models offered for large paddlers… see the dimensions. Companies like Current Designs, Eddyline etc have detailed specs you can translate to your own designs.

Better yet, go to a demo day at a local paddle shop and demo the models for stout people. Being a boat builder you’ll prolly pick up a lot of useful info by observation, use and intuition.

Good idea
I don’t know why I didn’t think to look at some of the manufacturers info. I guess because I do not keep up production boats at all? It just never occurred to me.

I was designing a new coaming this morning and was thinking while I was at it I should go ahead and detail out a couple of different widths now and I will have it when I need it.

I got 1-1/2 spare coamings …

– Last Updated: Aug-27-10 3:13 PM EST –

... that can be yours for next to nothing -;)

It was VERY frustrating experience to get the coaming right to fit me in my first SOF kayak that I am just finishing. I think now I know how to do it next time (if there is a next time) but as a first-time builder I did a lot of trial and error "prototyping"...

Given that you already have a kayak designed, I presume, your best bet would be to have at least two sizes of coamings I would think. One for larger folks one for slimmer. Since the kayak width would vary with the paddler's build/weight, I don't see why not to vary the coaming too.

I'm not sure if a coaming that's too wide is good or bad. As long as the front is not in the way of the paddler's hands during a stroke, I'd venture to say that wider than a sqeez-fit is probably a good idea.

While designing mine I was also thinking about the effect of the coaming on static braces and rolling. If it is too narrow the body of the paddler will push on it and that might be uncomfortable or even interfere with the kayak angle that one is supposed to control with the hips. That said, if it is low volume boat the coaming would be low enough to probably not matter if it is a tight fit. But if the coaming is higher-up the waist, then I think some additional width might be a good idea.

Curious to hear what others think of this...

With a waist of 34-36 (but bony wide hips) I am comfortable with coaming widths that are barely a finger wider than I am. But adding a couple of inches does not seem to hurt either, as long as the cockpit fit is good otherwise... That means from 14.5 to 17" is probably good for me...

Length? The length you need for knee/shin clearance depends also on the angle of the cockpit (for a given person of course). The more raised the front and lower than rear the shorter the cockpit can be and still have enough clearance.

What are SOFs used for?
What are the dimensions of the coaming you are using now and what is the beam of the boat at the coaming? I believe if the SOF will be used for playing around with rolls, etc then a wide cockpit is useful to enable the paddler to shift weight/body to one side. Of course a wide coaming on a 19" kayak is not all that wide. Not uncommon for SOF paddlers to need to re-center themselves after a roll…so use of the boat might be a factor. Someone who will primarily trip with the boat might prefer narrower coaming and less space for hips to move.