Factors affecting tracking

I have a hypothetical question (maybe a bit naive).

Keeping other things equal, what affects more the tracking ability of a kayak: the presence of a keel or length?

E.g. would a 12’ kayak with a keel, like the Perception Sundance track better than a 13’+ kayak without keel (like this one: http://www.pokeboat.com/Cascade.htm)?


Generally, all else being equal (which it never is) a longer boat will track better than a shorter one. One foot though doesn’t change much. Going from a 12 footer to a 13 won’t make much of a difference, going from a 12 to a 15 or 16 footer will.

Bill H.

Bigger factor: The paddler NM

Greyak is absolutely right. I definately can be the paddler.

It can be the boat, but as for me, if-- I’m not sitting properly (slouching), have a leg bent, too far over on one side of the seat, don’t have my paddle centered, etc., I notice it right away.

This is one reason, those on this board are constantly recommending others to try out a boat before buying. I didn’t originally and the boat didn’t last long. I upgraded within 18 months.

Went from a 9’6" to a 13’ and now after 12 years, am going to a Necky Chatham. For my height, weight, paddling style, and posture, she runs so sweet.

Best wishes on working through this dilema.

In weather conditions
How you trim the boat

hull shape
the keelson shape affects tracking. a long (in relation to waterline) and flat keelson tracks. a rockered keelson turns.

a ‘keel’ is actually a bump ‘added’ to the smooth hullform, a ‘keelson’ is the bow to stern line directly under the hull. On a wooded boat or SOF it’s the long piece of wood under the hull that the ribs attach to. few kayaks have keels. Cape Horn is one.

length has nothing to do with it.

A 10’ Wildy Pungo tracks waaayayyy better’n a 18’Wildy Tempest. Pungo- deep V, little rocker. Tempest- very shallow V and lots of rocker.


an object not in motion does not move
exactly as Flatpick says. Having that Keelson makes the boat resist the forces on the boat that start it turning regardless of the direction of the force to the boat and regardless of whether it is in forward motion or reverse motion.

Once a boat starts to turn it tends to keep turning and in many situations the turn becomes harder to resist. Like a broach in surfing.

It is also true that the Keelson will resist corrective efforts to resist unwanted turning so that is why we have endless discussions here about what is the best boat for each condtion and situation and the dreaded idea that there is a perfect hull design that does it all.

good stuff
And, I hope you don’t mind if I use the only line in that third paragraph.

Thanks for the explanation
It sure changes my perception.

Put her on her side.
Put the boat on her side and sweep. with a headwind get the skeg out of the water with a tail wind drop the skeg or rudder. To turn into the wind use a bow rudder to turn and run with the wind a stern rudder a skeg, or use a real rudder.

Edging the boat and sweeps should get you where you are going.

If you don’t have a spray skirt forget that and make for shore.

It’s easy to make a boat track. It’s easy to make 'em turn. It’s hard to get 'em to do both!



I discovered that is was a “Me” problem.
I was convinced my boat was deformed somehow. It was me.

Bill G.

Not related to Bill H. other than being in the alphabet.

Mt. Pleasant, SC