Fast Kayak for Flatwater Touring????

I am looking for a good fast, straight tracking and comfortable composite kayak for flatwater.

I have just finished a long search for an ocean touring kayak. I moved to Monterey, CA a couple of months ago and felt I wanted a different boat for ocean touring (all previous experience was on lakes/rivers). I finally decided that I liked a shorter, more maneuverable boat for the ocean and got a Dagger Meridian. I am new to ocean kayaking, but I found that I prefer a little bit different characteristics in a boat that will be used on the ocean than one for use on a lake. I don’t know if this is common, but I found it to be the case for me.

I am in the Army and will be moving again in about 18 months. I am not sure where I will end up, but I doubt that it will be near the ocean so my paddling will probably once again be only on lakes and rivers.

While the Meridian is a great boat, I think that I would prefer a faster, better tracking boat for use on calmer waters. I want to start looking now so that I have plenty of time to make a good decision.

I am 5’8, 175 pounds. I would like a boat that is about 17-18 feet (much over 18 feet and I don’t think I will be able to get it into a standard size garage). Comfort is very imporant as is a good tight fit with solid thigh braces. I would probably prefer a rudder over a skeg, but not necessarily. I like to paddle for fitness so I like a boat that I can push pretty fast across the water.

What would you recommend???



flatwater boats
For flatwater you probably don’t need all that snug a cockpit, especially if you like fitness paddling. I feel like a loose cockpit is better for a good forward stroke and snug is unnecessary for the simple edging that is needed for boat control in flatwater. Too snug and you can’t pump the legs or really rotate the torso. There are some flatwater boats that have fairly open cockpits that are very fast on flatwater and fun to paddle.

Then again, if snug is your preference then preference trumps my opinion since you’ll be paddling the boat and not me. Go with a standard sea kayak that is skinny and you’ll have something that meets you expectation.

A quick list of my favorite fast sea kayaks that will be fun on flatwater too:

-Q600 or Q700: 600 is better for your size than the Q700 unless you are planning on carrying a lot of gear.

-A Kirton or Nelo Inuk (same design, one build in in UK the other built in Portugal) is great 18’ seakayak that will handle a sea very well but is also very fast on flatwater though a bit of a hard tracker.

-Epic 18’: fast sea kayak that is popular among rec racers in the touring class of USCA races.

-West Side Boat Shop EFT: Hard to beat this boat for speed at its length and stability

But like I said, I like open cockpit flatwater boats for flatwater. If you know you’ll be staying on flatwater then an ICF trainer might be fun for you to have. I have an ICF sprint kayak built for paddlers to 230lbs (I weigh 190) that has enough reserve volume that I use it for day trips on flatwater in preference to my touring kayak. Some of these boats feel quite tippy at first and require some practice to get comfortable but then you are rewarded with great speed and the open cockpit allows for good stroke mechanics

Good stable starters in this class:

-SRS Laser and Dart

-Nelo Razor (have seen this boat in the rough stuff, one poster on this forum has used this boat in Long Island sound)

-West Side Javelin

-Kirton Tercel (Danny Broadhurst (D.A.M. Good Gear) has a copy of this boat built under liscence from Kirton and it is faily inexpensive. )

-Plastex Marathon Master (the kirton and plastex are the same design)

  • 2 more
    I like scombrid’s recommendations. Hitting a big demo day or symposium would probably be worthwhile with “the list” in hand so you can check them off, likes/dislikes.

    Two others I’ll toss on to “the list” would be;

    Impex Outer Island - you’re the right height and it’s a snazzy looking low volume very straight tracking boat.

    Impex Force 4 - have to wait a little while before it’s released so this might work well considering your reposting to another area.

    Also worth looking at in the chined realm would be a Necky Thasis in Carbon.

    See you on the water,


Comfortable and fast
Qcc-700 or 600 will fill the bill nicely. Very comfortable, stable, fast, well made.

Good list
Only trouble with the sea touring boats like QCC/Epic/Inuk/Outer Island/Force 4 is that there’s a good chance you’ll end up preferring them on the ocean too.

Longer is fine anywhere but rock gardens and extended surf sessions. Tight turning is not much of an issue when you have an entire ocean and waves to help you. I actually prefer my Q700 to Pintail for playing in wind waves - and for swell riding would also want the extra LWL.

The EPIC has been doing well in ocean races like the Blackburn Challenge. Q700 has more rocker - and pleasantly surprises me everytime I take it to more textured water. Inuk was designed for offshore racing. Outer Island is simply a fantastic sea kayak all around (waiting to see Force 4).

Get one of those - and the Meridian may end up for sale or used more as a playboat.

The ICF trainers would be a different experience - being more specialized to flatter lakes. Might be just the thing.

Some boats I’m eyeballing
VCP Aquanaut- noted for speed and tracking

Current Designs Extreme- may be a bit long for you @18’10". You might check the ANDROMEDA which is under 18’.

I’ve paddled neither of these boats but I will within the next year.

I currently have a Perception Shadow (glass) 16’8" and a WS Tempest 170 which are both adequate for now, but I’m feeling the need for more glide and speed.

Take a look at the "If only one boat"
thread. It seems you have been a kid in a candy store since you got out here and buy a boat and are not happy with it after you buy it. Go to a symposium or 2, go demo boats, rent boats. Maybe wait until you get PCS orders before deciding? Have you looked at the Kajaksports, Sedas, Eddylines at all since you have been here? Checked out the BASK classifieds? You are missing out on some great chances to easilydemo and buy some great boats.

Hey Horse Trader Matt
The local shop has a Seda Flatwater Racing boat hanging on the wall gathering dust. I can check a price for you.

OUter island from impex
Impes builda grat boat at a grat value. Teh outer island has reasonable stability acording to my friends who fit into it, and certaily seems to be easy to roll. I cannot fit into one so take this with a grain of salt.

I’ll send you an email. Thanks for the tip.


a couple of favorites
If I were looking for a fast touring/training boat. West Side “EFT”, Mariner II. If these are a bit long, then Epic 18 or West Side Seafarer Sprint. I have had a Javelin for over 20 years and it would be nice for shorter paddles & training in calm conditions, but maybe a little dicey in a lot of wind. West Side Wave Piercer is more stable & can handle more wind/waves. You can’t beat a seakayak for hauling gear & comfort.

Matt, the wavechaser series’ next
event will be in Santa Cruz March 12. If you are free you may want to check out the beginner skis for flatwater touring/fitness paddling.

I can’t speak for the recommended boats, but I do find I like a different boat on really flat water than I do in the ocean. I am still trying to figure out what my ideal flatwater/fitness paddling boat is:) I think it’s a rowing scull!

Keep Checking BASK
I bought my last three boats off BASK classified. If you keep an eye out you can find some great deals there.