Fast kayak for flatwater / whitewater

-- Last Updated: May-09-04 11:13 AM EST --

I compete in several 6 - 16 mile races each spring that feature mostly flatwater (with a lot of turns) and apx. 20% whitewater (mostly class I - II with a few class III drops)and am wondering what type of kayak folks would recommend.

I've been using in a plastic VCP Avocet RMX -- 16' x 22" . The Avocet has more stability than I need, and is too wide, too rockered, and too heavy (close to 60 lbs.) to be competitive with the fastest boats in the K-1 Long category. The paddlers who win these races typically use kevlar flatwater racing boats or kevlar wildwater boats. Who manufactures or sells these boats? (I haven't been able to find much info on the web)

And finally, does anyone have any experience with Sisson Kayaks. The Sisson Esprit seems to have the type of specs I am looking for.

glass ICF K1 with kick up rudder
Some of the more stable ICF K1s in glass/nylon with a kick up rudder a fast and plenty maneuverable for twisty rivers and light white water. Easy to repair as well when you hit stuff.

The Raptor from Knysna Racing kayaks looks to be a good candidate for a stable river marathon boat. Outfit with pedals and overstearn rudder and you’re set. These guys both can get the raptor.

Venturesport imports a bunch of designs from south africa in different layups. Glass/nylon is the cheapest and plenty strong. It’s a tad heavier but not super heavy. My K1 is glass/nylon and lots lighter than my sea kayak or surfski. Designs wide enough to accomodate a low seat are the most stable for marathon.

That espirit would be more comfortable than any of the ICF compatible designs that I know of. Those Kiwis run pretty severe conditions though so you may not need such a stable craft for flatwater and class I &II.

Sisson Nucleus 100
I am just starting to paddle my Sisson Nucleus 100:

so, it’s too early for me to talk about paddling experience, but I could share my experience with ordering/shipping if you would be interested.

try KASK
the Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers for some first hand experience.

Mr. Sisson is working out of Nelson, on the south island. His work is well known on both sides of the Tasman.

sportzhub forum
You may try this New Zealand discussion forum

to find or ask for information about this particular Sisson kayak.

fast boats
I don’t know anything about Sisson and don’t know much about racing, although I have done the Run of the Charles for the last two years. And there, I have seen a lot of boats from West Side Boat Shop in western New York (Lockport?). Long, beautiful, light boats with flawless workmanship and excellent speed.

Try Simon River Sports As Well…
They make a variety of light, fast, yet relatively stable K-1s at excellent price points. Decent wing paddles, too. I’m not sure you’d want something longer than 17-18 feet if you’re after optimum maneuverability for courses with tight turns. Kirton makes a nice selection also. A kick up rudder would probably be the best route for river courses with shallow sections, rocks, and submerged branches. The Westside boats are indeed beautiful; the ones I saw at the ROTC were mostly Thunderbolts and EFTs, up and over the 18 foot mark.

racing boats from New Zealand
There are about 3 builders in New Zealand that export boats,

Sisson, JKK, & Ruahine kayaks plus a few others. Most of these boats have been designed built for racing on Grade 1-2 rivers. Sisson & JKK boats there are several weeks waiting for delivery, Ruahine there are boats in stock. Sisson boats have got a reputation for being solid. You can find a link from the Sportzhub site for these. For a comparison try this site from one of the local canoe clubs,

The most popular boat for intermeadiate paddlers is the Ruahine Opus. I used to own a Sprinter which is a Lancer K1 hull (relatively stable trianing boat with a Whitewater deck on, - very popular for lighter paddlers, & I still hold a course record a after 13 years for the most popular Multisport race here