I’m looking for some advice on fast sea kayaks suitable for short (5’1 and under) women. Sorry for the novel below.
I’m an experienced New England area sea kayaker. I’ve been wanting to get into a FSK rated boat forever, particularly with the goal of doing the Blackburn Challenge.
I’ve done the actual Blackburn course, but felt I was a bit too slow in my ancient Necky Elaho, which is at the poor end of the waterline length to width ratio in the sea kayak class. For those not familiar, the Blackburn uses the sound rowers classification on boat classes which can be found here: http://www.soundrowers.org/boat-classes/
Last year I did a ton of research, and talked to a few shop owners I trusted. I was frequently recommended an NDK Pilgrim or Pilgrim Explorer, but I was torn between NDKs and an Epic 18x. I wanted to buy used, which is fairly easy to do in New England.
I ended up finding a used Epic 18x sport at a very low price. Here is the problem. I’ve logged about 300 miles in this boat in conditions ranging from flat water, to tidal rivers, to open ocean and difficult conditions. The boat is incredibly fast. In flat water and rivers, which I usually find boring - this boat is super fun.
But, put it in the ocean and in any kind of conditions (normal or challenging) and I hate the boat. It is a tippy, squirrelly mess that is actually unpleasant for me to paddle. I’ve handled it just fine without capsize in all sorts of challenging conditions, I just don’t like how it feels. The Elaho, while slow as all get out was a boat that was so stable I was confident in downright dangerous conditions. With the Epic, I feel like previously “every day” conditions are crazy and the boat is in a constant state of “about to tip”. Somehow I always mange but I’m not longer enjoying sea kayaking. I worry about being in this boat in suddenly, truly dangerous conditions, something which can be a reality in the areas I paddle.
I am now trying to figure out if the Epic 18x is the wrong boat for me, or if this issue can be fixed. I’d like to stay in an FSK boat not only for racing, but to keep pace with my husband who is in a Greenland kayak. In the Elaho I would fall behind, in the Epic I’m pacing him with ease over very long distances and sometimes outpacing him.
Some of the issues I considered that could be contributing to my issues:
The boat is higher volume. I’ve paddled both HV and LV kayaks and I prefer LV due to the fit because I’m small.
We’ve played around with the seat/foot board position which helped marginally.
We then considered that maybe I’m too light for the boat? I weigh about 40% of the total weight capacity of the boat. We were considering adding ballast but with how terrible it feels I’ve been dragging my feet on trying.
Is it possible I’m just the type of person who is incompatible with a squirrelly boat? Or perhaps I’m incompatible due to my size/stature?
My question is then - is this boat issue fixable? Or would someone like myself be better served by one of the more traditionally stable, made for small people, but “faster” NDK models. If it helps, I’m also a weightlifter so my arm and leg strength is above average for a woman of my height.