Any suggestions for the most efficient or fastest 17’-18’ sea kayaks ever made? also which of those are still efficient with 2 nights of gear in the hatches? thanks.
my guess at the top suspects…
Tahe Wind 585
I own a QCC 700 which is almost as fast and great for touring, but I would have to say the Epic 18 is faster. I also believe Epic has added a day hatch to the 18X.
Whatever it is…
it will be someone besides me paddling it.
Epic 18X Sport
I’ve done longer trips with my Epic - entire Chesapeake Bay, Key Largo to Key West, etc. It shallows up an enormous amount of gear (plus 8 gallons of water when I paddled the everglades) and it is very fast and light (41 pounds). I can easily maintain over 5 mph with it and sprint over 6 mph. I bought a new blemished one from Epic for $1,800.
If you could find an Westside EFT with hatches and bulkhead you would be in the mix. It is still mostly about the Indian not the arrow. Greg Barton could paddle a plastic sea kayak at 60lbs and beat most in the FSK class in a race.
It’s the one
With the most powerful motor.
The boat that is fastest on flat water might not be fastest into choppy and windy conditions. So you can have very little rocker for highest flat water speed but you will lose out when out in the ocean.
That qualifies under the fsk class is going to be similar enough for touring purposes.
The Tahe Wind 585 is longer than 18’ as are the Current Designs Nomad, NC Expedition, SeaBird Sport 600 and a few others so I guess they don’t count. But my question would be, what difference does it make? If you are looking for a very fast touring kayak, there are lots to choose from and you might want to consider a little more than all out top speed. Build quality, style, tracking ability, comfort, stability and how it handles bumps are at least as important as absolute top speed. Your size and how you fit a particular boat is every bit as important as any theoretical top speed.
See list here
This new generation of ‘fast sea kayak’ doesn’t necessarily seem to be of the ‘quick on flatwater, but sucks in rough seas’ -variety.
The Taran is widely reviewed as being pretty good in the rough stuff, surprisingly stable. Freya, of course, used an 18X in circumnavigation of Australia. And while the Pace 18 is indeed quite a low-rocker boat, I’d find it hard to believe that an Aled Williams design would stink in the rough stuff.
The new boats seem to be blurring some of the old lines a bit. Though sure, there’s a limit. There’s not a lot of ppl who’d want to be in a full-on surf ski or K1 boat in some big gnarly stuff. But these aren’t those.
When goes past 10
When it goes past 10 to 11, it gets louder
err, uh, yeah, it gets faster
Epic- Touring Endurance 18 model - 10.5 -
Stellar has a new 18ft sea kayak that is really fast, so I have heard. Joe Zellner has won the Missouri 340 and the South Dakota Challenge in the Stellar. Joe had been paddling a Epic 18X and he told me the Stellar S18R is faster.
One of the great things about the Stellar is the foot pedals, they put the same pedals in the kayak as they do in the skis. they are the best pedals of any boat I have paddled.
The Stellar comes in 4 different layups, so it just depends on how much money you want to spend as to how light of boat you get.
I plan on checking it out Tuesday morning, I plan on doing a 10 mile paddle in the Stellar to check it outwith my gps and see how fast it really is.
The EFT is the fastest kayak, but if you race it you
will be put in with the surf ski class in most races.
I have high hopes for the S18R I will post my times after I paddle her in the morning.
A guy (forgot his name, ex surfer) paddled the Bering Sea solo Alaska to Russia…he had a kayak built for the trip…I think named the “Cheetah”…by a guy in CA or Fla maybe…the bottom was basically 1/2 of a pipe…so tough to balance that at first he had to hang his legs over the sides for balancing.
So the most efficient/fastest is any boat where max amount of area below the waterline is cylyndrical/round.
His kayak was I think 22’ long…19” wide…and basically a cylinder pointed at each end.
If something’s so unstable that it’s difficult for the paddler to ‘put the power down’, then it actually becomes a slower boat, despite its theoretical benefits.
For example, put a beginner or even many intermediate paddlers in a 17" wide surf ski. They’ll actually be slower in those for quite some time than they would be in a wider boat.
Eventually you get used to it and it’s fine, but there’s a learning curve.
Seaward Chilco 18
I was looking for the same thing as you. I first bought a Point65N XP18(made in China!!!) and traded it back in for a demo Chilco 18.5’(made in Canada).
I did some research on both Epic and the Stellar (both are made in China).
Based on what I experienced, I will never buy any kayak made in China…the quality was beyond crap.
My Chilco holds huge amounts of gear and is fast, plus the quality is excellent.
is a great kayak, and the quality is outstanding. I’ve been paddling one for years. It’s fast, but not nearly as fast as many ‘fast’ kayaks out there like epic 18x, q700. Even Seaward has a faster kayak in it’s line - the Quest.
Ergonomics vs hull design
The list by newbtastic is a good start;
Tahe Wind 585
I would add a couple more:
Valley Rapier 18
KayakPro Marlin (or Nemo, depending on cockpit fit)
Also, I would amend the Epic 18x to be the 18xSport, as they are different boats.
I have been fortunate to have spent significant time (including racing and play days in good sizes following seas) in the 18xSport, the Valley Rapier 18, and the KayakPro Marlin. And last Friday, I spent an afternoon in the TideRace Pace18, although the conditions were rather calm.
If was to race in a Sound Rowers rules race, I wouldn’t care which of those boats I was given…except the Valley, only because the stock seat fits me like a vise (I did race it once, and took out that nasty seat). While there is some differences in resistance at high speeds between them, I believe that the difference is not really worth arguing about.
Cockpit fit, and stability, that is different.
Primary stability. Things have changed- these boats are super efficient at 6kn, and can reach 7kn with all out effort. But unlike racing boats, they are all shockingly stable. With the exception of the Marlin, all them pass the pee at sea test. That is, they’re so stable that in non-breaking swell, I can pop the skirt and use both hands to use a pee bottle. Or, use both hands to put on or take off layers of clothing over my head. The Marlin is noticeably more “rolly”, and takes a bit more confidence to do those tasks but is not unreasonable.
Secondary stability. While still good across the board, there are some differences. The Pace has amazing edge stability, the Epic close, and the Rapier and Marlin good but much less defined.
Fit. This is where the biggest differences are. For calm conditions comfort and forward stroke efficiency,the Epic 18xSport is the best by a wide margin. The most open cockpit, with lots of room for pumping the legs. Plus, the wide and slippery seat allow for a lot of hip movement. Last, the full width foot bar with toe-tab rudder control has great comfort and connection (I added a foot strap much like a sprint boat). The down side is that the connection for rough water edging, bracing, and especially rolling, is marginal. Useful, but not confidence inspiring. BTW, the ability to move the seat to adjust trim is extremely nice. For paddling at higher speeds, it is nice to move the seat a bit forward. Be warned that the seat adjustment is easily clogged with sand and becomes hard to move and hard to clean.
Be aware that the latest Epics have a new hatch cover design, and the performance of them you would need to investigate. But the older hatch system…is terrible.I was hoping to do some fast, rough water overnight trips with this boat, but the hatches allow way too much water inside. As in, many quarts in a couple of hours of bumpy water.
At the other extreme is the Pace18. With my knees together, and pumping the legs, the top of my thighs contact the cockpit thigh hooks every stroke. The height is just enough that is merely a sensation, not movement limiting, and the hooks are flat, not “hooked” so it is not uncomfortable. As a comparison, I have a TideRace Xcite, and both the degree of “hook” and the height limit how much I can keep my legs together and pump. But overall, the connection of the paddler to the boat in the Pace is the most like a rough water play kayak. Edging, bracing,rolling are a dream.
The Marlin is closer fitting than the Epic, but doesn’t have the connection of a rough water sea kayak.
The Rapier is a bit odd- the thigh hooks are aggressively hooked, but the height of the forward cockpit is high, allowing for good leg action without much contact. But that same height works against good connection for edging.
Rudders. One concern is performance of these boats if the rudder is disabled. With the exception of the Epic, most of these boats demand constant use of the rudder (lots of stern rocker relative to the bow). The Epic is quite controllable in wind without the rudder. In the same conditions, the Marlin is nearly uncontrollable, the Rapier is a handful, but the Pace, while loose in the stern is surprisingly manageable. Not fun, but manageable.
That same feature explains the performance in following seas. I haven’t had the Pace in the same conditions as the other three (barge wake was the biggest I experience in the Pace), but I would rank them Marlin first, and then the Rapier and Epic a good gap behind. The Marlin makes the accelerating drop with great ease, and has less tendency to broach, and is more responsive. Unless…the wave peak is large enough to lift the rudder out of the water before the drop is made. In that situation, the Epic is the best!
I have a feeling that the Pace might be the best in following seas.
BTW, in flat water, with the rudder down, as expected edging assists turning. But with the Pace and the Marlin, they turn about the same edged “onside” as “offside”. The Rapier and Epic most definitely turn better when edged “offside”.
As for gear storage, the Epic is a gear cave, enormous. The Rapier is quite good, the Marlin decent, but the Pace is best for shorter duration trips.
I’ve paddled the Stellar S18 (and S14) and really enjoyed this fast boat. In a very brief nutshell it exceeds in speed and comfort, looks great, steers easily and tracks well. The stability is very smooth, and comfortable/fun to lay on edge. The layup is beautiful and lightweight. Negatives were that without the rudder I found it broaches very easily, and I had some major issues with superficial things like quality of outfitting, such as the assembly of the rudder and where the foot pegs glue to the inner hull, and rudder control lines binding, and squeaky seat. I believe most of these superficial issues were part of a learning curve that has since been addressed. The quality of the layup (deck and hull) is superb however, with a beautiful light-honey-colored honeycomb. I have high hopes for the faster S18R, especially since the S18 is already exceedingly fast and felt more stable than I needed. I’ve also paddled the Tiderace Pace 18, another exceedingly fast kayak and loved it as well. I could not say which is faster but probably liked the S18 slightly more. I find the S18 to be faster than my 15-year old Seda Glider and Seda Impulse and much more pleasant to paddle than a Nelo Moskito FW2000, which is of course faster.