I have a soft chine SOT yak and in confused seas it’s all over the place , the only thing that makes it track straight is a rudder. I’m thinking of getting another yak but I might get one with hard chines to help with tracking. What do you guys think? FishHawk
In identical hulls, the hard chine will track stronger than the soft chine.
There’s so many variables that you would have to try them to see if you like it. It’s not uncommon these days for hulls to be rudder or skeg dependent.
It’s more than just the chine shape
A pronounced stern keel that’s down into the water will help a lot. If your tracking problems are due to wind then it can be a combination of too much kayak above the water line and a rounded hull shape without some pinched stern keel below the water line. This will also change with the amount of weight in the kayak. If possible try to test paddle a kayak in the conditions you’ll be paddling in before buying it.
What Jay said
There are so many variables in designing a boat and hard VS soft chines are just one. You can have bad tracking with either one.
I just designed and built my first canoe. You think of canoe as loose tracking boats generally. Mine has a slight V in the bottom with small pinched ends. My thinking was that just a bit of ‘rudder’ shape would keep it from going all over the place. Well it tracks like a train to my surprise despite it’s mostly flat bottom. The ends had a MUCH larger effect on the tracking than expected and it is multi-chined too.
Best advice is don’t buy on a preconceived notion, but paddle it and see what it really does. A smart designer will regularly break the rules. Because the rules you read around here are not always true. Lots of misinformation is spread around as truth.
hard vs soft chines
Hard chines on a hull won’t necessarily make it track more easily. There are many flat-bottomed (planing hull) hard-chined white water canoe and kayak playboats. These boats are made to spin on a dime, and do so. They don’t track at all, unless you dip a chine down in the water, in which case it acts somewhat like a keel.
A lot of canoes and kayaks with hard chines have a shallow V bottom. The shallow V will act like a keel and run somewhat deeper in the water and that will assist tracking.
Many canoes and kayaks have a “skeged stern” shape to assist tracking. Even a not very prominent skeg like extension at the stern stem has a big effect on tracking.