Hard Chines vs. Soft Chines???


Which do you prefer and why? Perhaps this question has too many variables…so please be wiling to make broad generalizations.

I have always liked soft-chined British style boats, but I know there are a lot of people out there that like the hard chined (true-hard chined boats) Greenland style boats, and other hard chined boats like the Nigel Foster boats. I have not had the opportunity to paddle many hard chined boats, and never have done so in rough conditions.

I am curious to hear why you prefer one or the other and your commentary on such issues as handling, rolling, and rough water performance.



makes very little difference…
The primary advantage I see with hard chines is that the chines can be actively engaged when edging the boat which seems to help in turning. Regarding rolling, hard chines can either hurt or help depending on how you roll. The boat tends to settle on a chine which helps people find that secondary stability sweet spot when balance bracing but when rolling that same chine requires a bit more force to overcome versus softer chine boats. As to how the boat paddles, its more of a question of hull design and the chine is just one small variable.

I currently paddle a Silhouette and a rolling SOF which are both hard chined boats but that is mostly because they are both Greenland inspired and the chines where not a primary consideration in buying the boat. I like low volume boats and most if not all lower volume boats are hard chined (OI being the notable exception).

My opinion, one paddler’s view.

– Last Updated: May-18-06 2:00 PM EST –

I find that hard chimes over a back deck are very annoying. The wind can really play havoc with a hard chime. Very "noisy", esp in a quartering wind. Hit it with something, for instance an errant dry paddle, and it can really ruin your day (hands over ears) depending on the hardness of the chime.

Thus, a soft chime--esp if made of bamboo--is more pleasing to the ear almost without question.


Chime over back deck: ouch!


– Last Updated: May-18-06 2:10 PM EST –

Just noise for noise sake.. no melody.. prefer no chimes.

Actually hard chines, easier to build, you can set the boat on it’s side, I like the control and not having a rudder or a skeg....

a nice rail!!!
on a surf boat…


– Last Updated: May-18-06 2:21 PM EST –

hard edge boats supposedly surf and plane better than round bottom boats. my hard edge greenland boat is a surfin fool! : )






on a surf boat they actually ARE
rails…the deck flares out into a nice long carving edge…

witha flat planing hull-nice and fast!

my two cents

– Last Updated: May-20-06 9:28 PM EST –

having owned a Caribou, foster shadow, and an NDK explorer.

The caribou gave a better sense of initial stability but with my overload in it at 225 pounds (huge shoulders, tall torso, considerable belly) I did not like the secondary stability or the transition.

I found the shadow to have much less initial stability but loved the secondary in the shadow. It also turned more easily for me.

The explorer gave me the most confidence with a smooth predictable feeing of stability.

The many factors at work here included the round bottom on the shadow and flattish bottom on the caribou; lots of things going on here besides the chines

Really, Really Cannot Generalize
a boat’s performance by one attibute. The chines are just one design element. I can make two boats with hard chines and one will can have great primary but minimal secondary. I can make the other with minimal primary and great secondary. This has to do with deadrise (or flare). Even with the general idea that chines carve hard turns can be defeated if someone builds are boat with fullness that extends close to the ends, as opposed to the more traditional Greenland approach of more pinched ends. Rocker here comes into play as well for the turning factor.

On and on and on…

When you talk about a design of the boat, you need to look at how all the parts come together rather than overly focuing on any one part. Know this doesn’t quite provide the answer you’re looking for but it is more true than any “generalization.”


2 Greenland Style Boats

– Last Updated: May-18-06 6:09 PM EST –

I have. One surfs okay, and the other is basically a submarine on any wave bigger than 2-3'. It has nothing to do with the chines.

Of my long boats, my mystic surfs the best, followed by my Montauk. Both have rounded chines. There are other elements at work related to the volume distribution, hull bottom and rocker.


Right on
You hit the nail on the head. I could never rate a kayaks handling characteristics by the type of chines it has.