Instructor's view on kayaks for class

-- Last Updated: Mar-27-09 9:45 AM EST --

Moving beyond my Greenland skill's question to all around classes for strokes, bracing, rolling, and maybe surf, what boats do instructors love to see their students show up with? Overall, I assume the 16 footers with good manueverability are favored. The posts clearly show the Romany at the top of the list. If you are a certified instructor teaching strokes, bracing, rescues, rolling, and maybe just intro surf, what boats rank up there as friendliest to develop skills in (not Greenland this time)?

As a student, my perception has been that the folks who have problems learning skills are often ones whose boats don’t fit them(usually too big), or who haven’t outfitted them. One of the biggest frustrations in a rolling class is falling out of your boat too soon, and I’ve seen a lot of that. Edge control is impossible when you’re sliding around in the cockpit.

Features like high seatbacks and high decks can hinder paddlers.

I’ve done some informal teaching, and my thoughts are:

Does the boat fit them?

Do they have a good fit in the boat?

Is the boat appropriate for the conditions we’re going to be in?

Is the boat appropriate for the skills they want to learn?

How long have they had it?

How comfortable are they in it?

Why this question?
I am curious what prompts this question. Desire to show up for instruction in a boat instructors like? Desire to have a boat that people think will make it easy to be a skilled paddler?

are the same skills…just a little differant aproach

Good paddlers , use the same skill set… it really doesn’t matter which paddle they chose to use…

Best Wishes


Not an instructor but
I have been known to be asked advice since, in a local motley crew I am often the only woman with both white hair and a roll. I also usually show up in boats that are outfitted for bigger water so people think I know what I am doing.

More seriously, we also ran some informal sessions for a bit for newer paddlers, and I was one of the helpers.

The fit thing is a huge issue, probably more so since this is an inland area where people usually are thinking about relatively flat water venues. It also shows up as an issue in winter pool sessions for people who want to learn to roll. Women my size (statistically average) or smaller regularly show up in transition boats with high huge cockpits and no useful contact points, also often overlong paddles that have been purchased to accommodate the bargey boat. They want to learn a proper forward stroke or bracing or even rolling. But the volume or fit issue gets in the way.

There was a woman in one pool session that came in with the perfect boat to learn to roll, and I wish more had gotten the kind of advice she had. Some thoughtful friend had gotten her an old Perception Whip-it, which fit her beautifully. She was very thin, not too tall and had great flexibility and balance. While she didn’t realize it because she was so anxious, she was popping her first rolls with no support by the end of the first evening. The boat really helped her along.

There are only two categories of strokes
Two coaches I know both say there are only two categories of strokes, but they describe two different sets of strokes.

One says there are right side and left side strokes.

The other says there are strokes that get you into trouble and strokes that get you out of trouble.

it’s the fit, not the name

– Last Updated: Mar-27-09 1:50 PM EST –

People show up in many skill-friendly kayaks of whatever length & maker & still struggle in classes or while practicing on their own, because that particular boat doesn't fit their particular body.

Many new kayakers' conception of fit is based on a general fit or feeling of comfort. Which is fine, that's a natural place to start, but doesn't mean they have the optimum fit for learning boat control.

Or they all claim that the boat fits them perfectly out of the box, which is true as far as they understand it, but not quite the fit for learning skills.

For that reason people might not customize their boats at all. Or they do simple things for comfort - which is fine, we all do, but not for any real advantages in boat control.

There is an intuitive & automatic assumption that because the boat fits better there'll be more discomfort.

There is also, spoken or not, the fear of entrapment which is aggravated by being underwater. This can range from none to significant and can be resolved w. time and experience. But until then those who are overly fearful will be less assertive in their boat fit.

As a result people are taking class w. kayaks that by design have great aptitude for edging, rolling, etc. but their fit in their boats makes it way harder & more discouraging than it needs to be.

And therefore much more challenging for an instructor to get the lessons across and leave the student feeling confident he/she can move ahead and practice on their own.