Kayak Design 101

What defines a “balanced” hull. I imagine in theory the old almost perfectly symmetrical 70’s white water kayaks would meet the definition, but most sea kayaks of today aren’t symmetrical. They typically either swede or fish form, but I have heard of both claiming to be balanced. Can they both hold to a similar bow and stern (by shape and volume)? If not what do people see as necessary to make one or the other a balanced boat?

for me
a balanced hull form is :

easily maintained straight ahead balance

easily changed balance to turn

easily stopped change of balance to stop turning

easy to do the above in forward OR reverse

easy to keep upright in balance

easy to edge and still maintain balance

so balanced in the YAW, ROLL and PITCH plane.

swede/ fish/ symetric has little to do with it.


form follows function
I agree that is what a balanced hulls function should be. But not all forms will follow this function. My origional premise of this post was to see if there is a p-net consesus of “forms” that seem to achieve the “function” more succesfully then others.

me thinks
that any form (swede/fish/symetric) can be made to work toward balance, long as it’s not radical in shape.

case in point- Mariner- HUGE swedeform, deep skeg, loose bow. actually will change course when edged. difficult to paddle in reverse. Paddles great AND balanced- forward.

steve (throws up the flame shield)


– Last Updated: Jan-22-04 9:53 AM EST –

You seem to be very quick to make dubious negative comments about your competitor’s kayaks. Understandably you can not sell Mariner’s kayaks through your shop, as they deal directly with the customer. Any sale to them is a lost sale to you. I have a Mariner, and do not find it difficult to paddle backwards. Of course, I really don’t know why I would want to paddle backwards for long either.

Do you have any phototgraphs of you paddling a Mariner? Have you ever owned a Mariner? I am sure the Brozes have a record of who bought them. It seems to me the issue of a Mariner’s difficulty to paddle backwards is limited to people associated with Alder Creek.

“Paddles great and
balanced- forward.” “turns when edged” ?? “dubious negative comments” ?? what am I missing? I knew I’d need that heat shield! :wink:

The point was ‘balance’ and Mariner kayaks are well balanced. paddling forward, not in reverse. They ain’t balanced paddling backwards. They weathercock about as bad as any boat and are quite hard to steer. it’s all in the radical shape that makes them so well balanced in forward w/o a rudder or skeg. Big swede, deep skeg, long, loose bow.

Matt and I have gone 'round and 'round over the years and respect eash other. He really wanted me to buy his store so I could sell his boats. =:-0) AC competition? not really. Matt/ Cam have their following, always has, always will. It’s not a ‘style’ I particularly care for. Does a Tempest look anything like a Mariner? Does any other boat look like a Mariner?

I do have pictures of me paddling Mariners, both in flatwater and surfing at the coast. They’re slides and buried in boxes of obscure pics from the ‘olden dayz’. I had borrow of one, an Express with a sliding seat, for a while. I paddled an XL, a Max and a Coaster enough to know them well. Quite well, in fact.

FYI, many of the things we do on the coast require backing up. caves, rock gardens, rescues. and backsurfing is a hoot and takes a lot of skill. It’s something you might try and enjoy in a boat that’s balanced, forward and reverse.


Good answer Steve…
Now I won’t doubt your qualifications to comment on my favorite boat.

I do respect the design philosophy and understand the following it has. Some very good friend paddle M’s, as well.

I’m NOT all about dissin’ the competition, in fact on the contrary! I DO love paddling and figuring out what makes boats do what they do best.