kayak design missing the boat

I figured that title would attract some attention, but I do think it’s true. I find it very curious that, other than personal preference, the only metrics that go intochoosing the right kayak are your weight and shoe size. Why isn’t there any consideration to your center of gravity and how high it is off the seat? As a 6’3", 240 pound paddler, with a high center of gravity, I speak for an ignored kayaking population. Currently I paddle a P&H Capella 166 and over the past 3 yrs have gotten myself to an intermediate level. I’ve got a decent roll and braces and have begun some surfing classes. I know I’m better suited to a Capella 173 or an Impex Assiteague, but even those boats are an inadequaate solution to my problem. My high center of gravity makes it impossible to have any sense of comfort or confidence in conditions beyond 2" of chop. I really reallly don’t want to move away from a performance, british style boat, but I am beginning to think I will have to. Does anyone have a solution I haven’t thought of? I have thought of loading up my boat with weights, but that seems a bit silly. It just seems to me that kayak design inappropriately lumps all paddlers of a given weight into a boat, regardless of how far off the seat their center of gravity is, and speaking from experience, that just ain’t right

no solution but
loosing some weight might help a little…

No offence, but how come our society seems to have reached a point where ‘being heavy’ is normal and rather than takling the source of the problems, we look for the industry to accomodate us…

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you’re fat. But your body mass index must be off target somewhat…

No offence taken. I’m not where I want to be weight wise. If I were to lose 8 percent of my body weight, I’d be ripped. I bet I’m not at the end of a bell curve in making that statement. keep in mind, the BMI was developed over 150 years ago and is a simple means of classifying physically inactive individuals with an average body composition. It does not take into account bone structure or Muscle mass and all else equal has less validity the taller a person is but I really don’t care to deate this topic. I also highly doubt that loosing 20 lbs proportionally throughout my body is going to solve my problem. Thx anyway.

wrong answer
the Capella 173 and the Assiteague are designeD for soMEone my weight, just not somEone my weight who is as tall as I am. A shorter person my weight (higher BMI) would be just fine. Again, there is a missing consideration in kayak design.

Sorry… Disagree…
you are big but not so big there isn’t a boat on the market that wouldn’t “fit” you. If you feel like you’re in a tippy boat then, yes, try a size bigger. But more important, get yourself out in the surf as much as possible (with backup) and progressive wave size and develop the comfort level that will allow you to relax and trust yourself and your boat.

I surf a waveskis where I sit about 2" or more ABOVE the waterline. The shorter waveski makes my old 18" wide skin on frame feel like a bed in comparison. With the ski, I feel pretty comfortable in stuff that some longboaters don’t even want to go in. Just to put a bit more context, heck, we got a kid around here who is bigger than me and surfs even a smaller ski. And he paddles out through bigger stuff like it’s nothing. It’s a matter of progression in skills and mental comfort level.


good advice
Hmmm. I was once told to just “paddle the tippiness out of it.” I know there is truth in those words, perhaps more than want to admit. Still, height and shoulder/chest weight are your enemy in this sport. Thanks for the encouragement.

Seat time…
When I said my boat was twitchy I was told that I was twitchy and not the boat… so true.

It’s more difficult with a higher CG, so just have to work harder.

…skillful paddling…

– Last Updated: May-24-07 9:36 PM EST –

Ditto greyhawk's! Whatever you want to call it..."J-lean" or "C-lean"...use it, along with staying relaxed in the legs & hips to whatever extent(small->large)to stay "active...balance-wise". Upper & lower body have to do separate things...keep the upper body over the boat.


OK, but…
I’ll accept that as my solution, but a truely properly designed kayak should incorporate a CG measurement. But I do accept that I’m preaching to the wind and short of building my own kayak from scratch, I’ll just have to deal with it.

there could be some changes I think
There could be some more swede form shapes that put a little more width behind the hips to give better security and make the boat feel more solid. What companies do is to simply take a decent design and crank up the dimensions in every area-deck height-length-width etc. This simply produces a jumbo kayak that doesn’t meet the bigger guys expectations I think. I know Seaward makes some darn fine models that are stable and fast.

thx very much
I will check this out. thank you v much!!

CG points won’t tell you much…
As every person is different…

More useful would be something like Sea Kayakers stability curves… You could compare how different boats react.


you ARE preaching to the wind
No offence,dude but you’re an oddball on the market so kayak makers won’t cater to your needs(not trying to be a dick,just being realistic).

Sounds like you’re built like a foodball player,fairly heavy but the part of you that ‘fits’ the boat isn’t big enough to justify a REAL BIG GUY BOAT since you want good performance fit.Have you tried an Impex Serenity ,Necky Elaho HV,maybe CD Sirocco/Gulfstream? Just random suggestions, you may get lucky.

Also,when you say “properly designed kayak should”(include CG measurment)…WRONG, what you mean is “kayak MARKETED to ALL POSSIBLE customer base should”

somebody will do it
Mark my words… at some point, someone WILL build kayaks that are custom designed to your specs, including a CG measurement. The result will be a better fitting kayak. Maybe it’ll be me, who knows. As the saying goes, you don’t sit in a kayak you wear a kayak. btw, your presumption was correct, I was a football player. Now I’m a kayaker.

stability curves
that information will surely help me narrow my choices more intelligently. definatly a step in the right direction. thx.

Don’t hold your breath . . .
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the manufacturers to market to a “CG specific” sector of the kayaking population - look how long it’s taken the market to start producing “women specific” models!


comfort or confidence?
You’re just in too small of a kayak! The issue for you is not lack of design options, it’s just that the one you have was not designed for someone your size. There are better options.

Higher CG mostly affects stability to the degree you can’t keep your weight centered over the boat. Having too little kayak under you naturally makes this harder. The simplistic “design” answer (since you insist it’s them, not you) is to widen the base of the triangle by adding more beam. There are already PLENTY of big wide kayaks like this - 23-25" - for you to choose from

If you want the fit, speed and rough water advantages of a narrower hull - the other option to gain some stability is going longer to increase the waterplane area, but the trade-off can be some maneuverability, etc. Given your greater reach and added leverage (you have advantages too!) this is not really a problem. There are already kayaks like this too. Try some longer boats. Tempest 180, NDK Explorer (maybe HV), NF Legend/Shadow, QCC700, KajakSport Viv, MANY others … Just demo until you find one that feels right and has room for you feet!Some will, some won’t - but if you fit a 166 OK most will! (note most of these I’m suggesting are actually narrower than your 166 too). Many have load limits enough that you could take an expedition load of gear and still not max them, and your lighter day paddling load would be near the design displacement (where it performs as designed/intended).

At your height/size a 166 is a relatively short kayak. You’re also near the top of it’s recommended load limit. Sinking it that deep limits it’s performance. Some kayaks get more stable when heavily loaded, others do not, and I suspect yours is one of the latter.

What are you looking for/expecting from the kayak for comfort/confidence? There are guys your size paddling surf skis. Getting more “comfort or confidence” is all about having more balance and control.

Let’s consider balance first. Being taller and top heavy may put more up there to balance, but that’s not automatically harder since balance skills are not really size dependent. You have longer reach and greater leverage to compensate. You can stand on one leg or sit on a balance ball much the same as a shorter person. Staying loose and relaxed is key. Seat time is best - and there are many onwater balance drills you can use. If you want a shortcut (something off-water, besides seat time) work on developing a strong core and flexibility. Try Yoga (seriously - a little goes a long way).

Now for control. Is your outfitting as good as it could be? Does it suit the type of paddling you do? Have you gone beyond the stock outfitting? Really experimented or just copied others? Obvious thing to check is the seat. Is it mounted as low as it could be? If not can it be lowered? Removed and replace with foam? It can be amazing what 1/2" will do here. Then there’s the thigh contact. If you’re rolling bracing well this may be OK. I like a balance where I’m not locked it and can move a bit paddling but can lock into the braces instinctively as needed. In a rough water play boat I’d want a bit tighter, a flat water cruise much looser. A decent solid backband - narrow WW style - mounted LOW so it acts more like a raised seatpan edge - can also offer more stability/control/feedback than some other seat backs, sling bands, etc. Watch the seat padding too.

why is a 173 not “the answer”?
You might search around for a Mariner Max,I think that might do it.

being overweight
Had to ‘weigh’ in on this.

I cycle (pedal style) 3k a year, I walk to the corner store or the 2 miles to the grocery store, I exercise, I eat a reasonably sensible diet (water vs soda ,skim vs 2% milk,ICBINB spray instead of margarine, brown rice and steamed veggies, dried cranberries and sunflower seed kernels for a snack)and I am at 218-225 (on a 6’ frame)regardless.

I applaud the guys who are in the 140-160 range…It’s not someplace we all can be.

And a males weight tends to be on the upper half.

Aside from sitting lower and outfitting the cockpit so you’re as much one with the boat as possible I’m open to hearing another solution.

a little ballast might help
I’m 6’2" with a high CG (a swimmers upper body, not fat). A found that a little extra weight placed on the bottom increased the moment of inertia enough to significantly reduce the “twitchy” feeling of a think kayak. It does not change the overall stability curve much, but it gives you a little more time to react - like having a loaded kayak. Just a thought. I used half of a lead brick secured behind seat.