LV + Big Paddler = Dayboat/Playboat

One of the things that the British kayak manufactures keep claiming is that an LV boat will be a good dayboat/playboat for a larger paddler. Why is this so? More weight in the kayak will make for a longer waterline length. Will that make the boat faster for a heavier paddler? Does that mean it will make the boat stiffer when it comes to tracking? When I hear playboat, I think more maneuverable, not stiffer tracking. Someone please clarify my confusion. I am 6’2" 215 lbs.


so, what LV “playboat"
do you think you would be able to “shoehorn” yourself in?

At 6’1” and 220Lbs I can’t find a single British style LV kayak that would fit me…

A large person in an LV boat will put it closer to its design waterline than an LV person with no gear. The large paddler will find the boat much easier to edge/lean than small paddler would.

“Low volume” refers mainly to the
volume above the waterline. If a manufacturer offers very similar models in normal and low volume, they may not trim the volume in the water at all. They just pull down the deck volume. In such a case, no amount of load will make much difference in speed or handling.

In other cases, the manufacturer may downsize the kayak both above and below the waterline. The result is a lower volume, but it’s also likely to be shorter at the waterline, and narrower.

So, LV can mean different things. A kayak that is LV because of low decks can still have normal volume below the waterline. It depends on what the manufacturer has in mind by “LV”.

I admit that I have no general knowledge of what boat makers are actually doing to achieve LV, but I have seen examples in touring kayaks of both approaches.

Valley versus NDK

– Last Updated: Apr-01-09 1:43 PM EST –

The Valley LV models usually have reduced hull volume - e.g. the Nordkapp LV is approximately 6" shorter and slightly narrower than the Standard Nordkapp with notable volume taken out of the stem and stern. NDK (SKUK) is another matter - Explorer LVs and Romany LVs have exactly the same hull as the standard versions.

angstom is right
Valley gives the ideal load in the Standard Nordkapp as 230 lbs and for the Nordlow as 180 lbs. Those weights are given as the ideal load for the boat to perform as intended.

When I paddle a full size Nordkapp unloaded it feels as if it is skittering on top of the water and is awkward handling. It is not getting its intended waterline and has too much windage. If I add 50lbs of ballast the boat is much better behaved.

When I paddle my Nordkapp LV unladen it is a fun responsive boat. I am its intended load.

My wife who is 50 lbs lighter feels about the same paddling my Nordlow unladen as I do paddling the full size 'kapp.

Overall load
Assuming no extended touring gear you will have extra capacity in a smaller boat…to a point. What happens with too much weight for the boats design displacement is it loses maneuverability.

Try a steep edge and sweep in a laden kayak and you pile water on the deck etc. Not unsafe, just dimminished handling.

An example: if I paddle a composite Eliza with just day gear I find it a fun, nimble, great surfing boat. Add camping gear etc, and it tips the scale too far and loses it’s playfulness, yet still paddles fine.

It’s just a displacement factor. Either a smaller boat will handle your weight with light load, or it will lose playfulness.

Yes, a laden hull can have a faster speed due to more LWL, but this is very minor and not so much real world. The laden hull will also have more drag, albeit less windage.

At your weight I think you’d find a number of smaller boats still very enjoyable provided you don’t haul too much gear.

…does this mean I can justify buying a Nordlow for daytripping, and a standard Nordkapp for laden voyages? (always trying to justify another boat!)

Following the formula for "how many bikes/boats does one need?

X = the number you presently have + 1

I use my Nordlow primarily as a day boat. I use my Aquanaut as my camping boat. My Romany as my skills boat. My Elaho DS as…

You can never have too many boats :wink:

I am 6’3" and 245lbs and I love the fit
of my Aquanaut RM LV and the P&H Quest LV. LV does not mean that bigger people can’t fit, just don’t plan on loading it up or multi days. As of this day, the Naut LV RM is best overall boat I have ever paddled, whch is funny because I bought it as an inexpensive boat for the family to use and for me to abuse in the surf and pool. I will never rule out an LV boat again because of this. Bill

Each manufacturer is different
Valley Aquanaut LV RM is larger than the Aquanaut LV composite. So while you might be too heavy for the composite LV, you might be closer to the RM LV for a day boat.

As mentioned the NDK Explorer has he same hull as the HV, the deck is higher for more leg room.

My personal experience: I’m about 6’ 2’’ and 195# had a Capella 169 (16 feet nine inches) and think I was just slightly too heavy for the hull. It handled fine but was a little harder to get up to speed.

My Valley Q boat is rated as ideal load at 200# and I’m right at that and it is just perfect. It was really challenging at first getting used to the stability, but the more I take this boat out the more I love it.

So I think I would be leery of the Nordkap LV that is rated for 180#, and the regular Nordkap that is rated at 230#. And the Nordkap RM would be between those.

There are a lot of really great boats out there, so make sure the fit is right for you, especially if you are buying new.

you don’t use the Nordlow for skills?

Seems it takes the MOST skills???



I think you’re on track

– Last Updated: Apr-01-09 12:34 PM EST –

with your thinking. As everyone is explaining, if the boat is bought intended to carry a load as an expedition boat, a heavier person has the same effect without a load. However, you're right about the handling characteristics. Expedition boats typically are designed with a bit more tracking and speed in mind than one designed with playfulness as a top priority. Aquanaut LV vs Pintail, Explorer LV vs Romany, Quest LV vs Capella. The dayboat is all about having the weight load in the boat that was best for intended performance without loading any camping gear, etc. However, the intended performance of an expedition sea kayak and one designed to be their most playful sea kayak are often different.
Just make sure you understand the connections between proper fit, performance and comfort. It's all too easy to think snug is good. I want proper volume for the particular designed kayak, appropriately close contact points, and nothing feeling snug against me just sitting in the cockpit. I don't want something restricting my hips from moving when I go into a strong forward stroke any more than I want to slide several inches against the side of the seat when I edge to turn. You can add a little padding in cockpits where they may be a bit big, but you're pretty much stuck if they're a bit small.

from what I read here…

– Last Updated: Apr-01-09 11:15 AM EST –

"LV" is a marketing term - not without substance but a bit ambiguous. When I think of a playboat, I think as much of hull characteristics as I do the volume of the boat.

good discussion
There are also good all around boats that fall between expedition and play boat.

These usually, edge well to turn, have some rocker, and use some skeg to track on rails.

My Q boat can do everything well provided the paddler can apply more advanced technique. I needed a boat that turns well, as I live on a very winding tidal creek, but also good in conditions. It’s a real challenge, though, I’m still new with it, so I"m not recommending it. Except, that I was looking for a good all around boat that fits my skill level.

It would be nice to know exactly which boat you are looking at, because I’m not aware of any Brit manufacturers who claim LV means play boat for a larger paddler. That sounds more like a sales pitch, although there might be a few that are all around good boats for your size.

Which LV?
If it’s Romany LV or Explorer LV, a person your size may not even be able to get through the downsized keyhole cockpit. The hull is regular size but the deck is lower, in addition to the smaller keyhole.

True it does :wink:
Yes the Nordlow requires the best skills of the sea kayaks I paddle. However, the Romany is the most confidence inspiring for developing skills.

I paddle the Nordkapp when I’m feeling most ‘on top of my game’ (your term I believe). I paddle my Aquanaut or Romany when I’m feeling less sure of myself.

For pool sessions, if I’m not using one of my ww boats, I most often use the Romany as it is not only a very supportive boat but is 1.5 feet shorter than the Nordlow and weighs a lot less than my Aquanaut or Elaho.

LV as ‘lower’ volume
I might be good to think of LV as meaning ‘lower volume’ not necessarily ‘low volume.’

Lv, Hv, it’s all relative,
but to what? The manufacturers all give essential dimensions, such as length, beam and cockpit dimensions, but few give waterline length and beam info. Some give total volume, but others give just the volume of the bulkheaded compartments. I would appreciate some standards here, so I can have and compare all of the facts. Ideal paddle weight, rather than suggested maximum load info would be nice to know. The 'Nord/low is right on for me as far as weight goes. If I knew all of the suggested measurements, I could make some real comparisons to other kayaks. Just my two cents. Ken…

I agree…and not syn. w/"playboat"
In other words…a playboat is likely lower volume, but a lower volume kayak may not necessarily be a playboat.