Need a better kayak for racing

I’ve been in a few races the last couple of years and haven’t finished worse than 5th out of 40 something competitors, but I’m paddling my old pungo classic which is short and wide compared to these guys coming out lately with racing kayaks. I came in third this year and finally decided to get something better but I’m not sure what to get for around 1,000 or less. I see some sea kayaks that look sleek but I’m racing in rivers with class 3 rapids so I don’t know if they will work or what to get? Any ideas for a good kayak? Thanks

Downriver racing?

– Last Updated: May-08-07 12:31 PM EST –

Not sure what kind of racing you're doing, but if it includes rapids up to class 3 it sounds like "wild water" or "downriver" racing.

What boats are the fast guys paddling?

If you can safely get through the course in a Pungo, I'd think that one of the more manuverable poly sea kayaks should be OK. A used Tempest 165 or Avocet might work for you. Heck, almost anything longer and narrower than the Pungo might work if it fits you well. Necky Manitou 13 or 14?

A used slalom kayak would be another approach.

Here are a couple of other possibilities, from companies that make whitewater boats:

Pyranha Speeder:

Perception Wavehopper:

Liquidlogic Pisgah:

What kind of racing kayaks are they…
using in Class III ?

I was going to make a suggestion, but when I saw the “Class III” I changed my mine?



A bit confusing
If it’s truly class 3, a Pungo shouldn’t be there at all. But if it’s Pungo-able with reasonable safety you should be able to use all sorts of boats.

Current Design or Wilderness

– Last Updated: May-08-07 11:58 AM EST –

CD's Kestrel 120 or 120HV
Wilderness' Tsunami 125

I use the Kestrel 120HV on everything and it is a wild ride on class III but I'm getting ready to switch to WS Tsunami 125. CD quit making the Kestrel in red.
My Kestrel 120HV is tired and time to hang her up The seat is molded into the body and has cracked from going over waterfalls up to 8 feet. And don't believe those who tell you can't do it. I have even rolled it with a nylon skirt. I've paddled it over 6,500 river miles and the bottom doesn't have a shiny spot on it unless its a new scrape. If you like any of the other colors I'd recommend the Kestrel although the Tsunami may be faster.
Good luck and please post your final decision.

Not sure about the class III…

– Last Updated: May-08-07 12:01 PM EST –

But you might consider a fast poly boat:

We've had great reviews from the folks who have paddled our demo model. However, this would be a bit long for true whitewater conditions -- it's fast, but longer than your Pungo and would not be a good choice if you plan to do more whitewater in the future. There are also some fast Necky poly boats with good lines in shorter lengths, although they tend to be a bit heavy.

What rivers are you racing on?

It would be a big step from a Pungo but you could try a Wavehopper or an even bigger step would be to see if you can find a secondhand wildwater racer.

looking for a better kayak

– Last Updated: May-10-07 3:02 PM EST –

Thanks for you replies. I'm thinking about going with a polymer manitou 14. It's going to be less stable than my pungo but I think I can manage. I use it more in slow rivers in Virginia with class I and a few II rapids for fun anyway. I usually go on the dan, staunton, and tye rivers in Virginia. I was looking at one in the local kayak store and it's $900, now I'm just going to shop around and look for a used one. The crunch rocket 16' looks good too but I couldn't find a price for it.

If your racing is no higher than …
Class II, look around for an older Perception 17 foot poly Eclipse.

You should be able to pick one up for about $600.

I keep one just for down river racing and it has never let me down yet.

Keep the rudder up, read the river and there won’t be many that will beat you.