Nordkapp LV - 2 years later

I had a chance to paddle for a few minutes a fellow paddler’s Nordkapp LV this weekend. I got interested and dug-up this old overblown thread thread:

So, 2 years later, how do you (the LV owners there; others welcome), feel about their Nordlow? Still “in love”?

I’m still looking for that “special” boat that would be small in volume, playful and fast for day paddles (more like 1/2 day) in challenging conditions. That would not be tossed about by steep chop and winds too much but that will surf well and have a good turn of speed to cover some distance regardless of the conditions. Something like the Nordkapp LV could be it. Not that I will get one anytime soon though. Just purely theoretical (unless someone wants to do a swap for my Rapier 18, that is) -:wink:

Now, to give some prospective, I test-paddled the Nordlow after we came back from a 12 mile paddle that I did in my Rapier 18. If you’ve been in one, you probably would agree that just about any other sea kayak feels reasurringly stable after paddling the Rapier. So, not surprisingly, for me, the Nordkapp LV felt very lively and smooth and with a little stronger and better defined stability than the Rapier.

I did not find the Nordkapp LV twitchy or too unstable at all when I was getting in it. I did not need to use a paddle to stabilize myself while entering it nor did I feel unstable while paddling out. Actually, primary and secondary stability were better for me than what I feared they might be given all the postings I’ve read about it and that I’m tall at 6’4" and relatively light at about 180lb (which usually makes most boats less stable for me than for shorter folks of similar weight)…

That said, I did experience two of the often mentioned traits of the boat - the relatively early end to its secondary stability and, ahem … the ease of rolling back-up -;).

I am still not sure why I flipped shortly after I launched (it hapenned fast). I was not really doing anything too demanding - just checking to see how it responded to mild edging in almost flat water. But it just happened. Shame on me -:wink: But it rolled back-up so smooth and quick that I was almost as surprised that I was back up as I was a second before when I went over.

I did not feel any tippiness turning the Nordkapp LV around in the cross-wind and a foot or less wind chop. So I do not think the boat was “twitchy” at all. The Rapier in contrast begins to call for my attention in similar conditions (mostly because sharp waves tend to push its flat bow or stern a bit in side chop making it somewhat too lively there, even though waves, even much larger ones, just roll under its round hull just fine if you let it ride over them).

On a final note, I noticed that the Nordkapp LV weathercocked quite strongly. We had may be 10-15 mph wind on relatively flat water with under a foot of wind chop. I was not looking to evaluate for weathercocking, but after the thing refused to turn left as easy as I thought it should, I noticed that it was due to the wind-weathercoking combination. Ater each turning stroke I took, the boat turned right back upwind negating my efforts to turn downwind. I could turn in either direction if I wanted to, just I was surprised by the amount of resistance I was getting due to wathercocking. But that also showed that the boat was maneuverable. Dropping the skeg neutralized the boat, however I do not think it was enough to induce leecocking for me. May be my legs are too long and weigh down the bow more than idela, may be it is just the way it is. It felt fast, responsive, and quiet in the small chop.

Anyway, do you still love your LV? If you were to spend half a day to a day paddling in “fun” conditions and covering some miles at the same time, do you think you would get more tired in it compared to paddling a more stable kayak, such as the Explorer or a Tempest?

not sure why I flipped shortly after…

– Last Updated: Nov-30-09 8:15 PM EST –

"not sure why I flipped shortly after I launched"

Because it is a Nordkapp LV ;-)

The only times I have capsized unintentionally in my Nordlow is when not moving forward. The boat firms up moving forward more than any boat I've paddled in recent memory. It is truly impressive moving through lumpy seas.

It is faster pushing through dimensional water than any other boat I've paddled. A friend with whom I usually have to struggle to keep pace in her Chatham 18 struggles to stay with me when I'm paddling the Nordlow in conditions.

That being said, my bracing skills have improved a lot paddling my Nordlow in 'fun' seas over the past couple of years. The boat has challenged my equanimity a few times.

I do use the skeg more in following quartering seas than I have ever in either my Aquanaut or Romany. Just a bit of skeg seems enough to counter weathercocking enough to make the boat easily controllable.

I still like my Nordlow quite a bit. However, I could not have it as my only boat.

Many of those who bought Nordlows (including more than one on the thread you referenced) sold them as being too demanding in conditions.

I’m one of these…

– Last Updated: Nov-30-09 5:29 PM EST –

"Many of those who bought Nordlows (including more than one on the thread you referenced) sold them as being too demanding in conditions."

I reach my level of incompetence with the LV, and having a bad shoulder that doesn't like to roll, I am much more comfortable in my Bou.

I still like it…
I don’t get why people get so freaked out about the LV. I use it for both trips and for day paddles and it still makes me smile when I paddle it. An Explorer would bore the heck out of me. I’ve paddled the LV on long paddles in decent conditions (Lake Superior) and it’s been just fine. Of course I was coming from a Nigel Foster Silhouette and an 18 inch wide SOF qajaq so I didn’t really need that much stability to feel comfortable.

Good topic
Though short, I’ve enjoyed this string so far. One of the better strings in the last few weeks. Lots of newbie talk lately and this is a higher level discussion of boat dynamics, I enjoy on this site.

I don’t own a Nordlow, I have a regular Nordkapp, but have enjoyed the ongoing discussion between the two. Physically I’m a bigger bodied paddler and I enjoy the lively-ness of the regular Nordkapp and it really performs in conditions vs flat water.

Thanks for starting this string.

I still love it
I first paddled Sean Morley’s LV as a neophyte when I was taking a lesson from him. My reaction was “who in their right mind would paddle such an unstable boat?”

Now that I have some skills and time under my belt, I guess I am the kind of person who would own such a boat. And the more I paddle it, the more I love it.

It is a bit more work than a more stable boat, and I notice the difference if I am paddling all day in confused conditions. But it is such a blast. I don’t find that it weathercocks very much, and it responds very well to an edge or some skeg.

I can’t think of a more fun boat or one that is better for developing skills, which is what I have used it for. It will make you learn how to use your paddle for stability rather than relying on the stability of the boat. But once you can do that, it is easy to brace and do what you like. The lack of secondary makes it come back up easy. It’s a blast downwind. What a fun boat.

I’m well over my …

– Last Updated: Dec-01-09 9:11 AM EST –

... level of incompetence as well with the Rapier. But that was one of the reasons I got it - to learn in it. And it seems to help quite a bit.

The Nordkapp LV seemed a little tamer to me than the Rapier. I think it might be just challenging enough to be able to catch-up with it after a while. THe thing is, I am not sure where my new level of incompetence will decide to reach a limit and I fear it might be just below what is needed to enjoy a boat like that...

Hopefully I'll have a chance to try the Nordlow again some time in more appropriate conditions where there is actually some waves to deal with. On the 1 foot chop I did not feel I needed to pay any particular attention to it while paddling or standing still ...

WW gives a new prospective
It is dynamic and changing and there is simply no way one can rely on the boat for balance there. I think that is why you have an easier time in the LV than some others. This and perhaps that you (as I) probably do not need to use it for a teaching or rescue platform, where a bit more stability might be welcome).

I too began to learn WW paddling this year and doing it in both a WW boat and a sea kayak seems to help improve my balance a lot. For balance, bracing and rolling it seems playing in a 3-4 foot standing waves on a fast rapid is just the medicine I need (though I have a lot to learn to actually be able to stay on the waves longer than a few seconds). Getting there upstream by eddy-hopping is also a great way to learn how the boat reacts to moving water.

“Difference in conditions all day”

– Last Updated: Dec-01-09 9:30 AM EST –

"It is a bit more work than a more stable boat, and I notice the difference if I am paddling all day in confused conditions. But it is such a blast."

That's what I think would be the key if I would like a boat like that or not: if the tradeoff would be right for me b/w how much attention it needs and what it offers over a more stable boat in terms of "fun".

I usually do not spend a whole day paddling (very rare), but a 12-15 or even 20 miles in 1/2 a day is not uncommon for me. If I could feel comfortable with it over 3-6 hours of active paddling in choppy waters (3-5 foot short period and steep often breaking wind waves), I'd be content.

In the Rapier 18 I can paddle in similar conditions but it is still a struggle (unless I am going downwid). I spend too much energy to keep it upright and I do not dare take it too far out off-shore (yet).

In contrast, in the 22" Perseption Sonoma 13.5 that I usually take in such conditions (and enjoy them in it) I don't think much of waves like that - almost no need to think about balance and bracing in that boat or in a boat like the Tempest 170 that I had before it. Part of it is that they sort of "dance" with the waves, find their way over and around the bumps, and roll really easy. Where a stiffer and higher volume boat like the Rapier can handle such conditions fine but (unless surfing downwind where it is a blast) is not nearly as enjoyable for me in them.

I'm just scratching my head and thinking if it would be "too much boat" for me if I were to paddle something like the Nordkapp LV compared to what I feel entirely comfortable with (a Tempest 170 or 165 for instance or the Sonoma I currently have).

Solo Boat…
If out to raise hell with a small group of better paddlers in the ocean it was a blast. In a group of mixed paddlers or as a guide boat more attention had to be paid to the boat. Stopping in even light conditions it was difficult to turn around in the boat and look back to check on the other boats.

Best to keep it for “a night out with the boys”.

Yep… love it

– Last Updated: Dec-01-09 12:14 PM EST –

My favorite boat, I love to paddle it and use it more that any other. I don't find it difficult and the more I use it the more I like it. Check in with me in another two years. :-)

Still love it
When I demoed one I found it an exciting boat and was sold. Yes, it required me to pay attention more than some other boats, and still does, but I don’t look on that as a bad thing. My skills have grown. My earlier aprehension in rough stuff has given way to confidence, now that the boat has convinced me lighten up and trust it to do its thing, which it does admirably. I don’t find weathercocking to be a problem; it responds well to a little edge. It seems to like a little skeg in following seas, which are great fun. It’s a breeze to roll. I’m sure it has more potential than I have the skills to exploit at this point. I have other boats for other moods or types of paddling, but the Nordlow definitely is one of my 2 favorites.

I’ve watched a paddling partner
as he’s used his Nordkapp LV over the last two years. For the first 4-5 trips, if there was significant swell or chop he had trouble stopping to eat or pee without rafting up. But after those first few trips, he had no problem. It seemed like it was just a matter of adapting to it. He’s used it often for solo day-trips of 25 -30 miles in the open ocean, so it’s definitely not just used as a play boat in his case. One thing I’ve noticed is that compared to my Impex Force 4, the Nordkapp LV seems to have a higher-volume bow that is really great at riding up over swell or chop when heading up-wind or cross-wind. I feel that the Force 4 may make slightly better time for the same effort for straight-ahead paddling in calm conditions, but it seems like the Nordkapp LV does as well or better as soon as there’s swell or chop. (Of course, another factor is that he’s a better paddler than me.)

good point about the WW but…
you’re mistaken about using it for teaching. While I primarily teach whitewater and greenland style kayaking/rolling these days, when I used to do the Euro symposium circuit, I taught out of the LV (and the Sillhouette before that).

Unless I’m standing up in my boat, I’m not sure why I would need an obscenely stable boat to teach from. How much stability do you really need to demonstrate a paddle float or cowboy reentry anyways? I’d always prefer the more manueverable boat for teaching which is where the LV really shines.

Some still have one
I bought my LV in the fall of 07 around the time of that thread and am even happier with it now than when I first bought it.

I think initially Douglas Wilcox sold quite a few Nordkapp LV’s with his glowing write up and the sexy Nordkapp on the beach picture. However it seems the reality is that the NK LV is a more challenging boat for a lot of people than Douglas made it sound like.

For me lowering the seat was a must to get the best from my LV. Secondary now feels quite locked in and there is that extra level of feel while on edge.

All in all I love mine and have no desire to get something more borin…err “stable”.

“his glowing write up”

– Last Updated: Dec-02-09 1:14 AM EST –

Yes, Douglas Wilcox's review was pretty presuasive - though he was honest about the transparent secondary and the need to brace more than usual.

Though he loves the boat, even Douglas Wilox does not have a Nordlow as his only boat. He uses his Quest for long journeys and certain other outings.

I've noticed a number of coaches on the UK board noting that they love their 'kapps, but use their Aquanaut or some such when coaching.

This is a boat that has surprised many in how after feeling confidence inspiring in moderate conditions became unforgiving in challenging stuff. (Of course, the line between moderate and challenging moves according to the paddler.)

I’ve had mine less than a year but pleased with it.

It is designed for 20+ knot winds in open water. I’ve had it in lots of wind and it’s truly amazing.

It covers 15 miles in open ocean probably better than anything else.

Several of my kayak friends questioned why I got the NordLV… it doesn’t track on rails, etc, but when the conditions pick up over 20 knots and the waves over 4’, their rail tracking yaks are nose diving, lee cocking, end overs, and pretty much headed back to the beach.

It’s unstable if you put it on a hard edge and sweep stoke, but for an all around coastal paddling kayak that can cover some distance in no time flat, playful, it’s tough to beat.

Photo platform
Wow Yakwise nice surf pic, someone in a real stable boat must have snapped that one…

Too bad the really hairy ones didn’t come out;)

I think it is fair to say I feel a great affection for my Nordkapp LV.

For me it allows me to get out into hairy water but is secure and capable.

It is fast enough to get out to the ugly stuff without wearing me down. It is also fast enough to get you home against the tide at the end of a long day.

It is safe, dry and trims beautifully with the skeg.

It is beautiful, lively, sassy and full of life.

It teaches me something new every time I paddle her.

A Romany might be as stable and reliable as a Buick (and twice as boring :wink: but a Nordkapp LV is like a Lancia Stratos.

Yw-I am probably coming down next week for the 8th. if you want to do something before/after let me know.

BW, it was unbelievable, this guy could take pictures and eat a dozen Cliff bars all at the same time!

Sassy is right! Especially when you don’t know which way you are going to get smacked and the Nordlow is the most stable ever!

The rougher it gets the more relaxed it gets.

I’m game for paddling around the 8th as long as it doesn’t involve the Redneck Riviera!

automatically punishes sloppy paddling

– Last Updated: Dec-07-09 5:13 PM EST –

Among my favorite comments about the nature of Nordkapps which I think is very true of the Nordlow:

Gordon warns "It will force you to do things the right way". A boat which automatically punishes sloppy paddling. An on-board coach. With a stick! Actually, that's just what I need.


"If you choose something else, you'd always wonder if you should have had a Nordkapp".

A quite different nature than an Explorer ;-)