Nordkapp LV stability

I read often on this Forum that some paddlers regard the Nordkapp LV as a “demanding” kayak.

While I managed to squeeze and paddle it only once I found the Nordkapp LV less “tippy” than one of my kayaks (SeaBird Designs Nordsea) and a bit more tippy than my Impex kayaks.

I was however amazed when I saw a paddling friend of mine use it as a “stand-up paddling” craft.

More details and video at:


– Last Updated: Sep-21-09 8:08 AM EST –

Well, some pretty good paddlers have felt that the Nordkapp LV is on the demanding side, both here and on the other side of the pond. That said, after a demo day where the boat provided robust bracing and rolling practice to some of the major names over in the UK a lot of them ordered one. The boat is way fun if you are up for it.

Conditions and weight loading really change the picture with this boat. Full weight load, whether via a large person or a load of gear, improve its primary stability quite a bit over use as a day boat for an average sized guy. Bigger stuff can harden it up while smaller squirrelly stuff can be a pain.

It definately rolls very very easily. Even with me on a loose fit in it, it comes up so willingly I have to remember to stop it before I window shade. It'll keep going.

Someone can stand up in anything - we have a paddler locally who has remarkable balance and could probably give Nigel Foster a run for his money. But most of us couldn't do what these guys can...

This is a great boat to have in the stable, but for the most part it seems it doesn't last long as someone's only boat. It seems that most of its adherents are not relying on it for all of their paddling.

C… you nailed it…
The boat will dance with you, just don’t let the music stop.

I’d say it’s more efficient, more maneuverable, and can handle more wind than an Explorer, (which is one of the best all rounders), but less stable on the secondary and keeping it on edge in conditions.

The hull still maintains good direction, but some of the instructors I paddle with notice this, and might not realize it’s more of a challenge on the secondary.

“Demanding” Than What and By Whom?
same ole, same ole of making a boat into more or less of something than it is.


A horse is a horse

– Last Updated: Sep-21-09 11:48 AM EST –

of course, of course...

So I do better with some kinds than others... (and date myself even more)

Hay, Wilber…

watch Nigel Foster…

– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 12:49 PM EST –

While it is nice that your friend managed to stand up in his Nordlow, if you want to see someone stand up with confidence and grace in a boat that is not a barge watch Nigel Foster.

Most who consider the Nordkapp LV demanding are referring to its behavior in lumpy seas. It is not a demanding boat in the conditions in your video or the photo above. BTW, I take 'demanding' to mean that it demands you have good technique and confidence, i.e. it is unforgiving of sloppy or poor technique.

That being said, if one is 'on top of ones game' (to quote flatpick) the Nordkapp LV is a very rewarding boat in conditions.

wilsoj2, there is
wilsoj2, there is a video linked of rough waters playtime. Unfortunately I don’t have any footage of when Tess surfs the Nordkapp LV in 6’ waves.

She also paddles a Currituck (hull shape very close to an Explorer_Nigel Dennis said that himslef when I talked to him) but she prefers the Nordkapp LV in all conditions. I guess the LV fits her better (lower deck) and it’s easier to edge, for her.

No doubt…
There are a number of photos and I would guess videos of folk happily paddling Nordlows in conditions. After all that is the design intent of the boat. I wish someone had felt confident enough to take a hand off their paddle to take a few shots when I’ve paddled my 'kapp LV in conditions :wink:

The most complete observations I’ve found regarding the Nordkapp LV’s performance personality are here:


– Last Updated: Sep-21-09 9:31 PM EST –

really depends on the conditions. The Nord LV is the only kayak I paddle and I take it out in everything.

When you are practicing ferrying backwards across eddy lines and tide races in over 6 knot currents and maintaining an edge and angle, I think the Explorer has a slight advantage.

Going forward the Nord LV might have a slight advantage.

The secondary is a bit transparent. Douglas Wilcox even says this in his review. The only time it catches me off guard is on the crest of some confusing clipodis when there is nothing but air to brace.. then I just roll back up.

Ben Lawry helped me demo a bunch of kayaks. I made the choice for a good all around kayak with more efficiency and the trade off was some stability. I don't have any problem edging, but it can slip away in conditions.

Another nice thing about the Nord LV is that it doesn't need to be on edge to maintain direction.

If I had both the Explorer and Nord LV I would paddle the Nord over 90%, and the Explorer for when I need a more solid edge.

Stability and nonsense
I am starting to wonder if what we see (again) in the answers to the initial post is not in essence the same as one’s evaluation of one’s own driving abilities - better than average for the great majority of us, me included of course :frowning:

Beyond personal factors such as weight, height, flexibility, balance or even taste, it is obvious that one’s own paddling skills are a major factor in any appreciation of stability. It is difficult for anyone to rank one’s skills accurately , let alone to be able to classify oneself honestly as an “average” or “below average” paddler. So it is the boat that becomes “twitchy”…

The logical conclusion would be that stability is eminently personal, and that generalizations are quite unwarranted (not to say meaningless).

And if the focus is on paddler ability, it becomes easier to classify kayaks (the way we do for “rec boats”): there are kayaks for unskilled paddlers, many for average paddlers (just to be provocative: the majority of the recent offerings?), some for good paddlers, and a few for excellent paddlers…

“advanced paddler”

– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 12:46 AM EST –

I had heard it often that a Nordkapp is for "advanced paddlers." Peter Orton describes the Nordkapp LV as for "advanced and advancing paddlers." There is a long tradition of such.

However, many "advanced paddlers" choose to paddle reassuring boats such as the Explorer which has such high and defined stability as to be comfortable for novice paddlers.

I term myself an "intermediate" paddler as my skill set falls within that which the BCU defines as intermediate. Of my 4 sea kayaks I paddle each my Nordkapp LV, Romany, and Aquanaut with some frequency. I find neither the Romany nor the Aquanaut to be demanding in conditions. I find the Nordlow requires keener skills in conditions than the other two. The difference in this case is the boat, not the paddler.

intended purpose

– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 1:19 AM EST –

the the original Nordkapp is designed as an expedition kayak known for it's ability to handle real conditions and be efficient to paddle. To achieve this there has always been a trade off in some stability but no so much that an experienced paddle could handle. The Nord LV takes the Nordkapp into a more playful all around kayak yet still retains the efficiency for covering some distance and handling a wide range of expedition conditions..

While the skill of the paddler is the most important factor, the design of the kayak still remains the same.

I'm an intermediate paddler who likes to cover some distance, get out as much as possible, and romp around in the surf and rough stuff. It's very warm here so if I need to brace or roll it' no prob. I have a lot of room for improvement. The Nord has been great. No regretts. I'll never sell it. I also train with L4 and even L5 IT instructors and do pretty well in my Nord, but could use a more stable kayak for some applications.

paddler vs boat
wilsoj2, that was exactly the point: if for example we take yourself as a benchmark for “intermediate paddler”, we could say that from your experience Aquanaut and Romany are boats for intermediate paddlers (you are at ease in them) and the Nordkapp LV is a boat for “intermediate to advanced” paddlers (it helps you push your limits). I think Peter Orton could agree with that.

But as all appreciations of stability are personal, the only valid comparisons are those done by the same paddler. What is ALWAYS missing is the ability for others to gauge the skills of that paddler, and without that any ranking can only give an “un-benchmarked” idea of relative ranking. What it will not tell you at all is how you will feel yourself in those boats - hence try the boats.

yakwise, that’s exactly right. Design is compromise and if the intended paddler is excellent you can afford to give up part of some characteristics such as initial stability to improve some others such as behavior in very rough seas (the Greenland storm kayak is a case in point). You may then have an “excellent paddler” boat totally unsuitable for beginners.

So yes boats have different degrees of initial and secondary stability. But they are never “twitchy” - it is the paddlers who are “twitchy”, when in a boat beyond their level of competency or comfort.

"intended purpose"
As the Nordlow is such a blast as a day/play boat for average size paddlers, I tend to think that Peter Orton et al really wanted another sexy playboat in the Valley stable. That it also suits smaller paddlers as an ‘expedition’ boat was just the justification :wink:


– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 8:48 AM EST –

wilsoj2, that is so true that it's a great day boat that can cover some distance and be an expedition boat.. however the only low volume seems to the foot room..

Nau, good points, I think you have nailed it with intermediate to advanced intermediate.. it's the perfect kayak for improving skills and a great all rounder..

There are a few design feature that could be considered less stable in some conditions, it has a bit of a keel that catches some current that push into into a transparent secondary, however it is often underrated on how well it handles beam waves, following seas, and high wind.. things that are high on an experienced kayakers list.

The solution for me is to stay real loose in the hip. I almost always paddle on edge but it's also a loose edge, witch might be considered not keeping good control on edge.

I can't think about standing up in one, but I can remove the skirt and pump it out in 4' seas with 20 knot winds.

BTW, do you have one, and have paddled it in a lot of conditions?

Nordcapp LV hull
Is the Nord LV hull the same as the regular Nordcapp with less volume?

I paddled an LV for a while and it seemed fast and responsive but I personally found the trade for so low initial not worth it. I respect the fact that Valley kept the cockpit the full width whereas the Explorer LV made their LV cockpit narrow which makes rolling and maneuvers on your side more stubborn to do. I have loads of friends who gave up Nordcapps for Explorers because they just got tired of being on guard all the time. Still a nice boat for those who don’t mind being on that edge.

LV vs Nord
The LV has a more pronounced chine than the regular Nordkapp and a bit more of a keel. It is more responsive to edging.

What you do with a boat

– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 9:47 AM EST –

Some of the comments above resonate with the internal dialogue I am having about my next kayak, when I find/decide I have found it, albeit it's not in the direction of a Nordlow or kin. But the process is the same.

In my case, I would like a boat with responsiveness closer to my Vela but serving as a rescue platform closer to my Explorer LV. I have been using the Vela increasingly as my everything boat just because it is so much nicer to be moving around slightly under 16' of boat both on and off the water than over 17' that is way extra capacity for the most ambitious day paddles.

However, we have a photo of one of our regular paddling companions on the back deck of my Vela - he is nearly up to his armpits in the water, the boat's hull is out of the water from the rear of the cockpit forward and we are doing a good job of pointing out the location of the evening star. This is fine in flat water, but if I had to do a real rescue of this guy in any conditions we'd be at quite unreliable stability and I couldn't actually paddle us anywhere, or even get him out of the water as desired with the back deck thing. (Front deck doesn't solve the problem either)

So the next boat is a compromise - something that may be a little more boat in scale but with some spriteliness still, hopefully with more head room in rescues than the Vela. (I know the Romany LV has the rescue paltform part, but I have grown too fond of the lesser volume and quickness of the Vela.)

I see a similar process above re the Nordlow. One person who uses it as their regular boat is in warmer water, so the need for a roll is no big deal. That part wouldn't work so well for most people in the northeast who paddle into winter temps, with water as low as the upper 30's inland. Another person mentions that the boat stays home for certain purposes - maybe something not dissimilar to what I said, needing a boat that you can take out that you can pretty much ignore handling if you need to focus on other things.

As to standing up in a Nordlow - I suspect I could spend some time in my husband's in relatively flat water and stand up in it. (yup to yakwise - wilsoj2 has a Nordlow) My balance is fairly good. I am just not sure what that has to do with how I'd do with the boat if I got caught out in a surprise squall. The rolling ease may matter more at that point.