Old School Whitewater Kayaks

I found a few of these for sale(I think they’re perception) I’m just wondering how these would preform as just simple rec. kayaks?

they are pretty long so I’m just curious as to if anyone has ever try flatwater paddling with a whitewater kayak.

It depends on how far and/or how fast you want to go. For general recreational use they are fine as long as you are not trying to cover long distances or go really fast. Whitewater boats are built to turn, and for the uninitiated it may take a bit longer to get them to go in a straight line. Perception made many different ww models. Look for one that is fairly long like the Pirouette. Also realize that the cockpit dimensions on these older boats are likely to be much smaller than those on most recreational or sea kayaks.

I used to have a Perception Corsica S
and I wouldn’t want to use it as a rec kayak.

Nice for spnning around in circles but that is about it.

Also a good boat for learning to roll, if you are interested in that sort of thing.



Can be OK
Compared to a typical rec boat, something like a Pirouette will be less stable, have much poorer tracking, and much less cockpit space. That said, you can learn a lot in one.

Some people have added fixed skegs to improve the flatwater behavior of older ww boats.

Generally agree
I have a Dagger Piedra, gotten when we started thinking about doing a little WW and before we got it about planing hull boats. It has stayed in the fleet because at least for now I still want one boat that I can honestly say I can hand roll and it’s a great safe boat to put an average sized woman into to a spin (literally) around in a small pond. I have taken it on short after-work paddles locally when I didn’t need the capacity or speed of a long boat and wanted to push myself a little bit paddling a relatively slow boat for training - and the Piedra is fairly fast for a WW boat.

In sum, the boat has its place but not as an only boat. As others above have said, if you want a rec boat get that. Camps and rental outfits should be putting theirs up on end of season sales pretty soon now - it’s how my sister and her husband got theirs.

old ww boats with skegs
i have a pair of 13’+ phoenix ww slalom boats from the 70s that have skegs added. they are light, versatile and fast for their length http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2482638760053419764oAgcHZ?vhost=good-times

Dagger RPM

– Last Updated: Aug-24-07 11:10 AM EST –

I used a Dagger RPM as a "rec" boat for 5 mile trips and it worked out fine. My current boat, a Pyranha I4, isn't so hot since it is much more "turny" and slow compared to the RPM.

It wasn't as stable as a rec boat and the cockpit is tight but that was completely OK by me (I do sea kayaking and some WW).

It's possible that a boat like this would develop one's paddling skills much better than a rec boat.

I think a true rec boat would not have been as interesting to me. I kind of wish I still had the RPM because it was fine for paddling on lakes and it fit inside my car.

The RPM is vaguely "old school" and it's fairly long as current WW boats go.

I'd be very surprised if the RPM was much slower than a true rec boat of comparible size.

If they are a resonable price, in good shape, and you are comfortable in them, they should be fine. (I would not recommend a "new school" boat for this purpose).

DO NOTE that you'd find it difficult to crawl back alone into a WW boat on the water after wet exiting. (With a rec boat, this shouldn't be overly hard.) If you needed to get back in, you'd probably need to swim the boat to shore, dump the water, and then get back it. If you had float bags, it would would be possible to do an assisted rescue like sea kayakers do (I've done it).

Also, it would be a very good idea to put float bags into the rear of the boat. These will keep a lot of water out of the boat and make it easier to push and to empty.

Re-entry my concern

– Last Updated: Aug-24-07 12:11 PM EST –

While the old school WW boats can be as fast as the slow rec boats, it only takes a small upgrade to get into a rec boat that has some options for being re-entered on the water. WW boats just aren't about making that easy, old or any school, since the assumption is that if you come out of your boat re-entry isn't going to happen until paddler and boat have all made it into an eddy and have assistence, or are all onshore. (If all the parts make it there safely.) It takes a very minor upgrade in a rec boat to get into something that might have some moderate rigging to make that easier, as well as already coming with a skeg or a rudder, something that could be done quite economically if someone checks out end of season sales from places that rent out boats and camps.

depends on the rocker
If it has a lot of rocker, the boat will spin a lot. I have taken my WW boat on some small rivers, and it works ok, but I have to constantly paddle. The second I take my paddle out of the water, the boat spins.

Not necessarily a bad thing, helps me work on my paddling skills, but I am definately slower on long trips than the folks with better-tracking boats


– Last Updated: Aug-24-07 3:34 PM EST –

Yes, WW boats are not designed for solo re-entry for exactly the reasons you list.

If this limitation was understood, and they were being sold cheaply, an old-style WW might a be reasonable choice.

And there are many (new style) WW boats that would really kind of suck as recreational boats.

"It takes a very minor upgrade in a rec boat to get into something that might have some moderate rigging to make that easier"

I think that people think this is easier than they think it is. It's pretty easy to get into a boat with help (but practice is needed). It's much harder to get into almost any boat (outside of sit on top).

"as well as already coming with a skeg or a rudder, something that could be done quite economically if someone checks out end of season sales from places that rent out boats and camps."

Checking out other places is certainly an option. A rudder isn't needed to *turn* such a small boat.

Harder than people assume much of the time - I fully agree. But with some rigging there is at least a chance. And yeah, a skeg or rudder shouldn’t be critical in any short stuff. But if someone really wants that, it’s a lot easier to accomodate in a rec boat.

Why all the hubbub?
If someone wants to fish from a kayak, look at rec boats. If someone wants to explore small streams and be able to scout things without getting out of the boat, look at rec boats. If you are ABLE to capsize one of these things:

  1. You meant to do it.
  2. You’ve got a lot of water to get out and a cowboy scramble’s not going to mean much.

    If one wants to play in a little of everything, an old school WW boat is fine and affordable. If one wants to work on skills improvement, they’re great, lighter than a sea kayak and you can beat the heck out of 'em with no worries. If you’re in the middle of a lake WITH PROPER FLOAT BAGS FRONT AND REAR, and you roll:
  3. A re-enter and roll beats a cowboy scramble every time.
  4. You’ll have less water to deal with than a sea kayak in the same situation.

    Both rec and old school kayaks would still benefit huge by paddling with a partner.


Pointy bow or not? Ultra cheap or not?
For the right price I think these are worth owning. I would suggest only the models with very pointy bows and only at a very low price. Make absolutely sure you can fit in the boat with some degree of comfort. A pointy bow (i.e. Dancer. Pirouette) means less gurgling bow noise.

As everyone has mentioned they do not paddle like rec boats. They are not as stable as rec boats. They do not offer legroom like rec boats. They do not have cupholders like rec boats. And they are old.

Still, if you learn to paddle one well, you will get more respect than you would paddling a rec boat, but that’s because it requires more skill.