Delta verse Symmetrical
– Last Updated: Feb-14-11 10:10 AM EST –
Strongly Swede-Form, or Delta shaped hulls handle differently than symmetrical hulls.
Delta shapes generally site the paddler further aft in the hull because the Center of buoyancy moved aft with the strong asymmetry. Handling is compromised because the bow sections tend to have minimal rocker and are fairly far forward from the paddler's station and because these hulls are usually paddle with a bent paddle. All three items mentioned compromise the ability to draw the bow to the paddle blade. ShockWave, SummerSong, Advantage, Prism, Encounter, Magic and Rob Roy are all strongly delta shaped midwestern hulls that turn best by skidding the stern rather than drawing the bow. GRB and Savage offer eastern variants.
Severe Delta Shapes with minimal rocker are standard in USCA racing because most race courses tend to have many shallow water sections. In shallow water, multiple transverse waves are replaced with a larger single diagonal wave with a huge trough behind it because the area under the hull is restricted. The broad, flatish aft sections resist squatting in trough and the long skinny fore sections cut through the bow wave more effectively. The handling characteristics are a secondary concern, especially as most racers are well practiced.
Delta hulls tend to have sticky bows and loose sterns, they are turned by skidding the stern away from the required direction of turn. An outside, carving heel also helps turns. Magic is somewhat unique in that it has more bow rocker than any other hull in class, and its' bow will draw to the paddleblade.
Conversely, ICF race courses have a minimum depth requirement, and the much faster ICF hulls are more mildly Swede-Form with significant but differential rocker, roughly 3" bow, 2" stern in 5m, ~16.7', solo boats. ICF racers tend to be pretty well practiced themselves.
Back to OP questions:
The differences between Vagabond and RapidFire are subtle. Rocker is about the same, 1.5+1=2.5, 1.35+1.35= 2.7, and can be adjusted to differential or symmetrical with trim. Rapid is a little longer and has a little more tumblehome. Choosing comes down to if one thinks David Yost might have learned anything in twenty five years of boat building.
Construction quality is another choice. Pb's RapidFire and Colden's Vagabond are infused Carbon Kevlar laminates that can be had with integral foam cored rails. At ~25#, infused hulls are lighter, stronger, stiffer and without internal voids compared to hand laminations. Wood trim is a heavy, irregular, high maintenance, vestige of the past. The old Curtis Vagabonds and current Helmock Kestrel are the same hull contact laminated by one of the best hand laminators in the business.
We can't discuss subtleties of handling because, while we know he is a compact guy, we don't know if The OP kneels, sits high or sits low; uses a straight blade or a bent. Maybe all of those, which, with that impressive stable of wildly divergent hulls, further confuses.
Heeling is a key skill in boat handling. It lifts the stems, shortening overall length in the water and increasing rocker, both aiding turning. It can deflect the leading stem towards either, chosen, side. Greater heel angles increase all those benefits.
Problems with wind at best described by John Winters "The Shape of the Canoe, pg 33, diagram pg 34. With it's extreme 8.5 Length/ Width ratio and a sliding seat, the Pb Shadow team had no windage issues crossing shallow Middle Saranac Lake with a screaming North wind during last years Adk Classic 90 miler.
There was a solo canoe community in C-U in the late 80's early 90,s, but that seems to have gone away, with Conclave, which offered a broad range of instruction. Try contacting the guy known as Canoeist11 on this site to figure when he's teaching in the area. A day with Tracy will help more than one more hull.