plastic vs.glas speed

-- Last Updated: Jul-25-06 2:55 AM EST --

Anyone paddled the same kayak-type in plastic and glas ?
So what's your opinion about the speed (plastic vs. glas ?

I'm interested in the new plastic VCP Nordkapp, but it seems, no one have tested it yet.

I own a plastic Capella 160 RM, and I'm not happy with it. When I'm paddling in a group of glas-boats, I just have to work harder to keep up the same speed.(musscles and strokes are OK)

it’s a matter of money and use
not speed. If you want “fast” it’ll be a fast design and most likely not plastic. If you’re choosing between plastic and composite of the same design it’s because you want a bashable boat and have a better use for $1000+ or it’s because you have an extra $1000 and would like a slightly lighter boat that will be more repairable in the long run. I suspect a plastic boat with lots of fuzzy scratches will provide a smidge more drag than a glass boat with the same amount of scratches that aren’t as fuzzed up.

In either speed or actual percievable weight. ONLY in the pocketbook. But then I have about the same opinion on lite vs. light paddels.

In answer to your question:
If you take two boats by the same manufacturer, and the same model and one is plastic and the other is glass, and then you put the same paddler in each.

The glass boat will be faster simpler because it is lighter. It really has nothing to do with the material except that the glass boat is lighter than the plastic boat.

A good example is me paddling my 17 foot Perception Eclipse or Shadow vs me paddling a 17 foot glass Eclipse or Shadow.

The latter would beat the former hands down.



my opinion
I think, weight is not the problem. The difference between the glass-plastic Capella is only 1 or 2 lbs.

The Nordkapp difference is 6 lbs. Not much I think.

In my opinion it’s the shape. This should be the same, but is it on the water ?

Plastic is much more flexible then glas.

I took both my plastic Capella and a plastic Nordkapp by the stern and wiggle it up and down (is that good english ?)

Both they had a flexibility from 2 or 3 inch. (Done in the sun on a hot day)

I did the same on a glas boat and it din’t had any flexibility at al.

So I think the plastic is slowing you down on two ways;

  1. The flexibility is absorbing a part of you paddling power.
  2. Floating on the water, the both ends will rise a little and the middle part is going down a little. So it’s laying deeper in the water in the middle and you have to replace more water + the ideal shape is lost.

    I bought my plastic Capella, because I thought the new tripple layer technic, should be as stiff as glass, but it isn’t.

    Every time I’m paddling in a group, I notice the difference; I just have to make more strokes/min. to keep the same speed as my glassboat friends.

You can not really assume that a boat will be lighter just because it is fiberglass. Even some kevlar boats like the Tsunami X-15, and a lot of Brit boats, have such heavy layups that they might not weigh any more in plastic.

Try This
Next time you paddle with your group swap boats with one of your friends with a glass boat. Preferably a glass boat that you noted seemed to be going at group speed with less effort.


The plastic hull can have a tendency to “wow” with a hump or some type of misshape from cartopping or mis storing it and that will definitly slow you down.

Nordkapp RM
This is a true story. Whilst I was still at P&H prior to designing the Bahiya we wanted to get a better handle on our kayaks relative speeds. Over a series of test days I tried all our kayaks using a GPS and a hart rate monitor. The tests were carried out at a variety of sub-maximal effort levels i.e. not flat out sprints but effort levels more appropriate to touring and fast touring activity.

The biggest surprise was that there was no statistical difference between the Sirius in composite and the Capella in plastic, despite the Sirius at the time having a reputation as a fast (ish) kayak. In fact the plastic version of the Capella scored fractionally faster than it’s own composite version!

Caveats to this tale; the Capella in this story was the older two hatch model in triple layer plastic, the newer Pyranha moulded P&H Capella is wider (at lease ½”) and has a flatter hull and although has never been tested in the same manner is probably slower. The reason the composite Capella was slower was due to it having more rocker and thus shorter waterline. The reason the Sirius was no faster despite being 1 ½” narrower was due to its relatively short waterline.

Confession time. We are yet to do the same GPS style testing on the new Valley kayaks. When we do we’ll publish the results on the website. Subjective feedback, so far, is that the Nordkapp RM is every bit as quick as the new composite Nordkapp LV and this has proven at least as quick as earlier versions of the Nordkapp. Handling wise everyone who has tried it has commented that it is very much a “Nordkapp”

i love this about ; )

– Last Updated: Jul-26-06 6:54 PM EST –

thank you for participating, this is a great site dude, you and flatpick, onno, leeg, bnystrom et al knoledgeables make this addy the best

I’m realy looking forward to the test results.

When do you expect to have the results ?

I did a test between the plastic Nordkapp and the

Capelle 160 RM

I tried to keep a 4 knot (GPS) speed and I counted the stokes/min. to keep that speed.

Against the wind they both 54/55 strokes/min.

With the wind in the back, the Capella needs 45 and the Nordkapp 34 str/min.

Waiting for the season to calm down
Waiting for the season to calm down a little, it’s been mad here for months. Your results do compare with other reports I’ve seen showing both the Nordkapp LV and RM to have exceptional following sea and down wind performance