Please help! New kayak veering right!

I bought the Old Town Loon 120 yesterday and took it out today to a very quiet, still river.
The kayak constantly veers to the right, especially when I pick up any speed at all. For every few paddles, I have to compensate stroke on the right 3 times to get it back over to the left.
What could this be? I’ve read other forums on here saying to fix seating, position of feet, gear in the boat, where you’re holding the paddle, checking the wind, changing directions, looking straight, being consistent with strokes…
I tried everything I read, and even when the wind was blowing me to the left and I finished a stroke on the right so I should have gone left, I STILL go right. Am I doing something really wrong or is my boat warped? We flipped it and looked on the bottom and it seems straight?!
Please help! I’ve never had this issue with other peoples kayaks and I finally purchased my own and having these problems… I can’t pick up much speed when I constantly have to fix the angle as it swings me out right.

Pictures of bottom?

In wind a 12’ rec kayak won’t track that straight.

Holding paddle in center?

Are your strokes even? Same power and blade depth?

I doubt it’s the seat if it’s near center if hull.

If you have a more experienced friend let them paddle it. If not let anyone paddle it and see what happens.

Hard to imagine bottom that bad and you can’t see it.

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The other peoples’ kayaks you paddled - were they similar to this boat? And did you try any of them on a longer paddle in similar conditions to where you are now? Wondering if you hadn’t had a full enough paddling experience before to spot some of this.

Idea of letting someone else paddle the boat is a good one.

The fact that it veers more when you paddle harder suggests to me that there may be some bias on one side in your paddling, which by the way is absolutely normal.


And check that the foot pedals are set to the same position on both sides, and you’re not sitting on a lump (like a waterproof wallet or something else)

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The kayak will want to turn into the wind, so if I’m interpreting correctly, “the wind blowing me to the left” meant the wind was coming from the right side of the kayak? If so, then the kayak will turn to the right.

Otherwise I agree with the other points. Make sure you are sitting centered in the seat, hands equidistant from the center of the paddle (can use pieces of tape to remind you where to keep your hands).

Was the water very shallow? That’s another factor that can cause boats to turn with no input from the operator - exactly what happened to the Ever Given in the Suez Canal!


When I blow up your photo, I get the sense that the kayak is tipped to the right. If that is the case then that can affect turning. It is hull dependent though as on my kayaks (Delphin 150 & Arctic Tern 17’) I will often use a right edge to turn left.

A couple of things to try: 1) have a friend watch you closely from the front & rear and, if possible, have them video you paddling. 2) Take it slow & be mindful: Don’t try to paddle fast but go slow and try different things - stroke, body position, etc. and feel what is happening. If you pay attention the water, hull, and blade can tell you what is happening.


There are a bunch of good suggestions to try here. Your sitting position needs to be smack in the middle, side to side. If you are shifted even an inch off center you can have problems. Also, good technique includes not reaching too far forward in your stroke. Also remembering to driving your leg against the foot brace on the SAME side as you are placing the paddle in the water. These will help keep your stroke from turning the boat off track.

I would add that one easy thing you could try is bringing along 2 or 3 of the square plastic half gallon milk or juice jugs, fill them with water from the river just before you launch and stash them as far back in the stern compartment as you can reach. I prefer those square jugs – round ones will roll around inside the hatch and defeat the purpose of achieving a static balance point.

Several times I have paddled with people in recreational style kayaks who had trouble getting them to paddle straight and this helped a lot. I one case we pulled to shore and filled the back hatch with chunks of shale until we got it to stop wandering off track. If the stern (back) of the boat is not as heavy as the bow, it is not sunk as deeply in the water. This means the stern will be constantly trying to “pass” the bow because there is less lateral water resistance on it and the effects of wind on the higher bow will make the boat want to pivot around the center point where the paddler is sitting. You have to experiment: too much weight back there will cause the bow to rise too high and want to wander.

You didn’t mention what you might be carrying with you: if you’ve got a couple of six packs in the stern hatch already that could be the problem. Ballasting a boat (adjusting the weight distribution) can tune up performance.


Are your legs the same length? Mine are not. My left leg is about 15mm shorter than my right. Over the course of my life that has resulted in a slight tilt in my pelvis. Seems minor, I know but it has resulted in a fair amount of discomfort and compensation over my 70-some years.

I use my legs to drive torso rotation so if I am not wearing a 12mm shim in my left shoe, or have moved the left foot peg back a touch or have smimmed my left buttock a bit my right stroke is stronger and must compensated for in order for my boat to go straight.

Just a thought.


It could be the boat. My wife had a plastic Necky Looksha that veered right, and it would do it when I paddled it as well. It was the boat. The hull had just a slight twist to it.


An easy way to check for hull deformation is get some string and a friend, invert the boat and stretch the string from bow to stern along the center of the keel. The string should follow the keel line exactly along the full length.

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Where did you buy it? If at REI or some other local dealer return it.

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I like the idea of having some friends paddle it to see if they notice it. They shouldn’t be people you have told about the issue you are having. Just ask some folks paddle it and ask them how they like it. Do they like the way it turns? Do they like the way it tracks?


When I had the problem in the past, I noticed the position of the blade when it strikes the water corrected the problem which has to do with the position of your wrist. When I mindfully rolled my wrist to the outside a tiny bit during the stroke as the blade hits the water, the boat stayed straight. You might experiment. It’s kind of like a steering stroke in a canoe.

Agree, that first you need to determine if it is the boat or paddler. As suggested get a couple guine pigs that have some paddling knowledge to try it out. If they don’t notice a problem , then you are the cause. May need someone to help you evaluate all the variables to get to the root problem. The boat itself should be checked to see if it is built tru/straight and if equipped with a skeg, that the skeg box is also installed tru

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Possibly weather helming, the tendency of boats to turn into the wind. I think you mentioned a wind blowing you to the left, which implies the wind is coming from the right. This would explain your boat’s tendency to veer right. My Pelican SOT’s all weather helm in the slightest of breezes.

Not sure this is the cause, just a suggestion based on my experience. My humble opinion is that your boat is probably NOT warped, as it would be tough to warp a multi-layer polyethylene body. Old Town makes good stuff.

Best of luck.

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If the keel is straight, make sure the seat is level with the bottom of the boat, I have seen some rotomolded boats they were still soft when taken off the mold that caused the seat to kink.

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Depends. If the aft deck is high volume a left wind can make the bow go left, into the wind. Its never a simple one thing equation.

I agree though its probably not a warped boat.


Hi there, It could be that you have a weakness to one side of your arms. I know for me my right shoulder has issues so I tend to swing to the left therefore I am always correcting my tracking on the water. To help with this issue I got a rudder on my kayak. The rudder helps to keep me in a straight line.

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You guys are all so amazing!! Thank you for your time and replies! I learn so much from here.
I ended up stopping by western canoe and kayak (where I purchased it) to just see what they thought. They said it looked like there might be the tiniest bit of a slant on the front tip of the canoe but it was hard to tell with the photic colored paint splatter. The owner decided to swap me another boat just in case which I didn’t expect, so I paid the $50 cost difference for the 126 since they didn’t have any 120’s.
The 126 has been a crazy difference!! I took it to the same river, tho it was windier this time yet. The boat tracked almost perfectly straight, and went a lot quicker with me not compensate stroking constantly. It’s a dream I can’t get over how lovely it is.
I’ve screen shot’d lots of your guys’ advice, so helpful while I learn how to paddle correctly!! And that one comment about one leg shorter… might be me. My legs are out of alignment so I could totally see that.


I didn’t offer any advice, but have been following with interest. I just want to thank you for updating us on how you made out. Unfortunately, the person who asks the original question often just fades away and we don’t know how things worked out.