Romany classic

I’m wondering if anyone else is having the same experience and found solutions. I’m finding the Romany classic (17 years old) very wobbly when in troubled waters. When in clapotis it gets so wobbly focusing on paddling becomes difficult. The seat is a few cm off the floor. Many of the newer NDKs have the seat stuck to the floor of the boat. I’m wondering is this partly the issue. Any one out there have similar experience?

The “Romany” is often touted as a boat for “rough water” play. It has an ongoing legion of fans.

Having said that, I think the sense of “wobblyness” is very much subjective (for any boat) and is predicated on your relative size and your skills (with bracing and rolling). The latter especially affects whether you perceive the “squirrelly” stuff as fun or scary. If the latter, then you will tend to stiffen up, which in turn makes the boat feel even more wobbly. The more relaxed and loose your hips, the more the boat can make adjustments to the textured state of the water.

Anyway, unless you are truly too big for the boat, it’s likely you need more seat time and skills development to engender the mental/physical comfort level you seek.

Just my 2 cents worth.


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Speed gives you stability. The worst thing you can do is tense up and slow down. Try more of a bracing stroke. Seat time also helps. Gain confidence by slowing you learning curve in difficult waters. That’s not always possible.

Hard chine hull I believe?

Softened chine. Much less sharp respnses than my Vela, latter utterly a hard chined bost.

What is your seat time in sea kayaks? My go to boat for paddling solo is a Romany due to its head room and ease of self rescue. It was developed originally to be a schooling boat, for people to learn to handle rough water.

My seat is the original, may be a few cm off the bottom.

It IS a quite responsive boat. Seat is set back behind center a bit to make it more maneuverable and it has a pretty loose bow. You will notice that in slop. But because of that it’ll ll turn eithout having to set a fully deep edge.

And while you would have to be pretty large to be overweight for the boat, it is possible. Are you an especially large person, like well over 6 ft tall or very heavy?

Is the kayak wobbling - or are you wabbling in the kayak?

  • padding
    Do you fit in the kayak properly? thighs, hips, feet - good contact with kayak.

Until several years ago when my back decided for me that from now on my kayak must be under 40lbs, the Romany (or Explorer) was my kayak of choice.
I remember practicing, learning the (winter) surf (nasty) off the Washington coast - feeling I could survive anything (as long as I didn’t tire out first).

I agree that a significant part of it is where you are at with skills development. I was just out with a group this weekend, and someone was raving about how much she was enjoying her Romany out in the chop - a tall person. At the same time, a couple others in different brand kayaks were as you described - having a difficult time focusing on paddling. The forward progress all but stopped, and most of the focus turned to staying upright. There was still a paddling cadence underway, but there was very little being applied towards forward progress or directional control. They both said it was the biggest water they had experienced to date. They cut their trip short and decided to walk back for their cars to let the rest of us continue on into the ocean, and that was definitely the right decision, and hopefully still a positive overall experience for them.
It wasn’t their kayaks. Some kayaks make things easier than others. But at some point, and some level of wave pushiness, you just really need to develop a non-reliance on primary stability, and a true comfort with secondary stability to the point of not feeling any anxiety regarding your kayak not being flat down on the water. You need well-developed blade angle control, the ability to go from an off-balance state to back on-balance without significant interruptions in your stroke progression. Not the “Place the paddle here at this angle to the water for X stroke” type stuff. The ability to modify your stroke in a safe manner based upon what’s coming at you and what you want to do. Good contact with your kayak is good for meaningfully controlling your kayak. But for this type of thing, I think people are often tensed up (that is the twitchiness), putting pressure on contact points unnecessarily - and all the tension and pressure with those contact points is mostly detrimental, and not a matter of meaningful control.
Some kind of combination of your mind and body is seeking a feeling of stability, and is overreacting to kayak movements. The ability to rely on your blade angle control for varying your degrees of support, and the ability to fluidly change that level of support mid stroke during any stroke, does wonders. Comfort edging your kayak will do wonders - the deeper the edging the better. Comfort rebalancing yourself - where bracing becomes more and more subtle, is huge. Like a subtle modification of a paddle stroke - maybe the storke motion stays basically the same, but the blade angle changes some - and less and less of a “throwing a brace” or “brace as a stroke in and of itself” type of thing. It’s comfort with and confidence in these abilities as they become instinctual to you that alleviate your tense, twitching muscles, and allow you to take better control of your kayak. In my experience, it’s not very natural for anyone. Everyone needs experience to develop these skills. So it isn’t you. It isn’t that you’re different from people who have advanced further along. It isn’t your kayak. No one can say whether any of it is easier or more difficult for you personally to learn, but just ignore all of that. It’s not particularly helpful. It’s just training and experience. To me, sea kayak training has always been a lot of fun. If you want to become skilled in rough water, don’t just go out every time to paddle forward. Take days to paddle where you don’t travel anywhere, and simply explore edging your kayak. Do blade angle control exercises, combine that with edging, practice recovering your balance from just a bit off-balance simply with a modification of your current stroke, whatever that is, with as subtle as possible of a change in blade angle. Learn what points of contact are important to which strokes, and which ones, leaving pressure applied, are actually detrimental to what you’re trying to accomplish. Rolling is definitely a stroke that helps with exploring, understanding, and executing kayak control, but it’s also an extreme form of “throwing a brace”. If you’re rolling, what you were trying to do was interrupted. So just learn it and practice it with all of the other things, and it will be a big help in the process of bringing everything together. Then you can find small little broken pushy waves to get the experience of your kayak being pushed around, and learn relaxed, controlled reactions to that. I’ve trained and practiced a lot, and have experienced most meaningful advances as epiphanies. I didn’t have what I was working towards. I had hope to get better. I wasn’t sure if I could or would get better. Then in some random paddling moment, something clicks, and everything changes. So don’t get discouraged. It’s all been very much worth it to me. The rewards are great. And I continue to push towards new abilities and understandings. I hope you can experience all the joy in the process that I do.
Lowering the seat always makes a kayak more stable. But that is a very slight incremental substitution for skills development. Every kayak I own has become a different kayak as I’ve experienced different paddling epiphanies. It definitely keeps things fun.


@Hairytomatoe can you give us some background. How long have you had this boat? How much have you used it? If it is new to you, what were you paddling before? What is a rough feel on your size (height and weight)?

Hi. I’ve had it just over a year. It’s my first boat, so nothing before. I’ve been out quite a lot and I’m comfortable with waves. But once there’s clapotis , I’m wobbling like mad . I can brace, roll, edge. But I just can’t feel stable and comfortable. Like I mentioned the seat is a few cm of the floor. I’m 174cm 80 kg. The boat is quite narrow with smallish cockpit.

I am still a little confused. The regular Romany is typical width for a sea kayak and the cockpit takes a medium to medium/large skirt. Granted it is a keyhole cockpit, more so than some other makes. But is not an unduly small cockpit or a narrow boat.

My Vela is a small persons boat. It is 2 inches or so narrower at the waterline than the Romany.

The Romany deck is not as gigundo high as some. This is the reason it works for me even though the volume is too much.

But you are the same weight and about 3 inches shorter than my husband was. The Romany l paddle now was his boat.

I suspect that you are expecting trackier behavior. As l said, the Romany has the cockpit behind the middle of the boat, try measuring it and you will see, with a very loose bow. In fact for regular paddling l load the bow a little heavier than l would other boats to tame it.

The result of this is that it is kind of like living with a Doberman Pinscher in messy stuff. If you don’t exert control over what it is doing the boat will do its own thing. Granted that can take some aggressive paddling.

But it is a Romany. It will do its best to not put you in the water while you are figuring that out. I could name boats without the same patience.


You might get a little bit more stability by dropping your seat. But, given what you said about your time and boat experience, I do think it’s a matter of getting in more seat time. Go play at a beach break. Try paddling parallel to the beach at the wave break line. Don’t brace into a wave as it comes ready to break (what one would normally do) but rather just paddle as you would going from point A to B. Brace only if the wave breaks or does something to make you feel like you about to go over. The idea is to paddle as normally as possible and to employ a bracing stroke (rather than a true brace) as needed.

I deliberately did a “maiden voyage” with my brand new kayak on a windy, shorter period wave day to get a feel how it performs in sloppy water in a variety of situations (and then making on-shore adjustments afterwards). A bit of “test” paddling parallel to the beach near the break line can be seen at 1:15 second of this video:



This online course is valuable help for me. My progress improves measurably as I advance through their courses. They offer options for monthly or annual subscriptions following a free thirty day trial.

They use both NDK Romany and Explorers in their excellent videos.

Loved the intro shots. Now THAT is what a Romany can do