Romany Excel stability

I’ve been paddling for a few years. I’m a big guy: 6’4" and 300lbs with a long back (30-32" inseam). I ran a Scorpio HV for a couple of years and did most of my “learning” in it. Was happy with it, but wanted something more sporty and lighter, so I picked up a Romany Excel about a year ago.

I have a rollercoaster of emotions with the Romany. I have taken it on a couple of local multi-day trips (I’m in Vancouver, BC, Canada), and really struggle with being able to relax without feeling like I’m going to swim. Even some day paddles in light chop can be a bit unnerving. At the same time, I’ve surfed it and played in tide rips, and had fun (if still a bit nervous).

I found this thread: Romany classic and it resonates with me.

I think my problem is at least the following:

  1. I’m tall and heavy and this makes the center of gravity of the boat higher, and this changes the stability curve, making the boat not feel as stable as for other people
  2. I’m too tense, not relaxing and releasing the boat to be itself.
  3. I’m not confident enough in my skills to find the behavior playful, leading to panic and #2.

My question is whether this experience with the Romany is common. It feels like (other than the above thread) everyone raves that the Romany is incredibly stable (even for beginners), which makes me feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I don’t think I’m oversized for the Excel, but curious to hear opinions on that too.

I really want to love it, but I recently got a Nimbus Telkwa so I could feel more confident on bigger trips while I try to figure out the problems with the Romany.

Welcome. I’m 6’2” and about 220lbs. Romany Excel Expedition. I’m in that boat because of my leg length and hip width; other boats too snug to get in and out of. I do not feel tippy or unsteady.

Relaxing is a matter of building skills and confidence. I’m likely similar to you in terms of skill development in that I occasionally tense up because I know I can’t roll yet. If you’re carrying around questions or doubts about your skills that will make you tense. I’m noticeably more relaxed after a wet exit practice or something like that.

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My best paddling partner Thor is 6’ 5" and weighs 275 -280, He also had a bit of an issue with his size and feeling top heavy so I concentrated on some time with him doing a sculling brace and balanced brace and then learning to roll.

Once he could roll all the fear and apprehension about tipping over left him, and when that, he also learned to relax. He and I have been out in some waves tall enough that when coming from the sides or at 45 degree angles to our kayaks we can’t see over the tops of the white caps, and yet Thor is not at all tense anymore in such conditions.

Paulo told me once I learn to roll well I’ll probably never need to roll again. He was right. For 2 reasons.

#1 rolling is actually the same basic move as bracing, the difference being the axis of the kayak . When you can roll staying upright with the same bracing movement is quite a bit easier.

#2 when you can roll all the fear of capsizing is gone, and with the lack of fear comes a lack of tension.


I’d very highely recomend you contact Paulo Ouellet and "Dancing with the Sea.

Heck, he’s your neighbor and simply an outstanding coach and instructor.


“I’m noticeably more relaxed after a wet exit practice or something like that.”

Yeah, I feel that. Definitely mirrors my experience. I did a surfing course last year, and the paddle across the bay to the surf zone was much different in feel and anxiety level vs the paddle back. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your comments!

Thanks for this pointer and your other comments. Paulo’s material looks right up my alley!

I am still confused about why the boat is often part of training fleets if it requires more skill to control.

Or is it just the (somewhat unique?) combination of my dimensions and skill that makes it feel tippy to me?

If a beginner felt what i feel, they might decide that kayaking was not for them, which is not what schools would want.

I can’t speak to the problem of kayak design for people with your size, but I believe the Romany has been a successful kayak design because (for most people) it hit a sweet point in the space of stability vs responsiveness. In my experience, a kayak that is so stable that it feels completely reassuring to a beginner will not be responsive enough to be an effective tool for teaching basic boat control such as edging or bracing. Every kayak is a compromise. A boat that is “stable” for one paddler can be “log-like” for another, conversely, a boat that is “tippy” for one paddler may be “precise” for another.


Out on Orcas Island, the school I was taking classes from was a total NDK shop. Loved the instruction but they kept trying to get me out of my Necky Tesla the entire week. Finally on the last day, I caved for the circumnavigation - which is what my Necky is built for! - and paddled an Excel.

My first reaction was “where’s the rest of the kayak?” because I’m used to 18’ boats. During the paddle, I found that I was constantly having to correct, something I don’t have to do with either my Necky (the expedition boat) or my wood Pygmy (the play boat).

When the instructor excitedly asked how I was liking the Excel about halfway through the paddle, the answer was “I’m exhausted”. He suggested it was just the last day of a long week of challenging classes. I thought about that for the rest of the day and realized I simply wasn’t used to how much the Excel moved with every little chop or bounce.

Every time the bow would deviate from my intended course, I’d immediately correct and was wearing myself out. I simply wasn’t used to letting a kayak bob around like a cork. It was unsettling making it feel less stable even though that wasn’t the true problem. At 5’11”, I did feel a little top heavy, so letting my weight sink into my hips helped.

As soon as I let it do its own thing, as it was designed to do, it didn’t feel so unsettling. Not unlike allowing a motorcycle to ‘float’ under you on grooved pavement.

It’s the difference between designs, what you are used to paddling and what kayak works best for you in the conditions. One of the reasons to always paddle before you buy. Even though there is a rabidly devoted NDK following, the kayaks are not my cuppa.

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Really appreciate the replies. It is very helpful.