Sea Kayak for Teaching

The sea kayak I own is a QCC700X. I think it is great for trips and personal paddling. But it is not the ideal boat for teaching beginners. For example, it turns just fine if edged but modeling turns in a beginners class should not involve edging. So I am considering getting a shorter kayak, maybe with more rocker, that I could use for beginning sea kayak classes. I am 5’ 10", 185 with size 10 feet and inseam of 31". I think I am aware of most of the possibilities and at this stage of my life could paddle most of them without a problem. And while I would, of course, like to find a wonderful bargain on a used boat I assume I will have to buy new. And I can do that. But I am interested in what people use for teaching and why they prefer what they use. On Craigslist there is a P&H Capella, 16’9" long and a Pintail in my area. I have paddled a Pintail but not a Capella. So what do you think?

The Pintail is a great teaching boat, I know a few people I have worked with that paddle them. I personally either use a north shore calypso (now the atlantic) or a P&H Delphin

NDK Romany
Wouldn`t think it would be to hard to find a used one.


I use a NDK Romney or a Tempest 165.

I agree
The Pintail is great for teaching, but the Capella is also highly maneuverable and it’s available in plastic, which can be a plus for a boat that’s going to take a beating.

Romany was designed for teaching
The Romany’s original intent was a boat that was meant for teaching as well as used for trips with people who have never paddled. Atlantic kayak tours uses them for trips with people who have never paddled since it has such high initial stability and so much rocker and a skeg. Before anybody’s blood pressure goes up… that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great boat for advanced paddlers as well.

Above plus
What size people? For someone like myself, an about average sized woman on the stats. both the boats you mention are on the big side. The only boat I know if where over volume doesn’t seem to get in the way of learning is the Romany - it’s just good a schooling boat.

You may want to pick up two boats over time, one like the above for average sized paddlers and the smaller version of the new little plastic sea kayaks like the Dagger Alchemy for smaller paddlers. The Alchemy leaks if you do wet work, but for what you are talking about the extra bail wouldn’t be a problem.

play sea kayak

– Last Updated: Jun-06-11 12:26 PM EST –

I like using a short "play" sea kayak for teaching. The shop I teach for carries Dagger/Wilderness Systems, so my preferable boat there is the Alchemy. P&H Delphin, North Shore Aspect, and other similar short, maneuverable kayaks would also be decent options for me.

The maneuverability lets me get to students quick when needed. And it is easy to model and show turn strokes when a boat actually turns (but you need to be able to make these boats track straight, so you don't give the wrong lesson on forward strokes).

Not sure I agree with your "modeling turns in beginner's classes should not involve edging" statement. I don't teach edging as part of the sweep strokes in a beginner's class, but I do model it (not the over-emphasizing modeling of the edging I'd use when teaching edging, but I do edge none-the-less).

both squirrely maneuverable boats
You’re probably very aware of that. Years ago I was looking for a highly maneuverable sea kayak, and had it boiled down to the Pintail or Capella 169. At the time, I remember the Pintail feeling more stable. They both were very comfortable edging. They both felt a little sluggish to me speed-wise. The Capella didn’t feel quite as sluggish to me, and that is part of what won me over at the time. I think I also liked the idea that leaning onto one side felt more stable than sitting upright in the Capella, so I suppose I felt it would encourage good habits. It’s been years though, so it would be fun to jump in both again side by side to do another comparison just to see what I would find today.

If I’m going out simply for some beach rough water play, the Capella 169 is still what I use most. Over the years, I’ve read plenty of comments about both these designs being too squirrely. You can’t just ride along with the kayak in a following sea, you have to control the kayak. What makes the 169 fun also makes it challenging, and I think the Pintail shares that to some degree based on comments I’ve noticed. So you get challenging directional control in exchange for easy maneuverability. I’ve always felt the Capella 169 teaches me directional control, and trackers like the Sirius and Soltice GTS teach me maneuvering.

The other Capella models (163, 167, etc.) were modified years ago, and as I understand, some of that squirrely nature was reeled in some.

Doesn’t sound like these type of students would be venturing out into anything that would cause directional control issues. There won’t be any reason you personally can’t make turning look easy in either one of these.

One with no initial or final stability
will teach a lot about bracing, in a short space of time.

Thanks for the comments Celia
But I think I may have been ambiguous. I want a sea kayak that I can use when I teach beginners. Any suggestions for that?

Like some here,
I believe the I use a NDK Romany, Tempest 165 and I will also throw the Chatham 16. These boats are great for teaching and students. These boats are maneuverable and should somebody be in trouble, capsized or in need of assistance, you can turn these boats around fast and get to the person in need. The NDK explorer is a little faster and a little less maneuverable but an excellent boat to carry extra first aid, PFD, paddle floats and anything else you may need to keep your group/students safe.

Turns without edging
The Tempest 165 turned well without edging, though of course much better with edging. You might be able to fit in that. Or try the 170.

I use
an Anas Acuta when I first teach them to roll…I teach slow , controlled rolling . The ocean cockpit works well so they don’t fall out as easy…and I’m standing in the water holding the boat, or them, during the learning process. I also start them with a Greenland paddle and then switch them over to an Euro (if that is the paddle they usually use)

after that I put them into a Romany(unless they have chosen Greenland style as their venue)…then they learn to dial in the speed and also hold themselves in…then …when we do strokes or go paddling, I have them in the Romany…large keyhole is better for beginners in everything except rolling 101.(YMMV)

Best Wishes


Sea kayak for the teacher
Bigger choice there, but there is still one consideration for the paddler. Do you need a boat that you can put students into for them to get home if something goes south with theirs? Or they show up with a boat that is not working out well for their own learning - maybe it is too big, or is a poor fit for them, that kind of thing.

You may also need a boat that you can get them up onto the back of and paddle a short distance with some assurance of staying upright, depending on the situation.

I’d look hardest at the Romany or the Tempest of apt size.