Shorter playful boats for bigger paddler

-- Last Updated: Dec-07-09 1:40 PM EST --

Kayaks for general coastline day paddles with some surfing and some rock play there are great designs like the NDK Romany, Chatham16, Avocet etc. if you are the proper weight for them. My question is what hulls paddle and feel like these designs, but for larger and heavier paddlers. Lets say the 220 lbs. plus range.

Zephyr 160? Romany S?

I demoed the new impex hatteras this fall.

I’m 6’5" 210 lbs and it fit me well.

Romany S
6’4" and 215 lbs. here. I demoed a Romany S this summer and loved it.

Romany S as well
i’m same size as Jaybird, and have had the S for a couple years. great boat. however, i also really like the Zephyr 16 and would short list it. if i were buying new again, it would be a tough call. keep in mind, the S is quickly bogged down by putting much gear in it, at my weight.

Seda Ikkuma 15

– Last Updated: Dec-07-09 3:42 PM EST –

I'm 6, 240lbs and it fits me well. Romany S also fit me. Good boat.

Romany HV - Romany S
Exactly how different are they? Volume, rocker, chine ? I’ve paddled the Romany HV and it fits great, but I was concerned that I was sinking it just deep enough to tone down its’ known quick maneuverability . Is there really an extensive difference between the HV and the S or just subtle differences.

Zephyr 16 -updated Dagger Meridian?
Years ago I tried a friends Dagger Meridian and found it highly maneuverable, plenty of volume for a bigger paddler and not overly demanding except to keep it tracking perfectly straight. Is the Zephyr 16 just the Meridian redone? Somewhere I thought I heard or read that it is based upon the meridian.

Fit vs. Waterline Depth?
I physically can fit a number of the smaller boats and some of them quite comfortably. For me I feel like I’m putting them deep enough into the water so that the waterline now starts to rob these boats playfulness and lightness on the water. How did you find the Hatteras in respect to where it sat in the water?

same boat

– Last Updated: Dec-07-09 8:12 PM EST –

the S replaced the HV, and the S has an improved deck configuration, especially around the cockpit, which is all but the same as the Explorer HV.

Nigel says same hull
Nigel Dennis has said that the hull is exactly the same: Poseidon, Romany HV, Romany S. Some say the S has fuller bilge and harder chines. Some others say no difference.

The deck configuration IS different…

it is based upon the meridian
Yes, the Zephyr is based in the Meridian. Flatpick noted on this board the changes made.

There are two size Zephyrs and they have been instant hits in these parts.

same boats
I’m 6’ and around 200 and those boats you first looked at fit just fine, 20 lbs more won’t make any difference. The Romany if anything is overly roomy.

Bill H.

Fit isn’t the issue

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 7:29 AM EST –

Small and petite paddlers for sometime have expressed that the boats that are properly sized for their height and weight are very limited in choice. For them they often find that they simply don't sink deep enough into the water many boats that the majority of us consider small boats. On the flip side of that coin I wonder at what point a boat that is designed for coastal/day paddling becomes to deep in the water because of weight to be still effective and playful for heavier paddlers. I've fit into and paddled several of the known and well received smaller playful boats, but I think most of them are designed and targeted for the 150 lb. to 180 lb. person so when you put a 50lb.+ heavier paddler in it then obviously some of that boats better characteristics will be diminished. Possibly that issue was the reason for boats like the Skerray or Pintail as they seem to be a little larger all the way around, but still considered quite playful.

Chasing Your Own Tail…
“playful” is so subjective, dependent not only on an individual’s weight but height, skills, preferences and probably other unidentifiable variables.

The only “play” here is verbiage.


Consideration w/the NDK boats

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 12:59 PM EST –

With the regular Romany and Explorer line, the volume that the hull can carry well is actually the same regardless of which version it is. All they did is mess with the deck height and the size of the cockpit opening, and in the HV versions they added knee bumps to that. But the volume is the same regardless of hull. So while someone my size may seem to be in a low volume boat with the lowered deck height and very small cockpit, I am pushing exactly the same real volume as someone at your size.

We have a couple of paddling friends in your size who find the Romany or the Explorer to work fine in getting a good, but not threateningly deep, water line.

As above, the Romany S is stated to be the same hull as the other versions. The cockpit is more generous.

The diff with the new Pilgrim series is that these are really lower volume hulls. Hence they will be replacing the Romany and Explorer LV.

All that said, opinions about the Romany's speed on the getting there part of the trip, as well as the Explorer's, are all over the place. It does come down to the paddler and the normal pace. The Romany will start pushing water at a normal cruising speed, while the longer Explorer actually goes to less resistance as the speed goes up. But neither is "fast". I'm not sure where your tolerance is on that part.

pintail and Skerray

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 9:28 AM EST –

"Possibly that issue was the reason for boats like the Skerray or Pintail as they seem to be a little larger all the way around, but still considered quite playful."

The Pintail is definitely not a playboat for a bigger person. The deck is quite low, and the cockpit fit is snug. Hull volume is perilously low for someone in the 180-200 pound range. :) I'm 185, (and usually carry 10-15 pounds of gear), and these are many of the reasons that I love the boat. At my weight it's super plaful, very low windage, and handles great in surf and waves.

However, when I edge even moderately, my back deck is awash. When edging aggressively I have once or twice tripped on that buried outside gunwale as the water piled up on the very low and flat rear deck. I would recommend the Pintail as a day-play boat possibility for someone up to my size, but really no heavier. I'd guess that the ideal paddler weight would be more like 160#. 200+ is out of the question, even if you could fit into the cockpit.

The Skerray (my wife paddles one), is probably a better option. It's at least 2 inches wider, and deeper both fore and aft. It still has considerable rocker, and is about half a foot shorter than the Pintail. You'd need the RMX (in plastic) or the Keyhole version in glass, as I almost can't fit into my wife's RM (ocean cockpit) version. The moderately high rear deck makes entry difficult for people with long legs, or with knees that only bend in one direction. (my wife has neither so she's golden!)


– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 10:33 AM EST –

I didn't intend to overstate the question, but seemed to have taken it down that path. Verbiage can explain, complain and become lame. What I should have done a better job is to ask how much are boats body/person specific rather then design specific. Alpine skiis partially come to mind. The pair I use, most people would find to long and to stiff, but if I drop down to a shorter easy flexing ski I'll get more "playfulness" of quick sharp turns, but at the expense of stability and tracking as they will wobble all over the place and loose contact with our good old New England ice with me on them. Somebody else smaller and lighter might be able to use that shorter pair at higher speeds and not loose contact with the "hard pack" like I get with my present skiis. On the flip side they would be pitched to the stratosphere on the first contour change they misjudged on my skiis.

On boats, it would be nice to have that smaller, shorter, easier to load-unload, quick little boat, but with my body size it might not be an improvement over the traditional longer touring hull that I have. Lack of having a complete and mastered skill set with out doubt is a major factor, but there also has to be a tipping point where the intended design characteristics for on the water behavior becomes a little gray with some body sizes and weight in your shorter smaller boats. For me if it is the longer touring hull, then it is the longer touring hull.

P&H Capella RM166 or Nigel Foster Shadow
I paddle both of these boats and find they’re both extremely playful, maneuverable, and handle surf nicely.

The Shadow doesn’t fit the bill as a shorter boat, but it can turn on a dime and is very fast for a Brit boat.

I use the Capella when I need to have a boat that will bounce off rocks. BTW, I’m 225.

Down Hill Skis As An Analogy…
I am still using my ole (180 cm, for my 5’3" height) downhill skis (pre hour-glass shape). Last I went, I was still out turning a lot of the folks on the mogul fields on their new, shorter hour-glass configurations down the hill. Could the new shapes work better and help me in some way? Maybe if I were a hardcore slalom, or freestyle skier… But, I am not and the older skis still work fine. I am in control. I can manuever. I am having fun. I don’t have to spend additional dollars.


Downhill skiing is as fun as surfing, but the latter costs much less.