-- Last Updated: Jul-14-05 1:59 PM EST --

Looking at WS Tarpon 140 & OK Prowler 13. Are SOT's just as fast as a sit in, and if their slow, how slow? I assume they are more stable than a sit in of comparable size? Is it really necessary to get the rudder with either of these kayaks? Also, how would these yaks do in say, a class II river? Thanks!

Using Pnet’s Search Archive
Lot’s of previous threads on these topics. Use the search archive tool (just above the thread) using the name of these boats as the search seed. Also search on SOT or sit on top. Also check the column at left for product reviews and look up these two boats. Lots of good information is already available.

Standard Response

– Last Updated: Jul-14-05 5:32 PM EST –

Niether of those boats should require a rudder.

This comes up so often I have saved a standard response in a wordfile:


A hull is a hull. Speed is determined under the water, not on top of it. As a rule, a long skinny hull is faster than a short wide hull.

Typical SOTs are shorter and wider than typical sea kayaks, so they are slower.

This is partially because the design of most SOTs requires a higher seat, with a higher center of gravity. Per inch of beam, the SOT is actually less stable than a SINK.

To compensate for this, most manufacturers make SOTs very wide. The typical SOT is 28" wide, while most sea kayaks are less than 24" wide.

This is also due to market forces. SOTs are marketed to beginners because they do not require a roll, and beginners like massive stability. SOTs are preferred , or required, for other on the water activities, like fishing and diving, that require massive stability.

It doesn’t make much difference at speeds below 3 MPH, all kayaks are about equal. As speed increases, the differences become very large, very quickly.

In the real world, it works like this:

You are in a 14' long by 28" wide SOT, and your partner is in a 16' by 22" wide sea kayak.

At a very easy pace of less than 3MPH, there is not much difference.

If you both start to push it, your are doing 3.5MPH and your partner is doing 4.5MPH. Over the course of an hour, your partner is a mile ahead. You can see why this would not work out. This is why some groups discourage SOTs. Don’t take it personally.

If you plan to paddle with SINKs, a typical short wide SOT is not going to work out for you, unless it is a very laid back group that always goes at a slow pace. Or maybe you are strong enough to overcome the disadvantage, and keep pace with the slower SINK paddlers in the back of the pack..

If you are solo, you will either not go as far, or it will take you longer to get there. Depending on your personality, and your boating venue, this may, or may not be, important. On smaller bodies of water, like most High Sierra Lakes, it is just not going to make much difference.

If you really want to paddle an SOT, AND keep up with friends in SINKS, you can search out one of the few SOTs designed to do so. There are just a few. The Seda Revenge, Heritage Shearwater, Cobra Expedition, Heritage SeaDart 17, Kakazi Skua, the Easy Rider, etc. The WS Tarpon is your best bet in an affordable, plastic, SOT. It is16', but 28" So it will still be at some disadvantage to a typical 16' long by 22" wide sea kayak.


ON OPEN WATER, the safest way to go is a SINK with a bomproof roll. If you don’t have a real combat roll, the SOT will generally be safer because it will be easier to make an exit and re-entry.

IN THE SURFZONE, SOT’s have a big safety advantage in the surf zone, and confined rock gardens. In shallow beach break, there may not be enough depth to roll. Even a wet exit can be difficult. In a SINK, this can get really ugly, really quick.

In an SOT you have the option to bail and swim. This is why the Tsunami Rangers use SOTs on the NORCAL Coast. If you are going to take this approach, you better be a strong enough swimmer to make good the escape.


Fishing requires the massive stability of an SOT. Almost all offshore fishing is done in SOTs. Obviously, a SOT is almost required for SCUBA diving, and free diving.


If the day calls for lots of stops with lots of getting in and out of the boat, the SOT is easier.

Soooooo SOT or SINK?.....

Probably some of each.....

You forgot one

SOTs are more fun to just play in, in very hot weather. Repeated ons and offs do not require any bailing or sponging, unlike repeated ins and outs with a SINK.

Or Swimming
There are a couple spots up on those Sierra Lakes where the only way to access is to jump off and swim in, and climb up.

A lot of the NORCAL coast is like that. You may be close to shore, but now way you could land a boat.

On a rocky NORCAL ledge,
one could surf up a large swell and land on top of ledge. (Yeah right! Maybe if you’re a T.Ranger with 20 years of experince.)

Hey 'Cuda. Good general SOT info. I’m still searching for that perfect SOT: a combo of speed and stability. Maybe it dosen’t exist. Your Shearwater is probably close.


OT: Dude, You Got The BEST Handle!

Hey, Carl!

– Last Updated: Jul-15-05 5:58 PM EST –

The Shearwater is really nice for a day at the lake, but I wouldn't want to get into anything serious with it.

SOT, or SINK, those long skinny boats just are meant for the heavy stuff.

I now have a 16' Heritage fiberglass Nomad SOT that may be good for the coast. I need to try it out and see.

The Revenge was pretty good, but just too heavy. Too much volume for a day tripper. I like light boats.

I owned a poly Nomad.
fine boat. Very fast but very tippy.

I just purchased an Innova Solar II.

It’s 13’4". Handles great and very stable and comfy – but only had it out on flat water so far. Can’t wait to take it out on the rough stuff. I bought it as play boat, but i could tour with it too. Has plenty of storage space.