Trend in rocker on seakayaks?

Some of the newer hull designs in recent years for touring hulls seems to be reducing the amount of rocker in their designs compared to some of the more notable designs of years past. Impex Force series, Chatham 18, Valley Aquanaut as examples. Is this just a trend, improved hull designs or no more then just adding options to the market shares.

It seems to me that less rocker equals more straight line ability and more rocker provides better manuverability. The Outer Island by Impex is a great example of fast, point to point boat. I would not want to do rock gardens with it, but love its tracking potential. I have an Impex Assateague and for a large boat, I find the hull design easy to lean and edge into turns (with the skeg up of course). Comming from ruddered kayaks to this one was an easy transition. I still have a kayak with a rudder and consider the Assateague my play boat. Since every boat is a compromise, I see this as a good thing for consumers who can afford multiple boats to get what they want that matches their paddling traits. 98% of my paddling is point to point. I turn once in a while, but if it were reversed, I’d have a white water boat that would rather go in circles rather than straight.

interesting to me, old school thinking
back in the day, straight keel lines were associated with speed. my 70’s ‘mohawk ranger’ canoe (by jensen?) has a straight keel line. so does my ‘queen charlotte derivative’ kayak, the first s&g kayak kit(?) from john lockwood at pygmy kayaks. i think almost all competition boats had straight keels, including my two 70’s era ww downriver phoenixes. so it’s curious to me that straighter keels are seen as a new trend…what goes around comes around?

Variety of desires
I wonder if it is simly providing options to paddlers who desire boats of differing characteristics?

Most paddlers I know have more than one boat - I have an Aquanaut and a Romany. One has little rock the other a lot. This is probably not an unusal situation. One friend has a Chatham 18 and an Avocet. Another has an Outer Island and an Explorer.

Often closely related boats are available with little (Aquanaut, Chatham 18) or substantial (Avocet, Chatham 16) rocker.

I’m not sure there is an overall trend towards less rocker.

There has always been a mix
Alway will be. No trends - only patterns you make from connecting the dots between what you notice/know of. Even if there were - every trend has counter trends.

To add to the confusion, many boats considered to have little rocker have quite a bit, and some assumed to have a lot don’t. Then there are the ones with reverse rocker…

Designers vary rocker based on what they want the boat to do - not on fashion. There may be some move toward speed/distance/fitness paddling gear from a few makers - but even there they will not all just go flat for speed. “Speed” is a result of many factors.

what they said
The Chathams have no rocker but are easily turned, the CD Extreme has some rocker but sharp ends,isn’t the original British boat,damn forgot the name,has very little rocker,what is it,anyway,like Rosanna Danna said, if it’s not one thing it’s another

The Chathams have no rocker ???
It has been a time, but it seems to me that the Chatham 16 has notable rocker.

Greyak is right whatever ‘trend’ is likely the boats you’re noticing and the dots you are connecting.

I am also a two boater…aquanaut for staight lines or camping, avocet for rocks and waves…everyone applies their own tastes and desires in determining which boat(s) they will purchase/use, hence the variety available…


Chatham 18

– Last Updated: Apr-20-06 9:31 PM EST –

has little rocker. A Necky dealer said the 16, 17 and 18 are really quite different from each other and not simply a small, medium and large of the same hull.

The real trend is need for speed
Although as we often remark here, most all boats are nearly the same efficiency up to about 4 knots or so, there is significant market pressure to advertise your boat as faster. Few of us can paddle fast enough to get the benefits of this and most don’t know that the trade offs or narrower, longer, and less rocker. There are only so many ways to get that speed, save the new hydroplaning wonder, wonder is right, how does that baby roll?

So, imo, it seems we are just noticing how the designers are finding speed and reducing other characteristics to get it.

I for one
am slowing down…not just the aging process, more so desire…been rushed all my life by everyone and here in the hospital everything is rush rush rush…when i get in the boat its the last thing i want anymore. Having said that I would love to add a ski to the rack someday.

Measure first, then post…
I think if some of you actually measured rocker on these boats you’d be both surprised and more informed.

If you examined sales data you might find similar surprises. All these boats that we love on this site put together might make up the numbers of Pungo’s and Manitou’s…“might”. My experience has been that there is an explosion in Rec boats, and sea touring kayaks have trended toward straighter tracking, well behaved, boats…Tempest 170, 180, Chatham 17, 18, Aquanaut, QCC’s (different design, but fast and friendly), Force series etc. Loose, playful kayaks appeal to a smaller market. Pintails, CH 16’s etc., don’t sell as well. I also dislike gadgets such as ratchets, silly seats with straps all over etc., but marketing people are told by dealers that that’s what sells! Shelf appeal…requires less education. So, I think people on this site represent a small sub-set of the overall kayaking market. I’m with ya.

One last thing…Many of these boats are team designed. The actual designers are employed to execute what sales, marketing, management asks them to. Proto boats are tested, re-tested, tweaked etc., until people are happy. Said designer may actually dislike the boat he or she is asked to design, because it doesn’t match their personal style, even though it may be a great product for the marketplace. I have friends who are designers and I see the world they live in…it’s not a question of design whatever you want…unless your the owner of a small private company. If everyone hates it, I might like it :slight_smile: Good day all.

I see more Kevlar Kestrels being sold than Kevlar sea kayaks.

put one on the ground and look at it

– Last Updated: Apr-21-06 8:05 AM EST –

you'll see that the ends curve up,,what's touching the ground for about 10' is straight. When I think of rocker I think of some kind of arc where the paddler is at a low point in the keeline, not that the ends pull up from a straight center keeline. Put it next to a Caribou for a reference where it's balancing on a point in the middle and arching up from there.
I think that hull shape works well in a shorter boat than the longer/skinnier one.
Tmoraine, the hull shapes are similar,,but not a S/M/L as in volume, but retaining a similarity in excellent cross wind and downwave handling.

very good point
Everytime I’ve got into a Gulfstream I think this is the hull speed/comfort for all day paddling.

Rocker and Surprises
My usual guage of rocker is looking at boats sitting on flat pavement. Very little of my Romany touches ground when sitting this way. Much more of my Aquanaut does than my wife’s Explorer…

My great surprise in design of production boats is that Necky actually allowed for such advanced hulls as the Chatahm 16 and 18 to go into production. I know there were compromises on the outfitting and cockpits, but, neither is a novice’s hull. Neither is a boat for everyone.

I expect that many Valley or NDK models will be niche boats, but from a largish American manufacturer, the Chatham series is a pleasant surprise.

I think CD putting Nigel Foster’s Rumour into production is another pleasant surprise. Some very good things happening these days.

As far as new designs – does the Rapier count? It looks quite different from any other Valley boat and is even included in the Kayak Center’s catalogue of avialable boats…

Market Driven
As salty and other pointed out, manufacturers produce boats that they believe the public will buy. I personally think that short / day boats are a lot more fun that touring boats. But statistically the average kayak buyer is more interested in buying a “fast” boat.

What you are seeing is the manufacturers’ response to the many paddlers that have owned sluggish rec boats for a year or two and are looking at dropping some cash if they can be seduced into buying a boat that will do what their rec boats and/or their skills cannot - go straight and fast.

In the absence of skills, speed may sound like something a paddler can buy, so why shouldn’t they? Among skilled paddlers, the differences are perceived differently. But skilled paddlers are not the target audience, entry and first or second year paddlers are the one that spend the big bucks. So that’s the group that the manufacturers target, it’s just the nature of business.

I have 4 sea-kayaks, none of which are less than 6 year old designs some are 20+ year old designs… There are newer sexier and faster boats out there but I know that the limiting factors between me and expert status is my conditioning and training not any equipment. I didn’t buy a new boat last year nor will I buy one this year or next. I’ll just use the great tools that I have and work on conditioning, skills and experience to become a better paddler. Meanwhile the manufacturers will produce lots of new boats that promise more speed, lower weight, greater ease of paddling and possibly a solution for male-pattern-baldness and a more fulfilling sex-life. Marketing has little to do with the sport itself but rather is a reflection of the wants and desires of those just getting into or newly into the sport.

gotta appreciate CD
the have an eclectic selection but have too many variations on the “straight tracking ruddered touring kayak for the 6’180#paddler plus gear”. They outta cut one of the big ruddered boats and make a skinny complement to the Gulfstream (the Andromeda doesn’t cut it) and a small paddlers ruddered kayak.

All good points
But even companies like Valley have to design boats that appeal to the masses. I’m guessing that the Rapier is a fun diversion for them that gives them a bit of “halo” effect, but they’ll sell many more Aquanauts. So even their designs are to some extent market driven. I think if we were able to paddle designs that were 100% designer driven with no thought to this conservative market, we’d see some really fun and wild stuff that was exciting. I really like Jed’s post, as it speaks to people’s obsession with gear. Put a great paddler in any of these boats and she or he will make em work. Put a so so paddler in any of them, and you’ll get an ear full about this or that…

Another thing…boats paddle differently, so when edging, turning etc., some like a bit of forward lean on edge, while others like a little aft lean etc. Try that sometime and note the changes between boats…Point is, if you paddle every boat exactly the same way, you may be missing some boat characteristics solely due to your ingrained style??

like Jed’s post…
Note that Jed does own a number of different boats – though I’ve mostly seen him in his Romany.

I think that even skilled paddlers appreciate different characteristics of different boats. It is true that as my skills deepen I less often feel a boat’s characteristics are faults. However, I do love moving back and forth between my Romany and Aquanaut. The different personalities help sharpen my skills and add to my enjoyment.

And while it is true that even Valley has to think about actually selling enough of any model to make payroll, well mannered boats are not inherently deficient boats.

Many advanced paddlers moved from Nordkapps to Explorers in good part because the Explorer is a better mannered and more flexible boat. My sense is that Valley in developing the Aquanaut was trying to capture or recapture that market.

Valley’s first attempt, the Argonaut, was so high volume that it was not successful with most paddlers, so within about a year, Valley came out with the Aquanaut. A boat that provides a worthy alternative to the Explorer.