Weight vs handling characteristics

I just bought a Valley Nordkapp RM (17’-11" x 21"). I’ve had it out a few times and got over the “initial stability” issues associated with its design.

I just find that it is not quite as fast nor does it track as well as I thought it would considering its dimensions. I’m between 175-178lbs and 5’-10" which I think is on the low side of optimum paddler weight for this boat.

Will adding ballast correct some of these issues (more water length)or is this just normal?

Pretty easy to DIY

– Last Updated: Jul-24-15 11:54 AM EST –

Why not try out the ballast idea using jugs of water or exercise weights and find out directly? You'll likely get a more reliable answer than asking opinions on p-net, just sayin'...

Oh, and people will be interested in what your result is, too.

Congratulations on buying a great boat. OK, so I’m biased. I have the glass version. I’m 10 pounds heavier than you, but my boat is lighter, so it’s kind of a wash. The boat is designed to carry a load. However, adding ballast isn’t going to help with speed. Yes it will increase the waterline, but also increase the wetted area & drag by forcing the hull deeper into the water. It will improve tracking though. I think part of your tracking problem is related to you paddling the boat unladen & it sitting relatively high in the water to be more affected by wind. That said, I often paddle mine lightly loaded (just day paddle kit) and choose it for my day paddle boat over my other boats if I’m going to cover some miles. It depends on what you’re used to. I also paddle the LV version which is a different critter, so I find the standard Nord to be very docile. I’d say give it some time for you two to get used to each other, then experiment adding a gear load if you wish.

The hull shape …

– Last Updated: Jul-24-15 12:19 PM EST –

Has more to do with the tracking than the dimensions.
The beauty of a skeg boat is that you can add a little down skeg to increase tracking and then reduce it for more maneuverability. The Nord will shine as conditions pick up.

I found that adding weight in the forward compartment helps considerably when going upwind. The Valleys have upswept bows that will want to blow you off course upwind without some weight in the bow.

try 10 pounds front compartment getting nose down

front and read add for crossing current coming from side to side

rear down nose up for heavier wave action dead ahead.

I have a Solstice Titan, ballast this hull with MSR Dromedary bags attached to hull with Velcro. Works as a keel.

The Titan here in Padnet scores negative reviews for windblow. I have no windblow from using ballast but n ot yet ballasted for keel down crossing currents…maybe 20 pounds front and rear.

Brit style boats are not fast
If you want a fast boat, you need a long water line.

Think plumb bow.

I had a friend store one here for three years and I also paddled Grayhawks.

It is a fun boat, but I wouldn’t want it for cruising

Jack L

I had the RM until recently …

– Last Updated: Jul-24-15 5:15 PM EST –

I never had an issue with tracking - while it was fairly easy to change direction, it was not squirrely at all. It is not what I would call a "stiff tracking" kayak - it has lots of rocker and a rounded bottom, so I would not expect it to be and it isn't. If anything, it is on the more playful side of things in terms of tracking, but being 65lb heavy and 18' long, it is not one to react with light-speed quickness (at least compared to something like the 40lb Dagger Magellan that I have now). It is still very responsive and does exactly what you want, but just takes its time compared to a lighter boat with less swing weight.

I was 185-190 lb, so a bit heavier, not sure if that had anything to do with it or not. I don't think this kayak noticed if you load it with 10 extra pounds or not. But having not experienced it with 10lb less, perhaps it might make a difference... Try adding 10-15 lb and see what you feel. If you still feel it is not tracking well, then it's probably you ;) (or what you want from the kayak is not what it is designed for).

It did weathercock noticeably and required a skeg to keep a heading without the need to overcompensate by edging and other one-sided efforts. But other than that, it was really very easy to keep pointed where I wanted.

It is not terribly fast, I agree, but it is certainly faster than most plastic sea kayaks of similar waterline length. It is, however, fairly efficient to paddle at a reasonable speed and that's what's important in group paddles. I never felt it was slower than my peers, on the contrary, it usually felt faster than most similar style kayaks (plastic or not). Also, in my experience, it is one of these kayaks where more effort is rewarded with more speed, unlike many other "British" type hulls which disappoint in this regards.

It is also one of few rare kayaks that manages to remain quick when conditions become choppy. It just somehow always finds a nice place between two waves, isn't much affected by winds and small chop, and is all-around very confidence-inspiring in choppy conditions (provided you have a good enough balance to feel it and a good enough confidence in your bracing and rolling to not rely on stability to bail you out).