What am I experiencing? New kayak is a house to paddle


I’ve paddled a Necky Arluk 1.9 for a few years now (18’4", 22" beam, 46lbs; moderately hard-chined, shallow v-hull).

I wanted a slightly more stable and voluminous sea kayak with comparable straight-line speed and acceleration.
I bought a Current Designs Infinity (17’9", 22.5" beam, 48lbs; very soft-chined, moderately shallow rounded hull).

This new boat feels like I’m paddling up a hill. The sense of futility trying to move forward with any amount of briskness or urgency is compounded with each stroke. I’m pulling a Werner Corryvrecken with my large 6’6" 230lb frame and it feels more likely that I’ll push all of Lake Erie behind me before capturing an acceptable forward touring pace.

I was indeed expecting a slower top speed and acceleration with this new kayak, and I’m more than capable of accepting the fundamental law of performance compromise in hull engineering. However, the disparity between these two boats in general performance is stunning (and wearing).

Here are my specific unanswered questions:

  1. Every single review on the internet, including YouTube video reviews, mentions the ‘rocket-like’ speed of the Infinity. Why.
  2. Many of the highly-reputed, influential hull designs of similar dimensions (NDK Explorer, Valley Etain etc.) are lauded by experienced paddlers (some of great relative fame) and are indeed paddled on well-documented treacherous journeys across long distances. How are these dudes pushing these barges around the world’s oceans at what I have experienced to be a positively glacial pace?

What is happening.

Thank you.

Did you disengage the parking brake?

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I actually checked for water in the storage compartments, inspected the bottom of the boat etc… Your comment, while facetious, perfectly captures the sensation.

What speeds are you getting on each kayak?

I don’t think at 22.5" it’s a barge.

I was actually looking for one to have one keel boat to use.

4-4.5 knots on Infinity top speed.
Necky cruises at that speed, and reaches max speed over 6.5 knots.

I know the boat is slower, I suppose I’m really directing my question at the sport of sea kayaking generally… which is to say I don’t understand how anyone could paddle anything so damn lethargic and obstinate in the water.

My CD Solstice GT tops out at like me 6.99 mph and 24.5" wide. I’m 230-240 use an ikelos and do have a corryvreckan…

My CD Libra XT 22’ tandem 32" wide goes 4.5+ mph with my honey and I’m 68. We cruise long distances at 3.5-3.75 mph

You went from a boat with a length/width ratio of 9.9 to one around 9.4. Note that should be water line measurements. The second boat should be slower/more difficult by that figure only. But there are other factors like the bow design, chines , flatness , depth in the water, etc. You say it feels like more effort but what speed are you actually paddling. (GPS). What was the balance of the boat? bow down, stern down. What was the design weight for paddler? (190# is common) How much have you paddled lately and what was the temperature? Us 200# plus guys are affected more by that sometimes.

  1. reviews…the problem with reviewers is their mystery experience and independence. You don’t know what that is. Did they come from a 35# Sterling with 110,000 miles experience behind them or a 8ft Sun Dolphin from WalMart they learned to paddle in last year. You can see how their write ups would be different? Who were they working for?

  2. Perhaps you are thinking too hard. Glacial Pace…which glacier. Global warming and all that can be quite fast. You have not included any facts just opinions/feelings on pace (ie MPH). …When reading about a big trip it is best to review the sponsor list. Speed…you will note that some of us quote moving average and some quote average per trip speeds (include stops).

  3. It mostly matters how the boat works when you paddle it not those other guys.

  4. [quote=“ErieSeaKayaker, post:1, topic:103117”]
    I’m pulling a Werner Corryvrecken with my large 6’6" 230lb frame and it feels more likely that I’ll push all of Lake Erie behind me before capturing an acceptable forward touring pace.

You just being dramatic? …or are you towing?

Thank you, these comments are all essentially accurate.

To not make this post too boring, let us focus on the lessons here which might serve as good takeaways for all (or at least for me):

A. Length/width ratio is on the more superficial end of performance heuristics.
B. Performance appraisals are largely relativized to personal experience.
C. Old Necky kayaks were fast as shit.

I did paddle a CD Caribou. I felt cramped but it didn’t seem all that slow. I would think the infinity capable of 6 mph or more.

I have 5 CD boats going from the Solstice GT to an Extreme / Nomad you feel the difference although it’s not much. Going from the Extreme to my CD Expedition is not much either on my GPS but it feels like a lot. I try to get good readings with current, wind, water conditions. To me when I see the GPS I am amazed what 3/4 of a mph feels like.

Going from the Libra XT to the others in one day makes it feel like much more effort.

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And the main factor on many race classification systems.

Searching and looking at your previous necky hull it does look fast.

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I imagine you’re well aware of the differential application of length/width ratio between the contexts of race classification and general consumer recreational boating, so I’ll leave that alone.

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How does the waterline length compare? That’s the important measurement.

I’ve been paddling a Necky Arluk 1.9 for over 20 years. At the time I bought it it was considered a fairly competitive boat. It has been since taken over by some of the Epics and other boats in the fast sea kayak class. It’s now a little below the middle of that class.

CD lists the Infinity as a "fish form’ expedition kayak.

Probably more that you want to know… :sunglasses:

You said you felt like you were paddling up hill. You may well have been. Take a look at your bow wave as you paddle; once you hit hull speed you are pushing it up higher, making the crest-to-crest longer, and you start paddling up the backside of your bow wave instead of in the trough in between the bow wave and the follower.

Having said that, it doesn’t explain the difference between the two boats or why a strong paddler can’t exceed 6 mph in a boat that length.

that’s fascinating and feels like something worth investigating… it really does feel like I’m pushing too much wave in front of me… don’t know if this is correctable with technique or what…

The waterline has been optimized for length in the Infinity, with relatively little rocker as well… You describe the Arluk as a ‘fast sea kayak’ and correct me if I’m wrong but it appears that this category is underrepresented in today’s offerings… could the influence of more recreational-minded paddlers entering the market be the cause? Also, the classic Necky design has essentially disappeared with the brand itself; the super low wetted surface area of that hull design (super skinny bow and stern) may be what gives my Arluk its swiftness and effortless acceleration.

This was a great read… I do suspect the more Swede-form Arluk pushes less water than the fish form Infinity… “The finer bow more gently parts the water for less wave-making resistance.”
I suppose the CD could have been designed with a greater concern for directional stability… “Fish-form advocates correctly point out that Swede-form is less directionally stable (other things being equal).”

Thanks for that input, you sure do have lots of experience with this brand. The Arluk may have just performed quite exceptionally for me. This Infinity is simply not gliding and accelerating the way I need, and actually surfs poorly compared to the Arluk, probably due to the bow shape and abrupt waterline entry point.
I actually have video of myself accelerating in the Arluk, and it’s possible to see the whole boat lurching forward under single paddle strokes as it speeds ahead into a touring pace. The moment of inertia feels simply too great in the CD.

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This is category used in classifying boats for competition:

Single Kayaks

Sea Kayak – L:W ratio less than 9.25:1

Fast Sea Kayak – L:W ratio between 9.25:1 and 10.99:1

High Performance Kayak – L:W ratio is greater than 10.99:1

My wife has a QCC 600X, which in spite of being nominally two feet shorter, is classified as being very close to the Arluk. The Arluk’s upswept bow loses nearly two feet of waterline length.

The demise of the classic sea kayaks is probably driven by sales. I’ll probably get called out for my guessing that newer entrants to the sport, especially the younger crowd, seem to be primarily interested in SUPs, rec boats, play boats, and white water boats. Many older first timers and people with younger family members seem to be more interested in rec boats, fishing kayaks, canoes, and SOTs. Price and relative ease of handling probably have an influence as well.

While some of these people may eventually move on to sea kayaks at some point, the bulk of sales is not for $3000 to $5000+ for 16’ - 18’ boats. When Johnson Outdoors bought up Necky, one of the first things they did was expand the line into multiple play boats. They eventually dropped all of their sea kayaks with the exception of the Lookshaw, which is no longer available in a composite layup.