What design makes for a speedy kayak?

In the ‘Godzilla’ K1 experiments (http://www.cyberiad.net/library/kayaks/racing/kresult.htm), the computer calculations predicted the fastest boat would be one with a perfectly rectangular sideviews (no rocker at all). But, of course, it would be a bear to turn.

they also found parabolic waterlines and sections that are something between parabolic and elliptical in shape make for the fastest boat.

this was all in regards to flatwater K1s, limited to 17’ by rule and (at the time of the experiments) by a minimum width rule which has since been removed.

This is the impression I’d been given
from paddling.net and the paddling mags over the few couple years for both canoes and kayaks:

Salty said " It seems that tourers have been taught oversimplified thinking such as long is “fast” and “more seaworthy” etc,"

It wasn’t until this last year that people started posting what I was starting to notice over the last year or so, that just putting me in a longer boat may not make me any faster or make my paddling more efficient/easier if I don’t have enough power for the boat.

The Transmission
In general I agree that the engine is critical to performance. However, most people are not firing on all cylinders. The real power within all of us is in the torso muscles. The key to doubling your average speed and tripling your range is to learn how to transmit the your torso power to the kayak.

Watch as many videos as you can of good olympic and surski paddlers. You will see their arms are not the source of power rather part of the linkage that transmits power from the torso to the blades.

Most intermediat paddlers will tell you they have good torso rotation. I thought I did too at one time. The wing paddle is a great tool to test your technique. Any weakness is amplified by the wing paddle either trying to capsize you or tiring you very quickly. If you commit to a wing paddle and stick with it for a couple weeks, it will force you to paddle with better technique. Once you have a wing down a regular paddle will feel like wet noodle.

Rudders - Again

– Last Updated: Feb-07-08 4:07 PM EST –

I am usually the first to bring up full time rudders and I am the one who always takes the heat for it too. Glad to see someone else mentioned them first. I will add more detail to the effects of rudders on speed.

Some modern kayaks are designed with full time skeg or rudder use in mind. All sea kayaks require a certain amount of lateral area aft to aid tracking, resist yawing and resist weathercocking. A rudder or skeg allows the designer to include this lateral area in an efficient foil shape with less wetted surface and less drag compared to hull made less efficient with a longish keel or deeper V shape.

Weathercocking forces can be quite variable, changing with boat speed, wind speed and apparent angle to the wind. A skeg can be manually adjusted to provide a gross level of helm balance that many find satisfactory. A rudder can be adjusted on the fly allowing the helm to be dynamically balanced to the ever changing conditions.

So a rudder not only allows for a more efficient hull shape, but also allows one to focus more energy into forward speed.

To be fair to all the haters out there: Some paddlers enjoy applying kayak lean and various rudder strokes to keep their kayak heading in the desired direction. Some appreciate a skeg because they can use it for gross adjustments and still use lean and paddle strokes for the finer adjustments.

Guess what, you can still do the leaning and various paddle strokes while using a rudder. In fact I definitely will pull these tricks out combined with the rudder when hard corrections are needed while surfing. I will also use the same moves when maneuvering slowly in tight situations either with or without the rudder deployed. So a rudder will not discourage or prevent anyone from learning some of the traditional boat control moves.

What makes a fast kayak?
It depends on the type of conditions the boat is getting used in. For nearly calm or better, and little to no current, and given somebody

Yep Greg!
Yet another smart comment on this thread. Snaking through overfalls, through caves, rocks etc., a highly rockered playful boat will leave a surf ski in the dust…but pretty much only in such a scenario! Lots of variables.

A K-1 wouldn’t be fast for me, cuz I’d be sculling constantly to keep my onions dry!

again rudders
If you are trying to get from A to B in good time, and in typical ocean paddling conditions of wind to 20 kts, and some swell and chop, then a rudder will get you there faster because it eliminates corrective strokes. I always wonder at people who say they rarely use their rudders, as if that is wise. (I have and enjoy paddling boats both with and without rudders.)