What is the fastest 12 foot kayak?

I like the better tracking and love the speed of the longer kayaks, but I need something shorter that I can easily get up on my little Honda Civic. I plan to use the kayak mostly for exercise and mostly on lakes, slow rivers and ocean bays. I’m experienced and stability is not a concern. I’ve currently got my eye on the Necky Looksha 12, but I would love other suggestions. I guess I should also mention that I’m 6’1", 170lbs.

no need to go short for a short car
I have several friends who drive small cars who carry 20’ surfskis on their car. Just put a flag on the stern end and you are good to go.

That said, beginner skis like the 18’ Epic v8,Stellar s18 or think eze make a great exercise boat and are light and easy to carry. They are all as stable as a regular touring sea kayak.

From what I’ve seen
This little Epic was impressive…


not a good basis for selection
You should not base your kayak model selection on the notion that you have to have a short boat to load on your car. How much experience do you have loading kayaks onto roof racks? I’ll bet my 2002 Subaru is the same length as your Civic. I’m 5’5" and regularly load my 15’ and 18’ kayaks on the roof, sometimes hauling them 100’s of miles on interstates.

At your size, no 12’ is going to really be “fast” because they are proportionally wider to get the displacement for the weight range. You are a mid weight, but fairly tall and any 12’ boat that is fairly narrow will feel cramped. At nearly 26", the Looksha 12 is in borderline rec boat territory, too short and wide to really give you comfortable cruising speed and glide. I started in a 14’ x 24" kayak and found it too slow. My fastest boat now is 18’ x 21" and I have two that are 15’ x 22" and 15’ x 23" which are also reasonably frisky.

For how you state you want to paddle, you will be happier in a longer boat. For $350 more than the Looksha you could have a Venture Capella 166:


What would be the issue with longer?
Very unclear why you need a 12 ft boat to get it up easily. I am similar to willowleaf, not at all big and find that a 16 ft boat is as easy to load as a 12 ft boat. The easiest is my WW boat because I slide it into the station wagon - inside. But once you are in the teens they are all about the same to slide up.

Perhaps a little more on that part?

Max speed about the same for all.

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 5:42 PM EST –

Boats of that length will be kind of chunky, and all chunky boats max out, for practical purposes, at hull speed (that's the speed which is the same as the speed of waves having a distance between peaks which is equal to the waterline length of the boat. The longer the distance between wave peaks, the faster boat-generated waves can go, and thus, the faster the boat can go).

Among all boats, hull speed can be exceeded, and the sleeker the hull the more easily that can be done. However, among chunky 12-foot boats, I'd be really surprised if any can exceed hull speed by more than a small fraction of one mph, unless paddled by a person who's extremely strong, and in that case the person would be wasting their effort, putting a huge amount of extra effort into gaining that last fraction of an MPH. Do some experiments with your current kayak and a GPS and you'll see what I mean. Note how ever-increasing amounts of effort provide less and less gain in speed. If your current kayak is a long one, that trend for decreasing gains will be much more pronounced when you switch to a short one.

I agree with the others here. The length of boat has nothing to do with loading ease, and if you can use a slide-up method (something more people should consider if hefting boats that aren't easy to lift overhead), longer boats are easier to load than short ones.

My 1982 12’ 6"ww Noah Magma is very
close in speed to my 14.5’ Looksha Sport.

A slow, stodgy kayak makes for good exercise. It’s actually hard for a “duffer” to get a good workout on a really fast boat.

Oscar Chalupski’s 12 foot kayak

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 5:46 PM EST –

his red one.

Like to dance?
Samba. 43 pounds. 13.8 feet.


Epic GPX
My wife has one. Great boat, lightweight, reasonable speed for 12’.

MPH on my 12 footer
I took my Dagger Axis 12’ (27.5" width) out to a lake a few days ago. The total trip was 10.2 miles over 5 hours and 11 minutes. We spent 1 hour and 24 mins not moving – bird watching/photos (lots of bald eagle sightings) and attempting to explore up a feeder stream didn’t go very well as the water was too low.

According to my Garmin my max speed was 4.3 mph but that was only a brief sprints and probably had some wind helping. The last hour heading back to the launch (my friend’s wife wanted him home) was constant paddling and it seems that I sustained about 3.0 to 4.0 mph over that last hour and was heading into the wind (wind changed on us it seemed).

Paddled an Epic GPX
Performance version, about 33 pounds, last week. Nice little boat, very responsive with a good turn of speed for a boat with sub 13 foot waterline. Had enough stability to allow me to raise the seat level with foam pads without becoming unstable because of the higher CG. Paddling with a 10-12 mph wind on the stern quarter, weather cocking was significant. Probably needs a skeg of some kind. Light weight was a delight when getting the boat up on the roof rack of my 2014 Forester.

Thank you!
Thank you all for the great suggestions. The Epic GPX looks like a good fit.

The reason loading is difficult is that I don’t have roof racks on my car because when I’m not hauling, I’m one of those crazy hypermilers. So that means I have to tie down my kayak every time with my foam racks. I’ve found it much easier to tie down my mom’s 11 foot rec than my old 15’ touring.

Since so many of you have recommended staying long, I might consider getting a small trailer. I’ll probably see if I can test an Epic GPX first though.

Thanks again!!!

stand back

removable rack
Why not get a removable roof rack. I have a Rhino Rack set of crossbars on my Ford Focus and I ca put them on in a few minutes. I usually don’t bother though because I have not noticed a difference in gas mileage with the aero bars. I do remove the Malone Stax carrier though, but more because of the wind noise than the milage.

Any aftermarket rack is going to be less expensive than trailer especially when you factor in registration costs and adding a hitch to your car.

still doesn’t make sense to me
Ok, starting with your general first question - fastest 112 footer. Fastest 12 footer I have veer seen is the mariner Coaster. Out of production and still in demand, so you are probably looking at $2k for a used boat.

But I still don’t get the connection of foam rack on roof and 12 footer. Why wouldn’t a 13 or 14 footer also work?

In reality, what you could do is get a decent roof rack (one that is more secure and less likely to scratch paint as a foam block is) that is easily removable, and just remove the rack between paddles. I have done this.

Well, to pick nits, the Coaster is 13’5", but I agree there’s not much difference between loading a 12’ and a 14’ boat.

Used Coasters are rare, more common out West. You can make (or buy) a skinboat variant of the Coaster - the Cape Falcon F1. It’s a really good, quick short boat that tracks well due to its skegged stern. I have an earlier version, the SC-1, it is a real pleasure to paddle and is only 32 pounds. The F-1 is improved and built to the paddler dimension, so is likely a bit better performing overall. Oh, and you can surf it, if you feel the need.

I’ve owned a Coaster
a while back and recently paddled an Epic GPX. As for speed, not much difference between the two. The Epic has a somewhat larger cockpit and, I thought, was more comfortable than the Coaster which has a tighter fit but is a superior sea boat to the GPX especially in steep, following seas or surf. The GPX weathercocks significantly with a quartering wind greater than 10MPH. If I owned one, I’d design a small skeg and cement it along the keel line somewhere between the end of the cockpit and the stern. I would really like to have the chance to paddle the Cape Falcon SC-1.

Well, maybe an SC-1 trial could be arranged, though I’m tied pretty close to NYC during the fall. Did I mention the Bronx is beautiful [sic] this time of year? Maybe in the spring when it warms up is better.

I love my SC-1 and did a good job making it (if I do say so myself). But it keeps my legs too flat. I can’t tolerate that position for long, and really need a deep front deck. I go back and forth between rebuilding the it for more leg room (would require reskinning) or leaving it unmolested, selling it and getting a Placid pack boat, which has the virtue of no front deck at all…

I sold the Coaster
because the low deck made extended paddling uncomfortable. With foam blocks installed against the forward bulkhead and the longer cockpit of the GPX, I can place my feet together and pull knees up a bit which, for me, is a much more comfortable and efficient paddling position. Jersey Paddler has a GPX (Club version) red tagged as new/old stock for $1350 and I’m tempted but I’d really like to try the Placid Boatworks Rapid Fire pack canoe. Too many boats, too little time!