WW: speed vs. acceleration

The other thread on ses kayak for light paddlers reminded me of a question in my mind about WW boats…

I was at the demo-fest at Zoar a month ago. I tried a Wave Sport Project 45 and instantly felt in love with it (well, the “love affair” was tempered a little when I experienced trouble rolling it…). Here’s the question:

Everyone at the demofest told me the Project is a “playboat”. Not so good at running rivers due to its short length, hence low speed. But I found it accelerate great (by me!) due to the significantly lower volume (compare to my “usual” favorate of Dagger Rx 6.7).

Perhaps it’s my lack of experience. When I’m in a rapid, I sometimes found myself having to make some moves in a hurry. That is, change line and get somewhere with a few big, desperate strokes! :wink: The quickness of acceleration of the Project seems to allow me to get to my destination faster despite its desinged “slow” speed. :wink: In a way, “fast” takes on a slightly different meaning in the rapids.

Given I’m not doing class IV yet, I don’t really quite miss the straightline speed of the longer RX just yet. So it seems the smaller and “slower” Project suit my need better than the “faster” Rx…

  1. Is my thinking flawed?

  2. If not, I know the Rx is bigger in volume so it’s sluggishness in acceleration is probably largely due to that. Perhaps other lower volume river runner may combine the quickness of the Project without giving up quite so much speed?

same volume
According to Archimedes the volume submerged in water is the same for all kayaks assuming the weight of the kayaks and paddler are the same.


The differences in acceleration is probably due to something else.


Was it speed or control?
I don’t know either of the boats you indicate well, but just as a passing thought I wonder how much of what you were feeling was acceleration forward and how much was actually a higher level of control due to how much more quickly you could pick up and use current in the playboat.

Or maybe I am all wet. Happens a lot, esecially in WW. :slight_smile:

Not flat water

– Last Updated: Jul-14-08 4:49 PM EST –

It appears you haven't done any white water paddling.

The issue with WW volume isn't simple "static" water displacement. WW boats aren't always "sitting on top" of the water.

In WW, it's not that uncommon to have water flow pushing the boat into the water. A higher-volume boat will resist that more.

One of the skill issues with WW paddling is working the boat across the surface of the water. These skills include having the water work the deck of the boat. A boat with more volume tends to be less sensitive to variable water flow and will be easier to paddle. A skilled paddler wants a boat that is more sensitive.

"…a higher level of control due to how much more quickly you could pick up and use current in the playboat."

Never thought of it that way. But could very well be. Interesting to think about…

Perception vs. reality. Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell what’s what.

Oh - flat water
I missed that part - haven’t been to their demos, but I assume it is in the section well below the Gap where the water is really calm?

In that case, all bets are off. A shorter boat, lower volume boat may feel like it was easier to push quick on the flats, but I bet if you found yourself having to oppose current like to climb up on a standing wave the other boat would be better.

Last season, a friend of ours took out a play/river runner heavily tuned to the play side of things and tried to paddle back upstream as would have been reasonably successful with their older boat. It didn’t work out as well.

Not flat water
We were allow to use the boat down river for a good part of a day. I went down the gap with it, twice (one dry, one wet). :wink:

Yes, it’s a bit harder to go back up stream. Though ferrying wasn’t a problem though. And it does get affected by water more. On the positive side, correction was also easier to come by. I got the “feeling” that I can get used to the “squirrelly” behavior better than I can to the vague feeling of the bigger boat. Not sure about that just yet…

Just trying to understand how all the factors come into play in a boat performance, specifically regarding how I would use it.

WW boat speed
Flatwater speed and speed going down river in the current are going to be higher with longer, old school type boats (leaving out true slalom boats). The first is usually desirable, the second is usually not. That is, you typically want to get flat water out of the way so you can get to the next rapid. But going down a rapid should be done slowly while catching as many eddies as you can and often with your boat pointed to the side of the river. Many so called playboats will flunk the flatwater speed test but excel at catching eddies, ferrying, and enabling you to maintain control. On the other hand, if you are playing on a wave playboats differ a lot in speed on the wave (moving back and forth on the wave, e.g.) and control on the wave (or in in the hole). Playboaters who want to maximize control and ability to do tricks often choose a boat that they are too heavy for (low volume for them). It is easier to use the edges of the boat to accomplish things. This also works for river running. One of my WW boats is a Riot Booster 55. My wife also has the same boat. She floats along securely higher on the surface and my boat sits much lower in the water. But it is harder for her to use edges for eddy turns and ferrys. The tradeoff for me is that I risk capsize if I get sloppy. But then I just roll up.

"Many so called playboats will flunk the flatwater speed test but excel at catching eddies, ferrying, and enabling you to maintain control. "

What about punching holes? Would that be better on a “faster” a.k.a. longer boat?

On my two trips donw the Gap. The first one, I was able to SLOWLY pick my way down, getting to my lines quickly when neccessary, with a couple of hard “adrenalin strokes”.

On the second run, I totally mis-read the landmarks and ended up running squarely down the middle of the center hole. I tried to go get as much speed as I could manage. But the hole grabbed me and spun me around anyway. Went for a drink as a result. (not able to roll that boat is another consideration of the premuture end of my “love affair” with it, for now) I wonder a longer and “faster” boat would have allowed me to punch through?

punching holes
People talk about this and it is true that with a longer, faster (flatwater faster) old school boat you can charge down the river, set a line in the center, and “punch” some holes. But, another technique that works is to boof. You start from, say, river left, paddle hard toward river right (about 45 degrees), take a strong paddle stroke at the top of the drop while leaning forward and lifting your knees. Hopefully you end up in the eddy river right of the hole.

The only two WW kayaks I’ve ever paddled
was a Down River solo and a Pyrana Ammo. I cant get either to go straight, but I dont think the Ammo is a Playboat. Whats the secret?? I really had my strokes vertical to the gunwhale and still couldnt get it. Also, The ammos a big WW kayak. I geuss Im used to touring kayaks.

paddling straight
P140- to paddle straight in a WW kayak use a short paddle.

Reach well forward and enter close to the boat.

Pull straight back with an almost vertical stroke and angle the paddle blade slightly towards the boat. Have the blade angled more at the start of the stroke and becoming less as the stroke progresses. This counteracts the turning force generated by the fact that the paddle stroke is away from the centreline of the kayak.

Exit early and ensure you finish before the paddle passes your hips.

Developing these skills will help your control in your P140 as well. You can even practice this in your P140 by keeping the kayak straight while only paddling on one side.

Rolling a Pboat
Try a CtoC. Or just skip any sweep and stick your paddle out to the side and brace up. Some Pboats get out of position with some roll types.

I guess I forgot the lean forward part! :frowning:

Kayaks, like skis, are narrow and longish. I tend to get tunnel vision with focus on side-to-side balance and totally forgot about for-aft balance entirely. Had been painfully reminded of that on occasions.