The Evolution of the Kayak (9)

Raising the Bar in Kayak Design and Performance:
New Standards For The Third Millennium

This article discusses the changes in kayak design, usage and performance over the past century and in recent years.

Part 5
Versatility: From Specialized Kayaks to Broad-Range, High Performance Kayaks


‘Multi-purpose’ kayaks aren’t new: Long and slender kayaks known as surf-skis can be used for touring (sea kayaking) as well as for surfing, and wide recreational kayaks can be used for fishing.
The problem with multi-purpose monohull kayaks is that they don’t offer high performance in either one or all the applications people use them for.
For example, recreational monohull kayaks and even those of them labeled ‘fishing kayaks’ are neither stable nor comfortable enough to offer the full range or performance that kayak fishermen can get from the W kayak. Similarly, being very long surf skis aren’t well adapted for surf playing, and they certainly don’t enable their users to paddle and surf standing.

Since the W kayak is not constrained by the monohull’s narrow performance envelope it is the first truly and fully versatile kayak:
It is faster than any monohull kayak of similar size, yet it’s stabler than any kayak. It’s small and highly maneuverable yet offers more storage space than any kayak. The W is more comfortable than any kayak as well as more mobile than any kayak since you can launch, paddle and beach where other touring kayaks can’t go. The W performs well both as a solo and tandem boat, and both double-blade and single-blade paddlers find it to be perfect for them. The W fits big and heavy users, yet it’s friendly enough for small children to handle by themselves – even in the surf. And last but not least, the W offers four basic paddling positions including two new ones, plus many intermediate positions.

Interestingly, some people found it hard to believe that any kayak could be that versatile, and they doubted the W’s capabilities. Other people who were used to highly specialized kayaks found it difficult to imagine a situation where they would be using the same boat for two different activities (E.G. fishing and touring).
These days more people are willing to question old conventions and accept the fact that paddling and fishing are subject to continuous and sometime substantial progress, like most other technical fields are. Many people now accept the W for what it is, which also means that they evaluate what the W offers relatively to their own, real needs, and even conceive new types of usage.

6 thoughts on “The Evolution of the Kayak (9)”

  1. i own a [edited: 16′ long, narrow and fast kayak] that I take for long paddling and fishing trips. there’s really nothing new in kayaks that can do both things.

  2. Such relatively narrow SOTs are even more unstable than SIKs of similar width, and therefore too unstable for most people to paddle, especially in moving water.
    Most kayak anglers wouldn’t even consider fishing from an unstable kayak. In fact, the widest fishing SOTs are over a foot wider than yours.
    As for standup fishing with an acceptable degree of confidence, it’s not a realistic option when monohull kayaks are concerned, unless you want to outfit your kayak with a pair of outriggers, and then the ‘fast’ becomes ‘not so fast’, and the ‘fishing’ becomes ‘fishing very carefully’ so as to prevent your lines from getting caught in the outriggers.

  3. I agree, especially if you’re talking about flat water.
    Your kayak is 6′ feet longer than our 10′ W kayak, and that’s a considerable difference that even the W design can’t compensate for.
    However, this advantage would be much reduced and possibly gone in difficult water conditions such as fast streams and breaking waves where stability and maneuverability can be critical factors.

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