It’s cold and snowy and I can’t go fishing or kayaking. What to do? Well, I can read about fishing and kayaking, of course! This led me to an article explaining why the Wavewalk W500 kayak is a superior paddling craft was that just posted on the Wavewalk blog (www.wavewalk.com/blog).
The information is presented in straightforward, non-technical terms. The author (Yoav Rosen, inventor of the Wavewalk) also includes links to some of his other, more technical writing on kayak design and performance.
Perhaps the most useful “take away” for most people deciding on which kayak to buy was the simple formula; 6:1. This 6-to-1 ratio of the length to the beam (L/B) gives you an immediate “thumbnail” way to estimate what kind of performance to expect from each design. Kayaks with an L/B of 6:1 or greater should paddle easily and efficiently, those with the first number lower than 6, not so much. While there are many other factors that affect speed and enjoyment, this is an excellent place to start.
Reading this posting led me to go exploring for 2 things; how do the L/B ratios of common kayaks stack up to the W500 and just as importantly, what kind of technical information and education are other kayak manufacturers providing to potential customers? The results were startling.
I went to the web sites of 8 other kayak manufacturers (including the 6 top-selling brands and 2 “hybrid” types) and checked out this L/B ratio for their “fishing kayaks”. I DID NOT FIND A SINGLE KAYAK WITH AN L/B OF 6:1 OR GREATER! What I did find were endless claims about these kayaks being “easy to paddle” and “very stabile”. The stability is supposed to come from the increased overall width (and humps and air-pockets molded into their mono-hulls!) but there is never a mention of the impact on speed and ease of paddling from the ever-widening waistline they employ in their designs.
My other, less obvious discovery was what I did not find; NOT ONE SITE OFFERED THE READER ANY TECHNICAL INFORMATION WHATSOEVER! Nothing about hydrodynamics. Nothing about the impact of length vs beam (width at the waterline). Nothing about tracking and wind or the effect on speed when a rudder is added, etc. But of course, rudders are available and recommended by these companies.
One has to wonder why they don’t provide any scientific data about what makes kayaks perform the way they do.
If you are already a Wavewalk owner you might want to suggest to anyone you know who is shopping for a kayak (for fishing or otherwise) to read the numerous technical articles available on the Wavewalk’s main site, www.wavewalk.com.
If are looking buy your first kayak (or replacing the last one you bought which isn’t quite what you hoped it would be) I make the same recommendation. And in addition to reading and watching videos, you should take an extensive test-ride. The proof is in the paddling.
Now, how many days until spring?