Sun - August 27, 2006

Valley Kayaks Rapier 20 and WSBS X-par Missile: Can I Fit My Butt into a Narrow Racing Kayak?

I paddled my Sisson Nucleus multisport kayak in the 10 mile Colorado River race in Glenwood Canyon a week ago. It was my third time in the race with that kayak.

I had to work really hard to stay with Eric Nyre in his Rapier 20, a new sea racing kayak, and, lost a final sprint anyway. My Sisson has a poor glide in comparison to longer kayaks. It was also more affected by waves and swirls in the river.

After the race, I was rather tired, but I couldn't miss a chance to try the 20' x 17.25" Rapier 20 and 23' x 18'" X-par Missile. The primary goal of my test paddling was to check if I could fit into these narrow kayaks. For comparison my Sisson Nucleus 100 is 17'3" x 18.9" and has much more rocker.

  • I paddled both kayak only in a calm water above the Shoshone Dam.
  • In both kayaks I had troubles to sit due to my wide hips. The Rapier's bucket seat looked pretty nice, but it was too tight. I could sit, but I felt a pressure on thighs. I am afraid that it could turn into a serious problem in a longer paddling.
  • The Missile had the hung seat replaced by a piece of foam. The cockpit coaming above the seat was too tight for me. I could seat there but was I completely "locked". If I moved about 2" forward in the cockpit I was more comfortable, I could paddle and rotate my body.
  • It seems that I will have troubles with any hung or bucket seat in a narrow racing kayak. I believe that I should be OK in sliding racing seat with open sides. Such a low profile sliding seat is offered as an option with the WSBS boats. According to Doug Bushnell moving 2" forward shouldn't affect significantly the kayak trim for a paddler of my height (5'7"). Seat hangers which were pocking into my hips in the X-par Missile can be cut off. The cockpit size is the same in the X-par Missile, Thunderbolt, and Thunderbolt-X.
  • I believe that, as an another option, I could use my deep foam "bumfordable" seat from Steve Gurney. I am pretty happy with that seat in the Sisson Nucleus. I also installed the same seat in my old CLC Patuxent 19.5. It may be more comfortable than racing seat for longer runs.
  • I was more comfortable in a larger open cockpit of the Missile with a tiller bar steering than in the Rapier. I have the tiller bar in my Sisson.
  • I had troubles with SmartTrack toe controls in the Rapier. I just couldn't adjust them to be comfortable.
  • Both the Rapier and Missile felt less tipy in a calm water than my Sisson! I wonder if it would be the same in rapids.
  • I could paddle well above 8 mph in both kayaks. I was somewhat faster in the Missile probably due to better feet support. I don't believe that I can really take advantage of 23' long kayak hull.
  • A shiny new Rapier looked much more sexy than the old Missile after numerous race battles. Bulkheads and hatches make the Rapier 20 a more versatile boat, suitable to carry a load for light overnight trips or extended races.
  • I have a room in my garage for another 20-21' feet boat. The 23' kayak would have to be suspended across the garage diagonally, but that option is already taken by Surfrigger.

X-par Missile by West Side Boat Shop

All pictures above come the Colorado River race in Glenwood Canyon. Mike Lesnik paddled and won that race in the X-par Missile kayak in the last three years. You can find more pictures of the X-par Missile in my the photo reports from previous years.

Wide hips? Do you have also problems with fitting into narrow kayaks? Do you have any solutions or suggestions, experience with similar sea racing kayaks, e.g., KayakPro Vampire?

Maybe, I would better think about a new recliner chair for my living room ...

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Posted at 11:55 AM    

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