Kayak

Kayak

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A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat
Boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

 primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.
The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler. Their cockpit is sometimes covered by a spraydeck
Spraydeck
A spraydeck is a flexible cover for a boat, in particular for a kayak or a canoe. It is used in whitewater, inclement weather or sport to prevent water from entering the boat while allowing one or more passengers to sit in the boat and propel the boat by paddling or rowing.A spraydeck is a sheet...

 (or "skirt") that prevents the entry of water from waves or spray and makes it possible for highly skilled and specially trained kayakers, to roll the kayak: that is, to capsize and right it without it filling with water or ejecting the paddler. In modern kayaks, such recovery methods have been replaced by a preventive approach based on increasing the kayak's stability, and by that reducing the likelihood of its capsize.
Many modern kayaks have modified the traditional design in various ways, such as: eliminating the cockpit by seating the paddler on top of the boat ("sit-on-top" kayaks); having inflated air chambers surrounding the boat; replacing the single hull by twin hulls ("W" kayak), and replacing paddles with other human powered propulsion methods, such as foot-powered rotational propellers and 'flippers'. Kayaks are also being sailed, as well as propelled by means of small electric motors, and even by outboard gas engines, when possible.


In some parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, kayaks are considered a subtype of canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

s.

The kayak was first made and used by the native Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

, Aleut and Eskimo
Eskimo
Eskimos or Inuit–Yupik peoples are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia , across Alaska , Canada, and Greenland....

 hunters in sub-Arctic regions of northeastern Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

.

History




Kayaks (Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

: qajaq, Inuktitut syllabics
Inuktitut syllabics
Inuktitut syllabics is a writing system used by the Inuit in Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec...

: ᔭᖅ) were originally developed by indigenous Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 people, who used the boats to hunt on inland lakes, rivers and coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, North Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, Bering Sea
Bering Sea
The Bering Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves....

 and North Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 oceans. These first kayaks were constructed from stitched seal
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

 or other animal skins stretched over a wood or whalebone-skeleton frame. (Western Inuit used wood whereas the eastern Inuit used whalebone due to the treeless landscape). Kayaks are believed to be at least 4,000 years old. The oldest existing kayaks are exhibited in the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 department of the State Museum of Ethnology
State Museum of Ethnology
The Bavarian State Museum of Ethnology in Munich, Germany is a museum for Non-European artworks and objects of cultural value.-The building:...

 in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

.

Native people made many types of boat for different purposes. The baidarka
Baidarka
Baidarka is the Russian name used for Aleutian style sea kayak. The ancient Unangan name is Iqyax. The word has its origins from early Russian settlers in Alaska. Iqya-x builders who kept the tradition of building skin-on-skeleton boats alive in the 20th century include Sergie Sovoroff.A prominent...

, developed by indigenous cultures in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, was also made in double or triple cockpit designs, for hunting and transporting passengers or goods. An umiak
Umiak
The umiak, umialak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. First arising in Thule times, it has traditionally been used in summer to move people and possessions to...

 is a large open sea canoe, ranging from 17 to 30 ft (5.2 to 9.1 m), made with seal skins and wood. It is considered a kayak although it was originally paddled with single-bladed paddles, and typically had more than one paddler.

Native builders designed and built their boats based on their own experience and that of the generations before them, passed on through oral tradition. The word "kayak" means "man's boat" or "hunter's boat", and native kayaks were a personal craft, each built by the man who used it -- with assistance from his wife, who sewed the skins -- and closely fitting his size for maximum maneuverability. A special skin jacket, Tuilik
Tuilik
A Tuilik is a traditional Greenland paddling jacket, used when paddling a kayak. It is a jacket and a spray shirt integrated into one piece of clothing, which is sealed at the face, at the wrists and around the cockpit coaming. In this way the paddler can do an eskimo roll without getting wet, and...

, was then laced to the kayak, creating a waterproof seal. This enabled the eskimo roll to become the preferred method of regaining posture after capsizing, especially as few Eskimos could swim; their waters are too cold for a swimmer to survive for long.

Instead of a tuilik, most traditional kayakers today use a spraydeck
Spraydeck
A spraydeck is a flexible cover for a boat, in particular for a kayak or a canoe. It is used in whitewater, inclement weather or sport to prevent water from entering the boat while allowing one or more passengers to sit in the boat and propel the boat by paddling or rowing.A spraydeck is a sheet...

 made of waterproof synthetic material stretchy enough to fit tightly around the cockpit
Cockpit
A cockpit or flight deck is the area, usually near the front of an aircraft, from which a pilot controls the aircraft. Most modern cockpits are enclosed, except on some small aircraft, and cockpits on large airliners are also physically separated from the cabin...

 rim and body of the kayaker, and which can be released rapidly from the cockpit to permit easy exit.

Inuit kayak builders had specific measurements for their boats. The length was typically three times the span of his outstretched arms. The width at the cockpit was the width of the builder's hips plus two fists (and sometimes less). The typical depth was his fist plus the outstretched thumb (hitch hiker). Thus typical dimensions were about 17 feet (5.2 m) long by 20–22 in (50.8–55.9 cm) wide by 7 inches (17.8 cm) deep. This measurement system confounded early European explorers who tried to duplicate the kayak, because each kayak was a little different.

Traditional kayaks encompass three types: Baidarka
Baidarka
Baidarka is the Russian name used for Aleutian style sea kayak. The ancient Unangan name is Iqyax. The word has its origins from early Russian settlers in Alaska. Iqya-x builders who kept the tradition of building skin-on-skeleton boats alive in the 20th century include Sergie Sovoroff.A prominent...

s, from the Alaskan & Aleutian
Aleutian
Aleutian may refer to:*The Aleut people, the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands, the Pribilof Islands, the Shumagin Islands, and the far western part of the Alaska Peninsula in Alaska and of Kamchatka Krai, Russia....

 seas, the oldest design, whose rounded shape and numerous chines
Chine (boating)
A chine in boating refers to a sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls. The term hard chine indicates an angle with little rounding, where a soft chine would be more rounded, but still involve the meeting of distinct planes. Chine log...

 give them an almost Blimp
Blimp
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

-like appearance;
West Greenland kayaks, with fewer chines and a more angular shape, with gunwales rising to a point at the bow
Bow (ship)
The bow is a nautical term that refers to the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is most forward when the vessel is underway. Both of the adjectives fore and forward mean towards the bow...

 and stern
Stern
The stern is the rear or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section...

; and
East Greenland kayaks that appear similar to the West Greenland style, but often fit more snugly to the paddler and possess a steeper angle between gunwale and stem, which lends maneuvrability.

Most of the Eskimo peoples from the Aleutian Islands eastward to Greenland relied on the kayak for hunting a variety of prey — primarily seals, though whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s and caribou were important in some areas.
Skin-on-frame kayaks are still being used for hunting by Inuit people in Greenland. In other parts of the world home builders are continuing the tradition of skin on frame kayaks, usually with modern skins of canvas or synthetic fabric.

Contemporary traditional-style kayaks trace their origins primarily to the native boats of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, northern Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Southwest Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

. Wooden kayaks and fabric kayaks on wooden frames dominated the market up until the 1950s, when fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

 boats were first introduced in the US, and inflatable rubberized fabric boats were first introduced in Europe. Rotomolded plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

 kayaks first appeared in 1973, and most kayaks today are made from roto-molded Poletheylene resins. The development of plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

 and rubberized inflatable kayaks arguably initiated the development of freestyle kayaking as we see it today, since these boats could be made smaller, stronger and more resilient than fiberglass boats.

Design principles


Typically, kayak design is largely a matter of trade-offs: directional stability ("tracking") vs maneuverability; stability vs speed; and primary vs secondary stability. This is true for single hull (a.k.a. mono-hull) kayaks, but does not necessarily encompass newer types of hulls, such as twin hulls.

Length


As a general rule, a longer kayak is faster. See Hull speed
Hull speed
Hull speed, sometimes referred to as displacement speed, is the speed of a boat at which the bow and stern waves interfere constructively, creating relatively large waves, and thus a relatively large value of wave drag...

. Kayaks that are built to cover longer distances such as touring and sea kayaks are longer, generally 16 to 19 ft (4.9 to 5.8 m). With touring kayaks the keel is generally more defined (helping the kayaker track in a straight line.) Whitewater kayaks, which generally depend upon river current for their forward motion, are short, to maximize maneuverability. These kayaks rarely exceed 8 feet (2.4 m) in length, and playboats may be only 5–6 ft (1.5–1.8 m) long. Recreational kayak designers try to provide more stability at the price of reduced speed, and compromise between tracking and maneuverability, ranging from 9–14 ft (2.7–4.3 m).

Primary and secondary stability


Primary (sometimes called initial) stability describes how much a boat tips, or rocks back and forth when displaced from level by water movement or paddler weight shifts. Being based on the paddler's movement, it is mostly a subjective notion. Secondary (final) stability describes how readily a boat capsizes. Primary stability is often a big concern to a beginner, while secondary stability matters both to beginners and experienced travelers, as it is a physical attribute of their boat. Both primary stability and secondary stability increase as the boat's volume (i.e. buoyancy) is distributed away from its center line. For example, catamaran
Catamaran
A catamaran is a type of multihulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls, or vakas, joined by some structure, the most basic being a frame, formed of akas...

s offer both high primary stability and secondary stability, to a point where they can be erroneously viewed as being unsinkable.

Beam profile


The most important attribute of a singl hulled kayak's cross section is its overall width, which determines the kayak's stability. The shape of the cross section can affect both maneuverability and stability. Hull shapes are categorized by roundness/flatness, whether it has a "V" shape at various points, and by the presence and severity of a chine
Chine (boating)
A chine in boating refers to a sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls. The term hard chine indicates an angle with little rounding, where a soft chine would be more rounded, but still involve the meeting of distinct planes. Chine log...

, where the side and bottom of a hull meet at an angle, creating an edge below the gunwale
Gunwale
The gunwale is a nautical term describing the top edge of the side of a boat.Wale is the same word as the skin injury, a wheal, which, too, forms a ridge. Originally the gunwale was the "Gun ridge" on a sailing warship. This represented the strengthening wale or structural band added to the design...

s. This cross–section may vary along the length of the boat. Kayaks with only moderate primary, but excellent secondary stability are, in general, considered more seaworthy, especially in challenging conditions.

A V-shaped hull tends to ease traveling straight (track), but makes turning harder. V-shaped hulls also have the greatest secondary stability.

Conversely, flat-bottomed hulls are easy to turn, but harder to direct in a constant direction.

The chine typically increases secondary stability by effectively widening the beam of the boat when it heels (tips).
Sea kayak
Sea kayak
A sea kayak or touring kayak is a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spraydeck...

s, designed for open water and rough conditions, are generally narrower 22–25 in (55.9–63.5 cm) and have more secondary stability than recreational kayaks, which are wider 26–30 in (66–76.2 cm), have a flatter hull shape, and more primary stability.

Hull surface profile


Traditional kayak hulls are categorized according to the shape from bow to stern

Common shapes include:
  • Symmetrical: the widest part of the boat is halfway between bow and stern.
  • Fish form: the widest part is forward (in front) of the midpoint.
  • Swede form: the widest part is aft (behind) midpoint.

Rocker


Length alone does not fully predict a kayak's maneuverability: a second design element is
rocker, its lengthwise curvature. A heavily rockered boat curves more, shortening its effective waterline. For example, an 18 feet (5.5 m) kayak with no rocker is in the water from end to end. In contrast, the bow and stern of a rockered boat are out of the water, shortening its lengthwise waterline to only 16 ft (4.9 m). Rocker is generally most evident at the ends, and in moderation improves handling. Similarly, although a rockered whitewater boat may only be a few feet shorter than a typical recreational kayak, its waterline is far shorter and its maneuverability far greater. When surfing a heavily rockered boat is less likely to lock into the wave as the bow and stern are still above water. A boat with less rocker cuts into the wave and makes it harder to turn while surfing.

Paddling Ease and Ergonomics


Some recreational kayak makers try to maximize hull volume (weight capacity) for a given length as shorter kayaks are easier to transport and store. Many paddlers who use a sit-in kayak feel more secure in a kayak with a weight capacity substantially more than their own weight. Maximum volume in a sit-in kayak is helped by a wide hull with high walls. But paddling ease is helped by lower walls where the paddler sits and a narrower width. A narrower kayak makes a somewhat shorter paddle appropriate and a shorter paddle puts less strain on the shoulder joints. Some paddlers are comfortable with a sit-in kayak so narrow that their legs extend fairly straight out. Others want sufficient width to permit crossing their legs inside the kayak.
Traditional-style and most modern types of kayaks (e.g. sit-on-top) require that paddler be seated with their legs stretched in front of them, in a right angle, in a position called the "L" kayaking position. Most modern kayaks feature a system comprising footrests and a backrest, designed to provide the paddler with means to support their paddling effort by allowing them to push the footrests with their feet, and the backrest with their lower back (lumbar spine). Such arrangements were not included in kayaks made by native peoples of the arctic regions, who were fit enough to paddle their kayaks without needing such devices. These devices are not required in new twin hull kayaks of the "W" type that offer a different sitting position called the "Riding" position, in which the paddler's legs are not stretched on front of them.

Materials and construction


Today almost all kayaks are commercial products intended for sale rather than for the builder's personal use. Nearly one of every three kayaks sold today is a sit–on–top (SOT), which is basically a paddleboard equipped with a seat and footrests.

Fiberglass hulls are stiffer than Polyethylene hulls, but they are more prone to damage from impact, including cracking. Most modern kayaks have steep V sections at the bow and stern, and a shallow V amidships. Fiberglass kayaks need to be "laid-up" in a mold by hand, so are usually more expensive than Polyethylene kayaks, which are rotationally molded in a machine.

Plastic kayaks are rotationally molded ('rotomolded') from a various grades and types of Polyethylene resins ranging from soft to hard. Such kayaks are particularly resistant to impact.

Wooden hulls require significant skill and handiwork; they have a restricted niche among keen woodworkers. Kits are available.
Kayaks made from thin wood sheathed in fiberglass have proven successful, especially as the price of epoxy resin has decreased in recent years. Two main types are popular, especially for the home builder: Stitch & Glue, and Strip-Built
Strip-built
Strip-built is a method of boat building commonly used for canoes and kayaks, but also suitable for larger boats. The process involves securing narrow, flexible strips of wood edge-to-edge around temporary forms....

.

Stitch & Glue designs typically use modern, marine-grade plywood
Plywood
Plywood is a type of manufactured timber made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products. It is flexible, inexpensive, workable, re-usable, and can usually be locally manufactured...

—quarter-inch 5 millimetre (0.196850393700787 in) thick. After cutting out the required pieces of hull and deck (kits often have these pre-cut), a series of small holes are drilled along the edges. Copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

 is then used to "stitch" the pieces together through the holes. After the pieces are temporarily stitched together, they are glued with epoxy
Epoxy
Epoxy, also known as polyepoxide, is a thermosetting polymer formed from reaction of an epoxide "resin" with polyamine "hardener". Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including fiber-reinforced plastic materials and general purpose adhesives....

 and the seams reinforced with fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

. When the epoxy dries, the copper stitches are removed. The entire boat is then covered in fiberglass for additional strength and waterproofing. Construction is fairly straightforward, but because plywood does not bend to form compound curves, design choices are limited. This is a good choice for the first-time kayak builder as the labor and skills required (especially for kit versions) is considerably less than for strip-built boats.

Strip–-built designs are similar in shape to rigid fiberglass kayaks but are generally both lighter and tougher. Like their fiberglass counterparts the shape and size of the boat determines performance and optimal uses. The hull and deck are built with thin strips of lightweight wood, often cedar
Thuja
Thuja is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae . There are five species in the genus, two native to North America and three native to eastern Asia...

, pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 or Redwood.
Cupressaceae
The Cupressaceae or cypress family is a conifer family with worldwide distribution. The family includes 27 to 30 genera , which include the junipers and redwoods, with about 130-140 species in total. They are monoecious, subdioecious or dioecious trees and shrubs from 1-116 m tall...

 The strips are edge-glued together around a form, stapled or clamped in place, and allowed to dry. Structural strength comes from a layer of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin, layered inside and outside the hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...

. Strip–built kayaks are sold commercially by a few companies, priced USD 4,000 and up. An experienced woodworker can build one for about USD 400 in 200 hours, though the exact cost and time depend on the builder's skill, the materials and the size and design. As a second kayak project, or for the serious builder with some woodworking
Woodworking
Woodworking is the process of building, making or carving something using wood.-History:Along with stone, mud, and animal parts, wood was one of the first materials worked by early humans. Microwear analysis of the Mousterian stone tools used by the Neanderthals show that many were used to work wood...

 expertise, a strip–built boat can be an impressive piece of work. Kits with pre-cut and milled wood strips are commercially available.

Skin on frame boats are more traditional in design, materials, and construction. They were traditionally made of driftwood
Driftwood
Driftwood is wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea or river by the action of winds, tides, waves or man. It is a form of marine debris or tidewrack....

, pegged or lashed together, and stretched seal
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

 skin, as those were the most readily available materials in the Arctic regions. Today, seal skin is usually replaced with canvas
Canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

 or nylon
Nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

 cloth covered with paint
Paint
Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which after application to a substrate in a thin layer is converted to an opaque solid film. One may also consider the digital mimicry thereof...

, polyurethane
Polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

, or a hypalon
Hypalon
Hypalon is a trademark for chlorosulfonated polyethylene synthetic rubber noted for its resistance to chemicals, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet light. It was a product of DuPont Performance Elastomers, a subsidiary of DuPont....

 rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 coating and the wooden skeleton is occasionally replaced with aluminum. Modern skin-on-frame kayaks often possess greater impact resistance than their fiberglass counterparts, but are less durable against abrasion or sharp objects. They are often the lightest kayaks.

A special type of skin-on-frame kayak is the folding kayak
Folding kayak
A folding kayak is a direct descendant of the original Inuit kayak made of animal skins stretched over frames made from wood and bones. A modern folder has a collapsible frame made of some combination of wood, aluminium and plastic, and a skin made of a tough fabric with a waterproof coating...

. It has a collapsible frame, of wood, aluminum or plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

, or a combination thereof, and a skin of water-resistant and durable fabric. Many types have air sponson
Sponson
Sponsons are projections from the sides of a watercraft, for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats, etc...

s built in to the hull, making the kayak float even if flooded.

Modern design


Modern kayaks differ greatly from native kayaks in every aspect—from initial form through conception, design, manufacturing and usage. Modern kayaks are designed with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, often in combination with CAD customized for naval design.

Modern kayaks serve diverse purposes, ranging from slow and easy touring on placid water, to racing and complex maneuvering in fast-moving whitewater, to fishing and long-distance ocean excursions. Modern forms, materials and construction techniques make it possible to effectively serve these needs while continuing to leverage the insights of the original Arctic inventors.

Kayaks are long—19 feet (5.8 m), short—6 feet (1.8 m), wide—42 inches (106.7 cm), or as narrow as the paddler's hips. They may attach one or two stabilizing hulls (outriggers), have twin hulls like catamarans, inflate or fold. They move via paddles, pedals that turn propellers or underwater flippers, under sail, or motor. They're made of wood/canvas
Canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

, wood, carbon fiber
Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber...

, fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, Kevlar
Kevlar
Kevlar is the registered trademark for a para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed at DuPont in 1965, this high strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires...

, polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

, polyester
Polyester
Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

, rubberized fabric, neoprene
Neoprene
Neoprene or polychloroprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene in general has good chemical stability, and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range...

, Nitrylon, polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

, polyurethane
Polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

, carbon fiber and aluminum. They may sport rudders, fins, bulkheads, seats, eyelets, foot braces and cargo hatches. They accommodate 1-3 or more paddlers/riders.

Types

Major Kayak Types
Sea Kayak
Sea kayak
A sea kayak or touring kayak is a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spraydeck...

Whitewater kayak
Whitewater kayaking
Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater. River rapids are graded like ski runs according to the difficulty, danger or...

Recreational kayak
Recreational kayak
A Recreational Kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for the casual paddler interested in recreational activities on a lake or flatwater stream; they presently make up the largest segment of kayak sales...

Surf skis
Surf skis
A surf ski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder.- Characteristics :...

Racing kayak

Modern kayaks have evolved into specialized types that may be broadly categorized according to their application as sea or touring kayaks, whitewater (or river) kayaks, surf kayaks, racing kayaks, fishing kayaks and recreational kayaks. The broader kayak categories today are 'Sit-In', which is inspired mainly by traditional kayak forms, 'Sit-On-Top' (SOT), which evolved from paddle boards that were outfitted with footrests and a backrest, 'Hybrid', which are essentially canoes featuring a narrower beam and a reduced free board enabling the paddler to propel them from the middle of the middle of the boat, using a double blade paddle (i.e. 'kayak paddle'), and twin hull kayaks offering each of the paddler's legs a narrow hull of its own.
In recent decades, kayaks design have proliferated to a point where the only broadly accepted denominator for them is their being designed mainly for paddling using a kayak paddle featuring two blades (i.e. 'kayak paddle'. However, even this inclusive definition is being challenged by other means of human powered propulsion, such as foot activated pedal drives combined with rotating or sideways moving propellers, electric motors, and even outboard motors.

Recreational



Recreational kayak
Recreational kayak
A Recreational Kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for the casual paddler interested in recreational activities on a lake or flatwater stream; they presently make up the largest segment of kayak sales...

s are designed for the casual paddler interested in fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

, or a peaceful paddle on a lake or flatwater stream. They presently make up the largest segment of kayak sales. Compared to other kayaks, recreational kayaks have a larger cockpit for easier entry and exit and a wider beam (27 – for more stability. They are generally less than 12 feet (3.7 m) in length and have limited cargo capacity. Less expensive materials like polyethylene and fewer options keep these boats relatively inexpensive (USD 300–580). Most canoe/kayak clubs offer introductory instruction in recreational boats. They do not perform as well in the sea. The recreational kayak is usually a type of touring kayak.

Sea



Sea kayak
Sea kayak
A sea kayak or touring kayak is a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spraydeck...

s
are typically designed for travel by one, two or even three paddlers on open water and in many cases trade maneuverability for seaworthiness, stability, and cargo capacity. Sea-kayak sub-types include "skin-on-frame" kayaks with traditionally constructed frames, open-deck "sit-on-top" kayaks, and recreational
Recreational kayak
A Recreational Kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for the casual paddler interested in recreational activities on a lake or flatwater stream; they presently make up the largest segment of kayak sales...

 kayaks.

The sea kayak
Sea kayak
A sea kayak or touring kayak is a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spraydeck...

, though descended directly from traditional types, is implemented in a variety of materials. Sea kayaks typically have a longer waterline, and provisions for below-deck storage of cargo. Sea kayaks may also have rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

s or skeg
Skeg
A skeg is a sternward extension of the keel of boats and ships which have a rudder mounted on the centre line. The term also applies to the lowest point on an outboard motor or the outdrive of an inboard/outboard...

s (fixed rudder) and upturned bow or stern profiles for wave shedding. Modern sea kayaks often have two or more internal bulkhead
Bulkhead
Bulkhead may refer to:* Bulkhead, a compartment of a building for preventing spread of fires, see Compartmentalization * Bulkhead , a retaining wall used as a form of coastal management, akin to a seawall, or as a structural device such as a bulkhead partition* Bulkhead , a wall within the hull of...

s. Some models can accommodate two or sometimes three paddlers.

Sit-on-top



Sealed-hull (unsinkable) craft were developed for leisure use, as derivatives of surfboard
Surfboard
A surfboard is an elongated platform used in the sport of surfing. Surfboards are relatively light, but are strong enough to support an individual standing on them while riding a breaking wave...

s (e.g. paddle or wave skis), or for surf
Surf
Surf is the wave activity in the area between the shoreline and outer limit of breakers. It may refer to a breaking wave in shallow water, upon the shore, or in the area in which waves breakSurf also may refer to:Commercial products...

 conditions. Variants include planing surf craft, touring kayaks, and sea marathon kayaks. Increasingly, manufacturers build leisure 'sit-on-top' variants of extreme sports craft, typically using polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

 to ensure strength and affordability,
often with a skeg
Skeg
A skeg is a sternward extension of the keel of boats and ships which have a rudder mounted on the centre line. The term also applies to the lowest point on an outboard motor or the outdrive of an inboard/outboard...

 for directional stability. Water that enters the cockpit drains out through scupper
Scupper
A scupper is an opening in the side walls of an open-air structure, for purposes of draining water. They are usually placed at or near ground level, and allow rain or liquids to flow off the side of the open-air structure, instead of pooling within the walls.There are two main kinds of scupper:#...

 holes—tubes that run from the cockpit to the bottom of the hull.

Sit-on-top kayaks come in 1-4 paddler configurations. Sit-on-top kayaks are particularly popular for fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 and SCUBA
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 diving, since participants need to easily enter and exit the water, change seating positions, and access hatches and storage wells. Ordinarily the seat of a sit-on-top is slightly above water level, so the center of gravity for the paddler is higher than in a traditional kayak. To compensate for the higher center of gravity, sit-on-tops are often wider and slower than a traditional kayak of the same length.

Contrarily to popular belief, the sit-on-top kayak hull is not self bailing, since water penetrating it does not drain out automatically, as it does in bigger boats equipped with self bailing systems. Furthermore, the sit-on-top hull cannot be molded in a way that would assure water tightness, and water may get in through various holes in its hull, usually around hatches and deck accessories. If the sit-on-top kayak is loaded to a point where such perforations are covered with water, or if the water paddled is rough enough that such perforations often go under water, the sit-on-top hull may fill with water without the paddler noticing it in time.

Surf




Specialty surf boats typically have flat bottoms, and hard edges, similar to surf boards. The design of a surf kayak promotes the use of an ocean surf wave (moving wave) as opposed to a river or feature wave (moving water). They are typically made from rotomolded
Rotational molding
Rotational molding, also known as rotomolding, rotocasting or spin casting, is a molding process for creating many kinds of mostly hollow items, typically of plastic....

 plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

, or fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

.

Surf kayaking
Surf Kayaking
Surf Kayaking is the sport, technique, and equipment, used in surfing ocean waves with kayaks. Surf kayaking has many similarities to surf board surfing, but with boats designed for use in surf zones, and with a paddle...

 comes in two main varieties, High Performance (HP) and International Class (IC). HP boats tend to have a lot of nose rocker, little to no tail rocker, flat hulls, sharp rails and up to four fins set up as either a three fin thruster or a quad fin. This enables them to move at high speed and maneuver dynamically. IC boats have to be at least 3 metres (9.8 ft) long and until a recent rule change had to have a convex hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...

; now flat and slightly concave hulls are also allowed, although fins are not. Surfing on international boats tends to be smoother and more flowing, and they are thought of as kayaking's long boarding. Surf boats come in a variety of materials ranging from tough but heavy plastics to super light, super stiff but fragile foam–cored Kevlar
Kevlar
Kevlar is the registered trademark for a para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed at DuPont in 1965, this high strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires...

. Surf kayaking has become popular in traditional surfing locations, as well as new locations such as the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

.

Surf skis
Surf skis
A surf ski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder.- Characteristics :...

, are specialized narrow and long boats for racing, surfing breaking waves and surf-zone rescues.

Waveskis



A variation on the closed cockpit surf kayak is called a waveski. Although the waveski offers dynamics similar to a sit–on–top, its paddling technique and surfing performance and construction can be similar to surfboard designs.

Whitewater



Whitewater
Whitewater kayaking
Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater. River rapids are graded like ski runs according to the difficulty, danger or...

 kayaks are rotomolded in a semi-rigid, high impact plastic, usually polyethylene
Polyethylene
Polyethylene or polythene is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons...

. Careful construction ensures that the boat remains structurally sound when subjected to fast-moving water. The plastic hull allows these kayaks to bounce off rocks without leaking, although they scratch and eventually wear through with enough use. Whitewater kayaks range from 4 to 10 ft (1.2 to 3 m) long. There are two main types of whitewater kayak:

Playboat



One type, the playboat, is short, with a scooped bow and blunt stern. These trade speed and stability for high maneuverability. Their primary use is performing tricks in individual water features or short stretches of river. In playboating or freestyle competition (also known as rodeo boating), kayakers exploit the complex currents of rapid
Rapid
A rapid is a section of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. A rapid is a hydrological feature between a run and a cascade. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the...

s to execute a series of tricks, which are scored for skill and style.

Creekboat


The other primary type is the creek boat, which gets its name from its purpose: running narrow, low-volume waterways. Creekboats are longer and have far more volume than playboats, which makes them more stable, faster and higher-floating. Many paddlers use creekboats in "short boat" downriver races, and they are often seen on large rivers where their extra stability and speed may be necessary to get through rapids.

Between the creekboat and playboat extremes is a category called river–running kayaks. These medium–sized boats are designed for rivers of moderate to high volume, and some, known as river running playboats, are capable of basic playboating moves. They are typically owned by paddlers who do not have enough whitewater involvement to warrant the purchase of more–specialized boats.

Squirt Boating
Squirt Boating
Squirt boating is a form of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the boat is designed to be as low in volume as possible while still allowing the paddler to float. Squirt boats are designed to utilize both surface and underwater currents to manoeuvre within the water...

 involves paddling both on the surface of the river and underwater. Squirt boats must be custom-fitted to the paddler to ensure comfort while maintaining the low interior volume necessary to allow the paddler to submerge completely in the river.

Racing


White water racers combine a fast, unstable lower hull portion with a flared upper hull portion to combine flat water racing speed with extra stability in open water: they are not fitted with rudders and have similar maneuverability to flat water racers. They usually require substantial skill to achieve stability, due to extremely narrow hulls.

Whitewater racing kayaks, like all racing kayaks, are made to regulation lengths, usually of fiber reinforced resin (usually epoxy or polyester reinforced with Kevlar, glass fiber, carbon fiber, or some combination). This form of construction is stiffer and has a harder skin than non-reinforced plastic construction such as rotomolded polyethylene: stiffer means faster, and harder means fewer scratches and therefore also faster.

Canoe sprint



The three types of Canoe sprint kayaks (sometimes termed 'sprint boats') are K-1 (single paddler), K-2 (two paddlers) and K-4 (four paddlers). A flat water racing K1's maximum length governed by the ICF
International Canoe Federation
The International Canoe Federation is the umbrella organization of all national canoe organizations worldwide. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, and administers all aspects of canoe sport worldwide...

 is 17 feet (5.2 m). These boats are raced at the Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 level by men and women over courses of 200, 500 and 1000 meters. Women compete on 1000 meters since 1997. A K-3 kayak has been developed in South Africa, and is especially popular for use in the Fish River Canoe Marathon
Fish River Canoe Marathon
The Fish River Canoe Marathon is a two-day event taking place every October on South Africa's Fish River in the Eastern Cape Province over a distance of some 81km, from Grassridge Dam southward to Cradock. The two other notable South African canoe marathons are the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Berg...

.

World Championship events:
  • distances: 200, 500, 1000
  • boat units: men and women K-1, K-2, K-4; men canoe C-1, C-2, C-4 (women's C-1 and C-2 was exhibition-level at the 2009 world sprint championships
    2009 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships
    The 2009 International Canoe Federation Canoe Sprint World Championships were held 12–16 August 2009 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, on Lake Banook. The Canadian city was selected to host the championships in October 2003 after having done so previously in 1997...

    ). All units compete at all distances. Each country can send one unit per event. This became mandatory as of the 1966 championships).


Olympic events (effective for 2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the "London 2012 Olympic Games", are scheduled to take place in London, England, United Kingdom from 27 July to 12 August 2012...

):
  • distances: 200, 500, 1000
  • events: men K-2 200, K-1/K-2/K-4 1000; women K-1 200, K-1/K-2/K-4 500, men canoe C-1 200, C-1/C-2 1000 Each country can send one unit per event.


Flat water racing
Canoe racing
This article discusses canoe sprint and canoe marathon, competitive forms of canoeing and kayaking on more or less flat water. Both sports are governed by the International Canoe Federation ....

 kayaks are generally made out of extremely lightweight composites such as Kevlar
Kevlar
Kevlar is the registered trademark for a para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed at DuPont in 1965, this high strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires...

, carbon fiber
Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber...

, or fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, but older sprints are made out of wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

. They are not intended for anything other than flat water. They are narrow, extremely unstable, and expensive. A competitive K1 or K2 runs in the US$2,000–4,000 range. They require expertise to paddle well, but are fast in the hands of proficient users. The beam of a flatwater boat is typically barely wider than the hips of its paddlers and require the paddler to bend their legs in the boat, allowing for a long and narrow shape to reduce drag
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

.

Due to their length (a K-1 is 5.2 metres (17.1 ft) and a K-2 is 6.2 metres (20.3 ft) long) sprint boats come equipped with a rudder to help with turning. The rudder is controlled by the feet of the paddler (the foremost paddler in multi–person designs). In spite of this, these boats have a fairly large turning radius
Turning radius
The turning radius or turning circle of a vehicle is the size of the smallest circular turn that the vehicle is capable of making. The term turning radius is actually a misnomer, since the size of a circle is actually its diameter, not its radius. The less ambiguous term turning circle is preferred...

.

Canoe sprint kayaks are closely related to sprint canoes, with both styles of boat usually at the same club or with the same team.

Downriver white water racers use a combination hull with a fast but unstable lower section similar to a flat water racer's hull, which flares into a wider section higher up, similar to a slalom hull, providing stability in big water.

Paddles used for sprint boats are made out of carbon fiber
Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber...

 and/or fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

. At the discretion of the paddler, the paddle may be angled to fit with the paddler's stroke.

Surf Ski




A specialized variant of flatwater racing kayak called a Surf Ski
Surf skis
A surf ski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder.- Characteristics :...

has an open cockpit and can be up to 21 feet (6.4 m) long but only 18 inches (45.7 cm) wide, requiring expert balance and paddling skill. Surf Skis were originally created for surf and are still used in races in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. They have become popular in the United States for ocean races, lake races and even downriver races.

Slalom



Slalom kayaks are flat–hulled, and—since the early 1970s—feature low profile decks. They are highly maneuverable, and stable but not fast in a straight line.

Specialty and hybrids


The term "kayak" increasingly applies to craft that look little like traditional kayaks.

Inflatable


Inflatables, also known as the ducky, can usually be transported by hand using a carry bag. They are made of hypalon
Hypalon
Hypalon is a trademark for chlorosulfonated polyethylene synthetic rubber noted for its resistance to chemicals, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet light. It was a product of DuPont Performance Elastomers, a subsidiary of DuPont....

 (a kind of neoprene
Neoprene
Neoprene or polychloroprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene in general has good chemical stability, and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range...

), Nytrylon (a rubberized fabric), pvc
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

, or polyurethane
Polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

 coated cloth. They can be inflated with foot, hand or electric pumps. Multiple compartments in all but the least expensive increase safety. They generally use low pressure air, almost always below 3 psi.

While many inflatables are non-rigid, essentially pointed rafts, best suited for use on rivers and calm water, the higher end inflatables are designed to be hardy, seaworthy vessels. Recently some manufacturers have added an internal frame (folding
Folding
Fold or folding may refer to:* Paper folding, the art of folding paper* Book folding, in book production* Skin fold, an area of skin that folds* Fold , in the game of poker, to discard one's hand and forfeit interest in the current pot...

-style) to a multi-section inflatable sit-on-top to produce a seaworthy boat.

The appeal of inflatable kayaks is their portability, their durability (they don't dent), and their easy storage. In addition, inflatable kayaks generally are stable, have a small turning radius and are easy to master, although some models take more effort to paddle and are slower than traditional kayaks.

Pedal


A kayak with pedals allows the kayaker to propel the vessel with a rotating propeller or underwater "flippers" rather than with a paddle. In contrast to paddling, kayakers who pedal kayaks use their legs rather than their arms.

Twin Hull and Outrigger


Traditional multi-hull
Multihull
A multihull is a ship, vessel, craft or boat with more than one hull.-Description:Multihulls include: Proas, which have two differently shaped or sized hulls with lateral symmetry; catamarans, which have two hulls with longitudinal symmetry; and trimarans, which have a main hull in the center and...

 vessels such as catamaran
Catamaran
A catamaran is a type of multihulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls, or vakas, joined by some structure, the most basic being a frame, formed of akas...

s and outrigger canoe
Outrigger canoe
The outrigger canoe is a type of canoe featuring one or more lateral support floats known as outriggers, which are fastened to one or both sides of the main hull...

s benefit from increased lateral stability without sacrificing speed, and these advantages have been successfully applied in twin hull kayaks of the W type. Outrigger kayaks attach one or two smaller hulls to the main hull to enhance stability, especially for fishing, touring, kayak sailing and motorized kayaking.
Twin hull kayaks feature two long and narrow hulls, and since all their buoyancy is distributed as far as possible from their center line, they are stabler than mono hull kayaks outfitted with outriggers.

Fishing



While native people of the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 regions hunted rather than fished from kayaks, in recent years kayak sport fishing has become popular in both fresh and salt water, especially in warmer regions. Traditional fishing kayaks are characterized by wide beams of up to 42 inches (106.7 cm) that increase their lateral stability. Some are equipped with outrigger
Outrigger
An outrigger is a part of a boat's rigging which is rigid and extends beyond the side or gunwale of a boat.In an outrigger canoe and in sailboats such as the proa, an outrigger is a thin, long, solid, hull used to stabilise an inherently unstable main hull. The outrigger is positioned rigidly and...

s that increase their stability, and others feature twin hulls enabling stand up paddling and fishing. Compared with motorboats, fishing kayaks are inexpensive and have few maintenance costs. Many kayak anglers like to customize their kayaks for fishing, a process known as 'rigging'.

Standing-up paddling


While paddling in the standing position has been practiced for centuries in canoes (including Umiak
Umiak
The umiak, umialak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. First arising in Thule times, it has traditionally been used in summer to move people and possessions to...

s, Pirogue
Pirogue
A pirogue is a small, flat-bottomed boat of a design associated particularly with the Cajuns of the Louisiana marsh. In West Africa they were used as traditional fishing boats. These boats are not usually intended for overnight travel but are light and small enough to be easily taken onto land...

s, and native dugout canoes) recently kayakers have attempted paddling while standing up, but so far, this has been made possible only in twin hull kayaks of the W type, mainly due to comfort and safety reasons.

Military


Kayaks were adapted for military use in the Second World War. Used mainly by British Commando and Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

, principally the Combined Operations
Combined Operations
Combined Operations Headquarters was a department of the British War Office set up during World War II to harass the Germans on the European continent by means of raids carried out by use of combined naval and army forces...

 Pilotage Parties (COPPs), the Special Boat Service
Special Boat Service
The Special Boat Service is the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. Together with the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group they form the United Kingdom Special Forces and come under joint control of the same Director Special...

 (SBS, at that time an Army unit) and the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 Boom Patrol Detachment.

The latter made perhaps the best known use of them in the Operation Frankton
Operation Frankton
Operation Frankton was a commando raid on shipping in the German occupied French port of Bordeaux in the Bay of Biscay during the Second World War. The raid was carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment , part of Combined Operations.The plan was...

 raid on Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 harbor.
Since then, kayaks have no longer been used by the military.

See also



  • Canoe
    Canoe
    A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

  • Canoe & Kayak UK
    Canoe & Kayak UK
    Canoe & Kayak UK is the best-selling British canoeing magazine, published worldwide, covering British watersports. It covers all branches of canoeing and kayaking, but is primarily concerned with Sea, Surf and Whitewater paddling...

  • Canoe Polo
    Canoe polo
    Canoe Polo is a competitive ball sport played on water, in a defined "field", between two teams of 5 players, each in a kayak...

  • Canyoning
    Canyoning
    Canyoning is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming....

  • Creeking
    Creeking
    -Creeking:Creeking refers to a branch of canoeing and kayaking that involves descending very steep low-volume whitewater. It is usually performed in specialized canoes and kayaks specifically designed to withstand the extreme whitewater environment in which the activity occurs...

  • Flyak
    Flyak
    The Flyak is a hydrofoil adaptation to the conventional kayak. It uses twin hydrofoils designed to raise the hull out of the water to increase the speed. Speeds of up to 27.2 km/h can be achieved on calm water....

  • Freeboating
    Freeboating
    Freeboating is a branch of whitewater kayaking that combines playboating and creeking. Freeboating tricks usually originate in holes/waves and then are adapted to rapids and waterfalls. An example of a freeboating trick is the Hail Mary...

  • Kayak fishing
    Kayak fishing
    Kayak fishing is fishing from a kayak. The kayak has long been a means of transportation and a means of accessing fishing grounds. Kayak fishing has gained popularity in recent times....

  • Kayaking
    Kayaking
    Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. Kayaking and canoeing are also known as paddling. Kayaking is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle...

  • Playboating
    Playboating
    Playboating is a discipline of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the paddler performs various technical moves in one place , as opposed to downriver whitewater canoeing or kayaking where the objective is to travel the length of a section of river...

  • Recreational kayak
    Recreational kayak
    A Recreational Kayak is a type of kayak that is designed for the casual paddler interested in recreational activities on a lake or flatwater stream; they presently make up the largest segment of kayak sales...

  • Royak
    Royak
    A Royak is a sit-on-top Kayak that integrates the features of a surf board with a kayak.It was invented by Roy Grabenauer in 1968 after years of experimenting with a variety of designs and innovative technologies, although Tim Niemier is credited as having popularized the craft with the rotomold...

  • Sea kayaking
  • Squirt Boating
    Squirt Boating
    Squirt boating is a form of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the boat is designed to be as low in volume as possible while still allowing the paddler to float. Squirt boats are designed to utilize both surface and underwater currents to manoeuvre within the water...

  • Surf Kayaking
    Surf Kayaking
    Surf Kayaking is the sport, technique, and equipment, used in surfing ocean waves with kayaks. Surf kayaking has many similarities to surf board surfing, but with boats designed for use in surf zones, and with a paddle...

  • Waveski
    Waveski
    Waveski Surfing is a dynamic sport combining the paddle power of a kayak with the manoeuvrability and performance of a surfboard.A Waveski resembles a thick surfboard, with a seat, fins, footstraps, and seatbelt, enabling the rider to 'eskimo roll' if overturned. The waveski rider or waveski...

  • Whitewater slalom

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