Kayak hulls, their shape and what they mean

Shape Up, hear now? What’s in a hull.

The flying saucer the Hughes boys and their sister saw a spell ago, she describes as “all round, oblong, indigo, and cigar-shaped.” We younger siblings have always deferred to Ms. Sister Cindy, and she just called in to tell us all that shape of a hull is an all-important design feature determining the speed, maneuverability, stability, and tracking of the boat you’re about to buy.

Recreational hulls come on recreational kayaks, made for calm waters made calmer still. Not much book-learning or one-on-one coaching needed here. Head out, pilgrim. You should do just fine.

Round vs. “V” Hulls of Kayaks

Rounded hulls, while more stable than V hulls, offers slightly less stability. Perfect for day touring kayaks, these hulls move through the water easier, a tad faster.

V hulls haul. They turn tight and true and easy. They honestly do ask for a bit of practice before you venture forth on major water.

Let’s move now to the side, or “abeam” as the junior-grade lieut would say. Two shapes here: an upward curve at bow and stern or linear and flat. More curve means more, ahem, “rocker,” the nautical term of the moment. The hull’s rocker affects the yak’s ability to turn, to travel a straight course. More rocker, more turnabout. Hull shapes with less rocker move easier in a straight line, all the better for a day-long pedal from Point A to point Hughes House.

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