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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:15 am 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:48 pm
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
I read all over that folding kayaks are slower. Why? How much slower? Let's say you are in a group of plastic, roto molded doubles, will you be dragging up the rear, all other things being equal?

I'm used to 4+ MPH in and inflatable. (AEC) We don't go out with groups but you never know what we may do in the future. I read other posts say the MK2 is a barge. Is that due to it's payload capacity or it's speed?

When I first looked into folding kayaks I was intrigued but when I saw pictures of the kayaks with wooden frames I think I fell in love with the concept. Now for a confession: I have gone to sleep at night assembling the MK2. I know, get a life!

I am looking forward to this next season of paddling with the MK2. After 30 times out last year in the Advanced Elements Convertible I know we will have a blast again. I just want to know what to expect. My wife and I don't doddle along the shoreline hoping to see the next frog. We are moving along. Not setting any records for sure but I hope to be as fast if not faster in the MK2.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:20 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

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Hi Frank,

I think some of the folders are a little slower for two primary reasons. 1) they generally have more beam 2) they have a lot more flexibility in the frame.

The flexibility is like having a soft suspension in a car or on a bike, it eats up speed. I'm not sure how this translates, but it's a fact. A stiff boat will travel faster than one that flexes a bit with the waves. A narrow boat will have less drag. The flip side is that when the weather gets a little tougher the stiff and narrow kayaks will be spending a lot of effort keeping upright. Your boat will continue stabile as ever, riding the waves and pulling ahead of the crowd.

I can't remember exactly but I seem to recall managing a steady 3 knots solo paddling my Expedition Aerius II. On the rare occasions that I had a second paddler and not just a passenger the boat really took off. I've read a lot of comments about AIIs leading the pack with two paddlers on board. I don't think you're going to be disappointed.

Have you ordered your Kayaksailor yet?

d

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:39 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
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Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
I'd agree about the beam (more wetted surface area) as well as the height of some folding kayaks (into the wind at least) being a factor. I also think the lack of stiff footrests in some folding kayaks is also factor (for proper torso rotation for powerful/efficient paddling). I've also read told that fast kayaks tend to be swede form, with the widest point aft of centre (better hydrodanamics apparently), while many folding kayaks are symetrical.
I'm less convinced about flexibility (which is mostly in a vertical plane) being a hindrance. My Narak flexes a lot, but only when I'm picking it up or in waves/ bumpy conditions. However, I notice I often seem to have a speed advantage over some of my friends in narrow hardshells in such conditions, and i'm not talking about when it gets so rough some might slow down for fear of capsizing. I'm happy to be proved wrong, of course :-). Lastly, If you read Dyson on Baidarka's, which were apparently very flexible indeed originally, you'll also see that there's quite a lot of documented evidence of them being very fast indeed.

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Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:34 pm 
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It would be nice if you could find and read the Complete Folding Kayaker, Second Edition by Ralph Díaz.

http://books.google.gr/books/about/Comp ... edir_esc=y

One of the first chapters is titled "Why a folder" and in a section "myths uncovered... (or something like this)" he suggests that , when the sea is not calm, a folder might be practically FASTER than a hardshell.

Don't forget that folders and hardshells are not all the same, in fact in each category two kayaks may be a world apart...So a general question can not be answered correctly and i only starts debates.

Finally it matters more to me in which boat I may feel more comfortable, safe and fast under different conditions. So if someone might be faster than me with a specific boat I would not enjoy to paddle, simply does not matter...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
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Ralph Diaz thinks folders may be faster, based on some personal observations. I think there are only two factors that matter, hull profile and wetted area, and I suspect wetted area may be more important. Some of my lighter friends can paddle my Folbot Aleut very fast, despite its Beluga-like profile.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:35 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:05 am
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Location: atlanta, georgia
This debate will continue until some aspiring MIT doctoral candidate puts it to rest...maybe. I think that if you took two identical kayaks, one folder and one hard shell, the hard shell would be faster in flat water. The drag induced by the coating on the hard shell will be less than that of the folder. And there is some inefficiency in the transmission of power, with the folder having both torque and flex that robs energy from forward motion. But these are only theoretical differences, as I am pretty sure that no one would notice any difference and it would be very difficult to detect any, even with instrument measurement.
Now, add waves and all bets are off. I know there is an argument that flexing helps, some say it hurts. I would love to hear a learned opinion on this.
g

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:37 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:48 pm
Posts: 248
Location: Wisconsin, USA
I have not ordered the Kayaksailor but we are going to Canoecopia in early March here in Wisconsin and more than likely buy it there. Maybe they will even have discounts at the show.

I still want to mount the KS more forward so my wife can paddle too because we don't always have dependable winds on the lakes around here but when the wind does come up we had fun with a downwind sail last year.

I'm not all that concerned about speed. I just did not want to buy a kayak that was too slow and take so much energy to paddle the fun would be lost. We have family members with both plastic and roto-molded kayaks. My wife and I prefer lakes to rivers and we seem to want to get out in the middle where it is the most lumpy (as some put it). With the AEC inflatable we felt secure. Perhaps we were more silly than cautious but when you feel safe, I think it is easier to throw some caution to the wind and enjoy. My daughter and son in law have roto molded singles and like slow rivers. My sister in law and brother in law have 2 plastic hull kayaks. They prefer to stay close to the shoreline and see as much as possible and are very much fair weather paddlers. A long trip for them would be 4-5 miles in perfect conditions. So I guess it's to each his or her own.

I can't wait for the ice to thaw and to finish saving up the money for the MK2 and getting it wet for the first time. I plan to take it out a few times without the Kayaksailor to get used to the kayak first. I still have not decided on which spray deck to buy. Both the Velcro and Expedition TU covers have advantages. I will weigh 240 this spring and I am 6 ft tall. What is your advice?

When I do reach 240 (20 pounds to go) it will be 100 pounds since July 1 2011. At that time my wife said if I lose 50 pounds we could buy the inflatable. Now with another 50 I feel like the kid on "Captain Ron" (Movie) "Alright we're getting a boat".

Thanks for your invaluable information and answers to questions that may seem elementary to you but new to me.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:24 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:50 am
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Location: South Florida
A flexible displacement hull moves in and out relative to the centerline with the motion of the boat on the water. This phenomenon is called "oil-canning" and it has been thoroughly studied at the Webb Institute and no doubt elsewhere as well (If I am not mistake Herreshoff ran some early experiments). If you compared two identical displacement hulls with the only difference being that one did and the other did not oil-can, the one that did not would require less energy to move the hull through the water at a given speed. Or if both hulls had the exact same amount of propulsion power applied, the one that did not oil-can would move slightly faster. If my recollection is correct, the difference is perhaps 2%-5% or so depending on the length to beam ratio of the hull, how close to hull speed the experiment is run at and so on. So that is the science. Then we get into the more obvious differences in a typical folding kayak compared to a typical hard shell boat. For small, human powered watercraft perhaps the two biggest factors in on the water performance are the bow entry line and the length to beam ratio. A kayak with a sharp, pointed bow will be easier to paddle all else being equal, but the trade-off is that the sharp entry usually results is a wetter boat as the bow tends not to rise with the waves. Rather the sharp entry bow will plow through the waves. And of course we all know that longer, narrower boats are faster at least in calm water as compared to shorter, fatter ones. One of Ralph Diaz's most penetrating observations is that when the going gets rough, a typical folding kayak, usually wider and more stable than a typical hard shell boat, has a distinct advantage because the paddler doesn't need to spend as much energy bracing to stay upright. Rather, taking advantage of the greater stability inherent in the folding kayak allows the paddler to spend most of his/her energy on forward propulsion. In practical terms this difference can be quite significant, far more so than the oil canning effect. I own a Long Haul Mk1, which at ~16' long x 2'4" wide, and relatively heavy is not ever going to be considered a fast racing kayak. I also own a Kajaksport Millenium, at ~18'3" long x 1'10" wide, fiberglass and rigid, is one of the most "efficient" sea kayaks on the market. Paddling in South Florida when the wind is 10 mph or greater, the Long Haul will consistently make passage in less time than the Millenium. My typical trip on the Intracoastal Waterway might be 8-10 miles, with the occasional longer run of 20 or a bit more miles, and I will almost invariably have less fatigue after a day on the water in the Mk1 than in the Millenium. So even though the Millenium is "faster" it is only so for me, my skill level, and my environment, in relatively light wind and calm water conditions. One other variable to keep in mind is that there is nothing inherent in folding kayak technology to prevent a faster, longer, narrower, fine entry line boat to perform similarly to the most sophisticated hard shell boat. Feathercraft makes boats exactly like that so the comparisons can become difficult to categorize. For what it is worth, I suggest that you not get too hung up on any of this and just enjoy your boat and the opportunities that you encounter with it. After all, a 2%-5% difference in hull efficiency might be significant for an oil tanker, or an America's Cup yacht, but hardly noticeable or even measurable for us. Our skill and physical condition play a far more significant role than what type of boat we choose to paddle.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:57 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Not to get hung up on this, but I do find the subject of hull flex fascinating. I'd never heard of oil canning as a phenomenon before, but it does make perfect sense, so many thanks for that Bill. Do you know of any studies about the effects of hull flex in a vertical plane through the centreline with wave action? It's not a factor in my aluminum framed 13 ft Fujita, but it is on my 18 ft wooden framed Narak.

PS I suspect that for a similar beam, skin on frame kayaks are often more stable than hard shells because rather than a hard shell's (often) rounded bottom, skin on frame kayaks have single or multiple chine hulls in which the skins form concave pockets between the chines which in turn resist roll better.

I know it's very much anecdotal evidence, but my 20.5” wide multi chine Narak is more stable than all my friends' wider hardshell sea kayaks, and the hardshells I've tried with similar beams to my Narak both felt very unstable to me.
I usually get out of my Narak on a beach by backing it up while it's still floating, then lifting my legs out either side and standing up, without using a paddle to brace. I do this mainly to annoy my friends who can't do this in their hardshells :D OK, ok, so they CAN beach theirs repeatedly without damaging the hull :(

PS You can stand up paddle an Incept K40 in calm water....just! :-)

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Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:44 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:09 pm
Posts: 262
I will second the notion that, all other things being equal (which is almost never the case)most folders are generally a bit slower than hardshells because of frame and skin flex: Folders tend to absorb swell and other water-turbulence, whereas hardshells tend to cut directly through waves, thus they tend to be faster (all other things assumed to be equal).

In terms of the overall performance in turbulent water it's my understanding that the flex of folders is sort of a mixed bag. I had a Folbot Cooper and it did really well in low to moderate turbulence - the 'flexy' characteristics absorbed small swell, enabling me to paddle straight ahead with minimal corrective strokes. However in swell above 3' and cross currents it had a tendency to move more in the direction of the water rather than where I wanted to go. The hardshells I've paddled were better in rough conditions because they carved through the swell better and tend to be more nimble.

It's my understanding that the higher-end folders like Feathercraft and especially Trak perform pretty comparably to hardshells (esp the latter), but you will pay a premium for that such high-performance folders.


Last edited by Apathizer on Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:35 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:50 am
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Location: South Florida
Simon asked "Do you know of any studies about the effects of hull flex in a vertical plane through the centreline with wave action? It's not a factor in my aluminum framed 13 ft Fujita, but it is on my 18 ft wooden framed Narak."

I am not aware any studies such as you suggest. Keep in mind the studies I referred to were done by marine architects who are looking for much larger boats than we are concerned with here, and their motives involved improved seaworthiness, greater speed, better fuel efficiency and so on.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:04 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 382
Location: Coastal New Jersey
Wetted surface area, waterline length/beam ratio and hull configurations are all characteristics that affect boat speed as well as other performance parameters. If the object is to move through the water as rapidly as possible and assuming that one has the physical ability to make this happen, then perhaps one should look to the Epic surfskis or something from Doug Bushnell's West Side Boat Shop like the Extra Fast Tourer or Wave Piercer. But, to me, there are other things that determine the worth of a boat and the paddling experience that comes with it. Bill mentioned that he can paddle 20miles through choppy water and, at the end of the day, feel less tired than he would in his much more "efficient" hardshell kayak. My own hardshell these days, a Caribou, is an excellent and reliable rough water boat and will surf wind-waves better than any boat I've ever owned with the exception of the Mariner Coaster. Yet paddling the 'Bou directly into a moderate chop of, maybe, 1 1/2 feet feels like I'm forcing it through a sea of molasses; the boat hardly seems to move no matter how hard I paddle. 180 degrees can change the characteristics of the boat entirely. So, for me, a boat's speed is linked in with other variables and I'm willing to compromise on velocity for such things as comfort and nimbleness. My K-Light is the only folder I've paddle and, though I'd like a bit more cockpit room, it;s a sweet little boat that will move along at a very easy 3 to 3 1/2mph and is reasonably comfortable. And 33 pounds makes me happy when I handle it out of the water. I haven't yet ventured out upon wide waters with it, preferring the smaller worlds of twisting,salt-marsh creek, narror rivers and small lakes.

As it happen, I have come to like the folding kayak genre not because of their portability or that they can be stowed away in a broom clost but simply because they are pleasnt boats to paddle and just mess about with. It's the sum total of these qualities tha pleases me and has got me thinking about my next folder: a Big Kahuna or maybe a Pakboat XT-15. It's all good stuff.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:15 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:48 pm
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
Quote:
Yet paddling the 'Bou directly into a moderate chop of, maybe, 1 1/2 feet feels like I'm forcing it through a sea of molasses; the boat hardly seems to move no matter how hard I paddle. 180 degrees can change the characteristics of the boat entirely.


My wife and I paddled Lake Michigan in Door County on Labor day last year along the cliffs into a wind from the SE at 10+ MPH. The waves were mostly 3ft high and sometimes a 4 footer came in at about 45 degrees to our course. We paddled straight south about 1/4 mile off shore and had almost no trouble going through those waves and wind. The conditions did not hardly cause me to make correction strokes and the inflatable double does not have a rudder. (Advanced Elements Convertible w/ Backbone) We paddled almost 3 miles twice, 11 miles total, because we had so much fun. No molasses here! We did use the WindPaddle to sail back each time. Most fun on the water yet!

What I most enjoy is having a kayak that we both feel safe and one that does not get blown around by the wind and waves. I want a kayak that responds to us and is a pleasure to make go where we want to go. I'm not that worried about the speed but I would like to be able to paddle a steady 4-5 MPH when we want to and faster if we need to. Wow I love kayaking! Can't wait till the ice is off the lakes.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:24 am 
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I am not quite sure if folding kayaks are slower. I believe the design of the kayaks plays a big part in determining the speed of the kayak. Perhaps the material used also matters.

I have been paddling a TRAK T1600 (2012 model) for the past half a year and find that it paddles significantly faster than a plastic sea kayak of similar length. The weight of the sea kayak probably played a big part in slowing it down. The plastic sea kayak that I have for comparison was also rounder in the hull, but I am not very sure what effects a slightly rounded hull will have compared to the more boxy hull of the TRAK. I do not have a similarly spec'ed composite sea kayak for comparison, but I have tested the TRAK against flatwater sprinting kayaks. Even at my maximum output, I could only paddle at around 75-80% of the speed of racing K1s.

Just for reference, I have been able to consistently paddle at around <del>11</del>7.5km/h (approx 4 knots) in the TRAK. A top speed of around 9km/h should be sustainable on flatwater.

To share one of my recent experience using the TRAK, I had to assemble the TRAK in a hurry and head out to sea at dusk for an emergency search and rescue operation in December 2012. The alternative was paddling a readily available polo kayak and a playboat, so I figured it was worth a gamble to assemble the TRAK that was packed in the trunk of our vehicle and hope that the paddling speed of the TRAK can make up for the assembly time. The kayak was set up in 12-13 minutes and I was in the water 16 minutes after we decided to launch a search party (of one rescuer) to go after a kayaker who paddled way out of sight. By then, I only had about 35 minutes of daylight left.

I managed to find the missing kayaker after 20 minutes of paddling, covering almost <del>4</del>2.5km against a slowly rising tide, with little wind. I was paddling at around 80-85% of my top speed with a large blade whitewater paddle, and could still sprint a little faster if I wanted to. I believe casual paddlers should be able to comfortably get over 3 knots from the TRAK.

Other folding kayaks might be slower both in terms of setting up time and paddling speed. The sponsons and wider beams found in many other folding kayaks will probably slow them down considerably compared to the TRAK T1600 or the Nautiraid Narak.

bstevenson wrote:
Our skill and physical condition play a far more significant role than what type of boat we choose to paddle.

I do not fully agree with this. I think the choice of boat can significantly affect the speed of our paddle. I have tried paddling an inflatable gumotex solar for a short 4km crossing. Even with two very seasoned kayaker fighting against mild wind and a receding tide, we found ourselves barely moving 500m even after 45 minutes of paddling. Inflatables and skin on frame kayaks are different, but the higher ride and wider beams of folding kayaks of sponsons give these kayaks characteristics of both inflatables and folding kayaks.



Edited on 09/02/2013 to reflect inaccuracies in speed estimation. The correct speed should be 7.5km/h, and not 11km/h as originally estimated. This was a result of a mix up in the distance covered during the rescue journey. Multiple edits were made to the distances, and to highlight the changes made to the original post.


Last edited by Tak on Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:20 am, edited 8 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:55 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
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Location: Coastal New Jersey
To call the speeds that you mention as being "sustainable" [12-13km or about 7 1/2mph] calls for, as Bill Stevenson says, "a skillful and powerful paddler" You've simply got to have the 'motor' to make a kayak go that fast and 7 1/2mph, over distance, is very fast indeed.

Another thing that Bill mentioned was his experience comparing both the MK-1 and Kayaksport Millenium on a 20 mile paddle in the breezy conditions typical for Florida waters [I know; that's where I am now and it's been windy]. At the end of the day, it was the "slower" mk1 that covered the distance with less of the paddler's energy expended and perhaps a bit faster, too. That is the sort of paddling that I find to be most satisfying

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