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I plan to spend this Summer near a lake and would like to start kayaking. I have never kayaked before. I would like to get a second hand kayak, but the only one I can find nearby is a wild-water kayak.

Will the white-water kayak from the pictures work well in calm lake water?

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Compared to a 'lake' kayak, it will be hard for a novice to paddle in a straight line, and is not efficient (i.e. slower)) paddling in a straight line, so for day tours is less than ideal. You may have problems with it being too unstable and tipping you out. If you want one for fun and playing close to the beach, they are good and you will quickly learn to paddle properly. If you want it for longer tours, best to look elsewhere.

As far as straight line paddling and control, I was taught to paddle in a white water boat similar to this (A Dancer, mid 1980's) with a skeg that slide over the rear. The skeg meant it would travel in a straight line easier, and would be a worth while addition until you learn to paddle well.

I once borrowed a Dancer and paddled out to an island (without a skeg), about 5 miles there and 5 back. I was much slower than mates in sea kayaks, and it was very hard work, but still more fun and a better day than staying on the shore....

  • Please tell me where you got the slide-on skeg. I hope convert my old Mirage (slightly larger than a Dancer) to a general purpose kayak. – Martin F Feb 21 '17 at 17:01
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    Back in the day, we used to make them using fiberglass and using the canoe sterm itself (wrapped in clingfilm) as the base, then add a vertical tail of a few inches. – Gwyn Evans Jun 28 '17 at 22:41
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Short answer: it will work fine (if it's a suitable size) if you've no other options but there are other types of kayak which better suit your needs.

Specifically: this is a slalom kayak, it's a racing boat that's designed to be fast and manoeuvrable on moving water. It's designed for performance, rather than being forgiving to a beginner.

Good points:

  • It's very fast for a white-water boat and will be similar to a touring boat.
  • It will be light.
  • It will be possible to develop a greater range and depth of skills.
  • Nice tight fit to allow good boat control.
  • Easy to roll.

Bad:

  • You'll have a much steeper learning curve and will find it difficult to stay upright or go in a straight line at first.
  • Much less comfortable.
  • Size may not be suitable - as a high-performance kayak it will have been designed for a very specific weight-range and ease of use will suffer greatly if OP isn't the correct size.
  • Little/no storage space

Conclusion: If it's your only option and you really want to kayak then go for it, but try and try it out first so you have an idea what you're getting yourself into.

If your goal is to splash about and have fun without developing much in the sport then something like a SOT, touring kayak etc. will better suit your needs.

However, once you've gone through the difficult first steps you'll be much better at kayaking than someone who's only learned to handle a touring kayak.

Fun fact: this boat appears to have been used by one of the Macedonian team at the 1996 Olympics.

  • My main concern is the speed, I was wondering if I could go 80% of an average touring boat speed after I gain experience. I would use the boat only for touring. – Triak Jun 13 '16 at 20:59
  • @Triak IMO it could go about 80% but that's a very difficult question to answer as there's a very broad range of touring boat with very different speeds (The above boat will even be faster than some, but noticeably slower than others). Your most likely problem is whether or not the boat is a suitable size for you. If it is a suitable size and once you learn to paddle it straight, a touring boat will still be more pleasant to use for what you want. – Niall Jun 13 '16 at 21:13
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    @Triak If it fits and there's no other option though, you could always think of it as something to learn in until something else becomes available. – Niall Jun 13 '16 at 21:19
  • Might i suggest replacing "SOT, touring kayak etc" with "recreational kayak"? A rec kayak is more general purpose and begginer-purposed. (And sit-in/SOT is a separate issue (can apply to any purpose boat.) – Martin F Feb 20 '17 at 23:25
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I wouldn't take the boat you've pictured out on a fast-flowing river. I would use it on flat water, if there's no damage to the hull.

For moving water I'd expect a seat that you wouldn't slide around in with a back rest (ideally adjustable but not necessary on an entry-level boat). Does that boat even have foot pegs or an adjustable front bulkhead to brace your feet on? It's much longer than modern WW boats, and correspondingly harder to manoeuvre.

If you're trying to keep up with friends in tourers or sea kayaks, you'll have trouble. But if you're new to it all and they're not, you would anyway.

Flat water paddles in a long white-water boat are fine, I've done a few of over 10 miles in my Diablo. The shorter waterline of many modern WW boats makes them hard work on placid water. I had such a boat and switched to a bigger, longer boat partly because I was spending too long paddling flat stuff with novices.

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    It's a slalom seat. It's provides a very good tight fit and will allow better control on moving water. A separate back-rest isn't provided because the posture required for this boat makes them redundant and would be a hindrance. – Niall Jun 13 '16 at 19:07
  • @Niall that's not clear from the photos even if I zoom in. And without adjustment it only fits a limited range of people. At least in that case it should have foot rests of some sort. I wouldn't recommend a slalom boat for a novice even on flat water but the proportions don't look like a slalom boat. – Chris H Jun 13 '16 at 20:04
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    The proportions look funny because it's a 20 year old boat (sticker from use by Macedonian team in 1996 Olympics), made back when the legal length was 4m (now 3.5m) and also lacks other advances in design (eg. it has much more tail volume than a modern boat). It would have looked very normal at the time but I can understand why you would question it now. It will have been cut to a specific weight, so fit is likely to be a problem, not just in the seat. I agree that it's not an especially suitable boat for what OP wants. – Niall Jun 13 '16 at 20:48
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    @Niall that would do it. And seeing it only from above out of the water on a small screen. – Chris H Jun 13 '16 at 21:00
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    Except for shallow scratches, damage can cause leaks. Composite boats like this one are easier to damage than plastic boats. Suddenly realising you're leaking a long way from shore (if it's a big lake) isn't much fun in a group. Solo it's dangerous. The decision depends on your lake and whether you're going round the shore or crossing it. But if it looks like it might leak, walk away. – Chris H Jun 15 '16 at 8:43
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For an experienced paddler:

These kayaks can be a delight to paddle on flat water. They're light, fast, and maneuver beautifully.

For an inexperienced paddler:

It'll be a nightmare. It has a K1 competition cockpit which is a tight squeeze to get into (legs in first then shuffle to get your bum in). If you have to swim out and your technique isn't perfect it'll strip all the skin off your lower legs, the same can be true just from getting in and out. The knee brace edges are bare composite, they're sharp.

It'll never go in a straight line and if you don't get the right edge on the turn it'll bite. There will also be rough patches and sharp edges asking for you to injure yourself, on an older boat like this you'll learn the joys of glass fibre rash. The fit is tight to get good control, you probably won't be able to wear shoes inside and you'll get a selection of injuries to your feet if you don't have the right callouses for it. You'll also find the seating position really quite uncomfortable for prolonged use until you adapt.


The particular boat in the image has a major repair to the nose, I'd inspect carefully to see if there's anything else. Holding it over your head to see where the light comes through can be a good start to finding real damage, but a full inspection of the hull, deck and seams will be required. Don't neglect the deck because it's normal for boats of this type to be significantly submerged when turning even on flat water.

The seat has the remains of glued on padding round the back, you'll need to clean that up or it'll be quite uncomfortable. They normally come with Badger adjustable footrests, but check it doesn't have fixed position pegs.


In short: This is not a beginner's boat, it's especially not suited to an unsupervised beginner.

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