Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water.
Whitewater kayaking involves taking a kayak down rapids.
Sea kayaking sometimes also referred to as Ocean Kayaking
involves taking kayaks out on to the ocean or other open
water. Sea kayaking can involve short paddles with a return
to the starting point or "put-in" or expeditions covering
many miles and days.
There are two major classifications of kayaks - "sit on
tops" which as the name suggests involves sitting on top
of the kayak in an open area and "cockpit style" which
involves sitting with the legs and hips inside the kayak
Kayaks are usually propelled by hand-held paddles and
can also be outfitted with various types of sails. A special
type of kayak using pedals allows the kayaker to propel
the vessel with underwater "flippers" .
Kayaks are differentiated from canoes by the fact that
they use a two bladed paddle, whereas canoes are propelled
by a paddle with a single blade. With todays radical designs
in both kayaking and canoeing this is the only real difference
between the two.
A kayak is a type of small human-powered boat; a covered
variant of a canoe, typically used with a double-bladed
paddle instead of a canoe's single bladed paddle.
The user or paddler sits down in the kayak with feet facing
forward. The top of the kayak is covered with a deck.
The paddler sits in a hole in the cockpit which may be
sealed off with a spray skirt (or spraydeck). This stops
water splashing over the boat from entering it, and makes
it possible that, should the kayak (capsize), the kayak
will not fill with water, and the paddler, with skill,
can right the kayak again without taking on water. This
manoeuvre is known as an Eskimo Roll.
In modern times kayaks have been further developed into
several types including: whitewater, playboats, surfing,
sea kayaks, flat-water racing, downriver racing, slalom,
canoe polo and recreational. These types may also be subdivided.
Modern kayaks are made of plastic, fiberglass, kevlar,
carbon fiber, canvas, other fabrics, or wood. They come
in one, two, and occasionally three person models. Some
sit-on-top boats are also called kayaks, as the paddler
propels the boat with a double-ended paddle.
The design of different types of kayak is largely a matter
of trade-offs between directional stability, or tracking,
and maneuverability. Touring kayaks, sea kayaks and flat-water
racing kayaks are built as long as possible in order to
improve tracking, because the better the directional stability,
the more efficiently each stroke contributes to forward
motion, but at a cost of reduced maneuverability; solo
touring boats are typically 16 or 17 feet long while a
cruising or racing boat can be 20 feet or longer.
(Longer boats also have a higher maximum non-planing hull
speed, but the effect is largely offset by increased friction,
and only becomes a significant factor at racing speeds.)
Whitewater kayaks, which generally depend upon river current
for their forward motion, are built quite short, to maximize
maneuverability; whitewater boats rarely exceed eight
feet in length, while playboats are generally about six
feet long. The design of recreational kayaks is an attempt
to compromise between tracking and maneuverability, while
keeping costs reasonable; their length generally ranges
from nine to fourteen feet. There are, of course, many
more elements of kayak design?see the external links
for more information. Most kayaks are rigid hulled, although
folding kayaks that can be transported easily, and inflatable
kayaks are not uncommon.