Kayaking has become a very popular sport through-out the world. It is included in the Olympics program. A kayak is a manually operated small boat. It features a covered deck as well as a cockpit covered by the spraydeck. The kayak is moved by a sitting paddler using a double-bladed paddle. Previously, the kayak was used by the native Eskimo, Aleut and Ainu hunters residing in the sub-Arctic regions of Asia, Greenland and North America. Modern kayaks are available in a huge variety of materials and designs for various specialized purposes. The kayak is also referred as the canoe in some parts of the world.
Modern kayaks are made up of various materials such as wood, fiberglass, Kevlar, fiber, rotomolded plastic or carbon fiber over the wooden or aluminum frame. They are available in various models that can accommodate single, double or even three to four persons. The modern kayaks are classified in various types such as sea kayak, surf kayaks, racing kayaks, whitewater kayaks, fishing kayaks, wavewalking kayaks and speciality and multi-type kayaks.
The sea kayak is suitable for one or two paddlers. They are having extreme stability, cargo capacity and more maneuverable. The sea kayaks are future classified as strip-built kayak, skin-on-frame kayak, recreational kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. The strip-built kayaks are more similar to rigid fiberglass boat. But, it is very lightweight. The sit-on-top kayaks are used for diving and fishing. It can accommodate upto 1 or 2 even 3-4 persons. Generally, the seat of this type of kayak is above the water level which causes higher center of gravity.
The skin-on-frame kayak shows the similarity with the traditional kayaks in construction, material, design and technique. It is the lightest type of kayak that is used by Inuit people in Greenland for hunting purpose. The recreational kayaks are created for the paddlers who are more interested in photography, fishing or peaceful paddling in the lake. These kayaks have a larger cockpit and wide beam that offers more stability. The capacity of this type of kayak is limited.
The whitewater kayak is highly maneuverable. It is made up of the rigid material such as polyethylene. This type of kayak is smaller in size about 6-10 feet. They don't need the inherent speed as they flow with the current.
The surf kayaks are also referred as the surf skis. They are long and narrow for surf breaking waves and surf zone rescue. The design of surf kayak is similar to whitewater kayak except a planing hull. The surf kayaks are about 12 feet long that increases the planing speed on wave. It is useful for having a good paddling speed to catch the waves.
The racing kayaks are specially designed for speed. They need to have the substantial skill to gain the stability due to extremely narrow hull. The slalom kayak and flat water kayak are sub-types of racing kayak. The multi-type kayak is of two types such as pedal kayak and inflatable kayak.
The modern kayaks are designed with Computer Aided Design software programs along with the naval design software. Modern kayaks are equipped with extra hulls to increase the stability, some are inflatable and some are having twin hulls. The length of the kayak and the rocker affect the maneuverability of the kayak.