Submitted: 11-07-2007 by flatfish
I enjoy paddling in challenging conditions. There's lots of opportunities to do so here on the East coast of Newfoundland. In my experience, the British kayaks are the best for rough water paddling.
I've got an NDK Romany, an NDK Greenlander Pro, a Valley Anas Acuta, a plastic Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 (for beach bashing) and a Nordkapp H2O. (I used to own an NDK Explorer, but sold it and bought the Nordkapp.)
For rough water paddling, it's a toss up between the Romany and the Nordkapp. The Romany is short (16 feet), maneuverable and forgiving. The Nordkapp is long (18 feet), also maneuverable, but anything but forgiving. In fact, it can be a very demanding kayak.
The Nordkapp is the most responsive kayak I've ever paddled. Precise boat handling is rewarded; badly executed maneuvers are punished. It also has a remarkable "transparency" in rough conditions. By this I mean that steep and confused seas have less effect on the Nordkapp than on any other kayak I have ever paddled. If you are willing to go loose at the hips and let the Nordkapp do the work, it can be paddled steadily through quite ugly conditions, e.g. bad clapotis. While the Romany responds differently, it also handles well in rough conditions. But the Romany (except for a light paddler) is a day boat, while the Nordkapp is a touring boat par excellence.
Another key point is that the Nordkapp is faster than any other boat I have paddled. Faster even than the NDK Greenlander, which deserves its reputation as a fast boat. One final point, I was concerned about the Nordkapp in a following sea. The Romany and the Greenlander surf well. Would the Nordkapp? The Nordkapp has quite a different feel, because the hull shape is soft chined not hard, but it is faster than the others and no less easy to maneuver as long as you can anticipate how it will interact with the waves. Again, it is a demanding, not a forgiving kayak, but remarkably responsive when you get it right.
I was spooked at first by how demanding this kayak could be. I stuck with it. Now, I can say without reservation, this is the best kayak I have ever paddled.