When it comes to evaluating your ability to travel through open water, against wind, waves, and currents, forward speed becomes an incredibly important part of that evaluation.
So let's pretend for a moment that we're all going to stay in our kayak. We are three equally skilled folks, and we are going to travel against some current, through some surf, and against several miles of 20 knot wind and 4-5' short period waves along a coastline, and surf back into the destination. One takes a whitewater kayak, because they're stable and handle waves well. You take your Perception Sport Conduit 13 (13' x 26.5")). I'll take a Current Designs Nomad (18'10" x 21.25"), simply because over the years it has remained a favorite long sea kayak design of mine. Now, let's pretend, just for the sake of argument, that getting to the destination more quickly and with less overall effort is desirable.
Herein lies the essence of a sea kayak in my opinion. If this piece of the performance equation isn't important to you in your kayaking, then you don't have to worry about it. There are plenty of paddling platforms to keep you upright in waves. It's whatever gets you on the water having fun. Staying upright and having the ability to perform rescues in rough water is an important aspect of sea kayak design, but it's not the primary design consideration, nor is it the primary difference between what's considered a rec boat and a sea kayak. For some paddlers, a full-on sea kayak doesn't represent an advantage for their paddling. For others, a sea kayak represents a tremendous advantage.
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