..."recreational kayaks" are designed to be for what you might call "lily-dipping", i.e., platforms for casual paddling in fairly placid waters with the emphasis on stability for fishing, birdwatching, photography, etc. They tend to be over 25" in width and less than 12' in length with fairly high volume, high gunwales, flat hull and large cockpit for easy entry and exit by nervous beginners. I'm not dumping on them -- they are great for what they are designed for and probably constitute the majority of kayaks used nationwide. But speed is not a factor with them. All of their specs create a boat that does not respond well to attempts to accelerate quickly and push continuously at a rapid pace. The width and hull profile make them plow water at speed and can make them grumpy about tracking straight. You need something more slender with a hull that slices the water for speed.
It sounds like what you want is a touring kayak (not necessarily a sea kayak). Exact models would depend on your size and budget but most would be 14' to 18' long and 24" or less at the cockpit with a vee shaped hull. Many come with a rudder or skeg but you would not necessarily need that for flatwater day paddling. I have often found good used older models of this type for under $500, even as low as $300, which is about what you would pay for a new rec boat. In fact I just sold two great touring kayaks last year for $380 and $400 respectively.
It's kind of like cars and bicycles. If your main desire is for speed you don't buy a Beetle or a 3-speed cruiser.
What size are you and what kind of waters do you plan to paddle? And what are you looking to pay? That would help us make some suggestions.
Hardshell Kayak Sail Rigs
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