-- Last Updated: Feb-06-14 11:02 AM EST --
Besides self rescue, which is anyway much easier to do with a reentry and roll (if you have a roll), bum first is just a better way to enter a kayak and bum last - to exit. Faster and error-proof when you need it in a hurry at the beach or to get the sand off your feet and not put it in the cockpit.
There are some things you can do like move the seat a couple of inches to the rear on a kayak with a cockpit that otherwise is almost long enough. This has so far allowed me to fit bum first in WS Tempest 170 and Zephyr 155 and 160, Delphin 15.5 etc. You can also roll or shave the inner lip on the cockpit rim on some kayaks, giving you that little extra to fit bum first. Did that on my Nordkapp RM and with the seat to the rear I can now sit in it bum first, barely and barefoot only. In boats like it, with somewhat high rear cockpit rim that is for some dumb reason close to the seat, this restricts layback for rolls (not a problem in the Zephyr as its deck is low and away from the seat).
Fast touring kayaks like Epic 18x and Valley Rapier do have longer cockpits too - they are designed to be paddled with knees together for power and ergonomics in a straight line. Many newer designs for large people like the P&H Cetus MV and HV have nice and long cockpits too, so if you have not checked them out, see if they are an option
Other than that, I hear you most kayaks are for short and normally tall people. Anything over 36" inseam is a problem, especially if you have footwear, which further raises your heels and effectively lengthens your shin to a point where you might not fit a boat you did fit barefoot. As much as I like having some footwear, I have resigned to paddle barefoot in most of the sea kayaks that i have owned over the years.
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