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Types Of Kayaking

There are several different types of kayaks for the sport of kayaking. 

There are sea kayaks, whitewater kayaks, recreational kayaks, playboats, slalom kayaks and surf skis.  This is a comprehensive list of the types of kayaks available for the sport of kayaking.

The sea kayak is used the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean.  Most sea kayaks are between 12 feet and 24 feet in length.  The larger kayaks often built for two kayaking paddlers.

Whitewater kayaking uses a whitewater kayak and is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water.  The moving body of water is typically a river.  This can be a dangerous sport and there is a learning curve for beginners.

The recreational kayak is a special type of kayak that is designed for the casual paddler interested in fishing, photography or a peaceful paddle on a lake or flatwater stream.  Recreational kayaking makes up the largest portion of participants in kayaking, so the sales of recreational kayaks make up the largest segment of kayak sales.

Playboating is the paddling equivalent of skateboarding or BMX.  Playboating is kayaking or canoeing where the paddler performs various technical moves in one place designated as a playspot.  This is different than whitewater canoeing or kayaking where the whole point is to travel the length of a section of river.

The whitewater slalom is a competitive sport.  The objective of this kayaking sport is to navigate a decked kayak through a course of gates on river rapids in the fastest time possible.  The whitewater slalom is one of the two kayaking and canoeing events at the Summer Olympics.  The International Olympic Committee refers to this kayaking sport as the "canoe/kayak slalom".

Surf kayaking is sometimes called "surf canoeing" in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Surf skis actually combine charcteristics from both kayaks and surfboards.  Surf skis are very long and thin kayaks.  They are typically about 20 feet long and 20 inches wide.  Because surf skis are so long and thin, they excel at going fast and tracking well.  Surf kayaking sacrifices maneuverability and stability for this speed.


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