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Making the World's Fastest Kayak 129

bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek looks at the world's fastest kayak, which floats over the water rather than nosing through waves like more typical boats. Named 'Little Wing' for the fore and aft wings that add stability, the kayak is the creation of Ted Warren. An MIT-educated engineer, Warren 'played around for three years with 3-D wire mesh designs on his PC, crunching the numbers for speed and stability, then started building actual models to test in the waters near his Massachusetts home.'"
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Making the World's Fastest Kayak

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  • by jeremymiles ( 725644 ) * on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:57PM (#15889949) Homepage Journal
    It isn't going to float over the water in such a delicate fashion when you put 225 pounds of me in it.

    Still, at least the water might not slosh over the side, and into the kayak itself (or worse, the nose bury itself so deep in a wave that it comes over the front).

    • by Upaut ( 670171 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:08PM (#15890004) Homepage Journal
      Thats funny, I'm 240 lb., and I never have any trouble when I kayak out to the sea for a week of random camping along the ocean (great way to drop some weight...). Kayaks themselves are VERY good at handling weight, and the rubber sphincter should be tight enough that water cannot get in.

      I hope that these engineering features can be used to develop better salt-water kayaks as well, as it may make my trips a little faster, so I can get more of the East Coast in.
      • Really? They obviously do a better class of kayak in the US of A (assuming that's where you're from). I've got a Sevylor inflatable (sit on) canoe, and I'm too heavy for that (I bought it 'cos I thought it would motivate me to lose a few pounds. It actually claims a max capacity of 250lbs, but I think that includes a bit of luggage - it doesn't want it all in the same place.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          They obviously do a better class of kayak in the US of A (assuming that's where you're from).

          Considering the "Brit boat" mystique in the kayaking community, I hardly think this is the case. Builders like P&H [phseakayaks.com], Valley [valleyseakayaks.com], and NDK [seakayakinguk.com] are making outstanding kayaks in your part of the world which are perfectly capable of high performance while carrying big paddlers.
      • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:25PM (#15890516) Homepage Journal
        the rubber sphincter should be tight enough that water cannot get in.

        That's why the Goatse Class kayaks never really caught on.
      • This is true in more situations than kayaking.
        At the drag strip, I heard an obese guy talking about how dipping body parts of his car had shaved 20 pounds off the cars weight. I almost pointed out that dexitrim could have shaved even more off the cars weight.
        Same thing with biking. I know a bunch of overweight people that spend thousands of dollars on components to shave a few pounds off the weight of their bike. Serously, not to be gross, but rather than spending thousands on carbon forks and stems and w
        • Some people actually do keep themselves in shape and are looking for every possible advantage. Even though most people riding $$$$ bikes have some weight to lose, that doesn't mean they all do.

          Many people summarily criticize those who have light bikes/cars/skis/whatever because they could have more easily lost those 3 pounds by losing weight or taking a monster dump or whatever. But some of us already did that (the dump was excellent btw) and are still looking for more optimization.

          I am one of those guys
    • float over the water in such a delicate fashion when you put 225 pounds of me in it
      Especially considering that the rest of you is NOT going in the kayak... I think bloody stumps preclude 'delicate' as a descriptor any day. But that's just me... YMMV.
    • That's all muscle! No?

       
    • I actually know the Warren's and have ridden in this very kayak. I'm a complete kayaking novice, so can't comment on comparing these to more traditional boats but at 220lbs myself, I had no problem at all maneuvering. It seemed very responsive to my paddling and felt quite stable.
  • He learned a secret from the street racing ricers.

    Add carbon fiber to ANYTHING and it will be faster!

  • Can it go over a waterfall or down some steep rapids? Gliding is great, as long as you have something to glide on, which isn't the case in some of the more turbulent rapids.
    • Can it go over a waterfall or down some steep rapids? Gliding is great, as long as you have something to glide on, which isn't the case in some of the more turbulent rapids.

      It's an ocean kayak, not a white water kayak. Perhaps you were not aware, but kayaks are not all created equal. White water kayaks are shorter, and more maneuverable. Ocean kayaks are longer, more stable, and with more pronounced keels for better tracking in the wind. This kayak was not designed for waterfalls and rapids.

    • by ChetOS.net ( 936869 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:23PM (#15890109) Homepage
      Yeah, but can it run Linux?

      That is the real question.
      • Yeah, but can it run Linux?
        Yes, a Kayak [hp.com] certainly can. We still a few of them still around, and 400MHz is enough to run Linux.

        However, I can guarantee they won't float. They might make good boat anchors though... they are built like tanks!
      • Yeah, but can it run Linux?

        That is the real question.


        Heh, I have had this helmet/sticker combo since 1997, here is my first chance to use it on slashdot!:
        Any kayak can run linux! [walford.ca]

        You just need the right stuff from thinkgeek! ;)

        (On a side note, I had that helmet on while paddling the Chilliwack river once, and another paddler got really mad at me because he came up to paddle from the States. And apparently he was an employee of Microsoft. I thought it was funny that the tux logo on my helmet bothered him...)
    • "Can it go over a waterfall or down some steep rapids?"

      Still looking for a way to return to the Land of the Lost, Rick Marshall?
    • "Can it go over a waterfall or down some steep rapids?"

      i am sure it can.. would i want to be in it? don't think so .. but that isn't the answer to the question
  • by moronga ( 323123 )
    How fast does this damned thing go? o_O

    I RTFA, and I don't see them say anything about speed.
    • Just about as fast as you can paddle it
    • Probably not as fast as this guy [wikipedia.org]. Looking at pictures of the kayak, I see no boosters, no solid-fuel turbine-... hell, I don't even see a place to mount the jet engine (which can be gotten off Ebay for $75, so don't say it's inaccessible).
      The current water speed record is over 317 MPH (511 KPH). The pilot's compartment seems to have no protection against the elements. Sprays of water hitting your face that fast is like trying to face down a sandblaster - it'll even chip away at your skull pretty quickly
  • by Erectile Dysfunction ( 994340 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:07PM (#15889999) Homepage
    "The addition of the fore and aft wings was a sound decision that earned the kayak approximately an extra 50HP," a California Institute of Technology professor of Aerodynamical Engineering commented adding, "but I am really eager to get one of this into my lab to see how much performance I can squeeze out by adding reducing the coefficient of drag with racing stripes and aft flames as well as introducing a chrome muffler to increase performance by another 25HP."
  • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:08PM (#15890006)
    It took this guy 3 hours to cross 13 miles. The world's fastest kayak can do 16.9 mph. http://www.kayakwisconsin.net/2006/01/blur.html [kayakwisconsin.net]
    • I wonder how you approached the process of reading TFA! Looked around for numbers so that you would have something to post??? This guy trained only for 3 days! He was a novice! The article you linked says the TOP speed recorded was 16.9mph, evidently with an expert.
      • I don't think he's a novice. I read it as he only trained for three days with this particular hull design. All in this entire article sucked. Happy feel good story with little to no technical details at all. Pretty much what I as a techie nerd would expect to get out of a business week article.
    • And here [wavewalk.com]'s some nice geeky info (albeit as a semi-sales pitch) about the factors contributing to speed. It does get a little technical, which is quite nice IMO.

      Not only is this not the fastest kayak in the world, it's not even remotely close -- but I'd like to see the hull design advantages explained in the terms from the link I posted above, maybe even with some mathematical analysis.
      • Not only is this not the fastest kayak in the world, it's not even remotely close
        We won't really know until we put a world-class athalete in the thing.
        • I think we know. The thing is mono-hulled, only 18 feet long, and has a traditional rudder. Even if you want to exclude catamaran and trimaran kayaks, you're not going to be able to compete with the fastest kayaks out there -- which are longer and have underwater foil rudders.

          Now, if the question is whether or not this is the fastest kayak you can get for under $5k, maybe you're onto something.

          Note that max speed increases as hull length increases, though this depends on the seas as well. And I'm also
          • > Note that max speed increases as hull length increases

            According my admittedly limited nautical knowledge, this rule (of thumb) relates to he hull speed, whereby the top-speed increases with the square-root of the waterline of the hull. This rule, however, applies only for swimming, single hull boats. This kayak is supposed to "floats over the water", so it has practically no drag, and hence, the rule does not apply.

    • The LittleWing craft teams says [warrenlightcraft.com] that they are "committed to building the lightest [warrenlightcraft.com], most seaworthy [warrenlightcraft.com], and best performing [warrenlightcraft.com] kayaks available today"

      The Flyak [foilkayak.com] on the other hand, is purely a flat water racing craft. So comparing the two doesn't make sense at all!

      Remarkably, neither lists any speed records on their websites. :|
  • This things sounds uber-fast but not easy to control because of its light weight. Not sure if it is worth a 100% premium over other kayaks, but nonetheless it is a sleek craft.
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:10PM (#15890025) Journal
    Like this [foilkayak.com] one [gooduse.co.nz]. And did you all know that Alexander Graham Bell was a pioneer in hydrofoils [wikipedia.org]?
    • WOW! Thats just fantastic!

      I am a certified ACA Whitewater/Sea Kayak instructor, and I have recently started racing K1's for use in adventure racing, where any craft that uses paddles (and non-locked oars) is allowed to compete in the water section. I thought that the Tieken Stealth K1 (flatwater K1, 5.2 meters long) I paddled was a fast boat, or the Carbon Fibre Necky Lookshaw II 20 feet by 20 inch beam (now no longer in production) were fast boats, but a foil....

      Jeebus.

      I have my doubts about the little win
    • Personally I'd be interested to know how well this "world's fastest" kayak would do against someone in a Hobie Cat [hobiecat.com] with their pedal-operated Mirage drives (based on penguin fins!). They probably wouldn't even allow one in the race due to the fact that you can propel it with arms and legs at the same time. When the other racers are resting their arms you can be gaining another hundred yards.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hasn't won a race yet?
  • I wonder if research in slower floating devices wouldn't be more appropriate considering that in a few hundred years everything would be under water.
  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:14PM (#15890050) Journal
    FTS:
    BusinessWeek looks at the world's fastest kayak, which floats over the water rather than nosing through waves like more typical boats.
    Huh? Not remotely -- this is not a hovercraft. This is simply an ultra-light kayak with a differently shaped hull based on racing boat designs.

    Nor is it the world's fastest kayak, at least not according to TFA. The best it's finished in a competitive race is 6 seconds out of 1st place.

    OK, it's pretty cool, and I'd like to take it on the Hudson sometime. But don't overhype it, please.
    • Nor is it the world's fastest kayak, at least not according to TFA. The best it's finished in a competitive race is 6 seconds out of 1st place. So? It could still be the world's fastest kayak. Maybe it's the kayaker who isn't so great.
    • I remember reading an article in the late 90's about how some Kayak builder had this genius idea: use CAD to make a kayak.

      As it turns out, most kayak molds were hand made from the shells of older kayaks... meaning that they were never particularly perfect to begin with and that over the years, consecutive molds were getting further and further distorted.

      So, even though you're thinking "gee whiz, this isn't anything special," it really may represent an innovation in the field. Advances in materials science
      • There's quite a bit of money being thrown into kayak design. There's also a huge amount of money being thrown into hull design for other types of small watercraft (sailboats especially). And while his solution may be interesting and unique, my point is that until it's demonstrated to be so, please don't describe it as 'the fastest kayak in the world'... or as 'floating over the water,' which is not true at all.
    • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

      FTS:
      BusinessWeek looks at the world's fastest kayak, which floats over the water rather than nosing through waves like more typical boats.

      Huh? Not remotely -- this is not a hovercraft. This is simply an ultra-light kayak with a differently shaped hull based on racing boat designs.


      The blurb makes it sound like he added hydrofoils, so it would actually "fly", rasiing the hull (mostly?) out of the water.

      I was excited by this, thinking that maybe somebody had figured out a way to do man-powered hydrofoils simpl
  • fastest? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:16PM (#15890060) Homepage Journal
    I'm guessing this one is faster [youtube.com]. :-p
  • I saw one on I want that on hgtv that had this ski like thing on the bottom that was hard to balance but as soon as you got the hang of it it was much faster then regualr kyaks. This I do not thin kis the fastets.
  • by truckaxle ( 883149 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:22PM (#15890104) Homepage
    There are two types of hulls that you'll find in a boat (or kayak) - a planing hull and displacement hull [kayakforum.com]. So this is a planing hull. The fact that it is designed by an MIT graduate using finite element analysis makes this news? And just what criteria are they using to make the claim that it is the "worlds fastest kayak"?
    • Not to mention that TFA wasn't about the boat entirely, it was about this douchy writers boating event, which just happend to be done in a new fancy kayak. Very light on technical details. Mostly fluff.
    • by wsherman ( 154283 ) * on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:56PM (#15890328)
      So this is a planing hull.

      The article was light on details but it's not possible for a human kayaker to generate enough power to get the hull up "on plane". For purely human powered kayaks (not surfing waves) the fastest hulls are displacement hulls that minimize the wetted surface area of the hull cross section. That is, fast kayaks are very long and the hull cross section is a semi-circle (very hard to turn and very unstable).

    • And just what criteria are they using to make the claim that it is the "worlds fastest kayak"?

      The designer's computer said so. You wouldn't question the designer's computer, would you?

      KFG
    • And just what criteria are they using to make the claim that it is the "worlds fastest kayak"?

      The only "they" that claimed it was the world's fastest was the submitter, bart_scriv, and I'm guessing the criteria was what would most likely get it accepted on slashdot. The article only mentions "one of the fastest in its class", a much more plausible and defensible statement.
  • But.... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Senner ( 994665 )
    Does it run Linux?
  • by alop ( 67204 )
    Anyone else notice that the article about "worlds fastest kayak" wasn't really about the boat. Seemed like it was more about a particular ride. I wanted specifics, ya know, more techie stuff like said 3d wire mesh or something.
  • I'm surprised it's taken this long for anyone to mention Raven's high-speed kayak, not to mention his glass knives, considering the recent news.
    • Are you suggesting high speed kayaks as a substitute for trans-Atlantic air travel, or making weapons from glass in order to more easily get them on a plane?

      Or maybe the former as a result of the later.

      • Are you suggesting high speed kayaks as a substitute for trans-Atlantic air travel . . .

        It's been done, more than once.

        . . . or making weapons from glass in order to more easily get them on a plane?

        When England first started talking about the possibility of a pointy knife ban I pointed out that all anyone who was bent on harm needed to craft a knife on the spot was a broken window and a roll of duct tape.

        I wonder if I'll be getting a visit from men in black suits any time soon.

        KFG
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by VonSkippy ( 892467 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:28PM (#15890149) Homepage
    Perhaps next he can put that world class education to really important stuff like lighter golf clubs or more aerodynamic bowling balls.

  • Can it do 50mph? Guess not. Then its not as fast as Shaun Baker's jet kayak: http://jetkayak.co.uk/splash.htm [jetkayak.co.uk] (flash website)
  • Actually this is the fastest human-powered Kayak AFAIK.

    On the British TV-show Top Gear, probably one of the most famous [wikipedia.org] television shows about cars on Earth, a jetski-style powered Kayak was shown last year (Season 8, Episode 2 - 2006.05.14 to be precise). That thing was _really_ fast!

    Video fragment can be found at YouTube [youtube.com].

    • they are talking about the design being 'fast'.
      So if it was jet powered, it would go faster then oterh ones useing the same power.
  • Practically fly themselves off the showroom floor.

    --
    Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    SNAKES.... ON A KAYAK!
  • These are not the fastest kayaks, but it's fun doing it yourself (as well as cheaper!) - the owner of the business is a friend of mine, and used to be a professional sailor for 15 years...

    http://www.unicornkayaks.com/ [unicornkayaks.com]

  • ballin'est shit evar!
  • Is that Celine Dion will buy one to GWB !
  • by pjunold ( 860233 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:36PM (#15890584)

    The expression 'world fastest kayak' is somewhat like 'world fastest running shoes'. Race kayaking is all about the motor and to a much lesser degree about the kayak.

    It makes much more sense to speak about the water resistance of various kayak designs. For some given athlete(balance skills, strength and technique) racing some given distance in some given conditions one could even speak of an optimal design. As a general example - the kayaks used for sprint racing are different from the kayaks used for marathon racing.

    On a related note genetic algorithms have been applied to the problem of finding an optimal hull given a number of constraints: http://www.cyberiad.net/library/kayaks/racing/raci ng.htm [cyberiad.net]
    Nothing revolutionary turned out though.

    /Peter
    • Ha! That is exactly what I was thinking.

      Less than an hour ago I was staring at it thinking "I really should try to make one of those." Of course that train of thought is always followed by... I think I like Daedelus [wikipedia.org] more. Which is then followed by an image of me crashing into a mountain and I decide I should probably just get back to work.
  • We sometimes crewed on the same sailboat out of Beverly Harbor on the Thursday night races. His sailboat web site is http://www.warrenmultihulls.com.nyud.net:8090/ [nyud.net]. (Coral cached)

    I've done a bit of sailing on the Warren 35 that is based in Beverly. Quite a trick boat, 35 foot trimiran that is trailerable. Another awesome one is Tiny Dancer I and II, both proas (think two hulled trimaran...) We kidded him with Tiny Dancer II did make the weight goal of 100lbs.

    Nice to see him in the news. Check out his we

  • The only support for the statement that this is the worlds fastest kayak is:

    1. The builder goes to MIT
    2. The journalist thinks it is fast.

    You start to wonder what kind of people goes to MIT. If you, dear /. reader, went to the newspaper to tell them you had built the worlds fastest something, (say car).

    Would you not have some data to support your claim? A radar gun readout? A win in some competition? Anything?
    • The story submitter took one word, fastest, and used it out of context.

      Article: "the carbon-fiber craft is one of the lightest and fastest in its class"

      Story: "BusinessWeek looks at the world's fastest kayak"

      Neither the MIT-educated engineer or the BusinessWeek writer said it was the fastest; the story submitter (who presumably did not go to MIT) did. So you shouldn't wonder about what kind of people go to MIT, but instead should wonder about those who submit (and edit) Slashdot stories.

  • by aldheorte ( 162967 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:14PM (#15891235)
    Article summary: Rich yuppy buys overly expensive kayak because it is "fast" and "looks like a ferrari", although he is unable to explain why, from a technical perspective, it is any better than a regular kayak. He almost exclusively talks about his little vignette of crossing the Long Island Sound in it, pandering on about how he was buying the $5000 kayak so he could get sponsors to give $500 or so to "needy children" for his little cross bay adventure. He gives props to his friends, who will no doubt be tickled to be in BusinessWeek.

    Before you mod troll, read article and you will see it is completely devoid of any technical or scientific interest. Slashdot's slogan is "stuff that matters". This stuff does not.
  • viking longboat? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Saturday August 12, 2006 @09:27AM (#15893965) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does this kayak look a hell of a lot like a Viking longboat?

    Viking longboats were well known for being fast, sleek in the water, and capable of traversing the shallowest of waterways - kinda like what a kayak is intended to do.

    I personally wouldn't be surprised in the least bit if he copied the general design of a longboat while making it slightly more streamlined and rounded on the topside.
  • Having been paddling for several years competitively I can make the following observations:

    1. Yes paddling on flat water is different to paddling on ocean/sea conditions. Generally it is harder and slower paddling in choppy water, however if you are experienced you will know how to best make use of the wind and weather conditions in order to increase your speed. Depending on the swell and wind direction you can quite often get equal speed compared to flat water and sometimes much greater speeds if assisted

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