Last updated: June 21

How to Kayak Faster: The Complete Guide

Like all sports enthusiasts, Kayaking lovers would do anything to sharpen their skills. In kayaking, skill is defined by smoothness and speed. As such, all lovers of kayaking want to move smoother and faster. Several techniques have been said to help you Kayak faster.

These include installing trolling motors and hill customizing boats to achieve the desired speed. However, fast kayaking is more than just those simple techniques. Having in mind that knowing how to increase speed in kayaking is almost like the holy grail of sailing for many kayakers, it is vital to know all about kayaking faster. This has to do with the science behind the speed of a kayak.

That said, here is a complete guide on kayaking faster:

What Factors Determine Kayak Speed?

Before applying all kinds of techniques to make your kayak experience faster, you must understand the factors that influence the speed of a Kayak. How fast you sail using a kayak is determined by the amount of resistance and efficiency in the water. Resistance is a result of friction. These are the two forces that determine the forward progression of a Kayak.

Generally, the higher the friction, the higher the resistance, and the lower the kayak speed. Friction comes from the roughness of the kayak hull. It is this roughness that traps a layer of water, making the layer collide with the other water surface. This chain reaction is what causes friction hence making the Kayak move slower. Additionally, the larger the surface area of the rough kayak hull, the greater the friction.

Another factor that plays a role in determining kayak speed is wave resistance. As the Kayak proceeds through water, waves are produced using its bow to propel it forward. These waves are evidence of the energy lost when pushing the bow water out of the way for the Kayak to pass through. The greater the wave resistance, the slower your Kayak is likely to move.

How to Increase Kayak Speed

Now that you understand the various factors that determine the speed of a kayak, here are a few ways in which you can make your Kayak move faster:

Increase Your Trolling Motor

A trolling motor will make your kayak experience easy and blissful by adding the speed element. Nothing compares to a kayak with a trolling motor that helps you switch from a manual to an electric operation. Installing a trolling system means that your Kayak will have a shaft and a propeller. Also, you will have access to a console that allows you to monitor and control the speed of your boat.

Some motors come with a remote, making your glide through water effortless. Unfortunately, not all kayaks can have this added feature installed. It requires a lot of engineering and skill to implement. Moreover, the user weight capacity of the boat must be adequate to allow you to install a trolling motor.

Choose Your Paddles Wisely

Before making any huge adjustments to your Kayak, make sure that your paddles are the best type for speedy kayaking. First of all, you must understand that different paddle designs are made for different purposes. When looking for speed, make sure that your paddles are made from either fiberglass or carbon-fiber material.

Secondly, look into the design of your paddles to make sure they are not the ones pulling your Kayak behind in terms of speed. Always choose the paddles with high angles and wide blades as they have bigger ribs. A big rib is essential to make sure that water is equally distributed on the bigger sides of the blade. Also, you will notice that paddles that lack a rib at the center flutter while in use, making kayaking even slower.

Get the Right Hull for the Job

The hull is the bottom part of the Kayak, which is usually in contact with the water. That said, it is an important aspect of your Kayak because it plays a huge role in your kayaking speed. Normally, a kayak hull is designed to ensure either speed or stability. It is, however, almost impossible to enjoy both speed and stability using a single hull design.

However, for sailors who are looking for speedy kayaks, it is recommended that you choose a rounded or a v-shaped kayak hull. With the rounded hull, your Kayak will enjoy less water resistance hence greater speed. This kind of hull also makes maneuvering easy because the Kayak remains stable.

Alternatively, you can choose the V-shaped hull. The shape is excellent for making the Kayak cut through water effortlessly. This type of hull offers more speed than the rounded one. The only con is that it offers lesser stability as it can be tippy than the latter.

Smoothen the Kayak’s Bottom

Although not very observable, the dings and dents at the bottom of your Kayak definitely slow you down. Therefore, if you are really serious about faster kayaking, you must leave no stone unturned. Sanding the hull of your Kayak using gritty sandpaper will go a long way to reduce resistance hence friction.

When you tame the dents in your hull, you ultimately increase its smoothness thus speed. Additionally, some kayakers have observed that the dents are store mineral buildups on your Kayak. Not only does this affect your kayaking speed, but it also damages your boat in the long run.

Invest in a Long Kayak

If you really want to increase the speed of your boat, invest in a long and thin kayak. Long kayaks are more recommended because they have a lower pull that is sent to the bottom of the boat. This ensures that your boat slices through the water efficiently because the water is displaced in a longer distance than in shorter kayaks.

A thinner boat is also better in terms of kayaking speed. However, you must put into consideration your body size as well as any other equipment you might want to carry with you. A thin kayak allows less surface contact with water, which means that friction and resistance are reduced altogether. The kayak length principle works the same way as the shape of the hull.

Get Creative with Gel Coats

Probably, it is not easy for you to sand the hull of your boat using sandpaper. Luckily, applying a gel coat on the hull is an alternative way to achieve the same amount of smooth sailing. This is because the dents on some Kayaks may be too huge to smoothen using sandpaper. A gel coat not only eliminates the friction problem but also leaves your boat with a sparky and crystal-like look.

However, if you decide to go the gel coat way, you must make sure that you hire a professional to do the job for you. Gel coats are not really the best kayak materials, but there is no issue in using them when you have a boat made from fiberglass material. You just have to make sure that the gel application is properly made.

Use Sweep Strokes Properly

These refer to the large forward strokes that help steer a kayak. Paddling normally moves from the feet to the furthest point that the kayaker can reach from the back. If you can master how to do so alternately on both sides, you will have hacked how to kayak faster.

Fatigue, however, is a great challenge to speed. For this reason, every kayaker needs adequate training on how to paddle with ease. Upper body strength is also of great importance too because you will constantly twist your torso when paddling from one side to the other.


While kayaking may be enjoyable, slow speed may discourage many sailors from wanting to adopt it as a hobby. However, with the tips above, kayaking faster can be made very easy. More so, when kayaking, always have in mind that forward is always the way to go. Avoid making zigzag paddles and aim at making straightforward movements to save on time and energy. That way, you can move like a pro 24/7!

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Always Make Sure You Have the Right Gear When You Go Kayaking