Kayaking is a recent aquatic discipline, which is often confused with canoeing but with which there are actually many differences. Let’s go and see how it differs from other boats.
What is Kayak?
Kayaking is a recent aquatic discipline, which is often confused with canoeing but with which there are actually many differences. Let’s go and see how it differs from other boats.
The canoe
The canoe was originally created to travel the course of rivers, but it is also used for strolls in lakes. On the contrary it is not suitable for the sea, as the strength of the wind and currents would be a problem.
The canoe is the modern version of the tapered ‘open boats’ used by the Iroquois Indians to carry 6-7 people along the great rivers and rapids of North America. The raised bow was used to avoid taking on water in the most whirling currents, to break the waves of the rapids well and to descend easily in the steepest sections. One or more paddles with a single blade were used and rowed seated.
The evolution of the ancient Canadian foresees to stay on one’s knees and the boat has an open hull in very light composite plastic material such as polyethylene or fiberglass, which often moves away from the original lines, and which is steered with a paddle to one single shovel.
The kayak
The canoe should not be confused with the sea kayak. The latter is in fact an evolution of the Eskimo hunting and fishing boats used in the sea in the far north and assembled with whale bones and pieces of wood and covered with sealskins. They were closed by a watertight cover worn as an apron by the ‘driver’, who used a double-blade paddle to move. The Eskimos rowed on their knees, using the paddle to straighten the boat in case of (frequent) capsizing.
Unfortunately, when we speak generically of kayaks, many immediately think of canoeing by mistakenly equating the two boats in the strict sense (Canadian canoe). Kayaking has nothing to do with the sport of rowing either. We are actually talking about very different things. Let’s see why.
Canoe, kayak and rowing are the differences
What distinguishes kayaks from canoes is that the kayak is pontoon, in the sense that it has a continuous bridge that closes the boat in the upper part making it watertight. This water protection, the continuous bridge, transforms a canoe into a kayak. This means that the canoeist has to enter through a cockpit, while the canoe is a completely open boat.
 

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