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Creekers vs River Runners vs Playboats

Hey Guys

My friend has just started kayaking and she is trying to decide what kind of kayak she should buy as her first boat. At the moment she can roll and paddle grade two but shes pretty gutsy and she seems to progress pretty quickly. She wants a kayak that she can learn as many skills as possible. Everyone shes asked has had a different opinion on what kind of boat she should get, RAD185, Smoothy, Mini, river style playboat etc. I think shes looking at getting a bliss-stick boat but apart from that had no idea what to choose. I was wondering what peoples opinions are on the best kind of kayak.

Cool thanks


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Toni's picture

Hey thanks for all the feedback. She ended up getting a flippy and a mini I think, crazy girl, now she just needs to get a car!

Andyblistick's picture

From the description of the paddler given on your posts the likely compromise is to go for boat with a flat bottom, that is friendly to use, that can handle most situations but is still fun to cruise down a river on without handing out a spanking every time she crosses an eddy line.

My suggestion is to try out a wave sport X, or EZ the boat that has won about 4 world titles for playboats (that is the X), but are old now and hard to find, or a Pyranha inazone 230, or 220, or 240, or even an I3 or recoil, but don't go to waimarino as they don't even reply your emails and wouldn't know service if it hit them in the face. Depending on her size and what rivers you have around you. If she catches the bug and wants to go more into kayaking then get into a creeker at later stages once more skills have been developed, but a river running playboat is a great compromise.

A rad is designed more for play and aerial maneuvers and not many beginners/intermediate paddlers do these on purpose, after all rad stands for radial aerial design. It is short and once in a hole it can be hard to pull out again and being short it is easy to catch on eddy lines and hard to roll off it, so punishment handed out. in a perfect world we all have a 3 boat collection at least, one being a great playboat, something like a Rad, the second a river runner that can catch eddies and then get out onto a wave and still have fun, the third is a full on creeker, so start in the middle ground, The best all round boat made in NZ would be a Blitz, as the specials may be too small and edgy, depending on size again.

Hope this helps


liam's picture

essentually she needs to paddle few different boats to decide what she prefers. i started off in a dagger avengence which i am now giving to lil bro to learn it was a great boat to learn in cause it ment that ihad to learn how to rescue myself i now mostly paddle a mysticand yes it can be a bore sometimes deu to how forgiving it is but it also helping me push to higher grades to

damo's picture

Im pretty sure they would be open on the weekend

damo's picture

Try some older longer playboats as well if you can. Call in to Waimarino, they have a bunch of different playboats you could try. Not far from the Wairoa either.

lou.k's picture

im paddling wairoa tomorrow with a rad 185 i got from work and i hope that will go alright.
i know i will feel better in a creeker but i dont want to sit back on grade 2's in a creek boat. i want to be pushed on grade 2's and be forced to work on railing and eddying and what not. im going to take the mystic from work next time i go paddling (we dont have a mini at the shop)
im really liking the rad but i dont want to make my decision off just that. i only have a rad 180 185 and 195 a flippy a mystic and a SCUD i can try out from work.
is that being a big enough boat slut? :P
i dont think ill bothing with the 180 or 195 though. and maybe not the flippy so that leaved the SCUD and mystic... hmmm maybe not.
i would still appreciate anyones input =)

boaterboy888's picture

the first thing is listen to the people you paddle with. they are the once you see all the time, know what you paddle like and can keep helping you while on the river. listen to what everyone else say. but a grain of salt with everything.
Play boats are going to make you work on the railling and edging. they are also going to make you read the river and paddle safely, and not cheat. go for a rad. good play boats that are really friendly. but you are not going to learn how to drive a boat.
creek boats will make you learn how to drive a boat the right way, and will make things easyier. but you will not have to read the river as much. creeks boat go over or throught most things.
all in all. best thing to do is become the biggist boat slut you can. and listen to everything the person says about that boat. but i comes down to what you feel comfortable in. good luck. there is a lot out there

sanga's picture

Different boats are for different things, it's pointless comparing a playboat to a creekboat in terms of performance. The boats which give the best technique are usually longer with a round hull (rpm, kendo, turbo etc). There is a reason slalom paddlers have the best technique - they paddle boats similar to this shape which require good technique to make them work for you. They are also easier to roll which is a good thing for a beginner.
Playboats are harder to roll with flat hulls and no length - they are easy to turn and manouevre but are super slow and hard to style in - this is why if you get in a creeker from a playboat you will struggle to turn it.
There is no real one size fits all in terms of boat choice - of course a creekboat is rubbish in the surf and a playboat is not amazing on a creek run, this is why most people either have more than one boat or only really paddle one style.
BUT if you take budget into consideration and can only afford one boat then most people opt for a creekboat. They still require technique to paddle and will perform well when paddled well. True they are more forgiving but all this means is that you can practice in pushier/harder water. You can do grade four moves in a grade two rapid so saying you'll get bored is kind of naive. When you get better and actually start running drops etc then a creeker comes into its own in terms of rocker/volume to get you out of trouble.
The "which exact model of kayak" argument is stupid and a waste of time if you are just beginning. You'll get used to whatever you paddle despite the slight differences from brand to brand. It's more important to choose an appropriate style of boat than a specific model.

mike r's picture

longer the boat, the better technique she will aquire with practice. Creekers are more forgiving and allow for mistakes to have a blind eye turned to them. An RPM or kendo would be a good boat to learn in. Great edges, good speed and they are nice to roll, play boating teaches bad habits

damo's picture

Blitz special hands down best boat. Faster than a rad down river and far more fun (you might even make the odd hard ferry that the folks in river boats can't make). You can do everything you want on a river, and you can actually learn how to play boat properly, rather than just chucking your nose in and hoping for the best (which most beginners do nowadays in the short little biff boats). Nice and narrow, so most paddlers feel confident in them. Easy to roll, and if she is not keen to run hairy scary stuff they are a great all river boat. Cheap as chips to, so if boating isn't really her thing in the long run, she can just give it to another needy eager boater, rather than have lost out loads of hard earned dollars on a a boat that depreciates the minute you put your pin into the eftpos machine.

She will get bored with a creek boat, maybe even with an all river boat. I know plenty of good boaters that used these as their sole kayak for everything, and they got much bigger beatings in creekboats. Kind of like rugby players and head gear!! Creek boats suck at the beach, so do most all river boats, but blitz's rip.

lou.k's picture

shes not too fussed with progressing in grades she just wants to learn skills more. she does struggle with confidence a lot though.
she is willing to put time into learning and super super keen to spend more time on the river.
she likes the rad 185 she paddled but would like to try other boats before making her decision.
she will try something different at wairoa =)

elise's picture

I think that she is a good paddler but is struggling with confidence in the water,
A good creeker will help her progress in confidence and if she is willing to put time into learning how to use her boat then she will do just fine.
(railing!,rolling,eddying in and out and reading the river etc)
I think if she is paddling a playboat then she will sit at a grade 2 maybe 3 level for a long time but she will get some good skills.
I think where she is at at the moment a creeker will be more forgiving and she'll maybe feel more confident in the water. Most important thing is time on the water.

CJ's picture

My (long) opinion - keep in mind I haven't paddled a creeker very many times and I'm a grade 3 paddler.

I think learning in a playboat got me used to rolling a lot, getting out of holes, being aware of my edges, and it was fun to learn to do some basic playboating moves.

However, I notice when I paddle a creeker I have trouble turning it, and I don't read the river far enough ahead to make moves - these are things I might be better at if I learned in a creeker. In terms of rolling in a playboat I find I can get away with some dodgy things and still get up. When I try this in a mini mystic it doesn't work so well - I seem to need to do the full sweep and when I do it rolls like a dream.

I think the disadvantage to learning in a creeker is that you can float down things without paddling hard. They are fast and don't require much paddling to plough through features that would stop and/or tip a playboat. Also, I've seen a few people who learned in creekboats push up to grade 3/4 quickly without having a solid roll. It's easier to get down things without tipping in a creeker so maybe these people would have benefited from having done a few rolls on the easier stuff to avoid the nasty grade 3/4 swims.

However, I feel way more confident in a creeker and rolling 60 + times on cold shallow rivers sometimes isn't really that fun. It leads to short helmet lives as well. So I would recommend a creeker to start, so long as you eddy in and eddy out a lot, paddle actively and go for moves that will make you roll on grade 2.

Oh yeah I've tried lots of playboats (RAD 175, 2fun, Agent 6.0, EZG 42, Project 45) and only one creeker (mini mystic).

Just my opinion to start the discussion, feel free to agree, disagree or tell me I don't know what I'm talking about =).

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