A boat used for Kayaking. There are whitewater kayaks and flatwater kayaks. The whitewater ones are typically shorter so as to be easier to turn. The flatwater ones are longer so that they can go faster with less effort, and will hold a heading more easily. Whitewater kayaks are for use in flowing rivers. Flatwater kayaks are for use on lakes and seas and oceans. All that flatwater really means is 'not a river'.

There is also slolem and downriver whitewater kayak racing. In downriver you are timed in a race of speed only. In slolem, the racers have to negotiate a course of gates hanging just above the water. The gates are colored either&red or green and mean upstream or downstream. The racers have to go through these gates without getting penalties. 50 seconds for missing the gate, and 5 for hitting it. They are judged, and the winner has the best overall time.

The term kayak means "hunter's boat." For the past 4000 years, they have traditionally been used in Inuit cultures to hunt animals on inland waters and the open sea, as well as for transportation across open water. Originally, kayaks were made from driftwood and seal skin. After forming the frame from the wood, the skin would be stretched out and sewn onto the completed frame. Any hair was removed, and the skins were made waterproof using oil. Today, modern kayaks are made from a variety of materials. Wood was most common until the 1950s, when fiberglass became available. Beginning in the early 1980s, kayaks have also been made of plastic.

Kay"ak (?), n. Naut.

A light canoe, made of skins stretched over a frame, and usually capable of carrying but one person, who sits amidships and uses a double-bladed paddle. It is peculiar to the Eskimos and other Arctic tribes.


© Webster 1913.

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