Valley Rapier 20
Designed with one thing in mind, to be the fastest kayak possible in open water conditions. Features a racing-ski inspired hull but with the added benefit of being able to roll, the rapier is the perfect fitness/ocean race kayak. Also surprisingly good for lightweight ultra-fast touring
Background. The classic sea kayak design might have resulted from thousands of years of development and it might be a highly developed and enjoyably way of exploring and travailing the Oceans but if you absolutely must get from A to B in the shortest possible time, you need a different type of kayak, you need a racing kayak. Firstly a traditional sea kayaks bow is designed to gently climb over oncoming waves, a racing kayaks bow is designed to cleave straight through any chop. A traditional sea kayak needs to be comfortable and provide good levels of stability, a full blown racing kayak needs to provide none of those things!
Unfortunately, try to use a full blown racing kayak on the sea and you’ll quickly run in to problems. Its lack of stability will make it hard to cope on anything but the calmest days, It’ll be miserably wet going through waves and will pearl hopelessly going down wind.
However there is one craft that does offer racing kayak speed but has an ability to handle open water and that’s the racing-ski, the downside of the ski is its open cockpit, great in the summer or in hot climates but not good for those who paddle year round and/or want to be able to roll if necessary.
The Rapier takes the best features of the ski’s hull but adds a cockpit and hatched compartments to make it more versatile as a sea kayak.
Hull speed is controlled by the laws of physics, make a kayak long and thin and you are well on your way to being fast. The rapier scores on both these points.
What makes the Rapier different is the level of control and stability it has, for the speed it is able to offer. As someone once said, power is nothing, without control! In kayak terms, this means having enough stability to concentrate your efforts into moving the kayak forward, rather than keeping it upright and not having to fight the kayak to keep it on your chosen course because of these qualities more of the paddlers effort goes on moving it forward and it’s this that makes it so fast!
The Rapier 20 is fast but its design isn’t all about ultimate flat-water speed. The fact it has reasonable (for its width) initial stability and a hull designed to work with an ocean swell, means that you can use its speed whist others might have to fight to keep upright or on course. These characteristics are what gives the rapier unrivalled A to B performance and what helped it complete its record breaking English Channel crossing.