There’s heaps of different kayaks and canoes.  Here’s a quick spotters guide to the different types of kayaks and canoes at an event like Floatfest.

First let’s clear up what’s a kayak and what’s a canoe.  A kayak is sat on (or in) and paddlers use a double-bladed paddle with blades on each end.  A canoe is larger and wider, sometimes paddlers will kneel inside them to paddle with single bladed paddles.  Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk kayaks.

Sit on top kayak
Sit on top kayak – outdoorstype

Sit on top kayak – A popular style of kayak for beginners (very stable) and generally the cheapest one.  Mass produced from molds and available everywhere.  They’re easy to transport and store, they last a long time (out of the sun!). They’ll have a few fittings for seats to clip onto and perhaps some storage space front and rear.  Great for bit of messing around, but not for long distances.  There’s a few variations, some designed for purely holiday paddles, some designed for diving platforms, and some for fishing.  The really sophisticated fishing kayaks can be really big and some even sport paddle drives like paddle-boats!

Pedal Kayak


Sit in kayaks on The Coorong


Sit in kayak – This is the one most people picture in their heads when they’re thinking about a kayak.  There’s lots of space inside to sit and stretch your legs and store gear and easy to get into and out of.  Because you sit lower on the water in them, they’re very stable and you can go faster than sit on top kayaks.

Touring Kayak
Touring kayak – Wikipedia image

Touring Kayaks – These are an elongated sit in kayak style.  They’ve got storage space above and below deck and come with pedal operated rudders to keep them on track.  These are the long distance and ocean going kayaks.

Marathon Kayaks
Marathon canoe race start. Pic – Floatfest

Marathon racing kayaks – As you can see, these are designed very sharply and professionally to glide through the water with a minimum of weight and effort.  There are some hybrid designs among them. Some have rudders, some paddlers use single bladed paddles, and they can be double or single (don’t worry about that K1 and K2 lingo…that’s just one or two paddlers). These paddlers can travel at long distances at, high speed over long distances.  This is where you’ll begin to see professional athletes.

Rowing kayaks
Rowing boats. Pic – Murray Bridge Rowing CLub

Rowing boats – You’ll see them on the water for Floatfest as well.  Well, you might…they’re so slim and low on the water (to achieve racing speeds) that they’re hardly there!  They’re easy to fall out of if you don’t know what you’re doing too.  Rowing is a huge sport all over Australia so we expect to see a few here for the record count!

Best Dressed Kayak
Best dressed kayak – Floatfest

You’ll see paddle-boards, inflatable kayaks, dragon boats, and rowboats among the un-powered craft on water for Floatfest 2017 as well.  The paddle steamer Captain Proud will be on water Saturday and Sunday. Powered duty boats from the Department of Marine and Harbours, Royal Surf Life Saving SA, Sailability and Scouts SA will serve to keep us all safe and keep the stretch of river in front of the Murray Bridge wharf clear of other vessels.  It’s an excellent weekend for anyone who loves exploring by canoe or kayak, or racing sleek on water machines. Get among so many paddle-sport boats and get a good look at what types are out there…and get to see people actually using them!


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Kayak Spotters Guide to Floatfest 2017
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