How to Kayak Faster and More Efficiently

It’s fun kayaking along the lakes and rivers. With a beautiful weather and kayaking with your family can create lasting memories. However, it can be more frustrating if you move more slowly than expected.

If you search online, you will encounter questions such as how can I make my kayak Faster? Peradventure, you have the same question on your mind; you are at the right place because this write-up will teach you how to kayak faster and efficiently. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice kayaker or a professional; you can pick up something interesting to improve your kayaking adventure.

Tracking around the lake in your hometown, ocean kayaking, or even exploring a meandering river is fun and good. Most people think that kayaking faster is all about building stamina and physical strength. However, some other tips and techniques can help increase your kayaking speed. Before we look at several ways to improve your speed, let’s look at how fast you can go when kayaking.

How Fast To Go When Kayaking

It’s common to come across this question because speed is important when kayaking. Well, the most important thing is how efficient and fast should you paddle? Paddling isn’t the primary reason to get the maximum speed you want. However, it is an integral part of the learning process if you want to go fast.

Truly, race cars have high-performance engines. However, the handling, body style, control, etc., will have a critical part regarding how fast the car can go. The same applies to kayaking. While you can hit a maximum speed because of your physical strength, your paddling technique, paddles, and kayak style can also affect the speed you achieve.

What Is The required Average Kayaking Speed?

For an experienced kayaker, the average kayak speed is 3.5 mph. Nevertheless, for a physically fit and skilled kayaker, it is possible to reach a maximum speed of 5 mph. Like the example of the race car, there are factors that can affect your speed. Nevertheless, knowing your baseline speed when kayaking will give you a starting point as you try to improve and get faster.

Techniques On Kayak Paddling Faster

The simple techniques here can help you with how I can make my kayak faster. The paddle technique is an important technique that can help improve your kayaking speed. Here are a few tips if you want to improve your paddling technique.

  • Maintain a continuous flow when kayaking in the lake
  • Ensure your paddle remains vertical as possible
  • Engage your core as you paddle rather than the shoulders and arms
  • Your feet should stay against the footpegs while your knees are slightly bent
  • Ensure you don’t rock the kayak during paddling
  • Start the paddle blade stroke at your feet before ending at your hip

These techniques will be beneficial when we look at the seven tips on how to kayak faster. Importantly, you need to practice frequently if you want to acquire improved speed when kayaking. An athlete has to undergo several pieces of training to be fit for a particular race, and that isn’t exempted from someone that is kayaking.

Seven Tips on how to Kayak Faster and More Efficiently

Many kayakers can do anything to go faster when kayaking. They can install trolling motors, get customized boat hulls, and practice different paddling techniques to stay faster. However, there is no holy grail when kayaking. It’s all about finding out what works out for you. Let’s share some secrets on kayaking faster and efficiently.

Tip 1 – Select a kayak with a speed capability

Here, you will have to choose carefully because kayaks are available in different designs. The particular design you choose can affect your speed. Let’s explore some of the kayak designs that can help improve your speed and make you kayak faster as you want.

Hull design

When speed is a critical issue when kayaking, the hull design can come in handy as it cuts through the water. The hull design is available in four different designs – pontoon, flat, rounded, and V-shaped. Recently, there has been debate if the rounded hull design is faster through water than the others because it offers less resistance. Nevertheless, the V-Shaped hull can cut through water better than the rounded hull design.

Whether it’s a v-shaped or rounded hull design, it can work excellently as long as the speed is the main factor. Note that if you opt for the V-shape hull, your kayak will be a little less stable, affecting your overall speed.

Chine design

Another critical design element you should consider is the Chine. This represents the method the hull bottom meets your kayak sides. The chine can make your hull look completely rounded or boxy. The soft chine has a more rounded look, whereas a hard chine is an angled style. Therefore, if speed is something you consider, it is preferable to opt for soft chine because it makes your kayak faster in water than hard chine.

Longer kayak

The final design to consider is the longer kayak. The more longer your kayak is, the faster it will go. Therefore, if you want to purchase a long kayak, look for those between 14 and 17 inches long. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you will buy any 17-inch kayak you see on the market because there are other factors that can affect your kayak speed.

Tip 2 – improve your paddling techniques

Another critical component to kayak faster is how you paddle. It is as critical as your physical ability. Paddling the right way will make you go faster and easier for a long time. Let’s look at some areas that can help increase your kayak speed.

The paddler’s box is a way that can help improve your paddling efficiency while ensuring you avoid any injury. It’s an imaginary rectangle that runs from your hands across your chest and down your arms to the shoulders. It doesn’t matter if you twist your torso when paddling; you need to retain the paddler’s box through your arms, upper body, and paddle shaft.

The catch and release technique

The forward stroking of your paddle comprises catch and release. It’s a complete continuous movement you make as the paddle pulls through the water on each side of your boat. The catch takes place when your paddle is immersed inside the water and as you pull through the water. On the other hand, the release phase occurs when your paddle blades reach the hip. The process is repeated from side to side.

Push as you pull

Another paddling technique that can help you kayak faster is the push as you pull technique. It involves using both previous techniques. Remember, when you pull the paddle through the water, your other arm pushes the paddle forward. This helps create a smooth paddling motion that increases your kayak speed more efficiently as you move on the water.

Tip 3 – Paddling in a straight position

If you did a little science, you would have heard that the fastest route to any point is a straight path. It’s applicable when paddling your kayak. Professionals’ kayakers have a way of paddling that reduces zigzag movement on the water.

It is important to keep your paddle in a vertical position as it will help reduce rocking your kayak back and forth. Furthermore, paddle close to the hull if possible, as it will help keep your kayak from moving in a zigzag direction.

Tip 4 – Purchase a paddle designed for speed

The simplest way to make your kayak faster is to invest in good equipment. Not all paddles you find on the market can help increase your speed. The right paddle is a critical part of increasing your speed when kayaking. If you have the budget to invest in a good paddle, it can help improve your speed.

Check out this guide I write on Choosing The Best Paddle For Kayaking.

Nowadays, a top-of-the-line paddle is the best, even though it is expensive. Notwithstanding, it can help you achieve the speed you desire. However, when buying other types, ensure to check the length, material, and blade design because these things affect your speed.

  • Material – When investing in the paddle, choose a lightweight material. The blade should be made from fiberglass or carbon fiber, especially if you want a lightweight paddle.
  • Wider paddle blade – The more wider a paddle blade is, the more powerful and quicker stroke it produces that helps accelerate faster on the water
  • Length – The light is another critical factor to consider. The length should depend on the width and height of your boat.

Tip 5 – Relax your grip when kayaking

Most amateur kayakers make this mistake by not relaxing their grip. If you hold the paddle tightly, it can affect your speed because you will get tired quickly. Therefore, a light grip will go a long way to improve your speed.

Holding your paddle tightly will weaken your triceps, biceps, and forearm muscles. Eventually, this weakness will compound and take a toll on your overall strength. A general rule to practice is to loosen your grip once you see the whites of your knuckles.

Tip 6 – Try practicing kayaking fast

If you want to increase your kayaking speed, the best way is to practice speed kayaking. Like a runner preparing and training for that ultimate race, you need to practice daily to build the muscle and strength to compete for the race.

When kayaking, building your core strength is essential because it is where the power comes to paddle your way through the water. Therefore, ensure you practice adequately if you want to go faster. Cardiovascular efficiency is essential because you will be kayaking for a more extended period.

Tip 7 – Don’t work against your kayak

Many newbies make this mistake when striving to achieve speed. Your boat comes with different inbuilt features that enable you to paddle well. Understanding these features and how to use them is critical. Some of the features you can utilize in your kayak include the following.

  • Sit correctly – You need to sit up straight without leaning against the backrest.
  • Keeping your knees bent – Keeping your legs inside and bent slightly will help you achieve balance when kayaking.
  • Pushing both feet against the footpegs – Rightly pushing your feet against the footpeg is good as it will give you something to brace and engage fully as you twist your torso in every stroke.

Bonus Tip – Apply Gel coats

When you want to kayak faster and more efficiently, our bonus tip for today is to apply gel coats to your kayak. Assuming the dents on your kayak can’t handle sandpaper, the best option is to apply a gel coat as it will smoothen the hull. In addition, it will minimize friction that your kayak conducts when paddling, thereby producing faster tracking. The main goal of the gel is to create a sparkly finishing that looks like a fiberglass surface.

Nevertheless, when applying gel coats, you need some equipment and techniques to achieve the best results. It’s important to allow the professionals to handle it if you don’t have the required skill. Remember, the gel coat might not be the perfect solution or material. However, if you have a fiberglass boat, it won’t be a problem if you do it properly.


This article has helped you answer the question – how can I make my kayak faster. Learning how to kayak faster is not a one-time event as it is a process. It involves several processes that can make you achieve better speed. With the right techniques, time, and practice, you can kayak faster and efficiently.

It’s satisfying to say that if you follow the tips mentioned in this write-up and adhere to them carefully, you will develop your skill and improve your speed. These tips don’t apply only to professional kayakers alone. If you are new to kayaking, you can take advantage of these tips to learn faster. We do like to hear from you about your experience on how to kayak faster and more efficiently.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

Recent Posts