Kayaking is a sport that has attained massive popularity in recent years as more and more people catch the paddling bug. The reason for this is simple; kayaking offers a huge range of activities and experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else, often in the same trip.
Paddling down a river can involve the exhilaration of navigating fast-flowing whitewater, the serenity of sitting back and enjoying the scenery on slower sections, and even a spot of relaxing fishing before you pull in to camp for the night. Multiple activities can be bundled all into one trip.
However, for beginners, getting started with kayaking can be a little confusing. There is a huge range of kayaks and accessories that cover a vast number of different kayaking activities, and it can be hard to understand where to start or what you need.
To make things simpler, and to get you out on the water quicker, we’ve put together the definitive guide to picking the best kayak for you. In this article you will find a guide to how kayaks are constructed, the history of kayaks, what to look for when buying one, a guide to different kayak types and what they can be used for.
What Is a Kayak?
A kayak is, traditionally, a narrow watercraft that is propelled by means of a double-bladed paddle. Originating from Greenland, the word kayak originates from the Greenlandic word qajaq, and commonly associated with the Inuit tribe from the Canadian Arctic, the kayak was originally made from seal skin stretched over a wooden frame and used for hunting and fishing.
Modern kayaks largely maintain the same shape as those original craft but the materials used, and the activities they are capable of, have diversified widely. These days kayaks are still used for hunting and fishing, but also running exhilarating whitewater runs, exploring stretches of coastline, racing down rivers, and even surfing.
Kayaking is filled with jargon, which can get a little confusing at times, so we’ve added this jargon buster to simplify some of the most common terms you’ll hear associated with kayaks.
Edging, also called carving, is the act of tilting a kayak so that one side of the kayak is out of the water. Carving a kayak into a turn creatures more water friction on one side of the kayak, causing it to turn faster.
Tracking is a measurement of how well a kayak stays in a straight line when paddled.
In kayaking, a chine refers to the sharp change in angle in the cross-section of the hull. The term “hard chine” indicates an angle with little rounding, where a “soft chine” would be more rounded but still involve the meeting of distinct planes.
A skeg is a fixed or retractable rudder, designed to allow the kayak to track straight, even when you’re not moving into the wind.
The waterline is the length of the kayak that is in the water. This dictates how fast the kayak is and how easy it is to turn. The higher the rocker (a measurement of how much a kayak rises at the bow and stern) of a kayak, the shorter the waterline.
Drops are exactly what they sound like, sudden changes in water elevation. These can be caused by rocks, a change in river gradient, or even a waterfall.
Holes are created by water running fast over a rock, creating an area of water that can drag a kayak. Holes represent a danger as they can pin a kayak in place and eventually swamp it, but they are also used by playboaters to perform tricks.
Boofing is a dynamic forward stroke that allows the kayaker to run a drop without being caught in the hole at the bottom of the drop. Ideally, the boat stays flat throughout the maneuver and lands flat. Landing flat keeps the bow above the water and helps keep the kayaks forward momentum.
What Are Kayaks Made Out Of?
While traditional kayaks were constructed from treated seal skin stretched over a lightweight wooden frame, modern kayaks are most often constructed from either durable polyurethane plastic or a composite material such as fibreglass, each with their own pros and cons.
Mostly commonly made of polyurethane or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, plastic-hulled kayaks tend to be heavier and more flexible, which can affect their performance. They are, however, more resistant to damage than composite hulls and are therefore favored for high-impact sports, such as whitewater kayaking.
Constructed on layered materials such as carbon fiber or fiberglass, composite hulls are stiffer and move more efficiently through the water. They are also less likely to warp or develop persistent dents. Because of the nature of their construction materials, composite hulls are vulnerable to cracking if struck sufficiently hard. Composite construction is often seen in high-end touring kayaks where efficient tracking and top speed are important, and there is a lower chance of impact with obstacles.
A Brief History of Kayaking
As mentioned earlier, the kayak was originally invented by the Inuit and Aleut tribes of Arctic North America over 5,000 years ago for use in hunting. The Greenlandic word qajaq actually translates to “hunter’s boat.” Early kayaks were made from whatever materials were available for construction, including whalebone, driftwood, seal skins, and animal hides. They were made waterproof by using a layers of rendered down whale fat.
Even these very early models of kayaks showed design differences that we would recognize today. Kayaks designed for fishing and hunting had a wider beam and higher rocker, similar to today’s fishing and recreational kayaks, while those used to travel long distances were slimmer with a longer waterline, like modern touring kayaks.
Evolution of Kayaks
The kayak found its way to Europe in the early to mid-1800s as a fabric covered frame boat, and kayaking as a sport began to grow in popularity in western Europe. Kayaks also maintained their practical use in icy waters, and expeditions to the North and South Poles carried them to navigate through ice floes and partially frozen rivers.
The first recorded use of using a kayak for whitewater running was in 1931, when a German named Adolf Anderle became the first person to kayak down the Salzachofen Gorge. The International Scale of River Difficulty was established not long after to classify how dangerous a river's rapids were, and is still in use today.
Recreational kayaking did not properly take off until the middle of the 19th century when it was popularized by Britain’s John MacGregor. In 1845, MacGregor commissioned the construction of a series of cedar and oak decked canoes called “the Rob Roy.” Using the Rob Roy, he explored rivers and lakes throughout Europe and recounted his adventures in a book called “A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe.”
The book was immensely popular in Europe and, and in 1873 led MacGregor and his Canoe Club to introduce kayaking as a competitive sport and organizing a regatta. In 1924, kayaking was introduced as a demonstration sport in Paris at the 8th Olympiad, and in 1936 the sport returned to the Berlin Olympics as a full medal sport. Whitewater slalom kayaking was later added as another Olympic sport for paddlers to compete on at the world stage.
Modern Design of Kayaks
Initially, the design of kayaks was restrained by the materials used in their construction. When the first fiberglass kayak was invented in the 1950s, it represented a sea of change in the way kayaks could be made. Fiberglass kayaks were sturdier and weighed less than traditional wooden or covered hull kayaks, and were extremely versatile. In 1984, the first plastic kayaks came onto the market, and in recent years kevlar has become a popular material for kayak hulls.
The use of lighter and hardier materials in kayak construction allowed for the huge diversification of hull designs we see in modern kayaks. Lightweight but impact resistant plastics led to a multiplicity of whitewater kayaking hulls designed for different environments. Without the invention of the plastic hull, it would not have been possible to construct the smaller, more agile ‘yaks such as the squirt boats and waveskis.
Similarly the use of stiffer fiberglass and kevlar hulls has allowed for the design and construction of longer and sleeker touring and sea kayaks. With a longer waterline and larger carrying space, these expedition kayaks allow paddlers to spend the entire day on the water, travel long distances, and carry enough gear to stay safe and comfortable.
Design Principles of Kayaks
The displacement of a kayak can refer to one of two things: its overall water displacement or, in the case of whitewater kayaks, the shape of its hull.
The Design Water Line (DWL) determines the total amount of weight the kayak was designed to carry. The combined weight of the boat, kayaker, and gear should not exceed the DWL.
In whitewater kayaks, a displacement hull has a rounded profile that dips beneath the water and “displaces” water. This compares to a planing hull which has a flat surface from edge to edge, allowing them to “plane” over the surface of the water.
The longer the length of the kayak’s hull, the faster it will travel through the water. It will also track, or follow a straight line, better than a shorter length. The trade off for this is reduced maneuverability and stability, particularly in kayaks with a narrow beam profile. Sea kayaks and touring kayaks often have longer hulls and narrower profiles to allow them to track straight, achieve higher speeds, and carve through smaller waves.
The rocker is a measurement of how much a kayak rises at the bow and stern. The higher the rocker is, the more maneuverable but slower the kayak is. The rocker is an important measurement for kayaks that need to stay agile in the water, such as whitewater kayaks and creekboats.
The beam profile of a kayak is measured by the overall width of a kayak's cross section. The wider the beam profile, the more stable the kayak is and the more displacement can be packed into a shorter hull. As a rule, recreational kayaks have a wider beam profile and are more stable, while touring and sea kayaks have a narrower beam profile and are therefore less stable.
A kayak’s stability is a measurement of how much the boat tips, or rocks back and forth, when displaced from level by paddler weight shifts. Stability is often split into two separate measurements, initial and secondary.
- The initial stability of a kayak is how stable or unstable the kayak first feels when you get into it.
- The secondary stability is how stable the kayak feels when it is rolled onto its edge, as you would do when turning sharply.
Hull Surface Profile
The hull surface profile of a kayak is normally an indication of where the widest part of the boat lies in comparison to the seating position of the paddler.
- Symmetrical: The widest part of the boat is halfway between bow and stern.
- Fish Form: The widest part is forward (in front) of the midpoint.
- Swede Form: The widest part is aft (behind) the midpoint.
The seating position of a kayak depends on its use, and can vary significantly between types of kayaks. Most modern kayaks have placed the paddler in a position called the "L" kayaking position. This requires that the paddler be seated with their legs stretched in front of them, in a right angle.
Steering a kayak requires the kayaker to be able to use their lower body, leaning and twisting at the waist to maneuver their boat. This means putting pressure on the sections of the boat which are in contact with the paddler’s body. To make sure this does not result in injury or discomfort, modern kayaks often have adjustable internal foot, knee, and thigh braces, or padding at potential contact points.
Activities Involving Kayaks
Touring, or expedition kayaking, involves taking extended journeys in a kayak, often around coastlines or down the length of a river. Kayak touring is a fantastic way to experience beautiful scenery that is usually hidden from view.
With the use of a specialised fishing kayak, combining fishing with kayaking is surprisingly easy. Using a kayak to fish has a number of advantages; you can reach places a standard boat can’t, you can combine it with other kayaking activities, and there is no noisy engine to drive away the fish.
Kayak touring goes hand in hand with camping. If you have a kayak with enough storage, you can extend your paddling adventure by taking camping equipment with you and simply setting up your tent wherever you pull onto shore.
Classified as an extreme sport, whitewater running involves kayaking down sections of rivers with fast running water, often littered with obstacles. It’s exhilarating and immense fun. Whitewater kayakers often use water features to perform tricks, known as playboating.
Kayak sailing involves attaching a rounded plastic sail to the bow of a kayak to take advantage of the wind and travel long distances without putting additional strain on the kayaker. You don’t need traditional sailing experience to be a kayak sailor, and the use of a sail is becoming increasingly popular among sea and expedition kayakers.
Kayak surfing is an evolution of whitewater kayaking that combines smaller and more agile whitewater boats with surfboards. Still using the doubled ended paddle and traditional kayak seating position, the surf kayak is more stable and maneuverable than a surfboard, allowing for a greater range of tricks and the ability to negative rougher surf.
Ecotourism has gone from strength to strength in recent years and the kayak has become one of the primary way to traverse waterways and take in the scenery without increasing your carbon footprint. The lack of noisy engine does not disturb wildlife and plastic kayaks can be made of recycled materials, making them significantly more ecologically friendly.
As it becomes easier to find lighting solutions for a kayak, the popularity of night kayaking has increased. In particular, there has been a significant increase in companies and clubs offering night kayaking river tours though major cities. These tours allows you to experience a side of the city that isn’t often seen without having to navigate the usual daytime river traffic.
What to Look for When Getting Your First Kayak
The first things to do when purchasing a kayak is to decide what kind of kayak you need. If you’ve joined a kayaking club and been out in a kayak before, then you will have some idea of which parts you enjoyed and can tailor you purchase accordingly.
If you don’t have that much experience and are just looking for a boat to get you started, then research your local kayaking hotspots. If you live on the coast, there probably isn't much point in getting a whitewater kayak. If you’re miles from the sea, then an ocean kayak is probably a waste of money. There are, however, a few things to consider that apply to most kayaks.
If you are just starting out as a paddler then a recreational kayak is probably your best choice as a beginner’s kayak. This is because recreational kayaks often have the best primary and secondary stability. Before branching out into more specialized forms of kayaking, it is best to become comfortable out on the water, and the stability of a recreational kayak is often more forgiving as you learn.
Comfort is paramount when choosing a kayak. A well-fitted kayak prevents cramping, has padding on all the contact points, and allows the kayaker to use their lower body to torsion and maneuver the kayak. When purchasing a kayak, make sure its the right length for you. If you have a particularly long frame, then an 8-foot kayak may feel cramped. Look for adjustable foot and thigh braces, not only will they make the kayak more comfortable but they will also improve your control over it.
All types of kayaking need some level of equipment. Some kayaking activities, such as fishing or camping, require a significant amount on gear to be brought with you. When you are considering a potential kayak, examine how much gear storage is available. Most kayaks will come with one waterproof storage hatch and bungee cord storage on deck. If your chosen kayaking activity requires a large amount of gear, look for kayaks with large open storage areas, known as tankwells, or portable accessory carriers (P.A.C.) which can be towed behind your boat.
Weight and Portability
Kayaking is often a solo activity and this can mean a kayaker can run into difficulties when needing to transport their kayak to and from the water. If you normally kayak solo, then consider the weight of the kayak when making a purchase. There are accessories that can assist with this; car racks are the easiest way to transport a kayak and a kayak trolley can really help to get a heavier kayak down to the water.
Top Kayak Brands to Consider
Types of Kayaks and How They Are Used
One of the most significant differences between types of kayaks is whether they are sit-on (with a sealed hull) or sit-in (where the paddler’s lower body is inside the hull of the kayak). Both kayaks have pros and cons, depending on what conditions you are paddling in.
When paddling in a sit-in kayak, your legs are enclosed within the cockpit. A spray skirt is attached, which stops water from coming in over the top. Keeping your legs dry and out of the wind will help you stay warmer, so sit-ins are typically used when you're out on colder waters.
The downside of a sit-in kayak is that if you do happen to capsize, exiting and re-entering your kayak is much more of a challenge than it is with a sit-on design. Learning how to exit and re-enter a sit-in kayak underwater requires a few lessons with an instructor. Additionally, with the space in the hull flooded, will need to bail out your kayak or paddle it to shore to drain it before you can continue.
While a sit-in kayak keeps your legs warm and dry, getting a sit-on kayak means you are going to get wet. Spray from the waves, riffles, and paddle splashes will have you spending most of your time a bit damp. With this in mind, sit-on kayaks are best used in warmer temperatures and over warmer water.
The benefit of a sit-on design is that it is straightforward to get on and off your kayak, like when you’re boarding or just feeling like going for a swim. It probably won't be the most graceful thing you've ever done, but you can re-enter a sit-on kayak from the water.
Designed to be stable and easy to steer, recreational kayaks usually feature a wide hull, are generally less than 12 feet long, have a small area to stash essentials, and include a large cockpit for easy access. They are best used on lakes, flatwater streams, or areas of saltwater that are protected from wind and waves.
Recreational kayaks are built wider at the beam (the width of the hull) for increased stability, lessening the chance of you capsizing. Shorter than touring kayaks, recreational kayaks are also more maneuverable. If you're just starting out with kayaking, then you might be more comfortable with a recreational kayak's increased stability.
A recreational kayak’s enhanced maneuverability comes at the cost of its ability to track (keep a straight line). This means they can be difficult and tiring to paddle for long periods of time. Additionally, because it’s designed for use in calmer waters, the recreational kayak will struggle with waves and rapids.
Crossover kayaks span the gap between one style of kayak and another, such as recreational and whitewater, allowing the ‘yakker to tackle a number of different environments without changing boats. You can’t combine kayaks that are utterly different, like a touring kayak and a waveski, so most crossover kayaks are based on a recreational kayak hull combined with features from more specific designs, like pole holders for fishing or a planing hull for running whitewater.
As a jack-of-all-trades, the crossover kayak will allow you to dip your toes into more rarefied forms of kayaking while still delivering solid, dependable performance in most conditions. They are also an ideal choice for journeys that might feature multiple environments, like a river that has both low-grade rapids coupled with long slow-moving sections.
By comparison to specialized kayaking hulls, a crossover kayak will lack the high-end performance and additional features that a purpose-built kayak has. If you are keen to involve yourself in a particular type of kayaking, such as whitewater or kayak surfing, it’s best to invest in a hull specifically designed for that activity.
Most inflatable kayaks are designed to be recreational. Before use, you can inflate them with a foot or electric pump. Their wide and sturdy hulls make them suited to calm water. Inflatable kayaks can be folded down to a convenient size, some models can even be worn as a backpack. Inflatable kayaks come in both sit-on and sit-in styles.
Most inflatable kayaks are made of hard-wearing, rubberized nylon that won't bend or dent on impact with rocks. This means they can handle weather and slightly rougher waters. They are stable and easy to maneuver, making them a great first craft for children or beginners. Some high-end models feature internal ribbing for extra stability and are designed as serious touring kayaks.
While they are rugged, any holes in an inflatable will render it useless if unable to patch, which is known to be difficult. Additionally, their high rocker and light weight mean they can be difficult to paddle in high winds or rough water.
Long and robust, the touring kayak is fast and efficient over long distances. Between 12 and 24 feet long, most designs come with one or more internal bulkheads that allow for a significant amount of internal storage. To compensate for wind or tidal movement, touring kayaks are often fitted with a rudder or skeg (a fixed rudder) to aid steering. These kayaks only come as a sit-in type.
The touring kayak’s sleek silhouette and narrow beam allow it to move quickly through the water and track in a straight line for an extended period. This reduces the physical strain on the paddler and makes the kayak ideal for lengthy journeys. Larger storage capacity lets more equipment be kept on-hand. Lastly, a spray skirt and internal bulkheads lessen the chance of the kayak getting flooded.
The same length and narrow beam width that allows a touring kayak to cut efficiently through the water makes it far more difficult to make tight turns. This makes them unsuitable for narrow watercourses or those that feature a number of bends or switchbacks. Learning to evacuate and re-enter a touring kayak requires taking lessons from a professional instructor, as you have to learn to disentangle yourself from the spray skirt when exiting underwater. A touring kayak’s long length can also make them difficult to transport to the water and store when not in use.
A variant of the touring kayak, the sea kayak has a higher rocker (the curve from bow to stern) that helps it crest into oncoming waves. It also has a narrow, V-shaped front profile. This design makes them able to deal with rougher waters, but at the expense of stability. Sea kayaks come only as a sit-in type.
The sea kayak is easier to control, tracks straighter, and is less likely to be swamped by waves than a standard touring kayak. This makes it specifically designed for journeys on coastal waters. Modern sea kayaks are designed to carry large amounts of equipment. For example, expeditions of two weeks or more, in environments ranging from the tropics to the Arctic, can be taken in sea kayaks.
As with the touring kayak, the sea kayak is designed to excel in one environment and loses many of its advantages when taken out of that environment. It's higher rocker makes it less maneuverable on flat water, while it's narrow profile makes it less stable than a standard touring kayak.
Whitewater kayaks range from 4 to 10 feet in length and are specifically designed to move quickly down fast-flowing rocky courses. They are typically made of hard-wearing rotomolded plastics. These kayaks are sit-in models only. Whitewater kayaks are split into two general types:
Playboats are the shortest type of whitewater kayaks. They have a scooped bow and blunt stern, making them highly maneuverable and robust. By utilizing the speed gained by traveling through rapids, these playboats are used to perform technical tricks in a sport known as rodeo boating.
Playboats are highly agile and their hulls are very resistant to damage. They excel at navigating steep, rocky waters that have fast-flowing water.
Because of their design, playboats are inherently unstable and their scooped bow makes them slow in open water.
Creekboats are longer and have more volume than a playboat. They are used to run narrow low-volume waterways.
Due their stability and buoyancy, creekboats are more multi-purpose. They can be used on larger rivers. In this scenario, their greater volume allows them to navigate the flatter stretches and their stability will enable them to negotiate rapids.
While they are multi-purpose, creekboats are not built for comfort or long journeys. They also do not have storage space.
As kayak fishing becomes increasingly popular, more kayaks are being made with features such as pole rests, a flatter hull for stability, pontoon stabilizers, and even pedal-powered water wheels that let you keep your hands on your fishing pole. This type of kayak comes as both a sit-in and sit-on style.
Designed to be shorter and lighter than traditional touring kayaks, fishing kayaks are easier to store on a car rack and maneuver in and out of the water. Most models also offer storage space where you can keep your catch.
Because of the need for portability and a stable platform to cast your line, fishing kayaks are slower and require more energy to paddle than touring kayaks. Designed for short journeys or day trips, they lack the storage and comfort you may want for longer excursions.
Designed to fit two or more people, tandem kayaks are a great way to share kayaking with another person. They are also ideal for taking younger or less experienced kayakers out on the water, so they can practice their skills. You can choose either a sit-in model or sit-on for tandem kayaks.
Tandem kayaks are ideal for beginners looking to get experience and for introducing children to the sport while under supervision. Tandem kayaks tend to have more storage space available which is helpful for longer trips.
Tandem kayaks are heavy, usually anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds. Even if there are two of you to help with the lifting, getting a tandem kayak into the water or stowing it on a car rack can be difficult.
Based on the skin-on-frame boats used by the Inuit and Greenlandic cultures, the technology behind folding kayaks has seen significant advances in recent years. New materials allow for full-length touring boats to be packed away into a small suitcase. They are light enough to be carried with relative ease. This makes them the perfect solution to storage and transportation issues associated with longer, non-foldable touring kayaks. These come as both sit-in and sit-on types.
Folding kayaks are unique in their ability to fold down into a portable package. They are lightweight and allow those without significant storage space to access kayaking.
The materials used to keep the kayak light are not as durable as a standard kayak hull. Folding kayaks are prone to cracking after extended use. Due to the need to fold flat, there are no internal bulkheads in a folding kayak, meaning less storage space and more opportunity for the kayak to flood.
Kayak diving was popularized in the 1990s in California and is a popular alternative to using a powered boat to reach diving hotspots. While there are no specifically manufactured diving kayaks, ‘yaks that are suitable for use in diving are characterized by their wide and stable beam and large storage areas. Choose from either the sit-in or sit-on type because diving kayaks come as both types.
Because there are not specifically designed diving kayaks, ‘yaks that work well as support boats for diving can be used in a range of other activities. Their wide beam and large storage areas make them ideal for use in camping or as a recreational kayak, extending their utility.
Because of the need to have enough room for large air tanks, and the stability to allow a diver to re-enter the kaya without flipping it, diving kayaks are often unsuited for activities such as kayak touring, which requires a narrow beam.
Surf kayaks combine the best parts of surfing and kayaking, allowing you to take on the heavy surf from the comfort of your kayak. Surf skis can be up to 21 feet long and 16 to 20 inches wide. They use their narrow front profile to cut or punch through large, broken waves. The wave ski, a variant of the surf ski, is used to take advantage of wave swell, similar to a surfboard. Wave skis feature a wide, flat hull that is often less than 10 feet long. Surf kayaks come as both sit-in and sit-on models.
Surf skis are a very specific design of kayak and are fantastic at what they do, allowing the paddler to combine the exhilaration of surfing and kayaking.
Because of the specialization which makes them so effective at what they were designed for, the shape of a surf ski, and specifically a waveski, makes them almost useless at any other kayaking activity.
While still uncommon, the use of a sail on a kayak has been around for over 150 years. Rather than a specifically designed sailing kayak, a kayak sail is an accessory which can be be attached to almost any kayak, enhancing it speed and reducing the strain on the paddler. It can be added to both sit-in or sit-on type of kayak.
A kayak sail can significantly add to a paddlers ability to cross large stretches of water in a short time. It reduces the physical strain on the kayaker and is ideal for those focusing on kayak touring.
Not all kayaks are best designed to accommodate a kayak sail. Kayaks with a wider beam and shorter length may find that the addition of a sail unbalances them, significantly reducing their tracking. As a rule, kayak sails work best on touring and sea kayaks.
SUP Kayak Hybrid
SUP, or stand-up-paddleboarding, is a paddlesport that has grown significantly in popularity in recent years. As this mirrors the growth in popularity of kayaking, it's no surprise that there was a call for the two sports to be combined. A SUP Kayak Hybrid retains all the features of a stand-up-paddleboard with the addition of a seat and double-ended kayak paddle. By adding kayak elements to an SUP, the hybrid allows the paddler to rest when taking longer journeys or sit down to paddle in rougher conditions.
The addition of a kayaking seat to an SUP allows the paddler to tackle longer distances or slightly rougher weather by taking some of the physical stress off them and adding in more control.
The SUP hybrid has a very narrow margin of utility and is often outclassed by standard kayaks or SUPs. It’s best to investigate exactly how the addition of a kayak seat will positive affect your SUP experience before buying one, as often it is a better choice just to invest in a kayak.
Getting Your Feet Wet
Kayaking is a fantastic sport with a myriad of possible opportunities wrapped up in it. Whether you’re out for a quiet paddle to enjoy the scenery, or you’re looking for the rush of navigating a stretch of fast running whitewater, kayaking has something for everyone. If you’re looking to get into this fantastic sport but are a little confused as to where to start, worry not, just stick to our guide and you’ll be paddling out in no time.