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kayak(kī`ăk), Eskimo canoe, originally made of sealskin stretched over a framework of whalebone or driftwood. It is completely covered except for the opening in which the paddler sits. Since the paddler wears a waterproof skin shirt which is laced to the boat, he can turn all the way over without sinking. The kayak is propelled by a double-bladed paddle and is primarily a hunting canoe. Because of its maneuverability in ice-infested waters, it is still in use over a great extent of the Arctic. The modern versions of the kayak are also popular as a sporting boat. Kayak events have been a feature of the Olympic games since 1936. See also canoecanoe
, long, narrow watercraft with sharp ends originally used by most peoples. It is usually propelled by means of paddles, although sails and, more recently, outboard motors are also used.
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sport of propelling a canoe through water. John MacGregor, an English barrister and founder of the Royal Canoe Club (est. 1865), is generally credited with being the initiator of modern sport canoeing.
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a light narrow boat without oarlocks, for water sports and touring. Paddling is done with a double-bladed paddle, and steering is done with a rudder controlled by the feet. The frames of sport and touring kayaks are constructed in one piece or in collapsible sections made of wood, metal, or plastic and are covered with waterproof material. The collapsible touring type kayak usually has two cockpits and weighs 27–50 kg with a carrying capacity of 180–350 kg. The boat’s small width and draft allow it to be used for trips on narrow and shallow waterways. Sport kayaks for racing on calm water are constructed of thin plywood. The crews sit almost on the bottom of the kayak (to lower the center of gravity), facing the direction of movement. The top of the kayak is covered by a deck in which there are cockpits (hatches) for one, two, or four crewmen. The length, width, and weight of the kayaks are 5.2 m, 51 cm, and 12 kg respectively for one paddler; 6.5 m, 55 cm, and 18 kg for two; and 11 m, 60 cm, and 30 kg for four.
The first kayak races in Russia were held in 1871. In 1952 Soviet crews entered the International Canoe Federation (ICF) for kayak and canoe paddling. In the 15th Olympic Games (1952, Helsinki) Soviet kayak crews took tenth place; second place in the 16th Olympic Games (1956, Melbourne); and first place in the 17th OlympicGames (1960, Rome), and they have been invariably reckoned among the prizewinners since then. The best kayak paddler in the world is the Swede G. Fredricsson, who won the Olympic championship four times (1948–60). Slalom kayaks, in which the paddlers proceed along a course, avoiding artificial buoys and natural obstacles on rough mountain rivers, have within the cockpit a panel with a cutout which holds the paddler’s hips tight, thus enabling him to steer the kayak with torso movements. Racing in sailing kayaks, which have greater stability and are rigged with sails, thus permitting a greater increase in speed, represents another variety of the sport in England, the USA, and other countries. The International Canoe Federation for kayaks and canoes also has a commission for sailing kayaks. A catamaran, which is propelled by paddles, a motor, or sails, can be made by joining two kayaks.
REFERENCESShedling, F. Kak sdelat’ baidarku. Leningrad, 1956.
Iakubovskii, M. Liubitel’skaia postroika portativnykh sudov. Leningrad, 1967.
a small work boat that was widely used for hunting and fishing among many peoples of the arctic; it is still used by some Canadian and Greenland Eskimo. The latticelike framework is made of wood or bone and is covered with the skins of sea animals. An opening is left in the top part, which is fastened around the waist of the paddler by means of a thong. It is propelled by two small oars (paddles) or a single double-bladed paddle. The kayak is almost unsinkable and is well suited for travel on the sea.