The Case for 12-foot Kayaks: Dagger’s New Vanguard Notches 9 of Top 10 Spots in Little White Salmon Race


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Top image by Logan Smith @kayakerdude
Starting a hot discussion on Facebook, Dagger’s new 12-foot Vanguard kayak notched a whopping nine out of the top 10 spots in March’s Little White Salmon Race. All this got a discussion going on Facebook, with athletes weighing in on whether this represent the future of extreme racing. Sure, they’re arguably faster. But they’re also more prone to pinning and are harder to transport. Below, PaddlingLife summarizes some of the Facebook banter going on around the boats…

Rush Sturgess

“I had a really fun @thelittlewhitesalmonrace this year! It was the year of the long boat with the new 12-foot @daggerkayaks “Vanguard” snagging 9 out of the top 10 spots. I raced my new 9 foot @wakakayaks “Gangsta” which I had a blast dialing in this past week. But I will likely transition to a long boat next year since it’s now been demonstrated as the only way of standing a fighting chance at this event (at least without a short boat category and with the water being on the low side).
“I admit that I’ve resisted the long boats for this race mainly because I feel they’re a lot more dangerous. Especially as an event organizer in years past, the idea made me weary of enabling it on a course where safety is thin and hazards are high. But most importantly, I felt that long boats weren’t consistently being paddled on the Little White by the overarching community. If folks were paddling them regularly and practicing in them routinely I would have felt differently… but it seems now the time has come!
In my opinion the Vanguard looks a lot safer and more fun to paddle than any of its long boat predecessors. Not to mention there being new and progressive designs like the Scorch X from @pyranha.kayaks at 10 feet long. But I think the question is, will these designs inspire other kayak companies to develop longer kayaks that implement modern rocker that are easier/safer to paddle? Will it also potentially pressure other races to change from a 9-foot length limit to an open class? Dagger started the trend with the Green Boat designed specifically to win @greenrivernarrowsrace over a decade ago and most kayak companies followed suit with their own iterations. Overall, I think this is really good for the progression of boat design and allows for more interesting options on the river. Ultimately racing is niche and I think the future is more likely to be shaped by what the general public has the most fun in. But it will be cool to see where it goes. Huge thanks to @darbymcadams @egthekilla @toddwellskayak and others for a great year! Best kayak race in the game!”

Clay Wright

“The issue isn’t whether they are faster, but whether anyone wants to transport them from race to race – or try to fly one. Nine-foot racing could be an international event, good paddlers from anywhere can showcase their training and talent. Twelve-foot racing is incredibly regional – seasonal – and erases any future of an international events or series. If Sickline did this, imagine the cost to US racers??”

Eric Deguil

“If we paddle the Green River Narrows all year, long boats are in just during the race season. It means a lot. For sure, it is less safe than 9-foot boats. It is a interesting question. In Europe we are very, very far from this…

Olli Grau

“The biggest problem with large boats is their weight. Nobody wants to carry them…”

Watch Todd Wells’ Vanguard Video Here


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