Sea and Touring Kayak Racing is the most approachable type of kayak racing, these races allow athletes to use their everyday sea or touring kayak to race. Categories are often created by separating boats by length. These races often range from 3 to 12 miles and provide competitors an excellent opportunity to test their fitness without spending money on a designated racing kayak.
Most race organizers will set maximum lengths and minimum widths in an effort keep to their events as fair as possible. Their goal is to make the race a test between individual paddlers, not a test of the fastest boat. However, it is the kayak designer's task to try to develop the fastest boat permitted within the rules.
A Sea kayak or touring kayak is a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Touring/Sea kayaks are often quite narrow and fairly long. This helps them move efficiently through the water, even when the wind blows and the waves get large. This also makes them well suited for any body of water where the conditions may get rough or if you just want to be able to go a long distance with a minimum of effort. Sea kayaks are used around the world for marine journeys from a few hours to many weeks, as they can accommodate one to two paddlers together with room for camping gear, food, water, and other supplies.
Most production sea kayaks are between 12 feet (3.7 m) and 24 feet (7.3 m) in length, the larger kayaks often built for two paddlers. The width (beam) of typical kayaks varies from 18 inches (460 mm) to 32 inches (810 mm), though specialized boats such as surf skis may be narrower. The length of a kayak affects not only its cargo capacity (for both gear and paddlers) but may also affect its "tracking" ability (the ease with which the boat travels in a straight line). While other design features also impact tracking, very long kayaks are easier to paddle straight (and harder to turn). The width of a kayak affects the cargo capacity, the maximum size of the cockpit (and thus the size of the paddler in that cockpit), and (to a degree that depends on the design of the hull) the stability. The amount of rocker (the curve from bow to stern) can greatly affect the ability of a boat to turn.