Whitewater kayaking is a popular sport in which people navigate rivers and creeks of varying difficulty. Whitewater kayaks are generally shorter and more nimble than sea kayaks, which are designed for added stability on the ocean. Further, there are different whitewater boats for different disciplines, such as traditional boating, play/rodeo boating, steep creek boating, and hybrid boats.
Traditional whitewater boats are generally between 8.5- and 10-feet long and have a rounded hull and rounded sides. They are designed to track well in a straight line and work well in most general whitewater situations. These boats are fairly stable once moving.
Hybrid boats are something of a cross between traditional boats and true rodeo boats. They are shorter than traditional boats, generally between 8 and 9 feet in length. They also have a small amount of upturn at the bow and stern, but top somewhat flat at the bow and stern.
These boats are also narrower at the bow and stern, so that they cut through the water efficiently. Hybrid boats are aimed at boaters who mainly want to pursue river running, but also want to do the occasional play move.
Rodeo boats are shorter, generally 7 to 8 feet in length, though some are even shorter. They also have low volume at the bow and stern. The top of the boat is flat, and the sides are more angular than rounded.
The cockpit area has more volume than a traditional boat, and the bottom is flat. These boats are designed for trick moves in holes and falls, allowing the boater to get the kayak to pop up on its end. The bow and stern are also turned up, so that the boat can do spins.
Creek boats are designed for extreme whitewater. These boats have more volume, so that they float better in severe whitewater, and the rounded shape at the bow and stern helps keep the boat from getting stuck in holes and against rocks.
Creek boats are generally about the same length as hybrid boats, around 8 or 9 feet. Creek boats also have rocker from front to back, so that they can flip more easily if the boater needs to do an Eskimo roll.