Anthropometric measurement is a system that relates key kayak
measurements to modules of the human body. A boat may be two arm spans, plus a fist long.
The beam may be from your elbow to a fingertip. The distance between stringers
may be four fingers.
These measurements are proportional,
rather than absolute, so they will vary from person to
person. Measurement by these rules produces a dimensionally acceptable kayak
of it's type. Because the measurements are keyed to your body, the boat is also proportioned
specifically for for you.
This is an ingenious way to transmit and preserve information: the
description of the measurement, becomes the measurement itself .Pprogram and
Data are indestinguishable. In one stroke you do away with the need for tape
measures, and plans as well !
The flip side of the coin is that absolute measurement in inches or mm. for any
two boats will rarely be the same, and then only by chance.
This is a powerful, flexible system, which has some important lessons to teach
skin boat builders. Here are a few considerations when thinking about anthropometric
- There is no single anthropometric system for all kayaks.
Each type has its own rules. Zimmerly estimates there were some
40 distinct kayak types across the arctic at the time of initial contact.
- These rules were empirically derived over a long period of
time to meet specific conditions, which may or may not exist
- The system may not be suited for a wider group of users who
exhibit radically differing physiques.
- It is helpful to use a measurement system you are familiar with. You may
have a clear idea of what the consequences
of a 24 inch beam are, and very little concept of what
an elbow span, plus a fist means in terms of a boat's
performance. Which is not to say you can't learn thru
- The important thing about the anthropometric approach is proportionality.
Keep that idea in mind and you can measure in any units you want.