OK but surely reducing the length also increases the depth? Not necessarily the manoeuvrability because this requires rocker as I have no doubt that you are aware.
I'm one of the old brigade who used 'folders' like my old Klepper T65 and Slalom 55. One of my old mateys( well in his 90's) used a Prout- or so he said. Found Blondie Hasler's mob just a bit too - well- dangerous.
I trained with the British 1948 Olympic coach and we had a rather long K4- in case you don't have such things now- that seats 4. It came from Royal Canoe Club on the River Thames on the deck of an empty collier returning from the London fired power stations back to the Tyne.
your post is consequently very interesting.
Both the length and rocker, amongst other things, affect the maneuverability. Anyone who's paddled a 10' Big Box Store Plastic Special kayak will be keen to tell you that they don't track worth a damn. They have, however, very little rocker to speak of. Incidentally, nor do they have many other redeeming qualities.
In modifying the length, I did not do so linearly. The process is described well in the book but essentially you leave the cockpit mostly the same, while taking most of the length from the narrow bow and stern. This preserves a lot of the volume but does sacrifice efficiency a bit. Considering this is already a very narrow boat, I'm not worried about it. I don't expect given my own weight and the boat size that I'll be able to load it down with gear like my other expedition boat. But that wasn't the intention in the first place.
Looking at the big picture, I was trying for a balance. It is intended to sacrifice tracking and speed while gaining (in this case by losing) in the weight department. My estimates and comments in the book put this somewhere around 30 lbs. My current boat is almost double that. Hard to say how things will turn out... likely more like 40-45 lbs but we'll see. I have no experience laying fibreglass so that might be where it gains a few lbs extra.
Interesting to note that you were kayaking long before I was even born. It might have even been before my parents were conceived. ;) Were they still making them from animal skin in those days? ;) Perhaps more ecologically sound when you think about it. I'm privileged to have the opportunity to partake in the stories of your wisdom, experience, and undoubtedly some mistakes over those years.
I had never heard of a K4 but I'm somewhat familiar with the current K1's. I always have a good laugh watching the clips of the Olympics. If you haven't seen them, picture taking the narrowest kayak you can fit an adult male's hips into. Now get out the shoe horn and stuff a guy with the upper body of Arnold Schwarzenegger (thank you spell check) into said boat. Fire off a starter's pistol and it looks like the Road Runner on a Jet Ski. Not quite the kind of paddling I'm into but I like watching the slo-mo to improve my own technique.