The one overwhelming thing that has struck me about this decade is that I started it aged 33, and now, well…
Annnyyyyhow, let’s take a look at some of the things that have happened in the kayaking world and what I think some of the best and worst developments were.
Let’s start with dry gear. Back in 2010 Palm Equipment was all the rage with its range of cags that came complete with shoulder patches like a geography teacher’s jumper.
Pretty much every club member in the land wore one of these. Then in 2011 Palm decided to make something altogether better looking with the Atom and Surge. Amazingly these came in nice yellow, blue and red colour ways.
But then midway through the 2010’s something went wrong, and somebody in the design department discovered the colour wheel in Photoshop. Unfortunately it seemed that word got around about this tool, and other designers cottoned onto it as well, resulting in the cag below.
Sorry, wrong picture. I meant to say, which resulted in the cag below.
Hopefully, with any luck, as the designers of dry gear get bored of circling their fingers around the colour wheel before randomly dropping it on a colour, the 2020’s will start producing something a bit more appetising. And I don’t mean ‘Blood Stool Red’, as one previous year produced.
Unlike dry gear colour ways, the decade was a good one for boat design, even if the industry as a whole is a bit less than buoyant. But the boat that really kicked off a bit of a design revolution was the Bliss Stick Tuna.
Creek boats until then were seen as SUVs for the river, until Sam Sutton came along and trounced everyone at the Sickline after he’d spent the previous year getting his 2 Star award and FSRT at Symonds Yat (he wasn’t allowed on the rapids because they were too dangerous).
Sam showed the world that it is entirely your boat that does all the work for you with no skill required from the ‘kayaker’. Soon everyone wanted a boat like Sam’s, and all other companies tried to copy the Tuna magic. Pyranha for instance got muddled up when they misjudged the size of a rock relative to the boat in a photograph of a Tuna when they were trying to copy its design. The result was the Nano, and the company took great offence when people asked why it was so short. This resulted in the Great Argument of 2012 on UKRGB. Morsey told everyone to chill their beans, while Mark simply had a rant at peoples spelling, again.
Pyranha was desperate to fix the measurement misjudgement it had made with the Nano. It came up with the Shiva. The problem was that it had mistaken centimetres for metres. This caused a few issues since the maiden paddle had to take place on the outskirts of Venice. Stu from VE was the only person capable of making a paddle long enough to reach out of its cockpit.
Meanwhile, Sam Sutton had bought the mould for the Tuna. He decided to start Waka Kayaks, named after the sound that the guitar makes in the Shaft theme tune. Sam decided that making kayaks out of plastic wasn’t enough. He needed to make lightweight kayaks that could win races, just as soon as he passed his 3 star. Not many people realise, but when Sutton was racing in the Sickline, he didn’t know how to ferry glide or break into the flow, which was why he needed that big launch ramp at the top of the course.
His solution was to make the hull of the new boats, imaginatively called “Tuna 2”, out of cheese. He had seen this material suggested many times on Boatertalk, but nobody had seen fit to actually make one using it. This is why most Tunas are yellow and have little holes in them.
In the US Liquid Logic had decided to design some revolutionary new boats, and eventually enlisted the help of Pat Keller to come up with a design that could beat everything. The company decided to make these new boats as exclusive as possible by making it so nobody could get hold of one in any shop. This was a new tactic to help improve sales. The main marketing strategy was to send Pat Keller to every single river in the world, even the Barle in Devon, whereby he would wait until some kayakers turned up. When they did his strategy was to paddle around saying to himself, and to anyone who could hear, how amazingly good the boat he was sat in is, and how the turbo boosters on his behind gave him extra speed out of drops.
When asked where they could demo the boats, Pat told them that you don’t find Liquid Logic boats, they find you, before paddling into the sunset, using his turbo boosters.
We finish the decade with the slicey boats. Liquid Logic had started the craze with the Braaap, which loads of people had seen in a video but not on a real river. Apparently it hadn’t found enough people who weren’t looking for it. So Pyranha stepped up to the plate once more. With newly calibrated rulers they went about creating a slicey boat to end them all. But things didn’t all go to plan. The company decided to take a new tactic to help split up the design of the boat.
The front of the boat would be given to a British contingent, while the rear would be given to some Americans. It told each of them how many gallons it wanted respectively in the front and back…
And so ends the 2010’s.