Brave New Boats
Industry Leaders Introduce a New Wave of Kayaks
Check your Chinese Calendar because 2008 must be the “Year of the New Boat.” It seems as if every major kayak manufacturer is coming out with new whitewater specific designs, making us wonder if the tides have shifted in the kayak industry. For the last several years, boat companies have been pouring their money and energy into recreation boat designs, often forsaking their whitewater lineage. Does the flood of new whitewater designs mean big manufacturers are finally getting back to their roots as whitewater boat companies? Not exactly.
“There are some great new whitewater designs this year, but the money is still in recreation boats,” says Sara Bell, owner of Green River Adventures in Saluda, N.C. “All of these companies are passionate about whitewater, but when you go to the bank and ask for money, they want to see boats that move. And flatwater boats move.”
According to Bell, when you’re talking about whitewater boat designs, less is more.
“Years ago, a lot of companies flooded the market with too many whitewater boats. The quality suffered and there were simply too many boats to choose from. Eventually, the used boat market killed the retail side of things. So the companies began reigning it in a bit.”
What this means for you, the kayak consumer, is that boat companies have become more careful about the designs they bring to the market. Proven boats that kayakers love stay in production longer and new boats go through rigorous testing and market planning before they hit the stores. BRO sifted through the new 2008 boat designs and found three new kayaks that are worth your attention.
PYRANHA EVEREST: EXPEDITION BOAT
Pyranha has done well with the Burn, which is undoubtedly the most popular creek boat on the market. Hang out at an eddy on the Green, and you’ll see a river full of Burns. Building on the Burn’s reputation, Pyranha is introducing the Everest, the company’s first ever “expedition” kayak. What’s an expedition kayak? Picture the Burn on steroids. The Everest is a creek boat based on the Burn’s design, only slightly bigger with a longer waterline and added volume in key areas, so paddlers can stow gear for multi-day trips. But the Everest isn’t a tug-boat. The same predictable handling creekers love about the Burn can be found in the Everest, even when it’s fully loaded with gear. Bigger boaters are even looking to the Everest as their day to day creek boat, given its larger size. $1,159.