Such was the wording of the early 80’s car bumper sticker. The cars these stickers were displayed on belonged to active river slalom kayakers. Their 4 metre ICU kayaks were all constructed using composite materials – not the ‘hot’ new “indestructible” roto-moulded polyethylene.
Perception were the first US manufacturer to make inroads into the New Zealand market. Their kayaks sold at prices well above similar composite models – even though they were much heavier. Several New Zealand manufacturers seemed to believe that this was the path to the future. At Sisson Kayaks we simply questioned the guys with the bumper stickers! And kept on making composite boats.
The slalom paddlers had noticed something strange about these new kayaks – they were slow. Somewhere I obtained two images that were magnified to the power of 5000. The composite surface looked like the surface of a tar-sealed road. The plastic surface looked something similar to the boulder-section-in-the-Deception-River. Huge roughness – and DRAG. SLOW!
I regret that I cannot upload those images – because they were lost in the fire of 1996.
Sisson Kayaks just kept bringing out new and better designs – all constructed in composites. Thirty five years of composite kayak construction – and never one deviation. There were some who though us strange – old fashioned – left behind. We even suffered verbal abuse!
As you know – roto-moulded plastic kayaks no longer command the premium price. Composite kayaks – the well constructed ones command the high prices. This is because for multisport they are the only way to go – performance wise.
With regard to composite sea kayaks some very interesting observations can be made. Lets take a frozen point in time – 1990. If you look at the Sisson Kayaks range it consisted of : – Puysegur, Southern Light, Arctic Raider and Nordkapp. Sisson Kayaks still sells the last three models in this list. Unchanged. The properties of wind and water remain the same. Why change?
Now look at some of the rotomoulding companies that realised that they had made a mistake with regard to premium pricing (and profits). They belatedly introduced composite sea kayaks into their ranges. Their current models look very similar to what Sisson Kayaks was making in 1990 – and still making today. How about asking them to show you their initial 1990 composite sea kayak designs? Their 1990 sea kayak designs were MMMMMMMMM – ask them to show you – these were substandard compared to what we were selling in 1990. Suffice to say their current composite sea kayaks all look so similar to our models. There is the answer .
Even I have trouble telling some sea kayaks apart from our own when they are on a roofrack!
But I degress. However the above fact is an important reason why Sisson Kayaks totally dominated the two market segments that we targeted from 1984 thru to 1996 – multisport and upper-end sea kayaks – that all perform and endure.
In short – those 1980’s slalom paddlers had it so right – and for that reason – right through the late eighties our marketing included the following statement.
The Puysegur was a ‘beginners’ sea kayak with all of the upper-end fit out. It was not re-instated after the fire. Plastic boats had taken that market because they became so cheap cheap cheap.
Most 2010 composite sea kayaks from other sources now include three compartments, pod seat, three hatches and fully retractable rudder. All of these features first appeared on Sisson Kayaks sea kayaks – ahead of all others – globally. If only these guys would have an original idea – maybe I could copy it?
“Glass” is short for fibreglass – or composite – which now includes Kevlar and carbon.
Posted in: News