The story of the Point 65N Kayaks "Whisky 16" is a long one....
Here's the back story...I'll try to keep this as short as possible...
I have long been a fan of Nigel Foster's designs....I was first introduced to the "Legend" built by Seaward Kayaks in British Columbia and the "Rumour" produced by Current Designs in Minnesota....
I was fortunate enough to own a custom-built Legend for a couple of years....this kayak was EVERYTHING it was promoted as being and MORE...but for me, I felt the Legend was more kayak than I really needed for my daily use...a little about me here...
I am a kayak instructor and guide, and I own and operate a kayak shop that includes retail sales, guided tours, kayak lessons and rentals....in essence an "all-in-one", "one-stop" kayak shop! Our typical lessons and tours are less than a day, close to shore, not particularly demanding and beginner-friendly.
I have ALWAYS been attracted to kayak designs that excite something deep in my soul.
Over the years, I have found a small handful of kayak models that truly attract me....
Some of those models, like the Current Designs "Andromeda" have since been discontinued, and I've been fortunate over the years to own some "rare" custom design boats like the Boreal Design "Baffin" C2 in solid carbon fibre!
But, always there seemed to be something missing....
What I really wanted was a kayak that was nimble, agile and played well....that wasn't too big (for years I bought into the idea that "bigger was better") but had good speed, decent tracking, and fit me like a glove....and it had to be light enough that my almost-50-year-old body could pick it and carry it around....all in all, a tall order!
The "Legend" is almost 18 feet, and most of my paddling was on rivers and I felt like the Legend was "more boat than I really needed"..... there was a time, early on in my paddling "career" that I thought I would do more expedition paddling.....alas, the multi-day trip was something that simply alluded me....short, day trips and rescue lessons were the extent of my days in a typical season!
Along comes the "Whisky 16" by Point 65N of Sweden and designed by (you guessed it) Nigel Foster!
Almost exactly 5 years ago, I had a brief encounter with the Whisky 16 at a paddling symposium that we hosted...Nigel Foster and his amazing wife Kristin Nelson were there, and I had an opportunity to chat with Nigel about his paddling adventures, his amazing skill in a kayak, and his design philosophy. It was clear to me then, and is still clear to me now, that Nigel and I share a common vision, a common goal, when it comes to paddling technique and that my wants and needs in a kayak design are a match with the kayaks that Nigel puts his name on!
Life and circumstances being what they are, five years have passed - FLASH FORWARD to the early Spring of 2017, and here I find myself in conversation with Point 65N once again, precipitated by the announcement that Nigel Foster's Whisky 16 is being released in a 3-layer polyethylene construction, in two versions - the Whisky 16 "Rocker" is nearly identical to the composite version I had test paddled 5 years ago (plenty of rocker, very maneuverable, keyhole cockpit) plus the addition of the Whisky 16 "Tourer" with less pronounced rocker and a roomier oval cockpit for more general touring touring.
Somehow, through conversation with Richard and Tomas Ohman, the brothers who own Point 65N of Sweden, I ended up deciding that it was my "mission" to bring the Point 65N line of kayaks to Canada....
I find myself as utterly smitten by the Whisky 16 today as I was 5 years ago....
I can't wait to share my passion for this kayak, and this brand, with all of you over the upcoming months and years!
I now find myself with a Nigel Foster designed kayak, a Nigel Foster designed paddle, and a Nigel Foster designed PFD....does that mean I can paddle "just like" Nigel Foster?? Well, that remains to be seen.
But...way back in the day, this all started with a Nigel Foster "Legend" built by Seaward Kayaks.
Needless to say, we are SUPER EXCITED to be bringing the Whisky 16 "Rocker" and "Tourer" in durable, affordable 3-layer polyethylene, as well as a very limited number of Whisky 16 in fiberglass, to market in Canada this Spring!
The purpose of this blog post is to suggest a "program of study" to help you match the lessons to your needs, and to help you get the most out of the various paddling lessons we offer here at Grand River Kayak.
With-in the kayaking category, you can choose between beginner-level recreational kayaking, or more intermediate-to-advanced sea (touring) kayaking skills.
With-in the stand-up paddling category, we offer basic beginner-level Intro to SUP Lessons if you are looking to learn to paddle, and a SUP Yoga program for those looking for a program to provide challenge, balance and midlfullness while at the same time escaping to the outdoors and connecting with the water that surrounds us!
Beyond these lessons, we are happy to make recommendations of other paddling schools where you might find whitewater or river kayaking or SUP lessons, or canoe lessons.
Your first decision is whether or not some form of formal certification is important to you.
If it is, we offer the first two levels of Paddle Canada "Sea Kayak" Skills certification; Paddle Canada Introduction to Sea Kayak Skills, and then Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 1. One of the biggest advantages of taking the Paddle Canada certification route is that you get a nationally recognized certification that can then be taken to ANY Paddle Canada designated school or instructor in the country. Paddle Canada ensures that their program is delivered in a competent and consistent fashion.
If not, then you have several "non-certification" lessons you can take with us.
Never fear, the lessons are designed and taught by certified instructors. We incorporate skills from the Paddle Canada curriculum, the nationally recognized PaddleSmart program, and our own experiences as instructors, guides and paddlers for nearly 20 years. Rest assured, you're in good hands!
Here's where we would recommend you start:
1) Intro to Kayak - everything really begins here! If you are new to the sport, just considering whether to pursue kayaking, or have been paddling on your own for a little bit but want some structured learning, Intro to Kayak is the place to start!! We offer Intro to Kayak in two formats - you can come out and take a single 2.5 hour lesson on a Saturday morning (almost EVERY Saturday all summer long) OR you can choose our Intro to Kayak 4-Week Lessons, which happen on weeknights for 4 consecutive weeks. I don't know about you, folks, but I learn best from repetition and feedback - the BIG advantage of the 4-week lesson is that we cover the same basic material as the Saturday morning Intro to Kayak, but we have SIX hours of total time, as opposed to 2.5 hours. More time in the kayak = more time paddling = more time learning & practicing!!
2) Intro to Rescue - In my PERSONAL opinion, THIS is the most IMPORTANT kayak lesson you can take for yourself and for those around you! Period.
In recent years, we've noticed a real reluctance from *new* paddlers to get in the water
and get WET!!! If you have a real aversion to being IN the water, kayaking is probably not the activity for you. In Intro to Rescue we teach the wet exit, the single most essential skill for EVERY kayaker out there. Understanding how to exit the kayak into the water in a calm, controlled fashion in the event of a capsize will save a life!
Understanding what's involved in getting out of the safely, and getting back in again, cannot be stressed enough.
In Intro to Rescue, you will learn not just the "wet exit" but several techniques to get you back in your kayak, both on your own and with the help of a partner.
We also cover basic towing skills and dealing with a sick or injured paddler.
This is the one and only lesson we recommend EVERYONE take, for their own sake.
Don't be THIS guy:
3) Once you have completed Intro to Kayak and Intro to Rescue, the world is your oyster...we have a selection of "Intermediate Skills" workshops like "Improve Your Forward Stroke", "Edging and Bracing", "Directional Control" and "Rolling Primer" as well as "Rough Water for Beginners" (one of MY PERSONAL FAVOURITES)
OR you might choose Private Instruction to focus on specific skills one-on-one with an instructor.
Either way, we are more than happy to help you get the most out of your paddling experience!
By the time you have completed the lessons we have to offer, you may be looking for more intermediate/advanced skills that include overnight camping, dealing with coastal conditions/tides, advanced rescue or recovery techniques....if we can't help you directly, we can help find you a qualified instructor who can!
If you have ANY questions about the lessons above, or any other paddling-related question you'd like to ask, feel free to contact us!
Ed & Tanya Sullivan
"Kayak Free Kayaking" is the latest outdoor adventure parody from Mark Odlum & John Dabrowski of the sketch comedy group "The Smart Department".
Shhhhh.....don't tell anyone...
It's our BIGGEST SALES EVENT EVER!
Canadian Thanksgiving was more than a month ago, and we've always thought of "Black Friday" as a U.S. retail "event" to coincide with their Thanksgiving Holiday, to drive early Christmas sales. Folks would line up for miles and miles around to get deep discounts, one day only.
Then along came "Cyber Monday" and just today we started hearing about "Small Business Saturday"....
Black "Friday" has now become an entire weekend.
Not to mention many online retailers now start offering their "Black Friday" discount prices several days before and after the actual U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.
The incentive to camp out at a store's front door over night to be the first one in line to get that big screen TV at 60% off just isn't there any more.... Why wait in the cold when you can shop from the comfort of your living room??
Why is OUR sale "Better Than Black Friday"?
We're helping our customers get the jump on great discounts RIGHT NOW - Sale starts November 15th and runs through November 27th.
PLUS, the SALE is STOREWIDE! YOU get to pick and chose whatever YOU WANT from our entire selection of products and services!
SAVE AN EXTRA 20% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, including all 2017 "PRE-ORDER" ITEMS - Buy NOW & SAVE, and take delivery in early 2017 (in PLENTY of time for paddling season!)
Use Discount Code BlackFriday2016 at check-out and SAVE 20% OFF everything on the website - in-stock products (some at already reduced sale prices), all remaining used & demo boats and boards, all "pre-order" products that will be arriving next season, as well as all paddling lessons and guided tours for the 2017 Season.
*In-Stock Items can be picked up in store, by appointment only, before November 20th, or after November 29th.
All orders that require shipping placed prior to November 17th will be shipped November 18th. Orders placed after November 17th will be shipped November 30th.
If you purchase any Pre-Order Item, you will be notified when your merchandise arrives.
You'll notice the question marks after "Trends"?
We've been in this business a long time. Long enough to know that no two paddling seasons is ever the same, and that consumer choices change constantly, and that regional trends are not always in sync with national or industry trends.
So, these are simply OUR observations of the shopping trends that we have seen here at Grand River Kayak over the last couple of seasons. In some cases, we are hearing from other retailers that they are experiencing similar results....but in other cases it's a completely different story.
Big winners here over the last couple of years have been Fishing Kayaks, Recreational Kayaks, and Day Touring (or Light Touring) kayaks in the 12 to 13 foot range.
Customers still seem to be choosing the lower cost of polyethylene kayaks over the lighter (but more expensive) thermoformed or composite options.
One of the most common concerns we hear from first-time buyers is that they don't want to spend "too much money" in case they "don't enjoy the sport".... While we can certainly understand the concern, there is such a thing as selling yourself short - not all kayaks are created equally, and a less-expensive kayak is going to have "less" of everything else (like COMFORT and PERFORMANCE).
The relative safety and stability of more basic kayaks also seems to be creating a false sense of security amongst consumers, and lack of knowledge when it comes to the basic safety gear (required by law) that goes with each kayak purchased. No matter how inexpensive, basic, stable, or "safe" you might think your new kayak is, and regardless of WHERE you paddle it, you are still required by law to have a lifejacket or pfd, a bailing device, a sound signaling device, 50 feet of buoyant heaving line, and a paddle..... as well as a white marker light when paddling in low light or low visibility conditions. Selling yourself short on the mandatory safety gear could cost you as much as $750.00 in fines....
We're not trying to be judgmental here, folks. If you want a basic recreational kayak to use the proper way in the appropriate conditions, and nothing more - then by all means go for it! But don't buy a recreational kayak and then expect to go out an paddle for a day on any of Great Lakes with it!
Likewise, sales of gear and clothing meant to extend the paddling season have declined greatly as more "fair weather" paddlers have taken over the market. Neoprene hand and footwear, drysuits, sprayskirts and the like have all seen a dramatic decrease (at least in our market) over the last few seasons. Hardly anyone we know continues to paddle through the late Fall, Winter and early Spring seasons. Of course, there are always exceptions. But the truth is, exceptions DON'T drive market trends..... that's WHY they're called exceptions.
The death of sea kayaking?
There's no denying that sea (touring, expedition, etc) kayaking at the local level has been on the decline, almost since we opened our business over a decade ago. Sales of sea kayaks have been on a slow, but steady, decline right from day one. We tried to fight this trend, but in the end the customer drives the "demand" side of the "supply and demand" scale. When there isn't enough demand for sea kayaks, retailers will naturally stop carrying them, and manufacturers will eventually stop producing them. Look at Necky Kayaks as an example - in the beginning they were almost exclusively a touring kayak manufacturer.....now, sales of the Rip series recreational kayaks and Manitou series day touring kayaks have dominated the sales (and therefore the manufacturing priorities) of their company. Hence the demise of the Chatham series of skeg-equipped sea kayaks.
They had a loyal, but too small, following that no longer justified to continued production of the series.
You don't have to look too hard to find further evidence of large-scale paddlesports brands putting moving their focus away from larger, more advanced touring kayak designs.
We've even heard from a couple of well-established brands that where they are trying to hold on to a line of touring kayaks, they are moving completely away from more expensive fibreglass and kevlar composites and are instead focussing their manufacturing on exclusively plastic boats.
Likewise, gear sales and lesson choices have slowly moved away from the more serious, touring-related and more towards the basics of recreational paddling. Getting out on the water an having fun is the number 1 goal, but safety and ergonomics should not be ignored.
The final big trend is the inability for people to leave their "tech" behind when they go paddling - so many new products on the market to help you keep your smartphones, cameras and other electronics protected and functional while you are the water.
Our favourite new electronic tech gadget has to be the DryCase "DryVibes" waterproof blutooth speaker - it sounds amazing, it's waterproof AND it floats!! Use the built-in suction cup to stick this amazing speaker to the deck of your kayak, connect it wirelessly to your smartphone or other device, and BAM! Music on the go for every paddler!
When you shop at Grand River Kayak, not only do you support a small family business, but you get the benefit of our experience and expertise to help you make the best choice for YOU! We are paddlers first and retailers second. We can confidently guide you through the maze of models and options to make sure you make the best purchase for your needs.
Let us help find the kayak, canoe or SUP board of your dreams!
Ed & Tanya Sullivan