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On Panthera

Hey Björn, Maiden Voyage successful!
In a few words: amazing!!! light, fast, stable! due to the high bow, it has some weathercocking tendency, but as you start moving, the rudder kicks in and keeps it going like a train on its rails.
Super happy!
Best regards,
Chris Buttel

I took the Panthera out today for a couple of hours, the sea was very confused with wind against the tide, this is normally my nightmare scenario. Stressed and a lot of work.
The Panthera just floated over this stuff like it wasn’t there, after a couple of hours I wasn’t tired at all.
This really has changed my perception about sea kayaks, they can be slightly wider and comfortable and still be fast.
Wonderful design!
Colin Caskie


Images | Particulars | More about | Background and history

Plans, Panthera - 130 EUR Purchase


Panthera is a new surfski sea-kayak hybrid – simply put a surfski with a kayak deck. But that would be an over-simplification. Even if the hull is a Spindrift there is also a noticeable influence from Njord. I expect the performance to be a tad less extreme than that of a thoroughbred surfski, but yet manageable should the paddler develop an acute desire to surf diagonally in high speed on large waves. I also expect competent paddlers to be able to keep Panthera at speeds well above hull speed á la surfskis off following seas.

Basically, Panthera is so close to a genuine surfski that a rudder is needed to meet the potential (more about the difference here). An under-the-hull rudder with a surfski type of pedal set is, of course, the best, but for fast touring, a rudder on the stern will do fine – preferably with one of the larger blades. With a full touring load, the kayak settles down to more directional stability for relaxed long-distance paddling.

John Abercrombie, who built the first Panthera (see below) published this review after a short trial when mid-winter Canada offered a few days with open water.

I thought I'd share my first paddling impressions of my new boat (Bjorn Thomasson Panthera) from a very short outing this afternoon.
I like it! ;-)
Hopping in the boat, the initial feel is a lot like Frej - it feels compact and 'ready to go' but not at all 'twitchy' or unstable.
Secondary stability is excellent- I can set it up on edge very easily, and it stays there. It rolls easily - and I'm not an accomplished roller, at all. The low back deck (like Frej) makes sweep rolls easy.
It feels quick - with the footboard, it's easy to put my knees and feet in the middle of the boat and get good rotation and drive. I'll need to put the GPS on it for a longer outing to get some data on the speed.
With the rudder down, it goes where it's told with no fuss.
Rudder up - it's quite agile even when not edged (flat). Responds well to sweep strokes which skid the stern around easily, and bow rudder strokes work well. When set on edge, the steering strokes work even better (as you'd expect). Hanging draw stroke works well.
I'll let you know how it does in a breeze and waves, and also with some more weight in the boat, as the season progresses.

John Abercrombie

Arto Nikula has published a photoblog with a lot of instructive Panthera construction photos.

Peter Träisk build an interesting integral rudder on his Panthera (text in Swedish).

Panthera L

I got a request from a tall and heavy paddler about a roomier Panthera, so I added a little deck height (2.5 cm) and beam (1 cm) on the same LOA and named the result Panthera L. It loads 15 kg more on the design waterline and has 20 liters more internal volume. Are you a big guy (>190 cm/95 kg), don't believe in traveling light or have other good reasons you may want to add Panthera "L" in the comment field when ordering.

Panthera and Panthera L
Compare the outer dimensions of Panthera and Panthera L

Panthera stitch-and-glue

If you are not sure of your competence as a boat builder, there is an easier way to almost the same kayak. Together with Petruskajak in Tranås, Sweden I have developed a plywood version of Panthera, that can be built at Petrus's well-known 8-day classes, and can also be purchased as kits for home completion.

The stitch-and-glue concept means that precision cut CNC panels are "sewn" together, the joints are stabilized with glass fiber/epoxy, and the outside is laminated in glass fiber/epoxy. The result is a light, stiff, and strong kayak in roughly half the time of a striper, or a quarter of the time if you have ambitions including decorative stripping with different wood species ;-)

An S&G kayak design requires single-curve surfaces with hard chines. The disadvantage is a slight increase in turbulence and friction and a slight loss of internal volume. The difference is almost imperceptible in actual use and has to be weighed up against the quick and easy construction, and, in most cases, a low weight that few amateur builders otherwise can match. The plywood prototype tipped the scale at 16,5 kg including Kajaksprt hatches and a Smarttrack rudder system

S&G Panthera S&G Panthera


John Abercrombie – PantheraJohn Abercrombie – PantheraPantheraPanthera – Arto NikulaFrej and Panthera – Arto NikulaPanthera – Arto NikulaPanthera – Arto NikulaPanthera – Arto NikulaPanthera – Arto NikulaPanthera – Dan CaouettePanthera – Dan CaouettePanthera – Juho PaasoPanthera – Juho PaasoPanthera – Juho PaasoPanthera – Jan LindblomPanthera – Fredrik Pantze Panthera – Fredrik Pantze Panthera – Fredrik Pantze Panthera – Fredrik Pantze Panthera – Fredrik Pantze Panthera – Jacob Norris, Malmö Kanotklubbs 24-timmars kayak-challenge 2019Panthera – Jacob Norris, Malmö Kanotklubbs 24-timmars kayak-challenge 2019Panthera – Christian ButtelPanthera – Christian ButtelPanthera – Christian ButtelPanthera – Jan NorlinPanthera –– Jan NorlinPanthera –– Jan NorlinPanthera – Bas TinhoutPanthera – Bas TinhoutPanthera – Bas TinhoutPanthera – John AbercrombiePanthera – John AbercrombiePanthera – John AbercrombiePanthera – John AbercrombiePanthera – John AbercrombiePanthera – Chris ButtelPanthera – Lars JörbladPanthera – Lars JörbladPanthera – Lars JörbladNanoq – Jorma KirettiPanthera – Roger Schultz, med byggsats från PetruskajakPanthera – Roger Schultz, med byggsats från Petruskajak


Panthera, lines

Length¹ 560/552 cm (overall/WL)
Beam 52/49 cm (overall/WL)
Draft 10 cm
Cockpit¹ 78x39 cm
Height¹ 28.5/18 cm (in front of/behind the cockpit)
Weight² 16-19 kg
Displacement/volume⁶ 120 kg/375 litre
Prismatic coefficient 0.563
Wetted surface 2.07 m²
Stability⁵ 3/4 (initial/secondary stability)
Intended use Fast touring, surfing, sea kayak racing
Length¹ 560/552 cm (overall/WL)
Beam 53/50 cm (overall/WL)
Draft 11 cm
Cockpit¹ 80x40 cm
Height¹ 31/20 cm (in front of/behind the cockpit)
Weight² 17-20 kg
Displacement/volume⁶ 135 kg/395 litre
Prismatic coefficient 0.563
Wetted surface 2.12 m²
Stability⁵ 3/4 (initial/secondary stability)
Intended use Fast touring, surfing, sea kayak racing

* These dimensions can be adapted to suit personal needs or wishes.
** Depending on type of wood, equipment, care with epoxy usage, sanding etc. etc.
*** The speed numbers are based on mathematical standard formulas (175 lb paddler + 30 lb carco weight) and corrected from the kayaks actual performance om trials, on tours and in races.
⁴ Calculated resistance in 4 and 5 knots (at nominal load capacity).
⁵ Initial stability and secondary stability on a subjective scale, where 1 is very tippy and 5 is very stable.
⁶ Displacement is kayak + paddler + load. Count off the kayak weight to get the load capacity.


The plan sheets contain the information needed to build the kayak/canoe. Station molds, stems and construction details are full scale. For kayaks the recommended cockpit size is shown half scale with offsets for a full scale drawing and advice on altering the size. On the plans you will also find advice on how to shorten or lengthen the craft. Lines and construction drawings are in metric scale 1:10.

Panthera plans

The illustrated step-by-step building manual is in Swedish only, but it is available online in English: it covers all steps in detail and will guide first-time builders through the project.

Plans, Panthera - 130 EUR Purchase

Minimum window dimensions to get your kayak out from the workshop:

Background and history

On the far side of the Atlantic, there has been for some time a certain interest in surfskis with kayak deck. Dan Caouette got an order for a Spray with deck and built this beauty.

Dan Caouettes Spray med kajaksittbrunn

John Abercrombie and I have exchanged ideas and details for a similar project via mail for a while. It got me looking in my inspiration folder where I hide those more or less whimsical ideas that occasionally might end up in a project: this time a surfski-kayak with lines inspired from the beautiful and exciting Jaguar CX75, an electric hybrid concept supercar, built to celebrate the Jaguar 75th anniversary.

While being a very exciting car – electric motors on all four wheels (4WD without differential and complicated power distribution circuitry) at 778 HP total power, two micro gas turbines from Bladon Jets charging the batteries to achieve 900 km range, and that can use almost any fuel (diesel, biofuel, natural compressed gas, ordinary petrol) emitting 28gr CO2/km over the entire distance – it is also one of the most well-designed cars I have seen for a long time. While many supercars seem to be the accumulation of individually attractive lines and areas that don't quite add up, sometimes backed up by wow-gadgets, the Jag feels like a successful unified design job, looking good from every viewing angle, exuding power, function and elegance. Unfortunately, the global economic crisis erased much of the market for ridiculously expensive supercars, and the project was discontinued in 2012.

There were a lot of photos and drawings in my idea folder, and I started playing with some of them on the digital drawing board.


The starting points what was to become Panthera in 2015 were: surfski-like performance (superb maneuverability, tamed with an efficient rudder), stability on par with Frej (John referred to a Frej he built some time ago), interior volume as Njord, deck height to accommodate the pedal system of choice, a dip in the sheer line to allow for deep cutouts to improve the stroke geometry – and of course: as much beauty and interest as I can design into the lines ;-)

Panthera and Jaguar

Visually the Jag has been inspiration, but a kayak is a much simpler shape than a car, lacking most of the details that spice up a well-designed car: windows, lights, wheelhouses, air intake, exhaust etc, so in the end, it was not much more than a sweeping sheer line that I could transfer to the kayak. More can be achieved by painting schemes and decals – but for me and for now, it is an interesting appearance on an efficient hull I focussed on. Superficial styling will be left to the builders. For now...

The result is a yet unnamed kayak and plans shipped across the Atlantic to John, who finished the prototype – a real beauty in a black hull and copper-colored deck (inspired from Dan Caouette's 5-part Black Pearl). The project has been discussed and commented on the Kayak Building Forum.


John Abercrombies 'noname' under en kort paus i ösregn och storm som just nu dominerar BC

The name Panthera is the Latin name for Jaguar: Panthera Onca.

A Panthera under construction in Luxembourg:

Panthera under construction in Luxembourg

If someone wants to go berserk with the painting scheme, here is an old idea that was abandoned some years ago when Point 6.5 beat me to the name Orca for a surfski. A sea predator would, of course, be a more appropriate inspiration for a kayak than a land predator – but don't blame me if a real Orca takes a fancy to the little pretty kayak-orca…

A marine version of the jag ;-)

Dan Caouette built an Orca-styled baidarka recently. Very nice!

Panthera Special

Two special Pantheras were designed for long-distance competitions and extreme paddling, both dimensionally adjusted for their owners and built by Petruskajak in Tranås:

For the 2018 season a Panthera for Fylkir Saevarson, with Icelandic flag decor...

Panthera – Fylkir Saevarson

...and for 2019 a Panthera for Jacob Norris, in English racing green (the photo is from M24KC, Malmö Kanotklubb's 24-hour kayak challenge)

Panthera – Jacob Norris, Malmö Kanotklubbs 24-timmars kayak-challenge 2019
"Den nye Panthera er blevet min bedste kompis, det er muligvis Danmarks hurtigste havkajak. (The new Panthera has become my best friend, possibly Denmark's fastest sea kayak)"

A record-breaking Panthera!

After a couple of years, Saevarsons Panthera got a new color scheme and was used by Erik B. Jørgensen in an attempt on the "Around Denmark by Kayak". He managed to set a spectacular new record:14 days! The old record was 18 days.

Here is the design sketch for Erik's Panthera. The idea was a gunmetal base color (Erik has a military background) and the Danish flag.

Panthera – Struer

...and here is a photo from the actual paddling (Photo: Claus Lillevang).

Struer Panthera - Erik B. Jørgensen

For more info: see comment 67 below (Thanks Jenny!)

And here is Erik's own story.


Great to see the Panthera on the website. Is the price really 950 EUR?!

Oh no, of course not. I am still working on translations, adding numbers and the never-ending task of proofreading ;-)

Ah! New price makes much more sense. Feel free to delete my comments.

No need for that. I believe in keeping all comments (but spam) as part of the work process, and I don't mind sharing even my silly mistakes ;-)

Besides, I am grateful for the help...

(I should perhaps add that I have deleted a couple of comments over the years at the request of the commenteer.)

Always loved that orca... :)

Thanks Dan. I was sorry we couldn't orca-paint one of the first surfskis for the trade shows – somewhat impractical but it would have been fun.

Hi Bjorn,

You need to correct the price on the Nanoq plans too.


Thanks Etienne, another translation error ;-)

Hej Björn!

Jag är riktigt sugen på att bygga mig en ny kajak. Idag paddlar jag mestadels surfski, en Seabird Wave 6.1 men har även en Smart för myspaddlingen. Dock är jag sugen på en snabbare kajak utan att behöva gå på det "extrema" som Havsracer. Jag är väl att klassa som nybörjare då jag började paddla förra sommaren och då med surfskin som första kajak (har ännu inte kantrat med den ;-)

Det jag undrar lite över är hur du skulle beskriva stabiliteten i exempelvis Panthera eller Hunter mot för Wave 6.1?

Hunter och Panthera har snarlika stabilitetkurvor (eller snarare potential – eftersom stabiliteten beror mer på tyngdpunktens läge än på skrovformen). Wave har aningen mindre initialstabilitet med ungefär samma slutstyvhet, beroende dels på den mindre totalbredden och dels på att den smalare botten tvingar upp sitsen en aning jämfört med de andra båda.

Panthera bär sig åt ungefär som Wave i sjön, medan Hunter är en grönlandskajak som kontrolleras bättre med skädda än med roder. Titta även på Njord som är min favorit i skädda-gruppen, både för lek och långfärd.

Hi Bjorn

I have been researching wood surfskis that I could build and love your designs.

I have been reluctant to commit on a boat build, partly because the open cockpit surfski would shorten my season here in Michigan. Cold weather paddles while being entirely exposed to the elements gets a bit dicey for me. The solution would be the Panthera, if it is available with a cockpit opening large enough that I could paddle using a surfski technique Knees high and driving with my legs but small enough that I can use a spray skirt with it with a during the cold weather. Is there different cockpit opening designed for the Panthera, or would I be on my own to customize the combing.

Great Designs,



Thanks Walt, there are two sizes indicated on the drawings (as can be seen on the thumbnail images on the Panthera page): one small (54x40 cm) indended for kayak control, rolling, bracing etc, and one large (78x39 cm), more standard sea kayak cockpit. These are simple to adjust to your own criteria.

Dear Björn,

First of all, thanks and congratulations for that great design.

Do you suggest Panthera for a paddler approx. 105 kg?



Thanks Sukru. Yes, the suggested numbers for Panthera are calculated with a low waterline, which I in retrospect believe is too conservative (and I am going to recalculate). A waterline comparable with most of the other kayaks would indicate a designed load capacity of approx 135 kg. Above that every 17 kg sinks the kayak by 1 cm. With a higher freeboard than kayaks like Njord, Frej, Nomad, Najad etc (the surfski influence – surfskis with their open cockpit normally have a higher sheer to keep water out) there is a healthy margin on top of the theoretical numbers.

A though provocing example of kayak's (and paddler's) capacity is Jim Danielsson who started his famous round-scandinavia trip 25 years ago in an Icefloe (load capacity 150 kg) loaded to 240 kg! And did this at the Finnish-Russian borded in the Barents Sea in early April, launching in freezing temps, ice, snow, severe winter storms, along an uninhabited and dangerous coast.

So Panthera will be fine for touring, excercise and play ;-)

Hej Bjorn,

I really (really !) love your designs and hope to be able to appreciate one in the .. "flesh" soon. I'm intrigued in particular by Panthera, which I consider building during the coming winter. Before committing though, I would appreciate clarification with the followings: I'm 75kg and 1.75m; what would be the ideal dimensions of Panthera design in my case ? I would prefer a slightly shorter version, around 5m LOA - will that be OK in your opinion ? I intend to enjoy the kayak on the Danube river for day trips and, occasionally, in the Ionic Sea and Black Sea.

Thank you !

Thanks Daniel. Yes I think the Panthera would be fine for you, shortened to approx 500 cm. The capacity decreases from 130 kg to 116 kg, which means that you will have a net load capacity of 20-25 kg to the design waterline. And should you for some reason stuff it with 50-60 kg gear it would still float and be maneable, but a bit wetter in waves ;-)

Bear in mind though that Panthera is of surfski origin and thus need a rudder to perform the way intended.

If you (like me) prefer an adjustable skeg, you might take a look at Frej instead.

Hello Björn,

I'm very interested in your Panthera. I consider building this boat and use for fast week trips, with a 20 kg cargo, occasionnaly a bit more., I want the fastest boat I can manage, but as I'm 67 kg I' wonder if the design is a too big for me, (especially if I exercise with no cargo), and if I'd have to shorten the boat or if it's not necessary. I'm very reluctant about modifying your design by myself. Thanks for your answer.


The Panthera would be fine, but with a capacity of 130 kg it would float a little high in the water when you have no cargo. But most kayaks commercially available are also designed for paddlers around 80 kg, so that is a problem you will face with most kayaks.

You can shorten it slightly (perhaps down to 533 – 2 cm less distance between the molds when you attach them to the strongback). The obvious consequence with this is that you loose approx 2% of the top speed, but you will also benefit from a slighly better maneuverability.

The Panthera is deigned to be used with a rudder (the surfski influence).

If you prefer to handle your kayak with an adjustable skeg, the best alternative would be a Njord.

Hello, Bjorn!

Can you please let me know some figures about the stability and speed of Panthera? Unlike other models of yours, such information was not given for the wonderful kayak. I am planning to use this boat mainly on the Danube and the Black Sea, as well on the Aegean

I see from the above comments that I have a compatriot from Romania interested in building the same kayak. I wonder if he already started the task and how he proceeds. Would you please pass him my questions together with my e-mail address? Thank you in advance.

Hello Dragos. No order yet from your Romanian countryman (I will pass on your contact data).

I have no final data yet for speed and stability, since I worked over the hull shape a little further after the software had done its share ;-)

But here are the files from the software (drag/speed and stability), which are very close to the final result.

Gokväll Björn,

Undrar hur Panthera'n skulle fungera med en skäda?

Paddlar en Frej idag, men vill ha en "snabbare" kajak för en eventuell HBB-paddling och gillar varken roder till utseende eller dess risk för tekniska problem på långa turer.


Ännu oprövat, men det bör fungera. Jag kan dock tänka mig att det kräver lite mera aktivt pillrande med skäddareglaget än man är van vid.

Ett surfskiskrov, som Pantheras. är normalt helt beroende av ett effektivt roder för att vara hanterbart, dels beroende på att skrovet i stort sett saknar kursstabilitet och dels på att sittbrunnen är placerad rakt över skrovets mittpunkt (centroiderna LCB och LCF ligger mycket nära den geometriska mittpunkten). I en havskajak som Frej ligger dessa centroider en bit akter om mittpunkten vilket ger ett lugnare rörelsemönster (mer av kajakens beteende sitter s a s i skrovet istället för i rodret), men gör det också att havskajaken är svårare att kontrollera i surf.

Gissningsvis betyder det att du får jobba mer aktivt med skäddan för att få tillgång till hela prestandaprofilen: skädda upp lite för att gira, ner lite för att hålla kursen o s v. Men om detta är ett problem är svårt att bedöma utan att prova.

Som potentiell HBB-kajak skulle jag föredra en förlängd (för att kompensera för mindre packvolym) Njord: teoretiskt lika snabb (men i praktiken kan det bli längre dagsetapper eftersom den är lugnare och kräver mindre aktivt jobb i besvärliga förhållanden), liknande lastkapacitet (men mindre känslig för var lastens tyngdpunkt hamnar). Njord surfar sämre än en roderförsedd Panthera, men hur ofta har man grov sjö akterifrån under en långtur?

En roderförsedd Panthera och en stark paddlare kan förmodligen komma till Haparande någon dag snabbare än motsvarande Njord-ekipage, men det sker inte automatiskt. Det krävs en hel del råslit...

is it possible to change rudder on skeg, or it is a bad idea? is there any new information or feedback about how it goes against wind in rough stormy conditions? Bjorn, how do you think Pantera L would be good for 2-3 week touring?

Panthera is designed for rudder, as it has a lot of surfski in the lines and hull configuration.

As with surfskis a lot of the tracking depends on a rudder, and without a rudder, you might have to work the skeg a lot to control the kayak.

Going against hard wind is no problem with Panthera. The pitching in short waves is reasonably easy to manage – again the surfski inheritance.

Panthera L would do fine for fast long distance touring, of course depending on your own weight.

thank you for yor answer, can you explain with skeg and without rudder it is difficult to

keep a straight course or it is difficult to initiate turning? i cant understand of my poor experience. On your opinion, what is better for long distance cruising/expedition greenland style kayak like Nanoq or Pantera, thanks.

With its surfski heritage, Panthera doesn't have a built-in tracking like sea kayaks. With a rudder, you can control both steering and tracking – with a skeg you can just add tracking. This means that you probably will have to use the skeg control a lot to maneuver the kayak: skeg down to go straight, skeg up to turn, down to go straight, up to turn etc – which I would consider annoying in the long run.

Both Nanoq and Panthera will be fine for long-distance touring: Nanoq with a skeg and Panthera with a rudder. Nanoq with an advantage in precision maneuvering close to cliffs and rocks, Panthera slightly faster on long distances.

But you should consider Njord as well. Almost as maneuverable as Nanoq and as fast as Panthera – to me the perfect long distance cruiser.

Hi Bjorn,

I built your Njord last year and have really enjoyed it thus far. True to your word it is a fast cruiser in all weather conditions. The nice low deck is appreciated by my wife who has just about taken over the boat! Therefore, I now look for a second build project.

I would like something around 5m max that is more manoeuvrable than Njord and ever so slightly more stable (but this is not very important, just want to be able to pee from the boat!). Obviously I have considered Frej but would like something a bit different in style. I'm thinking a shortened Panthera L so that I can get the most out of the shorter LOA in speed, have good directional stability in downwind surfing (rudder), and have good manoeuvrability (rudder up). I'm thinking the larger version (L) to compensate for shortening the boat and to give me around 31cm deck height. A comparable commercial boat may be the Taran 16 or Tiderace Pace Action.

I assume a 5m Panthera would be quicker than Frej and possibly more manouvrable (more rocker?). Would you agree?

I'm 75kg, 180cm tall and will mainly paddle empty boat but would like to be able to load it up with 30-40kgs for light touring in rough water.



A shortened Panthera L would be significantly different from the Njord. Slightly faster overall than a Frej, comparable to the Njord, and more efficient surfing than both. Stability on par with a Frej, and maybe (guessing here) as maneuverable as a Frej, but probably not more (more maneuverable than Njord though). Much more room in the cockpit, which I would see as a drawback, but that is debatable (if you excuse a worn expression, Njord is a kayak you wear, but a surfski is a boat you sit on, or in – in that respect, Panthera is quite surfski-like). Furthermore, the Panthera is rudder-dependant but Njord/Frej are skeg-dependant. You may only occasionally use it with the rudder lifted – the reason being that a surfski hull is a thorough-bred with an efficient rudder replacing the directivity that keeps sea kayaks calm and easy on track.

So, compared to the Njord you get approx the same speed overall (but you have to work a little more with control), more room, more maneuverability and more stability.

Compared to the Frej you get more speed (especially off the wind), slightly more room, approx the same stability and (with the rudder up) the same maneuverability (rudder down you have more control surfing but at low speed Frej will outperform a Panthera).

Hej Björn, finns profilritning för Panthera (för att skissa på färger och utrustning i t.ex.Illustrator) som t.ex. för Njord? mvh Jonas

Det hade jag missat – men nu finns den!


I've seen some projects where one of your kayaks has been built in three separate parts: bow, stern and cockpit. I'd like to ask about the mechanism you use to join everything together. Is the strength of the boat significantly affected? Does it add a lot of weight?

A lightweight, wooden kayak which is easy to store & transport could solve a lot of problems for me.

I have not built a kayak in sections. But others have. Look fx at Rune Eurenius' Sea Racer (a very good technical solution) or Dan Caouette's Black Pearl (as always, fantastic overall quality).

Of course, the kayak will gain one or two kilos in the process (doubled bulkheads, strong wooden members to take the sturdy metal bolts).

But well constructed the strength is not noticeably affected.

Great - thanks for the links :) If I build a kayak it will be used at sea and so it will have to be tough.

What a fantastic range you have! Lots of choices. The Panthera looks like my ideal fast tourer with plenty room for 1-2 weeks supplies. The Najad is on my shortlist too.

Thanks, Noel. These are two fast tourers, designed for rudder, with a good and predictable behavior in open sea, and with a decent room for supplies – Najad slightly more, Panthera slightly less (my kayaks are generally fast tourers rather than full-blown expedition kayaks and I support the idea of fast and efficient cruising in a lighter kayak, rather than providing volume for the load needed to compensate for the slow going of a big and heavy kayak).

To me, the Najad is good for a week on the coast during May-October, a couple of days more in inland waters where the water is used for cooking, a couple of days less in the winter months with more clothes and sleeping gear – Panthera typically one day less.

Hi Björn

Do you think it would be possible to shorten the Panthera to around 440cm/14'?

I really like the shape but want something a little more compact. I realise it would loose a fair amount of speed.

Many thanks.

It is possible. Just shorten the C/C distance between the station molds (and of course the distance stem–sta 1, and sta 13–stern).

You will lose some top speed (approx 3%) and gain a little maneuverability – but most importantly: the load capacity will be approx 95 kg instead of 120 kg.

Thank you Björn, I'll be buying some plans soon then....

Hi Björn,

I like your design very much. It is a bit like my current Pace18, but evolved in much more details i can see.

Iam very hooked to the idea to get one built for racing purposes.

I cant build my self, but maybe you know skilled people that could be hired to do the job ?

Second question: how have you handled the draft of the flip rudder ? I have experimented with the smart tracks race rudder, but still i get draft, that I dont have if I only use a fin/skeg.

Have you considered an edition with a rudder underneath like surfskis with a small weedrudder in front ?

Let me hear if you can point me in the correct way to have a Panthera built

Hi Jacob

I have three partners that build kayaks on order from my plans: one in Sweden, one in USA northeast, and one in Finland. In other parts of the world, you have to find someone yourself; a local boatbuilder most likely, or a competent amateur will kayak building skills.

You can use an aft-hung retractable rudder (fx SmartTrack), but more efficient is a surfski-style under-the-hull rudder – both are easy to attach to the Panthera and are indicated on the plans.

Thanks, Björn.

Can you please give me the contact info for the builder in Sweden? Then I will call them to hear more.

This is very interesting, Björn. I am looking to get the optimal speedmachine for oceanracing, so maybe you have small ideas for uptimizing the Pantera design further ?

What was your thoughts about the length of Pantera when you set it to 558?

Do you think the Pantera would be even faster (in the surf) by adding 10 or 15cms ? Or would it be more like a disadvantage in sidewind ? The Pace18 has 3/4 of the weight placed from cockpit front to the front, which makes it very stabile in high waves and sidewind. Its not quite fast enough though. have experimented with adding a fix surf fin on my Pace18 which enabled me to get 1kmt more on the average speed when not using the rudder (smarttrax race). Would that be an idea as an option on the Pantera ?

Petruskajak i Tranås och Tunarps Kvarns båtbyggeri.

Panthera was designed in response to a couple of requests for a surfski with kayak deck. The first one to build wanted a not too long but initially stable kayak and that became the starting point for the hull shape.

If I were to design an optimal speed machine I would have reduced the beam to approx 50 cm and increased the LOA to somewhere around 580 cm.

A surfski-style hull doesn't have the directional stability of a sea kayak and, thus, needs a rudder to be controllable. Of course, a fixed sked turns it into a sea kayak, which may improve the flat water speed, at the expense of the surfing qualities.

Thanks Björn, interresting thoughts.

First, thank you for your answers. I am just a rider, not a designer but I really know what I look for in abilites to find the best for me. With a beam of 50cm only, i am worried it will be difficult to handle in high waves ~ 2-3 meter dunnings.

I will contact the swedish builders for a quotation. Would you be able to make me a plan for 575/580 cm length and about 52cm in width. Weightwise I aim for somewhere between 16-19kgs, with focus on getting more weight distributed in the front than in the tail.

I would love to have a small fixed skeg like in the Struer Arrow design, so it doesnt get in the way when the kayak is laying on the ground, and the rudder as the Smarttracks Race edition.

If I just purchase the plans, can you come with a suggestion of how to adjust the plans to fit my wishes ? (So Petrus or the other builder will know what to do)

My experience is the opposite – the width, 50 cm, means that you have full control of how the hull moves in the waves, while in a wider, more initially stable hull, the waves will control the hull. What you need in waves is a lot of secondary stability, not initial (you don't capsize from an upright position, if you capsize, you will do it from overtaxing the secondary stability).

The hull will get slightly more weight in the front end since the foredeck is higher, but since this is a surfski type of hull (designed that way, to improve speed and maneuverability on big waves) the seating position is above the turning center of the kayak, not behind it, as is the case in most sea kayaks. This means that the kayak lacks the tracking that is an important feature in sea kayaks calm movements in waves – a surfski is more maneuverable and relies on an efficient rudder for both tracking and turning, and can thus perform on waves in ways that would be impossible in sea kayaks.

Due to this hydrodynamical arrangement, a fixed skeg would be counterproductive and will turn a high performance surfski hull into a more middle-of-the-road sea kayak. I recommend that you try such a skeg (tape it in place) before permanently attaching it.

For an additional SEK 350, I can make whatever adjustments you want to the dimensions, to provide Petrus with a correct set of plans – with the caveat that if you want changes that goes beyond my design criteria for the kayak, the responsibility for its performance is yours ;-)

Great, i can follow your thoughts about the beam.

Lets continue detailing via email and phone

I cant find your email address here on the website, Will you be so kind and email your contact info (email and phone) to me,

Contact info in the left col of the about page

...and here:

Tel +46 (0)46 139416

+46 (0)721 979390

Hei Bjørn!

Ski har jeg livslang erfaring med, men ikke surfski, og heller ikke en surfende kajakk. Derfor har jeg lyst til å bygge en slik kajakk i løpet av kommende vinter. Kanskje er Panthera best egna for en surfedebutant?

I beskrivelsen av kajakken er Pantheras stabilitet satt til 3/4 mens den i tabellen over alle dine kajakker er satt til 4/4. Hva er nærmest virkeligheten?

Fordekket er så høgt som 28,5 cm. Jeg trives best med liten sitteromsåpning, og som er gunstig ved rulling. Er det noen betenkeligheter ved et slikt valg?

Pantheran har ungefär samma initlastabilitet som Frej.

Fördäcket behöver vara högre än på Njord och Frej, för att ett surfskiskrov behöver ett effektivt roder och ett bra pedalsystem – och för att kunna manövrera pedalerna krävs höjd.

Liten sittbrunn kan användas, men för Panthera kan det bli lite svårhanterat eftersom det blir besvärligt att nå pedaler och linor för justering framme under fördäck. Så jag rekommenderar en större sittbrunn.

Takk igjen, Bjørn, for nyttige kommentarer.

Jeg innser utfordringen med pedaljusteringen, men også en stor sitteromsåpning vil være til noe hinder. Jeg kan omgå problemet ved å lage en dekksluke over pedalsettet, eller plassere reguleringsmekanismen framme ved sitsen. Et selvbygd pedalsett og underliggende ror (ev. en type integralror) må jeg tenke mer på. Slikt tenkearbeid og eksperimentering tar tid, men er jo halve moroa.

Jeg orker knapt tanken på å gå tilbake til en storblada åre og høy åreføring. Høyere åreføring må jeg finne meg i, men om mulig padler jeg nok surfekajakken med mi kjære grønlandsåre.

Kanskje velger jeg en mer utfordrende kajakk enn Panthera og bygger, liksom Dan Caouette, en Spray med sittebrønn. Mine kajakker, til og med Black Pearlen, har økt sin stabilitet betraktelig denne sommeren. Jeg har nemlig tatt av langt flere kilo over KVL enn hva selve båten veier. Et så tyngdepunktsenkende og helsebringende tiltak anbefales for alle overvektige padlere. Alt blir så mye enklere både til vanns og lands. På langturer øker effekten ytterligere ved at lastekapasiteten tillater tilsvarende mange kilo nær kjølen, (f. eks. store mengder øl, sjokolade og fetmat).

Bjørn, beklager skrivekløa mi.

Jeg har ikke bestemt meg for hvilken av dine surfeski jeg skal bygge til vinteren. Før bestilling av kajakktegning har jeg tenkt å prefabrikkere delene til et ror. Et integralror, som er montert langt nok framfor akterstevn, vil redusere bagasjerommet for mye etter mitt skjønn. Dessuten vil oppdrifta i den utsvinga akterskrogdelen kunne skape et kritisk stort moment i dreiekoplinga. Skal konstruksjonen bli kraftig nok, er jeg redd den blir generende tung. Jeg forbereder derfor å i stedet bygge et underliggende, opptrekksror etter samme prinsipp som illustrert på din arbeidstegning under Bygga/Download. På tegninga savner jeg imidlertid en ørliten, men viktig detalj; en utvendig stopper/flens nederst på den indre dreiesylinderen eller øverst på det faste ytterrøret? Uten en slik stopper vil vel dreiesylinderen sammen med rorbladet bli pressa opp av sin egen oppdrift og/eller av trykkstøt? I så tilfelle vil ikke bladet komme helt ut av gjemmestedet sitt og kunne dreies som forutsatt. Og snortrekka på toppen vil kunne svikte. Kanskje har jeg oversett noe eller analysert feil. Det har nemlig hendt før.

Jag har laddat upp en mer utförlig version av roderidén på download-sidan, inklusive några bilder från mitt prototypbygge.

På min testmodell är lintrissan tillräckligt tjock för att bara kunna röra sig vertikalt ca 3-4 mm innan den slår i "taket". Men under testerna laminredare jag dit en fals som stoppar rodercylindern uppåt. Lintrissan med sina styrlinor ligger lös i det övre cylinderfacket och man kan släppa på lyft/sänk-linorna och dra ut rodercylindern med roderbladet för service (t ex dra ut roderaxeln och byta roderblad), medan lintrissan ligger kvar under däcksluckan. För detta behövs inga verktyg – roderaxeln hålls på plats i roderschaktet och rodercylindern av lyftlinorna.

Det här fungerade bra vid de tester jag gjorde. Däremot var roderbladet på prototypen för litet för att fungera som tänkt – blev ett racingroder istället för ett surfskiroder ;-)

Det blev sedan inga fler rodertester. Jag fick andra kajaker och utveckla, bygga och testa – kajaker med justerbar skädda istället för roder.

Så rodret får nog tills vidare betraktas som en tämligen otestad idéskiss – en som fungerar bra mekaniskt men som är oprövad i en relevant storlek.

Takk Bjørn for rekordrask oppdatering.

Dermed falt alt på plass. Denne, for meg, nye tegningen sammen med fotografiene viser alle deler tydelig. Min versjon vil ikke bli så flott. I stedet for å støpe innmaten, har jeg tenkt å bygge den nesten bare av tre, så enkelt og raskt som mulig.

Jeg har nylig rodd en vanlig robåt på garnfiske. Den har bare støtte for helen, noe som belaster beina ugunstig. Hvis skrogbredden gir plass nok, vil jeg derfor lage fast fotstøtte ved hver reling og et sett rorpedaler mot midten - hjemmelagd og fleksibelt. Dette blir en surferullekajakk med sittebrønn og sarg. Under padling på smeltevann fra Jotunheimens isbreer og på høyfjellssjøer er denne tradisjonelle løsningen å foretrekke. Det blir neppe noen sydhavssurfing her i mine levetid, skjønt klimaendringene er merkbare.

Ja, det är viktigt med fotstöden. Precis som när man cyklar är det främre trampdynan som skall ha stöd, så att man kan jobba även med vadmusklerna. Annars finns risk för kramp i benen vid vid längre paddlingar.

Den numera vanliga lösningen för pedaler är att göra merparten av pedalen fast och bara en övre tå-manövrerad del rörlig. – en tämligen välfungerande kompromiss mellan bra avstamp för foten och rodermanövrering.

Jämfört med de gamla pedalsystemen (helfotspedaler, fästa i nederkant, eller ännu värre, glidande fotstöd direktkopplade till styrlinorna!) är det en riktigt bra lösning.

Bra är också VKV:s gamla "svängel" – en fast, högt placerad fotbräda med ett spår i mitten där en "rorkult" sticker ut. Denna skjuts i sidled med fötterna för att styra. Finessen är bland annat att fotbrädan kan justeras fram och tillbaka utan att styranordningen behöver röras. Detta fungerar förstås bäst i en racing- eller maratonkajak där man använder rodret främst för att hålla kursen, men lite sämre i en surfski där rodret används kontinuerligt för att kontrollera kajakens hela beteende.


Jag väger ungefär 65 kg och är en skicklig paddlare. jag är ute efter en kajak som kan användas för träning och någon enstaka motionspaddling. Jag använder vingpaddel. Går det att anpassa Panthera så att den fungerar även för oss små paddlare, även när det blåser. Jag tänker att man kan korta den till 530 cm. Sänka däcket någon cm också.

Är det svårt att göra den någon cm smalare?



Magnus, det går alltid att anpassa. Längden är inga problem att ändra, men på bekostnad av lite fart. Höjden på däcket är också relativt enkelt att få till – men det behövs förmodligen inte. Pantheradäcket är lägre än de flesta motsvarande kajaker och inte högre än vad som behövs för roderpedalerna. Bredden är däremot knepigare. Generellt behövs en omritning av hela skrovet för att ändra bredden utan att det uppstår formfel som påverkar egenskaperna. Men ett "fulhack" som funkar hyfsat bra är att köra de relevanta partierna av ritningen i en kopiator där höjd- och breddimensionerna är individuellt justerbara. De småfel som kan uppstå är lätta att korrigera under slipjobbet.

Jag kan också om du vill justera måtten efter dina önskemål. Ritningen kostar då 1500:- istället för 1000:- (justerjobb + extrakostnaden för en ritningsomgång (ingen mängdrabatt från tryckeriet)) och en eller två dagars extra leveranstid .

Men kan du tänka dig en surfski, tror jag att en kortad Spindrift skulle vara tämligen idealisk för dina behov: enkel att använda, snabb och utmärkt i vågor.

Dear Bjorn,

I have plans to buy/build the Panthera and now I am looking for the right dimensions to accommodate my size 48 feet comfortably in the Panthera. I was looking at the Frej too but it looks low/low volume and want an exercise boat and occasionally fast touring/surfing. I am 1,90m 90kg. I hope the standard or L size will do, otherwise, I will have to lift the front deck hight including adjustments to compensate for the balance/weight.

1. What is the internal height at my feet, at approx 122cm from the backrest, for the standard and L Panthera?

122cm is the length from my back to the heals with straight legs, my feet are 30cm long without shoes, so i am looking for a comfortable fit including light sandals approx 31/32cm.

2. Do I have to compensate for the extra weight in front for the balance ratio in case I have to lift the standard height?

Thank you a lot in advance, best regards Baldwin

Hi Baldwin,

The internal height of the L version at 122 cm from the backrest is 31 cm – but for a little margin, it is quite easy to lift the foredeck slightly (build up the molds with veneer/cardboard, starting with the center strip, and then just make sure the strip layup looks nice longitudinally and transversely).

The weight of the extra strip area if you lift the foredeck will be negligible, but you might want to move the seat approx 20 mm aft from the indicated position since you seem to have longer legs than I have.

Frej is designed for a different paddling culture than Panthera. It is a skeg kayak meaning that you don't need the height to work a pedal system, and it is intended for long-distance touring and play in waves where you may want a lower, more relaxed stroke geometry, rather than a higher competition style. The low deck is also beneficial for rolling – Frej is as easy to roll, even the more complicated Greenlandic rolls, as a dedicated Greenland rolling kayak.


I recently built a 'raised deck' version of Panthera - I wanted to be able to wear boots for winter paddling.

I added height at the sheer which raised the deck at the sides (where my toes often land) as well as at the mid-line.

You can contact me via West Coast Paddler forum if you'd like to chat about Panthera (or Frej - I have a couple of those...).



Dear Bjorn,

Thanks a lot for your quick answers! So, can I conclude that the L version of the Panthera is the option to work from because of my length/weight, and not the standard size? Because the standard and L size can both be raised.

I do realize the Frej and Panthera are of different DNA and purposes, but like them both! Frej for allround touring and play, Panthera for fast touring/surfing. Looks like the new Struer Frey ABS will accomodate my feet and trekking equipment quite well!? So, i can concentrate on building a Panthera.

Dear John,

Thanks for your offer to chat about the raised deck! Looks like you have quite some experience with the kayaks where i can learn from, that is great!

Cheers baldwin

Yes, the Panthera L is a good starting point – it was initially the answer to a request from a paddler of your size.

Hello Bjorn. I have a Panthera on loan from John Abercrombie as I try it out. Fascinating. It is so different from the boats of my friends and kayaking mentors... they insisted that I put the rudder up when surfing and outlined scenarios (e.g. a following wave pushing the rudder to one side, making boat control impossible) that they felt would be problematic with the rudder down. I didn't know how to counter their arguments but missed the rudder when trying to make fast 180 degree turns between waves for example or making progress across the waves. I am too inexperienced with surfing to miss the rudder on waves. John was very clear that the rudder should stay down. Does the paddler keep their feet on the pedals and hold the rudder in place the whole time to prevent the above scenario? Are there resources, on line or books, that will help me learn how to paddle this very special boat? Are there other experienced individuals on Vancouver Island with this type of craft that I might take surfing lessons from? Thanks in advance...

Hello BJ, Panthera is special in that it in essence is a surfski with deck, and as such it balanced somewhat differently than ordinary sea kayaks.

The main difference is that a sea kayak hull tracks more or less efficiently – more of it is intended for rudder, that overcomes the tracking for turning, and if less, there is an adjustable skeg to improve the tracking when needed. In a reasonably maneuverable sea kayak, I also prefer to lift the rudder or pull up the skeg to have full control over that boat in big surf – hard work to steer during surfing but enough control to avoid a perhaps dangerous broaching.

A surfski on the other hand is balanced to have minimal tracking, and an efficient rudder system to control both the course and turning. This gives it maneuverability on wavefronts that a sea kayak can never match – and of course, it surfs with the rudder down at all times (compare with fighter planes of gen 5, that lacks stability I free flight and must be controlled by fly-by-wire and a computer – giving them unparalleled maneuverability).

But to be really efficient in big surf you should have an under-the-hull surfski rudder some two feet from the stern. Most Pantheras has been built with aft-hung rudders, which is fine for touring and in shallow waters, but such a rudder risk hanging above the water when surfing steep waves and thus occasionally of no use – but on the flip side, no particular risk either).

Talk to surfski paddlers for tips. I don't know much about the surfski circus on your side of the Atlantic, but the best youtube video I have seen is Oscar Chalupsky's (google "Oscar Chalupsky surfski clinic"). But apart from being more rudder-dependant than most sea kayaks, you paddle the Panthera just like any other kayak. It has though a potential that most sea kayak lacks and to take advantage of those, you need to practice surfing skills and competitive paddling techniques. But that is optional ;-)

Hej - mckt intresserad av Panthera - står i valet och kvalet mellan den och spray - påverkas styvheten på kajaken om man skulle bygga med större sittbrunn - eller kan man kompensera med ngt styvare sidor och skrov runt sittbrunnen - om det behövs eller dålig ide? Alltför trånga sittbrunnar är lite knepiga för mig så föredrar ngt öppnare sittbrunn - är tillräckligt lång för att det funkar med knästöd - vilket man kan sätta dit ett eget - men kommer i och ur så mycket enklare samtidigt som man om man vill kan även köra med knäna rakt upp.

Panthera M har en 40x80-sittbrunn, och L en 42x83 cm, vilket i båda fallen är realtivt stora sittbrunnar. De kan utan att tappa styrka och hållfasthet ökas lite grann om det skulle finnas någon anledning till det.

Men funderar du på en betydligt större sittbrunn är det bättre att bygga en Spray, där sidoväggarna i brunnen ger den styrka som behövs.

Men det handlar om två olika funktioner. I en havskajak bör sittbrunnen inte varav för stor, eftersom tryggheten och kajakhanteringen bygger på att man är ett med kajaken, och kontrollerar den genom kroppskontakt med däcket, knästöden, fotstöden ocxh svankstödet – och att en mycket stor sittbrunnssarg gör det svårt att få ett kapell tätt. En öppen surfskisittbrunn sitter man i utan annan kontakt än sittytan och kontrollerar därför kajaken i högre grad med paddeln och rodret och det vatten som oundvikligen hamnar i sittbrunnen sugs ut när man öppnar bottenventilen i fart. Två olika system där mellanvarianter löper risk att vara varken eller.

Förr fanns det kajaken med väldigt stora sittbrunnar, men det var antingen tävlingskajaker avsedda för rakbana på plattvatten och ett enkelt nylonkapell för att hålla skvättandet från paddeln ute eller gamla skärgårdskajaker med så hög sarg att man paddlade utan kapell mellan öarna i fint väder, och med armarna högt för att inte slå i den höga sargkanten. Det har hänt en hel del sedan dess.

Tack för svaret - nej inte tänkt mig mycket större sittbrunn än att öka up med en 6 cm eller så. Däremot är jag någonstans mellan 40 och 42 cm över höftknulorna (alltså skelettet) så lite bredare cockpit skulle vara att föredra ur bekvämlighetssynpunkt - funkar det att öka ett par tre cm utan problem?Ja utan stöd är det inte en havskajak. Spray är som sagt också intressant för min typ av paddling - motion o lite motionstävling.

Det minskar bredden på sidodäcken en aning, så jag hade nog för säkerhets skull lagt ett extralager glasfiber på undersidan av däcket längs med sittbrunnen.

Not sure if you saw this,

"... A breathtaking record was set last night.

Erik B. Joergensen Kom ud - Erik B. Jørgensenrowed around Denmark, self-supported, in 14 days.

13 minutes before midnight the old stone at the German / Danish border was touched. So far the record is 18 days. The trip around is about 1200km / 745 miles

Erik had fine weather for the trip, except for the last 4 days where wind, waves and current were against.

Last day offered 20 hours of rowing, with less than 30 minutes break in total. It became 98 km / 61 miles.

Erik, who is a former military man with many month-long dog sled patrol trips in Greenland, knows his body to the smallest detail. He can accurately dose his energy, food intake, sleep and psyche to even very prolonged loads. He is not the fastest athlete, but he can go on and on.

The record was set in a Panthere prototype kayak (designed by Björn Thomasson for Struer Boats) and with a Gram model 9000 carbon paddle...."

Here is the link where I saw it.

Thanks Jenny, I hadn't seen this. Very nice that he set this record!

Is the Panthera for this record a standard one ?

Yes and no ;-)

It is a standard Panthera L but stretched to 572 cm, by positioning the molds +1 cm further apart. The drawings show how this is done for different LOAs.

As mentioned above, the kayak was initially built for a long-distance expedition, which required extra room for provisions, and was later repurposed and repainted for this record attempt.

Hej Björn,

jag paddlar idag mest surfski och tycker Panthera L ser mycket intressant ut som turkajak. Jag funderar över lastkapaciteten för "displacement" 135 kg:

jag väger 95 kg inkl kläder o paddel, övrig utrustning väger ca 25 kg, vatten 10 kg, säg kajak ca 20 kg, dvs det blir snabbt 150 kg.

Skulle detta fortfarande vara ok eller börjar det blir väl mycket ubåt med denna last?

Vänliga hälsningar,


Hej Thomas, Panthera är väldigt mycket surfski, vilket innebär två delvis motstridiga egenheter: dels att den är ritad för goda prestanda inom ett lite smalare spann av lastförhållanden, till skillnad från vanliga havskajaker som klarar sig bra med både för lite och för mycket last, men aldrig riktigt når surfskins potential, och dels att surfskiskrov generellt har lite högre däck (för att minska risken för vatten i den öppna sittbrunnen: på surskis för att minimera vatten på däck – på Panthera för att få plats med surfskipedaler under däcket) – men det högre däcket innebär också att fribordet är större och därmed att det finns en större marginal för "överlast".

Tillsammans innebär det att kajaken kommer att fungera utmärkt även med din fulla last – naturligtvis med de nackdelar som alltid följer med tung last; att kajaken går lite tyngre i sjön, får lite större levande massa att hantera vid accelerationer, inbromsningar och girar, och tar mer vatten på däck om man pressar på för hårt i krabb sjö.

Men du kan kompensera för detta om du har plats i bygglokalen till att öka längden lite; t ex 1 cm mer per spant till 572 cm total längd eller 2 cm per spant till 585 cm. En sådan ökning förbättrar beteenden med full last på bekostnad av egenskaperna med liten eller ingen last, men utan att skrovet blir ett besvärande vindfång. Det krävs ca 18 kg för att ändra flytläget 1 cm upp eller ner.

Tack Björn för utförligt svar, då förstår jag lite bättre. Jag ska tänka till på längden men det låter ju som om det skulle fungera bra även med standardlängden.

Hi, i would like to build a Panthera L, i came across some Canadian Western Red Cedar in 5,2m lengths, is there a issue building a kayak when the strips are not the full length as the hull? I'm thinking staggering the seams so that they are not on the same place of course.

No, scarphing is quickly and easily done without any disadvantages. Scarphs are, of course, visible when looking close, as they are on all beautiful wooden yachts out there. Very few kayaks are built with full-length strips. Building time isn't affected noticeably and the strength and durability are the same. Staggering is, of course, important

Hi, how stable would you describe panthera. Would it compare to an Inuk.



I have not had the opportunity to try out a modern Inuk, so it will be mostly guesswork based on the dimensions. Inuk and Panthera cater for the same paddlers and the same usage and are similar in dimensions. I have spend some time discussiong kayak hydrodynamics with Rob, and we have similar views on design/function. But, still, I would dare a guess that Panthera has slightly more initial and secondary stability, based on the assumption that there is a higher seat in Inuk 18 (indicated by the higher foredeck and Rob's preference for racing seats(as I remember it)), which means a higher center of gravity. The lower seat and foredeck in Panthera means more overall stability without the disadvantages of beam-induced stability in bumpy seas, and a lower profile to catch wind – and of course slightly less load capacity.

Thanks very much. I will be testing out an inuk in the next few months and if I get on ok I will probably order the plans. Don't want to go to the trouble of making a boat I cannot paddle.

Hi Björn,

my Panthera from Struer Boats will be delivered within the next two weeks.

I ordered it dispite the fact it has a very short cockpit length of only 78,5 cm. It is my view that a modern up to date cockpit should have five to six cm more length and knee braces. I recognize that all scandinavian Kajaks have this cockpit which is too short for a comfortable entry and exit.

My question is, why are all these cockpits too short?

Is it only tradition? Because the Inuit also had small cockpits, and they had objective reasons for that?

But today I can't see any reason for a short cockpit.

Best Regards

Udo Ramm

On all my designs I outline two optional cockpit sizes: large (approx 40x80cm) and small (approx 38x58). Most paddlers chose the large while I prefer the small. The large is more convenient getting in and out of the kayak (which takes a few seconds) while the small is more comfortable, safer and offering better kayak control and a better seal with the spraydeck during the long hours of paddling. Aquired taste I believe ;-)

The intermediate sizes are thought of as relevant one-size-fits-all solutions – suiting a large share of the paddlers, while being managable for those who find it too short. Tall paddlers will have to use it as they would a small cockpit, but without the benefits that comes with that.

It is not very inconvenient for tall paddlers, just a bit annoying. You hold the paddle on one side as a stabilzing float while embarking or debarking. and sit on the inboard blade while sliding into the cockpit with straight leg. It takes no more time than getting into a large cockpit and can be done everywhere: beach, rocks, high or low piers etc...

The compromise is not a Scandinavian tradition, but an industrial mass-market consensus. Older Scandinavian touring kayaks often had very long cockpits of 90-105 cm, and those built in Greenland traditions had small cockpits.

Hi Björn,

thanks for your quick answer.

I am still not convinced.

I am not a very big Person, 1,86 m, 90 kg.

Sliding with straight legs into a much too short kajakcockpit is what we did, when we were 16 years old. That was several decades ago. We do not want that anymore, because it is not nessessary, without disadvantages.

We at least want to sit down first onto the kajakseat with bent legs and only then straighten our legs. When leaving the kajak, this is even more important.

What is really comfortable is the wet entry at a ramp or at the beach, standing in water with the kajak between both legs, then sitting down first onto the kajakseat. And only after that entering the legs one after the other into the kajak.

I am argueing for a cockpit length of minimum 83 cm, better 86 cm, with knee braces. These knee braces then can individually be fitted with soft pads of bigger or smaller size. The seat can be lifted by using a seatpad resulting in perfect contact to the boat not only for medium size people but also for smaller size people.

Very small people and very big people do not decide for the same boat, is my understanding.

State of the art spraydecks work perfectly with these big cockpits by all means.

All new, non-scandinavian kajaks, which are comparable with and surfski-style and competing with Panthera, which came onto the market within the last three years, have these big cockpits. Lettmann Kajaks have these big cockpits since 10 years or more. With no disadvantage.

Best Regards

Udo Ramm

It was not my intention to convince you, but to discuss the complexity of the issue. I agree with you that a compromise is not always a good solution – and you'd prefer a bigger, I a smaller cockpit hole.

I am also too tall to be able to use a compromise cockpit as intended (183 cm/83 kg) and have tried and used all kinds of cockpits during my 35 years of paddling, designing and building kayaks. Eventually I ended up favoring small, so called, ocean cockpits, that perfectly suits my main usage (long distance touring along the Swedish west coast and southern parts of the Norwegian).

I could go on about the advantages I find (as I have elsewhere on the site ;-) but that is not the point. Everybody has to find the way that works best for him or her, based on experience, preferences etc...

Hi Björn,

what I recognize in our discussion here, is a very different use of the boat.

Whereas you are doing a daylong long distance touring along the coast on the sea, where you only enter the kajak once in the morning and leave the kajak in the afternoon.

I'm mainly doing short distance fitness paddling on rivers for an hour or maximum two hours. Sometimes I change the kajak in between to compare the driving characteristics of two kajaks.

So for my use the embarking and debarking the kajak plays a much more important role in percentage compared to the paddling time.

Best regards


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