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Qanik review

As you might have seen I no longer take part in anything associated with Seabird Designs. The reasons given is that our opinions about quality, customers, and service differ too much. Today I happened to see a review of Seabird Qanik which very accurately pointed out the fundamental quality problems that have become too common over the last years.

If you are interested in one of my designs for this company, take a couple of minutes with this review before deciding:

The review focuses on several flaws in the fabrication:

  • uneven thickness of the laminate – partly so thin that the bottom flipped into a concave depression that had to be pushed back from the inside when the kayak was pulled ashore,
  • a seat was so badly constructed that it flexed under pressure and carved deep scratches on the inside of the hull – and was furthermore attached wrongly so that it made rolling hard and standard spraydecks not usable,
  • the stitching in the back band became undone after a short time and had to be restitched,
  • the thigh braces, though looking promising, is hard plastic and "seem to have been molded around the legs of an anorexic paddler who sits with her legs straight out in front",
  • the cockpit is longer and narrower than on the plans and the reviewer found no commercially available spraydecks that fit,
  • the skeg is so badly engineered that once it has been fully retracted there is no way of dropping it again with the handle by the cockpit,
  • the hatches leak badly, due to sloppy workmanship,

The reviewer ends with this:

"All in all: Clearly they kept the price down by cutting three or four corners in the factory. Because Bjorn Thomasson’s design is a gem, if you buy this kayak and then sort out the flimsy hull, the moving seat, the leaking hatches and the sticky skeg, and manage to find a spraydeck that fits, you will have a kayak that is a joy to paddle and feels safe out at sea."


Why have things gone so out of control? Of course, cutting corners to keep the price down is one reason – since a low price is the only way to sell substandard kayaks once the trust is wasted. But beyond that, and after a couple of years with ambitions and production quality, I have seen mostly ignorance (no real interest in kayaks and kayaking, just in the business) – and arrogance (towards the customers, dealers, designers (not just me). 

Furthermore, the production of my designs in the last couple of years is piracy since they have forfeited their productions rights by violating the terms in our agreement.

In this sad mess, two things in particular, bother me: that I have designed and initially recommended kayaks that nowadays are cheap in every meaning of the word, and that some of the kayaks I designed for Seabird have been among my best work. 



Hola SR Bjorn Thomasson:

Soy de Posadas Misiones ARGENTINA, soy kayakista e instructor certificado por ACA Nivel 3, estoy dando cursos de instrucción y quiero construir un kayak que me me sirva bien para mostrar las maniobras.

Por los datos obtenidos de la web, el indicado seria el FREJ, aunque me gustaría saber sobre tu opinión.

tengo 1.78 metros de altura

peso 85 kg

Ademas me gusta hacer travesías de muchos días, y me gusta muchísimo el njord, aunque mas adelante lo construiré también

saludos cordiales


Hola Nicolas

I believe Frej M would be the best kayak for you. I use my Frej for all my classes in paddling, kayak handling, maneuvering, rolling, etc – primarily for its versatility and maneuverability: the effect of strokes or paddle maneuvers becomes extremely clear and obvious in Frej. And if needed it is a very good kayak to perform rescues in or helping other paddlers in different situations.

Then you may be interested in a Njord, which is even better as a touring kayak. It covers long distances in speed and style with very little effort, even in bad weather conditions. But, even with remarkable good maneuverability for its length, maneuvers are not quite as distinct and convincing as in Frej.

Dear Bjorn,

I am distressed to read about your experiences with Seabird.

I have a Seabird Qanik in Australia. It is the only Qanik that I have ever seen here; I believe it was the boat used for initial marketing and that the model was never sold successfully here.

I have had the boat for a number of years, and it is far and away my favourite kayak. It is such a beautiful and graceful design. I have however had to work through many of the faults you identify. I have removed the thigh braces and remoulded the cockpit combing. I have redesigned and rebuilt the seat. Replaced the forward bulkhead, moving it aft to suit my leg length (this was a great modification as it has given me some more dry storage). Replaced the skeg cable and reworked the skeg control (Kept banging my thumb...).

It is sad that the arrangement soured for you, and it is crazy of Seabird not to have valued your great skill as a designer. But had you not worked with them then I would not have discovered your designs, so I am happy to have my Seabird boat.

I am sorry to hear, but not surprised. Have heard and seen it many times, and it is a pity.

Nanoq attracts engaged paddlers wanting performance and potential, but they also want quality. Buyers who don't care for quality often prefer simpler kayaks without any unnecessary potential. A good kayak falling between the stools.

May I suggest building a Nanoq (the wood strip version of Qaniq)? – a lighter, faster, structurally more solid kayak, with the cockpit and outfitting perfectly adjusted to your needs and wishes ;-)

Hello Bjorn,

could you recommend a scandinavian brand of kayaks which makes good quality kayaks and have a similar design as yours? I like SeaBird designs but if they have problems with quality I better look for some other brand. In the future I will probably try to make a wooden kayak, but for now I have to buy one:)

Best wishes,


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