Across the Atlantic there have been a certain interest in a surfski with kayak deck. Dan Caouette has built a nice interpretation of Spray with a kayak cockpit.
John Abercrombie and I have mailed ideas and details for a similar project via mail for a while. It got me looking in my inspiration folder for whimsical ideas where I had a suitable project that might fit the bill: a surski-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 doesn'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 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 ;-)
Visually the Jag has been inpiration, 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 interesting appearance on an efficient hull I focussed on. Superfiscial 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 just finished the prototype – a real beauty in black hull and copper-colored deck (inspired from Dan Caouettes 5-part Black Pearl). It will hit the water as soon as the weather eases up. Now a gale with rainstorms hovers over BC. The kayak is discussed on the Kayak Building Forum.
Now, all left to do, is to add some details and instructions on the drawings and find a name – then I am ready to publish the new kayak in the plans catalog.
A while with Illustrator/Photoshop produced this visual idea – a couple of carbon pieces to tweak the wood.
Panthera (the kayaks name, after latin for Jaguar: Panthera Onca) is 559 x 53cm – slightly wider than Spray, and thus a little more initial stability.
If someone want to go really 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…