Design, construction and performance – the essence of all kaskazi kayaks.
Kaskazi kayaks are known for:
* Functional designs and elegant lines
* Proven performance – require less effort
* Precise handling
* Dry and comfortable ride in wind and waves
* Seaworthiness/safety in extreme conditions
* Comfortable cockpits with emphasis on safety
* Robust construction
* Guaranteed Buyback
Innovation, not imitations
In 1998 we launched the first home grown sea kayak – the Kaskazi Duo. Since then the list of designs have grown. The latest includes the first outrigger canoe to hit our shores, a truly unique sail with outriggers, a three piece kayak, and much more. We are as strong in functional design and innovation as we are in the aesthetics of our kayaks. Selling points of our kayaks are the performance characteristics of the kayak, the construction of the kayak and the price. We not only design our own kayaks, we build them, we sell them and we use them ourselves.
All too often “new” kayaks are designed by copying and modifying older kayaks. We have been designing our own models since 1996, and our use of advanced computer aided kayak design has improved both the performance and the look of our kayaks.
With each design there are 2 equally important components. The first is the technical aspects (length, width, displacement, stability), various coefficients, all affecting the performance characteristics, and secondly the look of a kayak.
The performance comes with the design and the construction methods. No-one else in South Africa is designing kayaks as technically sound as Kaskazi kayaks. Each Kaskazi design is different, and each is designed for a special purpose. Each kayak starts it’s life on paper – with freehand drawings for the flowing lines, a long list of desired attributes – length, width, displacement, stability, a host of coefficients, and the all important desired performance characteristics. This forms the basis for the rest of the design process, which is computer based. In many instances performance can be quantified.
All our kayaks fall into the “easy to paddle” category, with low drag in the range of speeds at which they are expected to be used. The drag of a kayak is affected by many coefficients that need to be decided on at the design stage of a kayak. The drag of a kayak at different displacements can not only be measured but also predicted before the kayak is even made. While many paddlers are not looking for fast kayaks, most agree that less effort for more distance is welcome. We therefore know how fast our kayaks are, and how they compare with the best in the world. The centres of buoyancy, effort and lateral resistance are all design criteria which affect how the kayak handles in different conditions. The success of Kaskazi kayaks is owing to the ability to optimise the designs in terms of speed, stability and carrying capacity without compromising the handling of the kayak. This means our kayaks outperform our competition.
The stability of a kayak from upright to upside down can be measured and compared. Stability can achieved by innovative hull designs or purely with width. Many of the design and handling features of our kayaks are not immediately apparent, but fully appreciated by the experienced paddler
Over weeks or even months new designs are “tested” on performance prediction programmes, stability curves are studied, and adjustments made.
Once we are satisfied that the new design meets all our criteria we proceed to build the plug – the first original product. This is generally built using a combination of methods – beautiful wooden strip building and shaping of foam between stations are the two most common methods used. Once this has been faired and polished we build the female mould around the original male product. Once the mould has been prepared we are ready to go into production.
The fibreglass hand lay-up ensures strength and durability, and the internal finish is smooth. We do not cover it with a paint layer, as all that does is hide bad workmanship, and make any subsequent repairs more difficult and time consuming. The weight we advertise is the final weight of the kayak. (Our competitors often like quoting the bare-boat weight.) Having said this, our kayaks are of below average weight. We can even make them lighter, but then we would compromise strength and durability. If however, you are looking for a truly lightweight kayak we also manufacture epoxy glass and epoxy carbon kayaks, which provide for lighter kayaks without compromising strength.Obviously there is a trade off between weight and strength. The standard lay-up of our kayaks is designed to provide a very robust kayak which is still easy to manhandle for paddlers who are primarily recreational. We can customise the lay-up of a kayak to suit individual requirements and would recommend a heavier construction or some of the exotic materials for higher risk applications.
The actual construction of our KASKAZI kayaks is as important as the design. Because of the trail side of our business we fully understand the abuse kayaks undergo. We believe in strong boats, capable of withstanding a pounding in the surf and on the beach. No compromises! Gone are the days of cheap resin and multiple layers of choped strand mat. In are the days of core materials for stiffness and more flexible resins to absorb impact. Our aim is to always find the balance between building good looking and durable kayaks, keeping the final weight of the kayak down and keeping the price affordable. Even on our standard kayaks we use a core material. We believe the benefits of increased strength and impact resistance warrant the increase in price of our kayaks.
We bond the hull and deck with both an internal and an external seam, bulkheads are fibre glassed in and the internal finish is smooth. Hatches on our kayaks are often positioned on the kayak in order to make sure we have better access to the inside of the kayak for manual internal bonding. The equipment used on each kayak needs to be simple, easy to use and robust. Our rudders are strong, bolted together (not welded) and probably slightly over-designed for trouble free use. The rudders and deck fittings are functional and robust. We routinely look for opportunities to further improve our kayaks.
We often get questions on our choices of fittings and construction methods. Our decisions are based on functionality, simplicity and durability. Many of our clients never use their kayaks to the full extent for which they were designed, as many of our clients own vehicles that they seldom push to the edge of their capabilities. Having a vehicle that has proven itself in the Paris-Dakar does not mean you have to do the Paris – Dakar, only that you can truly have faith in your vehicle. The focus of the Kaskazi factory is on quality production. We build a product correctly the first time using the best materials, construction methods and quality checks.
While the use of exotic materials like Carbon, Kevlar, foam cores and epoxy can result in rigid and strong kayaks, the costs put it out of the reach of the average recreational paddler. For the more serious paddler the benefits are either lighter weight (up to 30%) or an increase in strength and durability. Weight for weight, epoxy carbon is stronger than epoxy glass, which is in turn stronger than polyester glass. Although very strong and stiff, carbon does not have good impact resistance and therefore is not used as an outer skin on a kayak. Kevlar has the greatest impact and wear resistance of all the materials and is therefore ideal for kayaks which are used for rocky launches and landings. Kevlar rubbing strips can also be added to the keel of standard construction kayaks to protect them against abrasion. When using exotic materials we always use the correct combination of the best materials available. We only use epoxy resins for our lightweight kayaks because of its superior strength and flexibility. Only the best core materials are used and all our epoxy kayaks are vacuum bagged to ensure the highest integrity laminate.
All paddlers are concerned about safety, and we address the core of these issues at the design stage. The major concern of most new kayakers is the scenario of tipping, flooding the kayak and sinking it. One of the major selling points with sit-on-top kayaks is that they are sealed and therefore “safer” than proper sea kayaks. The reality is that even sealed kayaks have openings through which water can enter the kayak, and kayaks can be holed. All quality kayaks will have bulkheads to separate compartments which will contain any water entering the kayak in a specific compartment. Many might consider the 2 bulkheads in the Kaskazi Pelican, Duo AR and Skua AR (sit-on-top kayaks) as over the top, but this is just part of our philosophy towards safety. All our kayaks have strategically placed bulkheads to separate your kayak into compartments. The Kaskazi deck shape also ensures easy emptying of the kayak in the unlikely event of a capsize. Many manufacturers of sit-on-tops rely on the false sense of security associated with sit-on-tops and don’t have any bulkheads or even additional buoyancy in their kayaks.
Secondary stability is what matters in this game – not primary stability. The real solid feel under your butt associated with so many recreational craft come back and bite you in rougher conditions when you most want to stay upright. Stability does not have to come at the price of excess width. Kayaks with high initial stability often feel incredibly stable while on flat water, yet very unstable in the open sea. The stability of a kayak from upright to upside-down can be measured and compared. Our kayaks are all relatively narrow, yet have more than adequate stability. We generate the secondary stability through innovative hull designs and low seat heights. Kaskazi Kayaks are not easy to fall out of, they are easy to stay in. We believe kayaks should sit snug around you, that you should be part of the kayak, that you must be able to secure yourself inside the kayak to brace, to enjoy the secondary stability of the kayak without falling out unintentionally.
Our kayaks have superior performance in handling wind and following seas. These are points we like to discuss as they are critical to paddler safety. You will notice that all Kaskazi Kayaks don’t mind going upwind, or downwind, or side-on to wind. When the going gets rough the Kaskazi designs are most appreciated for superior handling, so you don’t fall out.
The deck design around the cockpit and the placing of the bulkheads facilitate easy drainage of the kayak after a wet exit. With the assisted rescue technique it is possible to get back into a Kaskazi sea kayak, with all the water drained and ready to paddle again, within 30 seconds. The Kaskazi Skua has 2 bulkheads and the deck and cockpit design of the kayak facilitates quick drainage during rescues, while the Kaskazi Duo has a vital third bulkhead between the two seat areas.
Safety also has to do with the design of the kayak and the ability to handle adverse weather and sea conditions. An overly stable and flat bottom kayak will not perform well in choppy conditions, a kayak that has a tendency to turn downwind is outright dangerous, and a kayak that constantly ships water over the bow in even mild conditions will tire the paddler out in rougher conditions.
However, a kayak that has secure in-built knee bracing holds, with secure secondary stability and a neutral ride in wind is a lot safer.
Comfort with back support is essential in a good kayak. Seats with back support need to be contoured to fit the shape of the human butt and not visa-versa! The Kaskazi seat is undeniably one of the most comfortable on the market. The ergonomics of the seat combined with the Kaskazi deck shape make for comfortable paddling. Our seats are contoured and provide back support and are not just a strip of foam or a flat board trying to imitate a seat. All Kaskazi sit-in kayaks have a very comfortable one piece contoured seat, with a slightly flexible backrest. The Pelican and Skua sit-on-top are of a few sit-on-tops in the world with a deep seat and back support as standard features. Its not a clumsy add-on extra. We don’t use foam or rubber coverings on our seats because we are not trying to pad an uncomfortable flat board. On the sea kayaks the cockpit area with the knee tunnels provide a positive knee bracing position. Once again, this is an integral part of the deck, not an add-on.
Comfort in a kayak also has to do with having a dry ride and comfortable predictable handling in all conditions. Looking for a relatively dry ride? Looking for a kayak that does not throw water at the paddler? Look no further.
As soon as we start looking at touring with a kayak the demands on the kayak increases. Hatches large enough to fit dry bags and gear into are necessary, as is volume in the compartments for the gear. The hull volume must be sufficient to handle additional weight, and the stability of the kayak must not decrease with the addition of weight. Most Kaskazi kayaks were designed for touring and will surprise you with their capabilities.
Next time you consider the alternative, just ask them to please do both an external and internal seam, and while they are about it, please add two bulkheads and can they please ensure that they are well sealed. If you also want to use the kayak for touring, can they please replace the hatches for larger ones with a dual seal, and don’t forget the deck rigging (as standard on all Kaskazi kayaks). And don’t forget, you still want a lightweight kayak that is easy to carry and a kayak with a price comparable to a Kaskazi. Or just buy a Kaskazi!
We have enough faith in our Kaskazi Kayaks to offer you a guaranteed buyback. Do you know of any other kayak manufacturer in South Africa who will do this? Contact us for more details about this scheme.