Fifteen years ago, if you went to a sea-kayaking symposium and someone had a boat on its edge, slipping in a bow rudder, every eye on the beach would be on that paddler. Folks trying out new boats were, more often than not, simply sitting in them and paddling them in a straight line. Forget low brace turns, rolling, edging or draw strokes - it just wasn't happening. Generally speaking, the boats were wider, the cockpits a set size, and the paddles - no matter the manufacturer or the material used - were all of the same general length.
Fast forward to any of the dozen or so symposiums around the country today and you see a very different scenario, on the water and on the beach. Paddlers are rolling, edging their boats, and experimenting with new gear and new skills. People are asking good questions about specifics of fit, design and performance. The one-size-fits-all-except-for-the-elitist approach to paddling is long gone; as a result, manufacturers are focused on providing equipment that enables paddlers to achieve a higher level of paddling skill. This "industry response to individual development" is refreshingly healthy growth. Finally, paddlers are getting what they have been asking for years: equipment that enables them to reach levels of competency that may not have been possible before, simply because the product didn't fit the user. A five-foot tall woman no longer has to get into a boat built for a six foot male. To everyone’s benefit, paddlers are demanding more and manufacturers are listening.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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