How did you get into the kayak business?
I fell in love with kayaking in the mid-60s. In those days, if you wanted a kayak you had to build your own, or beg someone to build one for you. I happened to like building them, and pretty soon people were begging me to build boats for them.
I knew Werner Furrer Sr., the founder of Werner paddles, and knew that he’d designed whitewater boats for his family. Molds were still rare in those days, but Werner agreed to let me build his designs. I learned his methods and began designing my own boats in the late 1970s.
Describe your design philosophy.
My design philosophy was simple and remains the same today. I start with three questions: Who is the boat for? What does it need to do? How can I make it beautiful?
How have you influenced kayak design?
Performance has always been key for Eddyline, and that’s led us to experiment with construction methods and materials. We were the first to use vacuum-bagging in fiberglass kayaks. We delved into computer design and computer cut masters.
You also were the first kayak company to build with thermoformed plastic.
Once we started thermoforming components like seats and backrests, we thought, ‘Wow, this is nice. It’s clean, it’s strong, it’s fast.’ We had to build our own machine just to see if it was possible to thermoform a complete kayak. It worked, and the result is far more efficient than other methods, and cleaner environmentally.
How has paddling enriched your life?
So I’d lead trips in the summer and invite my friends along. One of my friends said he had some friends he’d like to bring, and he said I’d like them. One of them was Lisa, and he was right. Really, my reason for being in the business is that it was an excuse to go kayaking.
Is there such a thing as a perfect kayak?
People kayak for many, many reasons. The simple truth is, whatever your reasons for kayaking, the better the quality of the boat you’re using, the more fun you’re going to have doing it.