How did you start paddling? In the early days I paddled mostly in canoes, with trips on the lakes of New England, the Adirondacks and Canada. I dabbled briefly in whitewater but found myself drawn to saltwater. I used an old whitewater kayak on the ocean, then designed and built my first sea kayak in 1986. Even now, my sea kayak designs retain some influence from my whitewater days in terms of their responsiveness.
Describe your design philosophy. I have an engineering background, so I bring science to my designs. Yet there’s real artistry in integrating those principles into a grin-inducing boat. I refine my hull shapes relentlessly for performance and aesthetics. I draw on aboriginal kayak and canoe designs and 21st-Century materials to create unique paddling craft.
What’s your favorite place to paddle? My home waters are the tide races and surf around Fishers Sound in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, but given the opportunity I paddle the exposed islands of coastal Maine.
What’s your favorite CLC design? The Petrel is fast, responsive and fun in rough water. It has Greenland-inspired lines and a modern, efficient underbody that provides control and solid handling in turbulent conditions. I’ve enjoyed it in all conditions. Its smaller sister, the Petrel Play, is also starting to steal my affection.
How have you influenced kayak design? I’ve been lucky to see thousands of my designs built all over the world. Some builders have become professionals in the sport with designs of their own.
Describe your design process. I use 3D CAD models to refine hull shapes. I run the preliminary design through several performance analyses and continue refining the shape. After many iterations balancing performance and aesthetics, we build a prototype to further refine.
What’s your favorite thing about designing boats? There’s something immensely gratifying about being out on the ocean in a boat I created from scratch. It’s even more satisfying to see the pride our do-it-yourself builders take in boats they’ve made. The act of building a boat touches people in a unique way.