The F1 kayak  adventures in kayak design

"Brian, I finally got a chance to paddle one of your kayaks.  It was my birthday and Judy let me paddle her boat. 
It was a peak experience, it was like wearing silk underwear."  - Lorraine
"Thank you so much for the loan of the F1.  I had a blast! Today I took your boat out on Netarts Bay alone.  My house mates thought I was nuts.  The wind had picked up, and the crabbers were coming in.  They all looked at me and shook their heads.  I paddled upwind as long as time and water depth would allow, and then turned back downwind in hope of surfing the wind waves.  Nice…!  The F1 felt like a comfortable old pair of shoes.  So easy, so obedient, responding surely to my moves.  I could  run up to catch a swell, so easy to keep on task.  I’m not a surfer, probably never will be.  I’m a flat water fitness guy for the most part.  But I’ve found a new love in the F1.  It did not take very long for me to feel totally comfortable in white capped wind waves which is frankly a bit more work to maneuver in my Coho.   You are so right on to this idea of questioning why kayakers think they need a long expedition style boat.   I have often felt my Coho was like a size and a half too big for me.  I still love it, but an F1 is now seared into my memory.  Easy to cartop, easy to store, easy for novices, totally fun for day outings or light touring.  And unique.  I was explaining it to every one that asked as they walked by. “What is that thing?”  Thanks again, I had too much fun playing with your boat." - Curt

"Hi Brian, just a quick note to let you know I lent the F1 to a friend today and she loved it. The water was a bit choppy and windy and she was able to keep ahead of the three guys (who normally paddle pretty fast!)."  -Mike

more technical details here        photo documentary of an F1 class here

a little over fourteen feet long, around twenty-three inches wide, about nine inches deep, less than thirty pounds
class $1200   custom built $1950

I believe in an impossible truth, somewhere out there is a perfect kayak.  My perfect kayak would accelerate quickly, maneuver well, cruise at a good speed, track on all points of wind, handle rough conditions with ease, and surf like a surfboard.  It would be super light, tough, comfortable and stable, with enough volume for light touring.  My perfect kayak would be fun!

Inspired by the Mariner Coaster, blended with my own ideas, and built with technology adapted from Inuit hunting kayaks, the F1 is my latest offering.   This kayak is well suited to the most dedicated rough water surf maniac, and the peaceful flatwater explorer.  The F1 features excellent stability for a skin kayak, and comfortable cockpit outfitting to give you a firm grip without feeling trapped.   Minimal wetted surface is key to excellent acceleration and efficient cruising.  Waterline is long enough to cruise easily up to four miles per hour.    Responsive to leaned turns and loose enough to spin 360 in five sweep strokes, it will still track cleanly with minimal fuss in a quartering sea.

Sometimes as a designer you get lucky, and sometimes you work.  For the F1 I worked.   Even with help from Mariner, (the first SC-1 drew very heavily on Mariner design concepts), ultimately it was long hours of prototyping and testing, in all sorts of terrible conditions that yielded this design.   I paddled the kayaks for hundreds of miles in conditions that you'd have to see to believe.  Then I taught a season of classes where we built over forty kayaks (then called the SC-1), and then another five long cold months of experiments and revisions to create what looks like the same kayak as last year.

Beneath the surface is a much stronger framework of bamboo, sitka spruce, and red cedar.  Deck beams are all laminated for more strength.  The shaping is subtly changed for a bit for much more cargo space and foot room.  Minicell foam thigh hooks give you a solid grip on the kayak.  An HDPE rub strip on the tail prevents wear when you drag it up the beach.  As always, the skin is a light ballistic nylon coated with a tough two-part polyurethane.  The deck lines are latigo straps with toggles, strong enough to carry or tow by, but enough elasticity to keep stuff where you put it on deck. 

Another result of this winter's grueling prototyping is the introduction of scalability to the design; the ability change the size and shape a bit for different sized paddlers and different uses.

For this photo I put 110lbs of weight in the kayak, so the total weight here is 280 lbs.  The flared hull keeps keeps the kayak high in the water even with an extreme load.   I like this kayak because it somehow manages to be light and playful, but has a lot of capacity when you need it.

but wait, didn't I say something about surfing?  Click here for some surf pics.

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