We are always looking for new applications of composite materials like carbon fiber. One application we recently ran across is a new stand-up kayak designed and built by a company run by former Olympic kayaker Eric Jackson. His creation is a state-of-the-art kayak designed for anglers. Needless to say, it is quite impressive.
Jackson’s company gave the world a look at his prototype fishing kayak in June. He hopes the publicity combined with a Kickstarter campaign will get the kayak to full production. We hope he succeeds. In the meantime, we thought it might be helpful to answer the question, “why make a stand-up kayak with carbon fiber?”
Regular blog readers might immediately assume that carbon fiber’s excellent strength-to-weight ratio is the main driving factor here. Strength-to-weight is important, but there is a lot more to it than that. Jackson chose carbon fiber for a number of reasons.
More About Stand-Up Kayaks
Have you ever been kayaking? If so, have you ever been tempted to stand up in your boat? A typical kayak is not designed for that. Standing up in a standard kayak can be quite risky due to the boat’s inherent instability. That said, there are kayaks intentionally designed to accommodate standing.
A stand-up kayak is designed mainly for fishing. You paddle to wherever you want to throw your line in, then either throw down an anchor or just let the boat drift. Meanwhile, you stand up with your pole just as if you were on a larger fishing vessel.
Jackson says that most plastic stand-up kayaks are designed with a rounded hull. They are more stable than standard kayaks, but still not as stable as anglers would like them to be. The rounded hull design requires scupper holes – holes that let water out – because the lack of stability allows water into the boat as the angler moves around.
A Planing Hull Kayak
Being not much of a fan of rounded holes for stand-up kayaks, Jackson went with a planing hull design. A planing hull is flat on the bottom and tapers along its length so that one end is level with the water. This design means more of the hull surface lies flat in the water, providing a lot more stability.
Increased stability reduces the likelihood of water getting into the boat. As a result, Jackson’s design allows for eliminating the scupper holes. So all in all, his design seems to be better. But that still does not explain why he chose carbon fiber.
Simply put, a plastic hull would not be strong enough for Jackson’s design. The only way to strengthen the hull without adding considerable weight was to choose a different material. That material is carbon fiber.
Rigid and Durable
Jackson and his team were able to utilize a carbon fiber reinforced plastic made more rigid with core materials. They came up with a super stiff hull that will not bend and flex like plastic. And even though Jackson says users are more likely to break a carbon fiber kayak than a plastic one, carbon fiber is more easily repaired and will last longer.
The end result is a kayak that Jackson says customers can “keep around for a long time.” The carbon fiber will generally hold up much longer than plastic.
And now you know why a Campaign, Tennessee company decided to make a new stand-up kayak out of carbon fiber. It is a great looking boat. Buyers will pay more for it than a plastic boat, but the stronger and more stable kayak will be well worth the investment.