Kayak design and other nautical projects

I have been designing kayaks and accessories of all kinds since 2003. Initially as Riot kayaks’ industrial designer, then freelance after I left the company in 2010. What draws me back to kayak design is of course the styling aspect but also the technical side of the program and the challenges created by the need to combine all these aspects together: ergonomics, seaworthiness, performance and of course, styling.

kayak design
One of my early designs, the Riot Brittany, won Outside Magazine’s “Gear of the Year” award in 2006

A kayak is also an amalgamate of parts produced in various materials, each with their own processes and requirements. High-precision injection-molded plastic fittings and elastomeric parts must fit and seal rotomolded and composite shells equally well, vacuum-formed seating components must be forced through the cockpit and properly recover their shape to perform their task of providing comfort while structuring the hull, etc. There is so much more to it than meets the eye.

kayak design
The Riot Edge series was issued in 2009 and remains a popular choice to this day

The modeling of the shell is always a great pleasure to work on, bringing its own set of challenges from streamlining and blending shapes to integrating functional elements so they perform the intended task without hurting the overall look and feel.

kayak design
Steve Fisher, testing an early prototype of what would become the Riot Astro. Photo Desré Pickers

Through the years I have developed a unique workflow to address the various aspects of such projects in measurable and verifiable ways, ensuring the performances and safety requirements are met without the need for costly prototyping iterations.

kayak design

I occasionally work on small motor vessels as well, such as the redesign of this 24-foot commercial rigid inflatable for aluminum construction, and a range of low-draft runabouts designed specifically for low water use, such as the Lachine Rapids, in Montreal.

boat design
The finished boat, in action in the St-Lawrence estuary
boat design
Overview of the aluminum structure for the 24′ RIB project
boat design
plates of 19′ low-draft runabout
boat design
Low-draft, jet-powered 19′ runabout for aluminum construction.
Design by Normand Bachand

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.