Jason Jacques offers an intro to the new Keweenaw 14
Being an engineer I'm not great at selling things , (too linear of a thinker-focused on what will work better instead of what might be more appealing or in vogue) yet my team at Peregrine asked for me to simply write down what our goals were, and what we hopefully accomplished with our new Keweenaw 14. So while this may not make for good ad copy…..here it is in the naked light of day: my vision of our new boat.
There are certainly no lack of 14 foot kayaks entering the market in the (pick your choice) day touring, compact sea kayak, advanced rec or sport class range. A quick study will show in fact it’s the fastest growing focus for composite builders. And there is no mystery as to why:
- Consumers are finding that longer kayaks are overkill for their type of paddling forays
- Cost of longer boats both in plastic and composite are climbing up steadily along with weight
- Kayakers are both moving UP from rec boats and DOWN from sea kayaks into more comfortable and easier to maneuver day touring kayaks.
I look around our own company and find the first point to be the most appropriate for us. While we have the skills and ownership of 17 foot kayaks, most of our paddling is just like yours-stolen hours (not days) away from work and chores and we want it light and simple.
From day-one here is what we set up as our goals for our Keweenaw 14 footers: Most hulls are either soft, moderate, or hard chined. On some roto-molded boats they have created "multi-chined" hulls to try and generate a hybrid hull. With our Keweenaw hull, I believe we have the best of hard and soft chine capability in a hybrid hull, and I'm not afraid to call it a hybrid....without all those silly multi-angles that plastic kayaks are forced to use to keep their hulls from warping.
- The shall V generates a lot of initial stability –very important for getting in/out
- The hard chine gives it a lot of edging and carving ability making turns easy
- The "bowed" hull above the chine line provides insane secondary stability and further increases carving ability.
- Oh, and also it does all this with ONLY 23" of width so it's fast too!!!
Most kayak builders simply elect to make the kayak hull wider to achieve the stability that we came up with, but that can make a very cool kayak somewhat of a slug. I want paddlers to be excited about the Keweenaw’s free glide feel!
In my opinion a lot of boats are either very loose in the cockpit and difficult to feel one-with-the-boat, or they are way too tight and restricting. The Keweenaw has an adjustable cockpit set-up (back-brace and seat) which allows for a comfortable and conforming fit into the cockpit. Key importance to us is because of the adjustability, it accomplishes this WITHOUT cramming the paddler in there (no struggle getting in/out or exit in event of capsize, not a trapped feeling). Oh yeah, and the extra leg room allows the paddler to not feel crammed while also not sacrificing good boat fit or that “one with my kayak” feel that we find critical here at Peregrine.
Weight! All Peregrine's are on the light end of the spectrum...pardon the pun, it’s the best I can do…after all I’m an enginerd! Trimming weight out of kayaks is the full reason we started Peregrine. We take our hats off to the many wonderful composite kayaks out there but they have simply gotten heavier and the paddler who buys them struggles to lift them. Like bicycles or good hiking boots, there simply is no debate over the pleasure reduced weight provides your body. So I looked for areas in the Keweenaw 14 where I could shed weight while at the same time not sacrificing strength.
We wanted to make the Keweenaw YOUR boat by being small enough to speak personally with you and add custom features:
- two sealed compartments with the ability to organize your gear
- a rudder IF you want one, if you don't you can forgo it and save the weight
- ability to order custom from the builders (either direct or through a dealer) for things like luggage handles, boat locks, compass, etc.
- for a small surcharge, ANY color you want, send us a sample and we'll match it!
AMERICAN Made and even better -- Michigan made and tested.
It has taken a considerable amount of time to bring our first Keweenaw’s from the design table to the water but in the process we’ve re-learned something from its big brother-the Talon. In the Talon we have intentional flex zones that we designed in. First to reduce weight, and secondly, like skin-on-frame Inuit kayaks, to have a better ride. The first Talons had areas in the deck and hull that flexed more than other composites and at first we were anxious to beef them up lest people worry about strength. While we knew the boats were strong enough for our customers we were also going against the flow of how other boats keep getting stiffer and heavier. But after test trials with the Talon every single paddler loved the feel of the kayak in and through a wide range of waters. No one ever felt the flex made the Talon wallow or had any issues with turns or top speed. Instead, they raved about how alive the Talon felt under them. Not to mention, there were of course the critical areas of the boat (cockpit area, segments of the hull, etc) where we did intentially beef up our laminate schedule for more strength…but only in the critical areas, not the whole boat!
Again I have strong admiration for other builders and designers, so after the success of the Talon I began to look into why other kayaks were so doggone heavy nowadays. What I discovered is that much of the production has moved overseas and there is not the hand layup process that we use that even allows for shifting layup weight. And because these foreign built kayaks now have to endure shipping long distances and then be shipped all the way across the USA; builders use the extra materials/weight to cut down on shipping damage before the kayaks hit the stores. But in the end, this means a heavier, less lively feeling kayak with weight you don’t need once you own it!
So back to the workshop and increasing tests on trying to get the perfect ratio of low-weight to stiffness and the right amount of flex with no loss of efficiency. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped but our composite teams are artisans and they stubbornly duplicated every nuance and change I came up with.
In the end, all that matters however is what YOU think. While I hope you get to test paddle a Peregrine soon, I know there are indeed many great kayaks out there. But I feel that my paddling skills are probably a lot closer to yours as I make no pretension about paddling around Greenland. So I think you will like what our team has done to put something different out on the market that should give enormous pleasure to paddlers across the USA.