The Paddlesports are Alive and Well: Recently I drove by Collinsville Canoe & Kayak in Collinsville, Connecticut. Had to swing in and look around. Its was a major treat to see all the different paddle craft being offered and their assorted goodies. Man oh man, the paddlesports are alive and well!
When I was young, the only recreational paddle craft around was the canoe. For the outdoor enthusiast, it was the most revered way to travel lakes and streams. And it is still held in high esteem today. Canoes are cool. As we moved into the 1980’s, however, the self-propelled paddlesports began to slowly evolve with the growing popularity of the kayak. Now kayak are everywhere. Everywhere!
Like canoes, kayaks are ancient craft first used by native people for survival. Today, however, both boats are extremely popular for all sorts of recreational reasons – including fishing, camping, touring, hunting, photography, and good old relaxation. Get this: in the USA over 300,000 kayaks are made each year, and over 100,000 canoes! Crazy! We love our paddle craft. Got one yet? What are you waiting for? Believe me there is one out there just for you.
Naturally with that expansion came a lot of innovation. The variety of hull materials grew. Of course, some wood hulls are still available, but we now rely mainly on fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon-fiber, rotomolded polyethylene, and thermal formed plastics such as ABS. Each has its own pros & cons & price point. Hull designs have advanced too, as has styles, paddles, pedal drives, electric motors, sails, technical wear, and accessories. You can outfit your craft in endless ways. Soon we’ll have cabins, bunks, a galley, and a toilet aboard. LOL
Then around 2005 we even witnessed the birth of another paddle craft – the standup board. Man, those things have caught on. Across the country, standup boards are rapidly growing in popularity. Between 2010-2014 there was a 3 fold increase in interest. We now produce roughly 50,000 boards a year. And there are upwards of 3 million people using them. Yes, the paddlesports are alive and well. And there is no end in sight…..