Extent of Market Interest

I wanted to post under “general advice” where I found “design 101” and “fast designs” – my question is similar but more market/sales related. I am an engineer with many years and patents in the field of Hydrodynamics so feel that I have some technical design credibility. I have been designing and building small custom strip-built woodie boats with electric or gas power. But have become interested in paddle power and would like to do some small scale production – very nice classic full deck designs similar to Chris Craft barrelback boats, yet very light weight. So I might approach a mkt segment interested in class and beauty. At same time I think I have some hull design details which might generate very good speed and ease of getting up onto plane – so I could aim at mkt segment interested in racing (but I doubt that this group would show interest in beauty – in fact in racing it appears that ugly does better in intimidating the competition & thus helps sales. But I can’t visualize this group showing any interest in pure beauty, and of course rules limit any decking to little or none). Is there any buying interest in a good looking fully decked “beauty” with fast speed potential?? Is this the best of both worlds with good sales potential or could it be a combination of interest to no one –

dream on

Check this

Nick might be able to give you some advice.

“ugly” raceboats

– Last Updated: Mar-26-15 9:33 AM EST –

are often they way due to the rules in various classes. Biggest example imo is the "wildwater" kayaks with that huge flared section to meet beam requirements. I have seen canoes with sprits to meet length requirements; ugly as sin, but more maneuverable in tight courses than more traditional looking classmates.
Now; re: dream on....a Chris Craft barrelback paddle vessel that planes? (did I read that right?)....A pretty powerboat for sure, I remember a guy on my dock having one in my youth; replaced the original Lathrop 90 horse with a 225 Chrysler and proceeded to knock the caulk and cotton out of the seams lol...my neighbor has 2 of those boats as well; restored to new condition. As a paddling vessel, imo that would be a butt ugly design.
There's a few folks on this board who have pretty boats, Mintjulep built a stripper sea kayak by hand and it's real pretty. My pretty boat had a mast and a diesel, and a teak/mahogany/holly interior; my canoes are beat to a pulp, but they're beautiful to me.
Edit...to go with "very light weight", why would you bother with a deck? For aerodynamics once you paddled this thing up on plane? lol

No one buys high end paddle craft
any more.

Every one that comes on P-net wants the cheapest plastic boat they can find.

The racers know which boats are the fastest and the non racers could care less

jack L

Small market
There are various “specs” for racing classes, racing boats, surf skis…

A starting point: www.uscanoe.com/A_Guide_to_USCA_Kayak_Specs_W117.cfm

Total market size is maybe a few hundred boats a year, spread across a bunch of classes.

And designer credibility or not, racers buy the boat that’s winning. So unless you are willing to give a few away to winning racers, and they are willing to accept your boat and race it then no one will be interested.

There is a small population of builders. Selling plans may be the most profitable route.

Do you paddle?

– Last Updated: Mar-26-15 6:01 PM EST –

I always wish the best for anyone who wants to go out on a limb and make a high-quality product that somebody out there will think is cool, but you said something that makes me wonder if you have real experience with canoes.

First, fully decked boats are not likely to be popular with canoeists, because they will always know that the boat could be a lot lighter if the deck weren't there. That said, decks do help provide easier handling in strong wind, and if you can come up with lighter boats than anyone has built so far, so that a decked canoe might weigh around 30 pounds or so (a common weight for some of the lighter standard canoes, though the weights can even be less), you might be in luck.

Second, the material itself isn't what makes a hull fast, but if material is lightweight, that can at least help. Beyond the issue of weight, the shape of the hull is what matters, and for a given shape, skin friction and wave-making resistance will be virtually the same with any material that you choose. Also, you mention that your proposed designs will be easy to get up on plane. I think if you were a paddler, you would know that paddlers can't generate enough horsepower to get a boat up on plane, other than with a few specialized whitewater designs, and with them, planing under paddle power alone (not surfing on a whitewater wave) can only be done for very short bursts. For normal paddling, including racing, any hull is a displacement hull, and displacement design criteria will rule. We have at least one canoe-design expert here, and one person who does research in hydrodynamics, and they might chime in and provide more detail than this. I think you need to be a paddler to be a good canoe-designer.

Yes - the hydrodynamics guy has spoken (below).

High-end boats
Your post on high-quality kayaks with some classic details made me think of three different things:

First, Nick Schade’s Microbootlegger design, a gorgeous strip-built kayak/decked canoe. I don’t think it’s particularly fast, but it certainly captures the old-school runabout design ideal. It’s a plan or kit boat only, I believe, so not sure how many are made.

Warren Light Craft has come up with an unusual modern kayak design, I’ve never paddled one, although I’d like to. They are quite light and may be fast, not really sure. They are certainly expensive. I don’t perceive they’ve made much inroad into the kayak market.

If you’re talking about very pretty, very fast designs, I think of Struer, who’ve been making mahogany racing boats of all types for decades. They are beautiful, expensive and still in use, although mostly in Europe, I think. Used, they do not sell for very much, as the demand is apparently small here. I have one of their ‘touring’ designs, which is beautiful and not nearly as stable as one would expect from a touring hull. I should sell it, but it’s just so pretty…

I think altogether, the market for these boats is tiny - maybe you could carve out a niche too, but I think it’s going to be quite small.

Planing kayaks…
Re a planing paddlecraft, I have serious doubts about that. A vessel is considered a displacement hull up to a Froude number of about 0.4 (the same criteria used to calculate theoretical hull speed). The Froude number is a non-dimensional speed, Fr = V/sqrt(gL), where L is the waterline length of the hull. Depending on who you read, planing either starts at Fr = 0.5 or not until Fr = 1 and above.

For a 5m (16.4 ft) kayak, these Fr values correspond to speeds of 7 and 14 knots. I have a hard time picturing anyone maintaining either of these forward speeds, even with minimal paddling effort – the cadence will just be too high. If true planing doesn’t happen until 14 knots, I think it is likely impossible.

There were some videos a few years back of a hydrofoil kayak developed in Norway – I believe it ran at about 10 or 12 knots, and the athlete/paddler looked like a whirling dervish getting his wing paddle into the water at the necessary speed (greater than the kayak speed). He was only able to keep the boat up on the foil for a couple of hundred yards or so, and that was with really minimal drag from the foil array.

Re power output, assuming a paddle force in the range of 3-5 pounds (say 15 or 20 N), the power required from the paddler will generally be in the range of 50 to 150 W (1/9 - 1/3 hp). This is pretty high, and could maybe be maintained by a trained athlete for a short or medium race distance. I may be off on the power estimate, but I think the cadence issue is actually more important.

Planing Paddle Craft
No problem.

Get yourself a waveski. All of my skis plane no problem. Not sure I would want to ride a Chriscraft wood one though. Wavemaster customs have a nice woody look and a guy in the Pacific Northwest makes custom wood inlay waveskis. Not a big market.

Wave ski
Even more so than what can be done with certain whitewater kayaks, I’d not be surprised if a wave ski will plane under paddle power. But are they truly fast when powered only by the paddle, and is paddling them up on plane energy-efficient? If not, it’s not really the answer to the question here.

niche market

sound track: WIPEOUT
top end builders are not competing with durable inexpensive simpler hull design plastic boats.

Life is over the waterfall not down the lake.

…go ahead, cheat, use gravity, real men get on plane using paddle power alone…

it’s all about the motor
(a 25 hp mercury ought to do the trick)

Nich Mkt & Plane Doubters
I had felt the mkt perhaps non-existant when starting thread. And feel JackL nailed it per buyers wanting cheapest plastic possible and racers wanting a proven winner – so no one wants a “beauty” which might be fast. I still would like to try – does anyone have an idea how to sell a few w/o giving to a willing racer?? As to Carldelo’s Froude # dependence on length. I have spent over a year doing the math, studying PhD papers & prior art on hull design – and do feel a paddle power planer can be built. Might be possibility of true article patent, definitely under the little known new patent class for boat hulls, and/or at least copyright. If I make one and demonstrate, will the buyers flock to my door?? (bearing in mind this would be a woodie-styled classic-look “beauty” somewhat above the low-end bottom priced junk) – Can good looks and speed potential combination sell??


– Last Updated: Mar-27-15 12:05 PM EST –

Check out some of the beautiful-but-functional wooden boats out there, both paddle- and oar-powered, which sell for the same price as a small car. It's back to that niche-market thing again, but yes, there are a few people, among those who can afford to pay, who will go for that sort of thing. It'd be cool if you made it happen.

One way to promote the product would be to advertise in upscale wooden-boat publications. They usually deal with big power boats and sailboats, but I've seen ads for expensive, human-powered wooden boats there.

Not everyone who buys such things has any intention of putting them in the water. I once helped get a 16-foot wooden Adirondack guide-boat to a fellow in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. That boat was by far the most expensive grocery-store decoration I've ever seen (the wooden ones are *way* beyond my budget, but I sure would like to try one).

Go for it…
Sounds like you’re doing the homework - next step is to see if you can make it happen.

Turns out the foil kayak is shown here at p-net, check out the video for some speed info and to get an idea of how busy a paddler must be to go so fast:


If there’s no potential of big prize $$$
…and I don’t see that, why paddle something that you have to be “on top of” 100% of the time?

wood or plastic
Are you wading into a beauty follows form follows function sea with a not that idea ? Note the civic attitude toward white water sports parks.


I’m not putting your idea or the boat class down but as an example my reaction to wood hulls is wood hulls are junk.

My mind/perspective does not want to leave the box of beauty follows form…yet I feel wood is beautiful.

I was a child before plastic, only wood.

On a basic level, try Walmart after doors open on floor cleaning day…before a big buy weekend.

The place shines. Overwhelming oil>plastic environment.

Disgusting, terminal…Global Warming. THE END

Wood rots.