Founding of Nordic Kayaks
Nordic Kayaks (NK) is a Swedish company, dedicated to the development, manufacturing and marketing of state-of-the-art surfskis – relying on a combination of CAD and traditional drafting skills, with input from experienced elite paddlers and designers, building and testing prototypes to confirm the theoretical data, and specifying the best materials and cutting edge manufacturing technology.
Nordic Kayaks, was founded in 2006 in Vaxholm on the Swedish east coast, by Fredrik Lindström and Peter Bringby. Disappointed with the multisport kayaks commercially available at the time, they set about designing their own, building on extensive experience with all kinds of kayaks since the mid 90s, from Olympics K1s to multisport kayaks and surfskis. The result was the Rocket – an all out, no holds barred multisport racer that pushed the envelope – and at the same time developing a path to even more efficient hull shapes and even better interaction with the paddler in the future.
To meet this potential and make full use of the knowledge and experience gained with the Rocket and Rocket+, a team of hydrodynamic experts, CAD-engineers, graphic designers and elite paddlers was put together during 2009 to lay out the basic specs for and cooperate in developing a new line of very fast and efficient surfskis.
ZSS and Nordic Kayaks – the beginning of a partnership
“I first made contact with Nordic kayaks in October 2017. At the time I was still a little hesitant to pursue a business relationship as I had heard only a small amount about the brand but I was interested as a result of a few reviews I head read. I made a few enquiries with paddlers who had the skis in an attempt to get a relatively unbiased view on the skis. These paddlers also had some experience in other brands so they were able to make some useful comparisons from which to base a decision to pursue the skis further. After a number of conversations with Fredrik I started to build trust in the brand. Fredrik not only appeared to have a very good understanding of ski design and hydrodynamics but he also understood the construction requirements of a world class product. The more we conversed, the stronger my belief that I was dealing with a individual that had the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to develop a great product. I initially brought a few NK designed plastic skis to Australia to test. I was happily surprised with what a 22-23kg 5.05m plastic ski could do on the flat and more importantly on the ocean. Based on a few weeks of paddling in the plastic and a number of videos and conversations later our first shipment of performance skis was on the way.” – John Wilkie (ZSS Paddling Equipment)
Nordic Kayaks Fredrik Lindström – the man behind the skis
How and when did you become involved with the sport of kayaking? Where did the interest come from?
I grew up with a father paddling an old Olympic wood K1, I didn’t really enjoy it back then but I did learn to sit in narrow kayaks early. Then when I did the military service in Sweden we used kayaks to sneak in on islands in the archipelago, and at one time we paddled 180 km non-stop during 2 days. Strangely I kept on kayaking after that and did many adventure races using narrow multi-sport kayaks and found the love for training.
Can you talk me through the process of a new ski design from start to finish? You have the idea of a ski to sit in a particular place in the market, how do you go about designing it and bringing it to production?
Well, it has taken a long time to learn the process, from the beginning there was some trial and error. But the key thing is to learn what my data from design program means in reality. Swedish kayak designer Bjorn Thomasson taught me some of it but I am a practical guy so to understand why things happen I must try, I have hand built many hulls to understand what the program tells me. The thing is to really test, and test some more. Now when designing a new hull I know already in the computer what characteristics it will have, so when having 100 of different designed hull in the computer its actually quite “easy” to adjust small details to get it were I want it to fit on the market.
Do you have common characteristics you incorporate into the hull design of the Nordic range?
Yes we have! Maybe that is our benefit of been growing slowly, we have had the possibility to change and do better, the range we have now are all built with the same characteristics, which I believe is quite unique. First ski model we made back in 2008 was flat hull, now we do round hulls, what we believe is the most predictable and effective. And that is often the compliments we get, the ski do as the paddler want without surprises or sudden moves.
Everyone loves a quick ski and the Nitro 60 and 64 are at the elite end of your scale. What steps have you taken in the hull design process to ensure these skis are race winners?
Testing… we did a lot of testing when developing the Nitro, bench marked it against other skis, the 64 hull has actually been the same the last 4 years, cockpit has been updated but we haven’t found any reason to change the hull, and has no plan for it, its a race winner in the right hands.
Can you describe your thought processes in designing the bucket and cockpit area of your skis?
We always use the same ratio between seat and foot area, a balance of keeping stability but still sit higher than your feet. All is based on ergonomics and feedback from paddlers during the years. From the beginning we have want to keep the hump a little lower for better leg-drive, the seat must allow for comfort but still provide possibility to move your hips. Its all about compromises and try to fit for as many persons as possible.
What sets Nordic Kayaks apart from other designers and manufacturers?
We can now provide skis in two lengths, no one shall leave a test paddling with NK without finding a ski that doesn’t fit, no matter you are 160cm and 50 kg or 200cm and 100 kg, I think we have achieved that. Then we work hard with the details and quality, I think we provide a really good product now.
You have de Brito components in the skis, what is the relationship there and how does it benefit Nordic Kayaks?
We been involved from the beginning of testing and developing the deBrito bailer, we were the first ones to use it. From there our partnership has gowned and Magnus is now making the CAD drawings for the new boats and has specifically been involved in design process of the latest cockpit used in 60, 57, 54 and the Breeze PE. We have found a really good partnership, Magnus is the only one I can call a Saturday night to discuss details in a rudder yoke.
What are your plans for the future in terms of ski design and production and furthering the Nordic Brand?
Well my partners has told me to focus on strengthening the brand now, we have the package, let it loose 🙂 I can be a little too focused on the product, but I really want the product to sell by it self rather than I tell someone this is a fantastic product. But the ones that are successful rather focus on sales, so we try a little of that for future 🙂