Thomas Grögler

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In the 18th century, Siberian whalers that reached the Aleuteans in the north pacific reported on exceptionally fast and manoeuvrable kayaks used by the inhabitants of this remote archipelago. Russian seal hunters named this type of boat “Baidarka”. The Baidarka is considered to be the fastest boat built by an indigenous people.

Functionality and aesthetics

The blunt stern and the keel that extends along the front of the boat result in a long waterline and therefore in a high travelling speed. This way of construction allows for the characteristic split bow. Possibly it was developed to ensure the ability for torsion of the hull. Bow and stern can be tilted against each other by 8 cm which leads to a smooth flow in wavy waters. Because these boats are used in ice free waters, their hull does not need an overhang as Greenland kayaks do.

Initially, Baidarkas with only one coaming were built for hunting and transport. Later on, during the time of the Russian hunters and fur traders, boats with up to three coamings – for two paddlers and one passenger – were built. Even today these boats are particularly convenient for long trips with heavy load. The strengths of these boats are their high carrying capacity, their smooth running and high speed.

Departures from the original construction

To ensure the kayak a long life even under our latitudes, we do not use sinews and skin for its construction but synthetic material, as natural material is likely to rot. This method allows us to safeguard and in some ways even largely improve the quality of the whole construction. The boats thus require very little maintenance – unlike the original ones, who had to be dissembled and rebuilt every other year.

© 2020 Thomas Grögler

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