You might be paddling down the river inches above the water when you stop to ask who was the genius that came up with the graceful art of kayaking? How did the kayak evolve and grow to be this fast? Maybe it started out really big like telephones and gradually shrunk. Well, there are a few interesting points in history that led up to the kayak we know and love today.
The Invention in Greenland
Believe it or not, the first kayak was invented over 5,000 years ago by who were referred to in the past as Eskimos. They were then made in the northern part of present-day Canada but the early ones were made of driftwood and wrapped in seal skin. They were unsinkable in the beginning with air-filled seal blatters keeping them afloat and were used primarily for fishing which is why ‘kayak’ literally means “hunter’s boat.”Their first design composed of one small circular opening for the user to sit. They were built by both men and women but only men went hunting and this forced women to create kayaks with the hole especially fitted for their men’s body type.
The Foldable Kayak
Once the Europeans got hold of the kayak, they traded in the seal skin for fabric covers. Then a German inventor named Hans Klepper used a design from a student and created the kayak that folds into storage calling it the “foldaboat.” This was then followed by a man who created a slimmer version called “the Rob Roy.” A book by John MacGregor encouraged the use of the Rob Roy and this led to the popular practice of recreational kayaking. After this, people no longer bought them for navigation or hunting purposes, but for sport.
The next major advancement took place over a century later with kayaking becoming an Olympic sport being used with a regatta in 1936 beginning with the 1,000 and 10,000m dashes and with white-water and slalom events being introduced later. Its frame began to be made out of fiberglass starting in the 1950’s and from there, the modern design reverted back to that made centuries ago and it still looks like the Inuit design. However, it is now made of a hard rubberized plastic (since 1984)called Kevlar and made a bit slenderer for speed during sport.
The kayak today is the most popular self-propelled watercraft which tourists use to explore waters around the world. Many use it on the rapids for a thrill and some use it with the family to relax on a lake. It has been around for a very long time, but the design has changed very little as it seems that the Greenlandic Inuit people got it right when creating the slim design for speed. It is still made of wood in many parts of the world and it seems that the only part of the kayak which really evolved is the material it is made of and what it is used for.