8.11.10

JAMES HAWKER / ENGLISH LIGHT VERSION

James Hawker / Waveskis and surfkayaks manufacturer



Name: James Hawker
Age: 28
Occupation: Composites Structural Design Engineer, Waveski and Surf Kayak Manufacturer
Address: Torpoint, Cornwall, UK
Competition records:
HP and IC finalist World Championships, Ocean Spirit, Portugal, 2009. IC British Champion 2006 & 2009. 2nd place British Championships HP 2009. IC Silver Medal 2005 World Championships Costa Rica and Finalist HP.
Paddling experience:
Competing internationally since 1996
Gear:
Future Kayaks Random Evolution HP, Future Kayaks Waveski, Murky Waters Salsa IC
http://www.futurekayaks.com/

Hello James! This new chat is about your new factory. How are things going?
Earlier this year I made the decision to leave my full time employed job and start making kayaks on a full time basis. Prior to then I was responsible for technical engineering within the Composites Technology Group at a large UK engineering firm, but in April I finally made the jump and decided to become self-employed. As well as making kayaks I continue to work as a freelance composites engineer, which helps to pay the bills while the kayaks become established.

It has been really busy setting things up full time, and I haven’t had a single day off (excluding competitions) for a couple of months now and I’m consistently working 12-14 hours a day. I’m enjoying it though and the feedback from pleased customers makes it all worthwhile. Hopefully I’m getting on top of the workload now and organising the factory more efficiently so I should have a bit more time for surfing!

Things seem to be building gradually at the moment as the boats are being seen and tested by people. Everyone has been really positive about the quality of the kayaks and I think that now I just need to get the boats seen by more people.

What models are you producing?
Mostly I’ve been manufacturing the Random Evo so far which has been really popular. Everyone that has been in one loves it!

I’m also still making my own designs and I will have a surf kayak design for larger paddlers as well fairly soon. I will also have an IC design in the near future. As the company grows, I’ll keep adding models to the range.

And about this new collaboration with Random...
On the trip back up from Ocean Spirit last year I was travelling with Pete Copp, who had purchased one of the Evos brought over to the event from Australia. I paddled it for a couple of hours and loved it immediately. I contacted Darren (Bason) and Terry (Petch) and arranged to manufacture it under license in the UK and Europe.
Darren had seen the build quality of Future Kayaks and was happy to know that they would be made to a very high standard here, and the collaboration has been growing since then.

You have a great experience in shaping but also on competition! Have you competed lately?
The last competition here was Llangennith in Wales, which I finished 1st IC and 2nd HP. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to Mundaka or Ocean Spirit this year because of setting up my factory, so it has been UK comps only. I will be travelling to Portrush for the Home Internationals in October though, which I’m looking forward to. Last time we had really good waves!

How do you see the evolution of this new era and brands of surfkayaks?
I think that designs will still progress much further, as well as construction. The whole composites industry is expanding quite quickly and there are new developments and products coming out all the time, which is enabling more sophisticated construction to be affordable and possible for kayaks.

For a customer it is good to have the amount of competition there is at the moment, the last few years have really pushed things on with the designs and more recently with the construction.

This year I am paddling a kayak which weighs only 7.3kg, which is significantly lighter than anything else I have ever seen (until I made one even lighter for a customer last week!).

The performance gain from a lighter kayak is considerable. Future Kayaks team member Dylan Petherick has won both junior competitions since getting his lightweight Evo, and everyone has seen a marked improvement in his surfing, just by changing to a lighter kayak. Dylan can now push his boat harder and get more from it, showing what he is really capable of.

And about waveskis... I see that you also have some projects in this area...
I think that Waveski might make a comeback over the next couple of years. The performance is much higher than kayaks and the top level of surfkayaking is such a high standard now that paddlers can make the transition to a ski fairly easily. I now paddle a ski almost all of the time when I’m freesurfing. I enjoy shaping the custom skis and I will be constructing a purpose built shaping room in my factory fairly soon.

The photos show a couple of custom skis I made recently, the 7’4 swallow tail weighs 6.4kg and the 7’1 square tail weighs just 5.6kg! They are both pretty low volume high performance boards.

I am also making a couple of moulded ski shapes for paddlers making the transition across from kayaks who want a more robust ski whilst they are learning. The moulded shapes are much higher volume with lower seat positions to make them easy and comfortable to paddle.

Now about last Kayaksurf Worlds (where you reached both finals IC and HP!!)... best memories...
I really enjoyed the World Championships last year, the weather and waves were great and a few of us spent some time camping and surfing at a few spots on the way down through Spain and Portugal. I can’t wait to do it again.

I had a good event personally, and the England team also paddled really well. We are fortunate to have a strong competition scene in England and we have a lot of good paddlers. The team spirit has been really good and we are lucky to have a good team manager who makes sure things run smoothly all the time.

I intend to travel down to Ocean Spirit next year for the Waveski World Championships, so hopefully the event will be fortunate with conditions again!

Last words...
Thanks to my sponsors and the England Team sponsors for their help. Thanks to everyone that has been supportive with setting up Future Kayaks, the early stages of a business are a challenging time and the support has been really encouraging. Finally, thanks Luis for doing an interview to help spread the word!
Thanks a lot Andrew and all the best ;)
FULL INTERVIEW HERE:

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