The Kayak: Wardrobes on Water

Port’s design editor on the beauty on the waves – Struer Kajaks
Kayak - Stuer Kajak
In 1947, Danish cabinetmakers Svend Helge Kobberup and Gerhard Sørensen began building wooden kayaks in the small coastal town of Struer. The following year, two of their boats were racing to Olympic medals in London, and Struer’s reputation as the epicentre of kayak construction was confirmed. More success followed at subsequent Olympics, as boats with evocative names such as ‘Sprinter’, ‘Hunter’ and ‘Lancer’ were paddled to victory by the world’s elite kayakers.

Ship designer Jørgen Samson was responsible for the hydrodynamic shape, with a blade-like bow that cleaves through the water. Struer Kajaks continued to refine the design, working with the State Laboratory for Ship Technology in Copenhagen to identify the ‘ideal curve’, which was implemented in designs from 1978 onwards.

The seamless shape is manufactured from layers of moulded wood veneer without any additional ribs or floor timber, so the kayaks remain lightweight and agile. Unlike modern materials such as Kevlar or fibreglass, the naturally resistant properties of wood mean the boats are impervious to salt water and are extremely durable. Struer also manufactures racing and touring kayaks in contemporary materials, but it is the timeless appeal of the wooden boats that continues to capture the imagination – and deliver outstanding performance.