Surf kayaks are produced in Måløy and Fredrikstad!
Imagine that you love whitewater kayaking and surfing in a kayak, and you have tried many playful kayaks but feel like something is missing. That's how Edd felt. He designed and built the perfect surf kayak, and now his "Alnes Ocean" is being produced in Måløy and Fredrikstad!
"I have owned all kinds of sea kayaks, mostly playful ones for use in waves," says Edd Bjørke from Ålesund. "But I have always wanted a sea kayak that allows you to play and maneuver on the wave face without being as stable as a sea kayak or as specialised as pure surf kayaks."
The Gathering in Bulandet and Værlandet.
It has been 17 years since Edd started kayaking, and he became fascinated with whitewater paddling, waves, and kayak surfing. "Back then, there were few places to learn whitewater paddling and kayak surfing," recalls Edd. "There were only a few paddlers doing this, so in the beginning, I did it alone and learned bit by bit. The first active thing I did was to join the spring gathering organised by Njord in Bulandet/Værlandet. After that trip, there was finally more wave activity because I met people from Herøy Padleklubb who were also into kayaking in waves. With just a 1.5-hour drive from Ålesund to Herøy Kayak Club, I've made many trips there! Alongside countless hours in the waves, Edd has climbed the ladder to become a certified Sea Kayaking instructor at the highest level by the Norwegian Paddling Federation.
"I built the kayak I have always wanted!"
Edd is a trained carpenter and has long been interested in kayak design. In November 2020, he started building the kayak he had been missing. "I built the prototype out of wood since it's a material I'm familiar with, and by April 2021, it was finished. It was incredibly exciting when I took it out for the first time. Would it float straight in the water? And would it perform in the waves as I had envisioned? Together with my friend Christian Remøy, we went eagerly to Borgundgavlen, east of Ålesund city center. It was very windy that day, and the conditions were too demanding to go far out with an untested kayak. But I got to try it in the surf waves, rolling, and general paddling!"
Not a sea kayak and not a pure surf kayak
"And oh boy, what an experience it was to feel the kayak's characteristics," smiles Edd, emphasising that he built the kayak to be as extreme as possible. "With all the kayaks I've had and tried, I have always missed the ability to play and maneuver better and easier on top of the wave crests. I felt that sea kayaks had too much directional stability during surfing, making it difficult to maneuver quickly. On the other hand, kayaks built solely for surfing often have a design that is not suitable for paddling to the surf break. They are designed more for carrying the kayak to the beach and starting to surf right away. My kayak, however, is a hybrid that has a hull extremely adapted to surfing and a top deck that looks like a sea kayak in terms of hatches and deck rigging. When it comes to the rocker shape, I chose to be extreme!"
Edge Kayak AS
"But this was the prototype that Edd paddled high and low for two years. Now, it's a new era as Edd is venturing into something unique: kayak production in Norway in 2023! I have started the company Edge Kayak Design and have teamed up with Bjørn Eilertsen as the business developer and Linda Hatmosøy for finance and accounting," says Edd, who is the CEO and product developer himself. With our own design, it's clear that I want to create a fully Norwegian product, from concept and design to production and distribution. I desire proximity to the product and want to contribute to sustainability here at home. The production line in Norway has already been established, and the initial steps of production started in February."
From a test model to a digital model!
When Edd built the prototype in wood in 2020/2021, he started by drawing the kayak by hand on paper in 1:1 scale. -I don't know any computer-based drawing programs or 3D rendering, so one of the first things I did in late autumn was to have a naval architect create a digital 3D model. This digital model has some adjustments compared to my wooden model, based on my experiences after countless hours at sea with the prototype. Among other things, it has become slightly shorter but has the same width. While the prototype was called "Edge," the model that is now being put into production is called "Alnes Ocean."
From handmade to production!
In Måløy, the company EasyForm AS is located, which produces hulls for large boats, among other things. Based on the digital 3D model of the "Alnes Ocean," they have milled out the plug that will be used to create the kayak molds. This plug was sent to lnnofiber AS in Fredrikstad at the beginning of March. They will finish the plug so that it can be used to create the actual kayak molds. lnnofiber AS will also be responsible for molding and assembling the very first "Alnes Ocean," which will be available in April/May, as well as being the production company for the kayak when it hits the market in the autumn.
Material, Sizes, and Price
– "Alnes Ocean" is produced in two main parts: the hull and the deck, continues Edd. When these two parts are assembled, a "belt" is inserted between them. By varying the height of this "belt," we will be able to create kayaks with different heights and, therefore, different volumes, even though they are all molded in the same mold and will be 387 cm long and 55 cm wide. We want to produce "Alnes Ocean" in different sizes where the height in front of the cockpit varies so that we can customise it to the paddler's height and preference. In our standard model, the height of the hull in front of the cockpit is standardized. "Alnes Ocean" is made of high-quality composite material and will be introduced as a high-quality kayak in the market. It will be completely white. It is too early to provide a price, but it will be competitive with other high-quality kayaks widely used both domestically and internationally.
Edd will receive the very first "Alnes Ocean" in Jun and plans to do a lot of paddling with it. After that, he will have some kayaks produced for experienced kayakers to try out and gather feedback. Hallvard Torp, a well-known kayak tester, will also test the kayak. If everything goes according to plan, pre-orders for the kayak will be available in the summer, with deliveries expected in early fall. Edd also hopes to have a small launch event during the Hoddevik Surf Symposium in October, where he will bring a few kayaks for surf enthusiasts to try.
The financial journey
Going from building a kayak in his garage to establishing a plan, assembling a team, collaborating with companies for production and sales, is a demanding and costly endeavour. Edd has received 100,000 NOK from Innovation Norway for market research and 30,000 NOK from the municipality's business fund. However, this is far from enough, as Edd points out.
To make this venture a reality, Edd participated in the Næringsteft program, organised by Sparebanken Møre, which supports entrepreneurs. This program provides insight and knowledge on the process of turning an idea into a marketable product. Edd and his idea for the "Alnes Ocean" made it through several stages of the competition, receiving financial support at each step. In February, it was announced that they were among the five finalists, and they received an additional 200,000 NOK for their project. The winner of the final round, set to be announced on March 17th, will receive one million NOK. Edd is eagerly awaiting the results.
Reprinted with kind permission from the magazine "Padling» (no. 1, 2023, padlesiden.no) and editor Laila Reigstad.