What exactly is Danish-style? That was the question on our minds when Current Designs revealed the Prana at Outdoor Retailer last summer, billing this sleek new sea kayak as the first of several Danish-style designs to watch for in coming years.
The Prana is a collaborative effort between the Current Designs team and Danish designer Jesper Kromann-Andersen. Proficient paddler, sailor and craftsman, Kromann-Andersen is well known in Scandinavia for his popular Arrow Kayaks, which were purchased in 2014 by European paddlesports giant Tahe Outdoors and are now distributed under the Zegul brand.
So… Danish-style is any kayak designed by a Dane? Not quite. “Danish-style is an approach towards kayak design that is influenced by many different styles,” explains Kromann-Andersen. “The hull shapes are a blend of North American and Greenland-style kayaks—efficient and streamlined with rounded hard chines, low back deck and a snug-yet-comfortable fit.”
Evident in these kayaks is “the Scandinavian design tradition of pure form and function,” continues Kromann-Andersen. Think stylish-yet-spare furniture and sophisticated-yet-simple fashion. “Part of this process is looking at kayak shaping in a water flow dynamic context, testing the design in the elements and translating the experience into drawings and 3D computer models.”
Current Designs recognized Kromann-Andersen’s ability to bring something different to their existing models. “Jesper uses a significant rocker profile and he’s an anarchist with conventional hard chine lines,” says CD vice president Bill Kueper. Indeed, the Prana has more rocker than any other kayak in the CD line-up.
“It’s exciting to see a new, playful, more aggressive design from Current Designs,” says Brian Pettinger from White Squall Paddling Centre, echoing my thoughts as I eye the gleaming red-and-white Prana he’s helping me load onto my roof rack.
Thirty minutes later, I’m slipping the Prana into wind-raked waters. The boat feels fast and responsive, accelerating quickly and dancing gracefully through edged turns.
Kromann-Andersen optimized the Prana for speed, using a shallow-arch hull to reduce resistance and a Swede-form shape that places the widest part of the kayak behind the paddler for a long, lean entry. Powering into a stiff headwind, the kayak’s glide feels more effortless than the scudding wavelets would lead me to expect, and the raking bow seems to part the waves rather than slapping or plunging.
Turning downwind and catching a surf, the Prana remains maneuverable on a wave and edge-to-edge transitions feel seamless thanks to a mid-section that merges a nearly flat profile with rounded, well-defined chines. Tracking across the wind is surprisingly well behaved for such a nimble kayak, and dropping the Prana’s skeg takes care of any minor weathercocking.
The Prana’s unique blending of attributes extends to the cockpit, where CD’s padded seat is paired with an adjustable backband and molded-in thigh braces for a fit that is low on frills but high on comfort. The deep front deck makes the svelte 21-inch beam seem much roomier, accommodating both a handy knee hatch and fidgety legs, while thoughtful shaping ensures it doesn’t feel like I’m paddling a barrel. Despite my shorter torso, I can hammer high angle strokes or cruise along at a low angle without striking my thumbs on the deck.
With ample volume and speed for touring, and a playful agility that begs to be let loose in surf zones and rock gardens, the Prana is a versatile companion for both advanced paddlers and ambitious beginners who want to develop their skills in a seaworthy kayak they can grow with. “If you only have room for one kayak,” says Kromann-Andersen, embodying the Danish proclivity for restraint, “this is the one.”
“Above and below the waterline, designer Jesper Kromann- Andersen thoroughly addresses safety and comfort and brings the Danish prowess for style to fruition,” says Current Designs’ VP Bill Kueper.
The centered day hatch isn’t as easy to reach on the water, but it provides better access to the entire compartment than an offset hatch. Good news, since the Prana’s day hatch is wonderfully spacious.
A low profile, padded backband provides ample support and allows a full range of motion. Current Designs’ vacuum-bagged fiberglass laminate has an impeccable finish and optimal strength without adding unnecessary weight.
This article originally appeared in the Adventure Kayak Early Summer 2016 issue.
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