The latest trend in sea kayak design has nothing to do with performance. Instead, it takes its roots from platinum rims, subwoofers, lowrider suspension and MTV, and follows a trend set by surfers, mountain bikers and skiers. It won’t come cheap, but now you too can pimp your ride with the latest in kayak customization.

Breaking new ground in kayak customization

British filmmaker and paddler Justine Curgenven was among the first to paddle a sea kayak with custom artwork, and it was a hit. Curgenven’s leopard-print kayak has become nearly as well known as her series of sea kayaking films, This is the Sea.

“I thought about different colour 
schemes, but couldn’t think of a combination that no one else had,” says 
Curgenven. “The leopard-skin idea just popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.”

A leopard never changes its spots

Curgenven gave her design ideas to Scott Divine, the production manager at Nigel Dennis Kayaks (now Sea Kayaking UK), who eventually mixed the gel coat for the leopard-skin kayak.

Nigel Dennis was a tougher sell on the kayak customization trend. “At first he threatened to draw an arsehole along with the leopard spots,” says Curgenven.

But the tide has changed. This year Dennis has teamed up with artist Richard Perkins and has made all Sea Kayaking UK boats available with custom paint. Dennis says the option can increase the boat’s price tag by as much as 50 per cent.

“At first he threatened to draw an arsehole along with the leopard spots.”

Other manufacturers get in on the fun

Sea Kayaking USA isn’t the only British manufacturer offering custom graphics. Both P&H and Rockpool Kayaks list deck art options. But Nigel Dennis is the only manufacturer with an in-house artist. The kayak customization trend hasn’t taken off on this side of the pond, although Canada-based Seaward Kayaks boasts over 600,000 colour combinations, as well as splatter and fade finishes and optional airbrush graphics.

The kayak customization trend is here to stay

Curgenven says the only drawback of custom artwork is a few extra pounds due to extra gelcoat. She thinks the trend is here to stay. Watch for a new tiger stripe Romany in her upcoming films.



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