The evolution of a Greenland kayak

In 2009 I was contacted by Tahe Marine to discuss becoming an ambassador for them. I had tried their kayak called the Greenland, and loved it. The kayak looked, felt and performed like a west Greenland skin-on-frame kayak, and a good one at that. I was not aware of any other similar Greenland-style composite kayaks on the market, and I saw it as a huge breakthrough. I was thrilled to be representing the kayak.

The Greenland.

The Greenland.

In 2010 Mats Von Wowern, a distributor for Tahe Marine, organized a Nordic tour for me and Johan Wirsen, the designer of the Greenland and the Greenland T, as well as several other kayaks, sailing boats and rowing boats. The two of us drove from location to location, with me teaching rolling and doing demonstrations, and Johan teaching kayak design. During the three-week tour, and many hours in the car, Johan and I became good friends.

Johan and Mark talk kayaks.

Johan and Mark talk kayaks.

In 2011 I returned to Scandinavia to do another teaching tour. Johan’s busy schedule only allowed him to do part of the tour with me, but it was great to see him and to catch up. In 2012 Mark and I did the tour together, and in 2013 we took over the organization from Mats and created a tour that included classes in everything from rolling to strokes, and we even threw in some BCU programs.

The end of the first Nordic tour… in the car, which is where we spent a large part of the tour.

The end of the first Nordic tour… in the car, which is where we spent a large part of the tour.

During each trip to Scandinavia, we visited with Johan. Happy memories were formed during wonderful conversations with him at his dining room table, around the barbecue in his backyard and on his sailboat, which he built himself. It’s always great to see him and to hear about what he’s been up to.

During one conversation with Johan he told us that he was going to start his own company, Rebel Kayaks, and start with the production of his two Greenland models, the “Ilaga” and “The-T,” which were the names that he’d always intended for what became known as the “Greenland” and the “Greenland T.” He has made some manufacturing changes to the kayaks, including putting in a smaller skeg, and laminating the skeg box together with the hull.

He asked Mark and I if we’d become ambassadors for Rebel Kayaks. We are thrilled to announce that we have accepted his offer. This decision was made for several reasons. First, the Greenland is the kayak that I was originally impressed by, and it was the reason that I became an ambassador for Tahe Marine in the first place. Second, Johan is a wonderful person and a good friend. He has put his heart, soul and a ton of money into designing several kayaks that are now recognized worldwide, and for good reason. We have full faith in the quality of his kayaks, which are being manufactured by Aquarius, located in Poland, and we can honestly say, he’s a real kayaker, an awesome person, a great designer and a good friend, and we want to support him and his new company, Rebel Kayaks. We hope that you’ll join us in this support.

Johan, Mark and I enjoying a sunny day in Sweden.

Johan, Mark and I enjoying a sunny day in Sweden.

In conclusion, this year’s Nordic Tour will be supported by Rebel Kayaks, and our company, Greenland or Bust. The tour has grown from its original length of three weeks in 2009 to three months in 2014. We are excited to be going back to Scandinavia and representing Rebel Kayaks. If you’re part of a club, school or organization that would like to be included in this tour, e-mail info@greenlandorbust.org. For more information on Rebel Kayaks, visit www.rebelkayaks.blogspot.com.

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