One such company was J Design and Manufacturing from Bridgeton, NC. Managing Director Jim Reynolds explained how their revolutionary kayak design will offer unmatched stability, performance, and flexibility. This new kayak is called the “TriKayak XS-1” and will feature an adjustable tripod design. This is not a copy of the Freedom Hawk “Freedom 12” - the main hull of the Freedom Hawk is just 9’. The TriKayak XS-1 is just over 12’in length, with a narrow width of 27”. Also, the TriKayak is a sit-inside kayak, where the Freedom Hawk is a sit-on-top.
This kayak is designed to maximize an individual’s recreational enjoyment - paddling, enjoying the outdoors, or fishing. The unique outrigger system can be adjusted to three positions. When the outriggers are tucked tightly into the side of the main hull, the profile is very similar to a touring kayak. My experience in this configuration proved that the kayak is very fast and tracks well. It also felt a little tippy, because the seat is raised about 3” – 4” above the floor. The result is your knees are not inside the kayak, like a traditional sit inside that has knee pads, to help with the stability. I was able to sit sideways in the XS-1 in this position.
When I deployed the outriggers to position number two (mid-way), the XS-1 was easy to paddle, because the outriggers remained parallel to the main hull. The TriKayak was very stable in this configuration.
In the third position (wide stance), the “paddle-ability” of the TriKayak is not diminished. In fact, the wide stance of the outriggers makes it very easy to enter and exit the cockpit area. Also, in this position I was able to stand in the XS-1. This wide stance will be a great asset for anglers to be able to stand and search for tailing redfish or large schools of fish on the flats.
Built to maximize your recreational enjoyment, the unique adjustable outrigger system of the XS-1 can be easily locked into several positions to provide you with a variety of on the water capabilities. The wide stance of the deployed outriggers takes the hassle out of launching; the stability makes getting in and out of the kayak a breeze. The outriggers are carefully designed not to obstruct paddling, and they tuck nicely into the side of the main hull to give you a more challenging kayaking experience. Moreover, their tapered shape minimizes drag while still providing buoyancy.
The front console has a handle to assist in standing up in the TriKayak. On top of the handle are two paddle clips. The paddle provided for the test had a small diameter shaft. I’m not sure how the clips would handle a larger diameter paddle shaft. The console offers a nice area to mount a GPS or fish finder. Installation for a fish finder is very easy. The XS-1 has a molded-in battery area. This area is primarily designed for a larger battery to install an electric motor.
I had the opportunity to talk with Jim Reynolds about himself and how the TriKayak came to be.
DDOlson: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
J. Reynolds: My family and I live in New Bern, NC. I’ve been an avid sailor for much of my life, which is largely what brought me to New Bern after living in northern Virginia for many years. New Bern is widely regarded as a sailor’s paradise, but it’s also a great place to go kayaking. I started TriKayak in 2012 along with my son. He’s an engineer - fresh out of college - and has been helping me with all aspects of the business, from design to marketing and just about everything in between.
DDOlson: What got you into kayaking?
J. Reynolds: I enjoy the outdoors, and I especially enjoy being on the water. Sailing has always been my passion, and is something I look forward to doing in my spare time. It was just within the last few years that I got into kayaking as a way to get more exercise while still being out on the water. I quickly became hooked with all the things kayaking had to offer.
DDOlson: Do you have a fishing idol?
J. Reynolds: Not really.
DDOlson: Have you ever tried fishing from a kayak or the Trikayak XS-1?
J. Reynolds: I’ve tried and tested many different fishing kayaks while developing the TriKayak to see how each one handles, and to determine what their advantages and disadvantages are, but I’ve only fished off the TriKayak.
DDOlson: What was your first kayak? Did you make any modifications to that kayak when you started to fish out of it?
J. Reynolds: We’ve gone through several prototype iterations trying to perfect every detail in the process. In order to make it more fisherman friendly, we focused on perfecting the shape of the hull, the position of the outriggers, and the storage. The most critical modification we had to make involved the level at which the outriggers sat in the water. They needed to be low enough to provide the necessary stability to allow you to stand up while casting, but also be high enough so they don’t drag in the water and impede paddling.
DDOlson: When did you start development of the TriKayak, and why?
J. Reynolds: We went to the drawing board to start designing the TriKayak in June, 2012. I got the idea for the XS-1 when I saw my neighbor try to step into his kayak from his backyard dock. He was having a hard time keeping his balance, and I thought there had to be some way to make that easier and less dangerous. That’s when I came up with the idea for the adjustable outrigger arms that would be attached to the main hull. I realized I was on to something when I considered all the advantages this would bring. The trick was designing a boat that was both stable and easy to paddle, and while not too heavy.
DDOlson: What does the future hold for the TriKayak XS-1?
J. Reynolds: Designing the XS-1 has been a lot of fun so far. We’re already thinking about ways we can integrate the outrigger system into future designs that meet a number of different needs. We’ve really enjoyed building the XS-1, as well as attending events and getting to know the great people that make up this industry. Kayak fishing, , is booming, as is kayaking in general. People are looking for a kayak that offers stability without sacrificing performance, and we believe the TriKayak XS-1 meets that need. Our ultimate goal is to make a positive impact and push the sport in the right direction, so that’s what we’ll be thinking about when we’re working on our next project.
I would like to thank Jim and his son for taking the time to pique my interest in the TriKayak. If you are interested in the TriKayak, check out their website at http://www.trikayak.com/. I did suggest to Jim that they might wish to participate in the October Boondoggle so that you can also test paddle the XS-1 on the IRL and take the TriKayak on a sleigh ride.