Inexpensive sit-on-top kayaks are great fun for the beach and the lake, although many people maintain that the conventional legs-in-front kayaking position is hard on the back. Not only is a kneeling position said to be healthier, but proponents of the C1 style of whitewater paddling (in which the paddler kneels in a specialized whitewater kayak) also state that it allows for better control of the boat. With these claims in mind, Quebec City inventor Pierre Parant created the Yogakayak.
“The main advantage of the kneeling position is definitely the resolving of back pains,” Parant told Gizmag. “If you try to paddle on a sit-on-top ordinary with no back rest you will have a back pain in 15 minutes, because you have to compensate with your abs and put pressure on the spine.”
Paddlers of the Yogakayak straddle a central support beam, with their buttocks taking about 60 percent of their weight, and their calves slipping into two recessed slots on the bottom of the boat – reportedly, none of their weight is supported by the knees. The boat can also be paddled with the legs out front, when paddlers need a change. Parant said that the unique structure of his kayak makes it strong yet light, and also very stackable, as the convex beam of one boat fits into the concave underside of the one above it.
Parant’s company also makes a product called the Surfbike, which could best be likened to a pedal-powered surfboard. The original version was commercialized in 1995, and subsequently copied by a Chinese manufacturer. Pierre is now marketing a 20-pound (9-kg) carbon fiber model, designed specifically for surfing waves. He describes it as “a kind of surfing BMX bike.”
The Yogakayak is available for US$299 plus shipping, although prices per unit are less for bulk orders. The Surfbike is currently not available for purchase, although Parant is looking for importers willing to buy at least 500 units at cost.