Shane Benedict from Liquid Logic Kayaks is “committed to making truly innovative kayaks that continuously raise the standards of quality, performance, and safety through the simplicity and purity that draws us to paddle in the first place.”
Shane kindly agreed to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series.
Do you all consider yourself to be the craziest designer, coming up with the wildest designs; do you see yourself as pushing the design envelope?
I don’t really worry about any of that. I try to make kayaks that we all want to paddle. I make playboats that Pat Camblin, Marlow Long, and myself want to paddle. We design creek boats that Tommy Hileke, John Grace and the Kerns want to paddle.
I love pushing myself to paddle better and I know these guys do. So that is the focus of my designs.
I can’t really think of a big blunder. I am not particularly proud of helping design the Arc and Sparc (old perception designs). Those didn’t go very well.
Biggest success – personal, and commercial?
My biggest success personally? Hmmm. The 2001 worlds were fantastic. I made the finals finishing 9th. At the time I was coaching a bunch of young paddlers and we had been on a training program for the entire year getting them ready for Spain. The boys swept the podium. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and the girls that I was coaching were 1st, and 3rd. It was a great finish to a fun year. Commercially is easy. Starting Liquidlogic and seeing it become a huge success has been fantastic. I still have moments everyday where I think, “wow, how cool is this?”.
What made you get in to designing kayak equipment? When did it all start?
It started in 1994 when I was paddling with Perception and specifically Bob McDonough. We were paddling a bunch together and he invited me to come help out in the shop at Perception. He showed me how to do stuff and we made the Whip It and Whiplash. My first design on my own was the 3-D by Perception. I have no other design experience. The only thing I draw on is 27 years of paddling experience and now 13 years of boat design. I never thought I would be a designer. The funny thing is that my dad is a designer and my mom is an artist so maybe it was in the stars for me and I didn’t even know it.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?
I definitely can’t break that down to just one person. Here is my list.
Andrew Holcombe and his Dad, Jimmy, are huge for me because they love kayaking as much or more than anyone I know.
Marlow Long because he has the best style in freestyle paddling bar none.
Jimi Snyder because he has pushed and pushes paddling so much both with design, and ways of thinking about paddling.
“Let me harp on the power of the charc. If your charc lacks power, as they all do, think about it. It must be a balanced affair. Not too timid, not too pushy. Hunt the ride. Its just you and the river, and the river doesn’t care a fig about you or the yak you road in on. So , you must. The river is stark, lonely, and above all, just. In the long run, the arena you set for experience (fun, competition, adventure, challenge, etc.) will yield victories and defeats in the name of the cause. Be bold enough to be small enough to let the world be awesome and it will….Its your charc don’t waste it.”
The Squirt Book
Given the choice where would want to paddle?
Impossible to answer that one. Given the choice I would say that I would paddle all places when the water levels are right for that spot. Southeast during a big hurricane. Cali in the spring. Alps in the spring. Chile, and Africa in the winter, including Pichilemu when the swell is coming in big. Nepal in the fall. So I will take a personal jet, a helicopter, and a bad ass four wheel drive vehicle as opposed to a single place please, thank you.
Do you all know each other? Can Robert Peerson ring up Celliers Kruger and pick his brain?
We are all pretty good friends in the states for sure because we see each other pretty often. Robert and I go to many of the same social events and actually went on a surf trip to Costa Rica last New Years. E.J. and I hang out when we are around. Snowy is a bud but I don’t see him very often. He does live a whole hour away. We don’t talk shop. Theres just too much stuff involved in that. You know double top secret subterfuge.
Do you wish boaters would treat your gear better? Or is it that you just have to make tougher stuff to put up with abusive paddlers?
I don’t reallly care how they treat it. Its the expectations of a boat being super light but unbreakable that are impossible at this point. We are constantly trying to find the next best thing in materials and design but its just not possible right now to make a boat that is light and able to take the beating that we as creekers in particular are putting on boats.
However it is funny when you see people sliding into the river off of manky rocks, or hucking their boats off a van and asking why they have big gouges in their boats. People don’t expect a mountain bike to hold up to that kind of stuff but its the same kind of abuse. If you treat your boat with a little respect it will last a long time.
How are materials and design process technology progressing our gear and our sport?
Its all about the plastic and how you process it. The plastics haven’t changed that much in the last few years we are constantly looking for something but its more important how that plastic is processed. A well made boat is super tough and can take a lot of abuse. A poorly molded boat will break much more easily. The big jump in progression of technology is going to be the material. Outfitting is a big deal right now. Everyone is trying to make their outfitting strong and smart and that won’t change but if someone finds the next great material for kayaks. Its game on. We all want a 20 pound kayak that will take a hit from 20 feet over and over but folks don’t want to pay more than a thousand bucks for it so we are going to have to wait on that one.
Let us know what’s going on in the world of RnD. What is the next big thing?
The next big thing is a extreme touring boat. I am thinking 17 footer with good rocker and lots of storage space for multi day gnar. The great thing is that with the extra speed you can bridge large holes and make 2 days into 1 days. Or for portaging you can climb down large drops just by using your boat as a ladder. Now thats big.
Many thanks Shane!