The Danza or Dancer 3 as it is now known is going into production. Corran Addison gives a run down of what the new boat is designed for and the inspiration behind it.
Here is the hidden story behind the development of my new boat, that until now was cleverly named Danza so no one would guess the connection (did it work?).
I’ve been working with the original mastermind behind the Dancer, Perception’s founder Bill Masters, on this. I worked for Perception as a designer from 1987 to 1991. It had been my dream to work for the company that created the boat I loved so much and that I grew up paddling.
Now, almost 40 years after the original Dancer concept was born, Bill has been going over with me what he was trying to accomplish with the design. Obviously times and designs have changed, and you would never just replicate the design. That would be pointless. But what we can do, and have been doing, is trying to be true to the designs INTENT.
And what was that intent? All kayaks (or all mass selling kayaks) at the time were 4m long (13’2″). It was this golden rule that a kayak was 4m, and that was the end of the discussion. But kayaking was hard to learn. They were hard to turn, they dove into waves, instead of riding over them, were hard to maneuver in general, and in fact took great skill to do the simplest things. Bill’s goal was to make everything easier. One of those was to go shorter of course, but that was just one aspect. More rocker, more maneuverable, more predictable, more manageable. Easier!
Obviously today, there is no shortage of kayaks of all lengths and shapes to choose from. But creek boats are the go-to for highly maneuverable, skip over everything designs. However, they are not necessarily ideal for general river running.
Making a boat “easier” to paddle today (than the creek boats which are currently the go-to for this sort of use), ironically, is to increase length and reduce rocker (just slightly) – opposite design direction from the original Dancer, from the norms of each boats day.
Longer than todays average boats means less fatigue paddling as it’s faster. Lower rocker means better tracking, which make it easier. Lower knees makes it easier to roll than a normal creek boat. Slightly flatish hull through the tail increases initial stability without making it edgy, and makes it surf more easily and fluidly than a creek boat.
All the design concepts of the new Dancer have the same end user goal as the original Dancer – make it easier to use than the contemporary designs available, coming to the same goal of paddling enjoyment from completely opposite directions.
It’s been really cool to wander down memory lane with Bill, discussing all these ideas, and challenges that he faced at the time. Obviously other people were there with him giving feedback (folks like John Wassen and Rob Lesser) and the man doing the actual design shaping, Alan Stancil.
So what are the latest changes? I’ve lowered the cockpit at the knees just a tad more, and made the deck rounder so there is less resistance rolling, both bow and stern. I’ve also made the hull a bit rounder through the first foot of the bow so it has a cleaner entry when wave slapping (thats out of the water for normal paddling). Lastly I’ve lowered the side of the deck at the hips, also for easier rolling.