What is SOUL Waterman?
In the words of Corran Addison
I’m focused on whitewater. That’s it. Nothing else. I don’t dilute my efforts and imagination clogging the wheels of innovation with the humdrum of creating another fishing kayak, or recreational board to compete with the Costco brands. Every waking moment (and unfortunately, most of my sleeping ones too) goes into coming up with new ideas, and the exciting part, how to make those ideas a reality
I’m coming at Soul Waterman from a totally different angle than what either I have done in the past, or for that matter, any of the other kayak brands.
Believe it or not, in the past while I was designing “cutting edge” kayaks, the goal was always maximum sales. So I pushed that hard, and I had to sell a lot of boats to make it work. This is completely different. I don’t have to sell a ton of kayaks to make this work. I’ve structured SOUL so that it can operate on the slimmest of sales. As such, I can design what I want, for whom I want. I am for the first time, truly able to design whatever I think is an awesome idea.
Now, designing what I want does also not mean designing boats only I can paddle. Let’s be realistic, I’m not the paddler I once was – I don’t get to paddle as often, I’m older and stiffer, my joints hurt, and I have nothing to prove. I have a family with a young son and a wife both who are just starting out in paddling, and I want to paddle with them. Does this sound like your average paddler?
If someone is looking for the latest design to win the world championships in freestyle, well there are plenty of choices out there for them; great designs from proven companies, all run by fantastic friends of mine. They have you covered. I want to design boats that are going to be pure fun to just go paddling, with my friends or my family.
I also see kayaking and SUP as one and the same. I see no reason to create the sort of rift that the ski industry did in the early 1990’s between ski and snowboard. Today, most skiers and snowboarders do both – different tools for the conditions of the day and who you’re going with. In that sense I see SUP as simply another way for the same river user to enjoy the river. SUP is a great way to make that same old class 2-3 river run exciting and challenging again, and to better your overall paddling skills so you’re a better kayaker too. While some (like myself) are now pushing class 5 on SUP, this isn’t the norm. So SOUL is Soul Waterman, not Soul kayaks or Soul Sup. It’s everything whitewater.
Lets face it, whitewater kayaking has stagnated. There hasn’t been any real innovation in a decade. Those that lived through the 1990’s and early 2000’s will remember those exciting times, when it was an arms race to invent the newest thing. As a paddler it was exciting to constantly be in something new and to be a part of that revolution.
By 2000, the planning hull had already been invented. So had the 6’ freestyle kayak. So had progressive rocker in creek boats (even if its only become mainstream in the last few years). By the mid 2000’s we’d been around the block three times with revolutionizing outfitting. Honestly, what is truly new in kayaking in the way it was in those “glory years”
This is a large part of what drives me today. I’ve come back to kayaking after a sabbatical, with the drive and determination to change the sport. Again. The idea is not to relive the revolution of the 1990’s. It’s to create a new one.
Just one example of this is our modular kayaks like the Chaos Monkey and F Bomb. Making it possible for a paddler to own one kayak, and radially change its performance according to the days needs. There were some poor attempts at this almost two decades ago, but those failed examples simply motivate to prove how well it can work.
Another was in simplifying the cockpits insides, while still giving paddlers everything they need. The days of foam and glue are long gone, but it's been replaced with so much clutter that kayaks look like a two year old has been in your minivan with keys to the luggage. All the straps, cords, buckles, and bungee all flapping and flopping around uselessly. Visually cluttered. Look at the drivers cockpit of a sports car. Clean. Neat. And functional. It’s easier said than done, and that’s what made the challenge exciting.
This is where I keep my soul. You’re welcome to come along for the ride.