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March 27, 2006


A long journey for me to get from, “I want to make a great slalom boat
under the new rules” to having just what I want for myself and my kids, and
anyone else who is so inclined to want to paddle a great speed boat.

The journey started back in 1993 when David and I designed our first slalom
boat together, the Hotlanta. I made the USA Team in that boat two years in
a row (1994-5) and then we designed the “Rocket” in 1995 and I made the USA
Team in 1996-1998 in that one. Then when they decide yet again not to even
vote on changing the rules to allow for shorter slalom boats I stopped
racing, except for a few races each year if they were convenient. Then in
2004 they said that they would change the rules for 2005 and beyond. I
started working with David in 2005 on our Ricochet right away, excited as I
can be about having a new age shorter slalom boat that we could apply
everything we learned and have a chance to learn more. Well, it took us
over a year to get to this point today. We struggled with our first
prototype, and while we made massive improvements in the second prototype,
it was not what we were looking for as a final design. Our final design
and prototype went straight to the top and I was completely happy with it
and ready to start paddling them. However, we still had the construction
bugs to work out. Our main guy, Larry Parzynski, had never made a slalom
boat, and was focused on flatwater sprint kayaks (he is a racer himself).
Larry has a great shop and is super on it, but like anything new, there is a
steep learning curve to get over. We had to dial in the cockpit rims, the
finish work, the seams, the layup, the weight, the seat, etc., etc. Davey
Hearn, David Knight, and myself went over the construction with him multiple
times as he has now made 9 slalom boats for me, each one a prototype for the
next. Well, I am ready to start offering them to you, and I know I can
now get a boat for recreational boating for fun, fitness, or to race in the
next olympics, and it is the Ricochet! The total cost to get from where I
was to where I am now, with no overhead counted, only pure expenses directly
from the boat was over $40,000. This cost was an investment into a sport
that I love and am excited to be a part of again. I never disliked it, I
only wasn’t going to focus excess energy on a sport that wasn’t willing to
help themselves by dropping a 1949 rule making the boats 4 meters long.
Now, a slalom boat must be 3.5 meters, and while that is just as dumb as the
4 meter rule (any length rule is just a limiting factor and an advancement
inhibitor), at least the length is a fun one that I can even have a boat
that my 67 pound boy can squirt on a draw stroke!!! The Cadet cut is
simply the boat to have for a small person, period. Nothing will paddle and
turn like it or take away as much of a disadvantage that a small person has
paddling the same length boat as a bigger person. Emily paddles the Junior
cut and she is learning to turn hers already today, getting near vertical
squirts and getting used to it.

My boat is the Full cut and I can’t wait to get it in some gates again!
Alabama was super fun and hopefully I can paddle in Atlanta on Wed before
the High Country event.

So, the boat designing saga has ended for the Ricochet and I am a happy
camper. The slalom racing saga is only about to begin! With Emily and
Dane wanting to learn the sport and me wanting to paddle my boat with them,
I can only imagine that many interesting things will transpire over the next
few years! Like anything, things start out slowly in the building process
but some things get enough momentum that it is hard to stop them!

As for the health of the slalom racing sport in general. I feel that one
major factor that killed the exposure for slalom racing in the USA for sure
was the fact that all of the boat manufacturers quit making them here.
First Valley Mill Boats (Andy Bridge) moved to Dagger. Perception stopped
sponsoring slalom racers and then quit making boats. Dagger then quit
making slalom boat. Wilderness Systems stopped making them. Then Upstream
Edge in Canada stopped making them. John Jaycox stopped too, and he was
the best of all of them. Now if you want a slalom boat you have to go to
Czech, or Holland, or some other continent.

Simply by making slalom boats, and a super fun to paddle, great design,
available in the USA, and making the prices affordable again, slalom will
have a better future. Bringing shorter slalom boats to the average person
will make many more people excited to try and paddle them. At 11’8″ they
are easy to paddle and turn and zip around like crazy! It is a new sport

I won’t ever train full time for slalom, and as long as my kids are under my
roof, they will have a new form of training for slalom available to them,
the EJ method, for a lack of a better term. It is simply a technique first
in the gates, using your slalom boat, and spending way more time on hard or
fun whitewater, lots of river running and playboating for general whitewater
skills and strength, and then specific race training and more intense
training in the race season (if they want). Since I have two test cases,
that at this point have no interest in training like a normal slalom racer,
I can see if my theory is correct.

Get your orders in for the Ricochet today! Call your local Jackson Kayak

🙂 EJ

Both the kids and I have the national layup (it is an awesome layup) and
only $1650. Those who want a little lighter boat will get an international
layup at $1950 (a pound or so lighter and you add weight to make it race

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