20th Century Kayaks

The kayaks created by Johannes Klepper continued to be popular into the early 1900s. Today it is straightforward to get into water sports due to the affordability of kayaks. However, before the industry took off, prices were much higher. This changed during the 1920s, when the mass production of kayaks increased. Around half a million of them were in use in Europe.

In 1928, a German called Franz Romer attached a sail to his kayak and travelled from Las Palmas to the US Virgin Islands in 58 days. This was a distance of 2,730 nautical miles. It helped to popularise kayaks even more.

By 1940, these vessels were used competitively by people in the United States. The National Whitewater Championship was established in Maine. During the debut tournament, a large number of boats were wrecked. The winner crossed the finish line while clinging to their overturned kayak.

In the 1930s, fibreglass began to be developed. It was mixed with resin and proved a critical invention for cheap manufacturing. The material soon became popular with kayak makers. In the 1960s, the US. Kayak Slalom World Champion Walter Kirschbaum used a fibreglass vessel to travel through the waters of the Grand Canyon.

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