A sporting edge

Uploaded 14 Jan @ 16:30pm

In the world of professional kayaking quality is critical to gaining that competitive edge, as a delaminated or warped blade, or even a snapped paddle shaft, can cost critical seconds or the whole race. Sometimes the difference between winning and losing comes down to the quality of the equipment in your hand. Twice K1 Welsh Canoe Slalom Champion, Toby Jones, knows exactly how true that can be.
In November 2015, he set up TJ Composites, a small business that builds and develops performance kayaks and equipment, catering specifically for the competitive market of up and coming ‘paddlers’, all looking to make a name for themselves and for that competitive edge.

Growing up around kayaking, he knows all too well the demands of the sport and critically, the needs and challenges experienced every day by his customers. For them, quality of equipment is vital to achieving the very best course times. The kayak’s build quality is critical to how it cuts through the water and keeping drag to a minimum, while the weight and strength of the paddle affects the power of each stroke and the athlete’s line down the course, all adding or reducing vital seconds on a run.
The manufacturing of kayaks is equally as competitive as the racing and in Toby’s world there is a lot of pressure from Eastern Europe, where many companies are looking to drive down costs and provide ever-cheaper goods. As a small business, he needed to be able to offer customers a local, high-end alternative. With his experience as a champion kayaker, he could offer a bespoke service, using the best materials manufacturers in the UK. So, when he needed a supplier who could match his customer’s demand for the very best product, Custom Composites stepped in.

Custom Composites is a leading provider of bespoke composite tubes and is part of the Attwater Group. The company supplied the new company with hybrid tubes for the shafts of a new range of high-end, tapered and parallel kayak paddles. These contained a black epoxy glass inner and a carbon fibre outer, making them extremely light and very strong.
“It doesn’t matter how good the paddles are if the shaft isn’t right,” Toby Jones explains. “This is particularly important for a new start-up business like mine where there is a lot of high quality competition out there. It means my products have got to be right first time because customers rarely look twice. Paddles can actually de-laminate with use over time and cheaper materials can even snap if you hit a rock.”

Further reading: www.attwater.com


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