This stunning carbon fibre, gold and teak art, is the McLellan Jacobs Kayak 1 – a single-person kayak for seriously wealthy types who can appreciate the finest design and engineering.
Leave alone the question of why you need a hyper-expensive, super-luxe kayak and just marvel at how awesome it is. The finish of the carbon weave and teak timber surfaces is like what you’d find on a multi-billion dollar aircraft, as are the gold-plated fittings.
It takes a special company to be able to project manage and construct such a delicate, finely finished – but also well-engineered – piece, taking it from raw design to a working product. But the fact that this luxury kayak has been built with the same care as a mega-dollar racing yacht is no coincidence, however.
While Jamie McLellan and Andy Jacobs’ design is stunning, Kayak 1’s success is all down to the hard work of Solid Composites and the two creative genii behind it: Aaron Hunter and Andrew Rhodes.
Hailing from New Zealand, Solid Composites launched in 2014 as a collaboration between two hyper-talented Kiwis who have two America’s Cup wins a-piece under their belts.
New Zealand isn’t a huge place, both in physical space and population so it is no great surprise that both lads share a similar back story. Both Andrew and Aaron grew up in Auckland on New Zealand’s north island, learning a love of watercraft from an early age.
“Rugby and sailing sports are a big part of New Zealand culture for sure, but they barely scratch the surface of where Kiwis excel – the trades, performing arts and design industries are where I think the biggest pool of talent can be found,” offers Andrew.
Aaron and Andrew both put in over a decade with Oracle, eventually winning the Cup in 2010 and then backing up to defend it in 2013. In 2014, Aaron Hunter and Andrew Rhodes founded Solid Composites, tackling projects that have included a prototype Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, super yachts, TP52 Super Series teams, components used in America’s Cup and automobile racing, as well as luxury products including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, showers, and more.
But the kayak proved an extra level of complexity, with a super-short build window. “We had to digest construction plans, find suppliers, metal/wooden components and build a strategy, as well as build the kayak within 90 days, due to the client’s air freight slot,” said Andrew, explaining how they nailed the deadline while keeping quality high. “The collaboration of design and specialised trade skills are the key to achieving quality products. Without a finely balanced combination of the two specialised fields you simply could not produce items to such high standards.
While it is a touch over 3m-long (3.36m if you must know) the Kayak 1 comes in at between 6-8kg, depending on the finishes you choose.
Both Aaron and Andrew count themselves as Master Craftsmen, and like any masters of their trade they are all-in, all the time.
“We recently sailed on board Yacht Farfalla in the 2017 Millennium Cup as we built a custom removable bowsprit to enable the vessel to compete in regattas,” explains Andrew. “To be honest, Solid Composites never actually leaves your train of thought: we live and breathe every aspect of the brand and products that we have created together.”
He was quick to point out their success is more than having a flash set of spanners or software on a computer, “The most important tool in the workshop for me is the rock-solid relationship I have with Aaron, my good friend and business partner,” says Andrew. This is backed up by Aaron who says the same about Andrew.
“Learning the composite trade will be a task that we have dedicated our lives to and will continue to further our learnings for the rest of our careers,” explains Andrew. “In our opinion the composite trade is the most complicated, challenging and rewarding one we know of. But, if you find something you love to do, give it 100% of your effort leaving no stone unturned!”
It was commissioned in 2015 and reportedly costs $25,000 – McLellan Jacobs have the absolute top-end of town in their sights for this piece of amazing usable art.
If you’d like a carbon kayak of your own, check out McLellan Jacobs website HERE
Aaron Hunter lifts the America’s Cup trophy (Photo: solidcomposites.com)
Andrew Rhodes with the America’s Cup trophy (Photo: solidcomposites.com)
All photos sourced from Solid Composites & McLellanJacobs.com.
G'day guys, my name is Iain but most people know me as "Marv", mainly because it is easier than explaining why my parents spelled "Ian" with two i's. I'm a journalist from Sydney, Australia who loves cars, dogs, making "things" and spinning yarns. The real thrill for me, however, is the story behind the object or person. I have a background in automotive journalism across vehicles new and old, stock, modified, and hand-built, and I love the whole process of making magazines. I am also a fan of diving into history and discovering the amazing things humans have done in the past. This blog will tell the tales of rad people who make cool stuff.