This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
The eight hundred pound gorilla in a market for a certain product is the biggest player in that market, and the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room is an expression that means the obvious problem no one is talking about.
As with everything related to sit-in and SOT kayaks, that problem in kayak fishing is poor ergonomics, especially back pain and discomfort that prevent many anglers from joining the ranks of kayak anglers, and causing a considerable number of kayak anglers to quit the sport once they realize the problem is intolerable for them, and there is nothing they can effectively do about it.
These ergonomic problems are often discussed in private, or in online forums, but usually the attitude towards them is either acceptance, as something that’s inherently part of the sport (like getting wet is supposed to be), or as a personal problem of the person complaining about it, and one that can be superficially addressed with some extra foam under the knees, or on top of the kayak seat.
Manufacturers and other vendors of sit-in and SOT kayaks have identified these serious ergonomic problems, and use them as an opportunity to sell more gear – mainly expensive kayak seats with extra cushioning and varying angles for the backrest, none of which can in fact solve any of the problems in question.
Sit-in kayaks have been used for centuries, and SOT kayaks have been commercially available for over four decades. Had there been a way to solve this problem that comes with the use of these kayaks, it would have been discovered and offered to the public. But there is no such solution, because of the L position and the footrests-backrest system designed to allow modern kayak paddlers and anglers to stay in place and exert control over their kayak through their legs continuously pushing their lower back against the backrest.
This means that as long as a kayak passenger is required to sit with their legs stretched in front of them, there will be a need for them to use footrests and a backrest, as well as use their legs to push their back against the backrest – constantly, thus creating pressure in the lumbar area – resulting in discomfort and pain.
In contrast, the new W kayaks present a solution that frees both paddlers and anglers from back pain, due to these kayaks’ patented form, which requires their passengers neither to sit in the L position, nor to use any type of footrests, or backrest.
W kayak passengers are free to switch between a number of ergonomic positions anytime they choose to do so, and even stand up if they feel like paddling or fishing standing, or just in order to stretch. The new W500 series is stable enough to enable the passenger to lie down and rest, stretch, and relax.
Over the years, reporters and editors in publications that cover kayaking and kayak fishing have systematically avoided reporting about either this critical ergonomic problem, or the real solution recently found to it.
Talking openly about that eight hundred pound gorilla in the room would have surely annoyed the kayak market’s eight hundred pound gorilla, as well as the smaller players, who pay for advertising their kayaks and kayak seats in those specialized publications.
Meanwhile, a large part of the public is still unaware of the solution offered to their kayaking and kayak fishing problem, and they are not getting this information from the paddling or fishing media.