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Kayaks by nigel foster

A historic look at Nigel Foster's kayak designs.

For details about the kayaks, check the Nigel Foster Designs page.


Nigel Foster paddling a VyneckIt's fun to see the evolution of Nigel's work in kayak design. The idea for the first, the Vyneck  came during an early solo kayaking trip around Cornwall. Nigel worked closely with Keith Robinson and with the Adur Centre (S. England) to produce a fast, straight-tracking expedition kayak in a class of its own, with performance way before its time.

Kristin Nelson paddling a Vyneck

Kristin using a Vyneck, Denmark 2007

Nigel used the Vyneck for many of his early expeditions, such as his Iceland circumnavigation in 1977, and his Baffin Island to Labrador trip in 1981.

Nigel in a Vyneck North Wales

Nigel in a Vyneck beneath "A Dream of White Horses", a classic climbing route in Wales.

Several years later, the Legend, followed by the Silhouette and the Shadow came onto the scene.
Then came the concept Rumour and it's rough-sketched larger partner the Echo. A small number of original Rumours spread around the world until Current Designs officially adopted in 2006 after a few design tweaks.

Nigel, as head of Research and Development for Point 65, announced  two new designs in January 2008; the Whisky16 and the DoubleShot

These were followed by the Whisky18, a very seaworthy and controllable expedition kayak with ample cargo space for wilderness expeditions, and the smaller, stable and playful Cappuccino at 13-foot-long. These two kayaks arrived at a time of reduced construction capability, limiting their exposure to the market. The Cappuccino, hailed as a lightweight easy-to-carry kayak arrived from the builder as a heavy-weight. Both models failed to excite the importers and were dropped from the line.

Nigel's concept for take-apart roto-molded sea kayaks then came to the fore with Point65 Richard Ohman pushing for a recreational sit-on-top kayak. Designer Magnus de Brito came on board with his engineering skill to create a modular sit-on-top, the Tequila. This marked the start of a series of successful modular kayaks. Nigel meanwhile went on to design a brand new signature paddle, and the Explorer 2 PFD, which was released in 2012 with EU approval.

In 2016 the popular Whisky16 was released in roto-molded 3-latyer polyethylene, as the Whisky16 3L, and in 2017 in the two versions Whisky16 Rocker and Whisky16 Tourer.

Legend, Silhouette and Shadow

Three expedition-capable sea kayaks designed for easy and fast cruising. The Shadow, sized for the larger paddler, the Silhouette, tailored to the smaller paddler, and the Legend, Nigel's own all-round favourite for expeditions. All are available from Seaward Kayaks.

Legend  produced by Seaward Kayaks

Kristin Nelson in a Legend, LabradorThe Legend is a more stable and nimble version of the classic Vyneck. Both Nigel and Kristin Nelson chose to paddle a Legend on their 675-mile wilderness trip in the summer of 2004 to Northern Labrador. For one they needed the carrying capacity for a 5-week supply of food, for there were no stocking up places on their route where they could possibly replenish supplies. They would also expect the full gamut of weather conditions and awkward landings. 
The Legend was also Nigel's choice for demonstrating his hallmark precision techniques in his 6-part Sea Kayaking DVD series. The shallow-arch hull between hard chines is a classic Foster design feature.

Nigel worked on shaping the Legend in Wales, and it was first built by Mike Webb in Wales, before moving to North Shore. Production moved to Nedyaks and Watermark in the Netherlands, and to USA where it was built for Southern Exposure Sea Kayaks.

When Walden Sports offered distribution the manufacturing moved to eastern Canada. Finally the Legend found its way to Seaward Kayaks on Vancouver Island Canada, who produce it with meticulous care and quality control.

As the Legend moved from one manufacturer to the next, details were tweaked and upgraded and updated. It is often possible to discover the birthplace and approximate date of manufacture of an older example from these details.

nigel foster in a Legend, Seattle, Joel Rogers image

    Joel Rogers image.

Silhouette produced by Seaward Kayaks

The Silhouette is Kristin's more usual choice. She owns two of these fast lower-volume kayaks, one being the first sea kayak she ever owned. Sleek, slender, speedy and seductive, the Silhouette is a great choice for Greenland rolling and also effortless cruising for the smaller paddler. (more than once the winner in its class in the Everglades Challenge race, Florida)

The early Silhouettes (like this one) had a small "ocean" cockpit.

... and (sometimes) a chivalrous launching system...

...to keep the paddler dry....

Standing on the back deck of the Silhouette is regarded by some as tricky. It takes practice, good attitude and a ready smile!
(Photo by Thomas at Orust kayak, Sweden)

Shadow produced by Seaward Kayaks

The Shadow, out-maneuvering even the Legend, is designed with more stability and a better fit for the kayaker of slightly fuller figure. Like the Legend and Silhouette, the Shadow offers plenty of comfort room for the feet.

Legend, Silhouette and Shadow are produced in Canada as "Nigel Foster Kayaks" by Seaward kayaks. You can learn more about them at www.fosterkayaks.com.

The Brunton compass

fits neatly into the protective recess ahead of the front hatch. In this position it is easy to read from the cockpit without the paddler moving their eyes far below the horizon; an important consideration in rough seas and on long crossings. (The model is sold as the Brunton Watersports marine dash mount compass 70P)

The bow of a Vyneck with the recessed compass mounted ahead of the front hatch.

Rumour produced by Current Designs

Pictured here on the cover of the Current Designs 2008 catalogue, the Rumour is featured in the "Greenland style" section.

... it's a small kayak for fast touring and "fun stuff"...

Well described as a fast low-effort cruising kayak, aimed at smaller paddlers up to around 160 pounds. As built by Current Designs (as pictured, left and below) the Rumour differs a little from Nigel's original Rumour (seen above on the wave); it now has a tad more volume, especially in the stern, a slightly larger cockpit, and a little more initial stability.
It comes with the standard Current Designs deck pattern: a round hatch in the bow, oval in the stern. Plus there's a day-hatch of course.

Kristin in the Current Designs Rumour on the Myakka River Florida looking out for alligators...

...like this one...

You can watch Nigel paddling his original version in Justine Curgenven's DVD, "This is the Sea Volume 1", exploring the spring-fed rivers of Florida in search of manatees.

The Rumour measures in at 16 feet, with a 19.75 inch beam and a maximum depth of 12 inches.
Note the day hatch situated to the left; in trials Nigel concluded most paddlers are more comfortable holding a paddle brace with the right hand while doing other tasks with their left, rather than vice versa. (perhaps because most sea kayakers use right-hand-control paddles, or because most are right handed?)

Kids love the Rumour too!

Rumour metric dimensions;
length 4.06 m, beam 50 cm, depth max 30.5 cm, weight approx 19.96 kg, cockpit size 63.5 cm x 38.1 cm
volume approx 263 litres)


The Echo was a larger version of the Rumour. A few prototype MK1 models were built, but although the Echo performed well, Foster was was unhappy with the visual appearance, the cockpit shaping and the deck layout. It needed more work, but other things in Foster's life took precedence. The Echo never went into production. You may come across one of the originals but they are rare!

Whisky16 with Point65

In January 2008 Nigel announced the Whisky16, a rough-water playboat for surf, current and rock-gardens. His major criteria were to be able to spin the kayak around at a moments notice, and reassuring stability. The Whisky also had to ride waves! It certainly turned out to be a fun kayak! Wth two oval hatches, an offset day hatch and a "whisky-hatch" on the front deck accessing an under-deck compartment, the Whisky16 offers easy access to all the stuff you need for the day, and has plenty of capacity for a few days away.  

Here Nigel explains how the Whisky16 works on the water in a short YouTube video

Whisky16 prototype during early on-water tests in China.

Whisky16 prototype... comfortable edging, quick-turning.

Agile and reassuring...

Whisky16 playing in Sweden


The DoubleShot hit the water in prototype form in 2007. Stable, agile and fun, it's an interesting tandem designed to play where the singles go. Designed by Nigel Foster and built in high quality by Point65,  it features a shallow arch hull with hard chines, easy-access cockpits and five bulkheads, with five hatches to access the storage compartments. Now fitted standard with retractable skeg (spring-loaded and line-operated by dial) and a lift-able rudder.

Lina and Paul playing in the DoubleShot in Sweden 2008

The DoubleShot spends a night on a canal bank during a 2010 crossing of France from Mediterranean to Atlantic... through wine country.


In 2009, Foster's Whisky18 joined the Point65 fleet, as the longer version of the Whisky16. Faster-cruising and stiffer tracking were two of the design targets for this expedition capacity kayak. With ample cargo space for serious expedition work, the Whisky18 boasts a good level of stability while also keeping much of the edged-turning freedom found in the Whisky16.

The Whisky18
in Finland 2012


The Cappuccino was the next in the Foster line, appearing in 2009 in the Point65 line-up. Here is an easy to paddle. easy to carry and easy to store kayak! At little more than 13 feet long, the Cappuccino is lightweight and with it's large oval rear hatch, large round front hatch and small round front-deck day-hatch, is better appointed than many sea kayaks. It's not trying to be an expedition kayak, although you'd easily make a short get-away in style, and it's not pretending to be the "Whisky13". It's just the boat to take when you're heading out for a spin with no big agenda.

See the short video clip of the Cappuccino

Whisky16 3L

Whisky16 3L

In 2016 the popular Whisky16 was released in 3-layer (3L) roto-molded polyethylene (PE).
The model: Whisky16 3L.

Introducing a robust kayak for robust use, the W16 3L achieves hull stiffness with its 3-layer construction, while also reducing weight.

The AIR back-support offers comfort adjustment at the squeeze of an air bulb, while the low flattish seat offers the greatest kayak control without impacting the back of the thigh.

Adjustable spring-loaded skeg, and an array of loading options through four hatches makes this a truly versatile craft. A security-cable loop allows easy cable-locking for security when not in use.

In 2017 the W16 3L options have been increased with now two versions, the Whisky16 Tourer and the Whisky16 Rocker.

The Whisky16 Rocker recreates the hull rocker and associated exceptional agility of the composite Whisky16. It comes with the keyhole cockpit.

The Whisky16 Tourer offers increased glide, slightly easier straight tracking and quieter cruising with less hull-slap in small choppy waves. It has a more open cockpit for ease of entry and exit, with the same outer cockpit shape as the rocker but without the keyhole.

With less rocker it still offers excellent turning control, while improving tracking.

Rocker or Tourer? Which to choose?
If your passion is the ultimate quick turning control and agility, for rock gardens and waves, where the speed of spin is crucial, then the Whisky 16 Rocker is your kayak.
If you enjoy mostly cruising but want better than normal maneuvering capabilities for surfing and play, then the Tourer will probably serve you best.

If you're in doubt, feel free to contact me for advice.

And that's all for now. Check out www.nigelfosterdesigns.com for more information about these boats.
Happy Paddling!