Bayanihan at sea

Bayanihan at sea

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An amiable group of kayakers and outdoor sports enthusiasts from around the world gathered recently in Corregidor to celebrate the launch of TRAK 2.0 – TRAK Kayak’s newly improved portable sea kayak.

No less than TRAK founder Nolin Veillard was present to introduce the new design to guests, who came from Canada, Australia, the US, New Zealand and the Philippines. TRAK’s mission is to offer a sea kayak that has the capabilities of a hard shell, but is portable and can be taken to any corner of the planet.

Kayakers try out the re-engineered TRAK 2.0

The first portable kayaks under the Canadian brand were introduced in 2006. “To get the simplicity of the design down was quite an effort over many years,” says Veillard. The second version of the kayak was made possible through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Veillard says he and the team were surprised that there was so much interest in the kayak from people around the world.

In TRAK 2.0, the design elements that were already working well remain the same. The re-engineered design is much lighter and even easier to set up. They also made the carrying bag smaller so it would be easier to bring around, living up to is claim of being “the ultimate touring kayak.”

Taking the guests through a quick demonstration, Veillard together with TRAK factory line leader JR Sante proved how easy set up was from bag to 16-foot boat.

The frame, made of aluminum tubing, assembles like a tent frame that snaps together to form the structure of the boat in two main parts – the stern and the bow.

TRAK founder Nolin Veillard and factory line leader JR Sante demonstrate the TRAK 2.0 set up as eager kayakers look on

Carbon fiber ribs have been made lighter, stronger and more rigid. The new design is more intuitive – all parts for the stern are red, while bow parts are color-coded blue, making assembly even easier.

The skin of the kayak fits snugly around the frame and is made of polyurethane material that was originally designed for the military as a fuel bladder that could hold 400 gallons of fuel. The material is puncture- and abrasion-resistant.

The design, says Veillard, stays true to the original Inuit skin-on-frame kayaks. “Same type of structure, with modern materials. It’s really been a huge part of how we’ve honored the origins of the kayak to build something that’s skin on frame.”

He adds on TRAK’s design principle: “If 12-year-olds see this put together once, they will be able to put it together again on their own. That’s our design principle. The pursuit of this is what really drives the engineering and the motivation behind the boat.”

Guests from Kayak Philippines who included Val and Didi Camara, founders of the Philippine Kayaking Association, were able to assemble their own TRAK 2.0 kayaks for the first time (most finished in under 30 minutes) and take them out for a spin on the water.

Veillard (third from left) and Jamie Sharp (rightmost) share their thoughts on the improved TRAK design

Jamie Sharp, a pro paddler from New Zealand who has brought TRAK to more than 15 countries and most recently led a kayak tour in Palawan, talked about the joys of bringing TRAK around the world.

The kayak is easy to check-in at most airlines, he says. When packed in the carrying bag, the kayak can pass for golf, diving or any sporting equipment, making it more easily acceptable and understandable for even the stricter airlines. No need to explain further what it is.

Even better, Sharp says, “I can fly to any location, pack everything into the boat and paddle along the coast, get out, jump on the bus, go to another location.” There is no need to secure a locker or room to leave your things and have to return to your point of entry to retrieve them afterwards. The journey simply continues from one destination to another, with everything – and Sharp travels with camera equipment, first aid kit and more – fitting snugly in the kayak.

With the 2.0 version, Sharp notes a much more comfortable seat, which allows him to paddle farther and longer. He also likes the new customizable details that also make the kayak more comfortable and secure, as well as the multifunctional expedition bags by TRAK.

TRAK’s portable design allows kayakers to take their boat virtually anywhere in the world.

Launching the new kayak in the Philippines is especially significant not just because TRAK has held kayaking tours in Palawan. The kayaks have actually been manufactured in Mariveles, Bataan since 2012. Veillard surprised Filipino guests when he told them that there is a world-class outdoor gear factory right in our own backyard.

“It’s been a real pleasure of mine working in this country for the last number of years, having our factory here,” he says.

Veillard notes the special spirit of the Filipino people that he’s observed from his years working with the Mariveles factory. “It makes this country special, the spirit of the Filipino people. We’re very grateful, very blessed.”

Intrigued by the culture, Veillard learned about the concept of bayanihan in 2013. “What it represents is this coming together of everyone for the benefit of the whole community,” he explains to the foreigners in attendance at the launch. “Kind of like volunteerism, but it’s more than that... being behind something, doing something for the right reason, not necessarily because it’s something that will directly benefit you, but because you want to contribute to the thing you are being a part of.”

Veillard says it’s this spirit of bayanihan that he’s observed at the factory and in the support that TRAK has gotten from the Filipino community of kayakers. “There’s something about the spirit of the Filipino that is truly moving to me,” he says.

The day culminated with the unveiling of a painting commissioned by TRAK. The piece by artist/photographer Rolly Magpayo, who is an outdoor sport enthusiast himself, features a bright yellow TRAK kayak carried bayanihan-style by TRAK team members into the sea.

“This lifting up is what all of you backers have done,” says Veillard. “Every time one of our kayaks is built and exported around the world... that spirit of bayanihan gets exported with every boat that leaves this country.”

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