People have commented to me that Estonia was a strange place to be heading to seek out sea kayaks, considering the usual source destinations for famous designs seem to be the paddling places as well, like Anglesey in North Wales. However, the Tahe story was a bit irresistible. 20 years old, progressing from a small shed in the snowfield above to a cutting edge manufacturing plant that sees them challenging as Europe's biggest kayak builder, with a wide range of boat designs ranging from lake recreational cruisers up to the latest take on rough water kayaks like the striking Zegul boats (pronounced zee-gool, or a Swedish Seagull).
So, I spent the day today with Marek Pohla of Tahe, running through the range of boats we've ordered & seeing firsthand just how the Tahe kayaks are manufactured. To say it's impressive is an understatement. I wasn't quite prepared for the scale or technology of the Tahe factory, and seeing each stage, of the process including the laying up of the cloth for a sexy semi carbon Greenland T.
Marek then showed me through the aerospace vacuum infusing of the Carbon Aramide boats, and the meticulous 'finishing room' where each boat is checked by two skilled craftsmen for even the slightest sign of a flaw or problem.
Marek is driven by a steely determination to make the best possible kayaks, at the best possible price, and he & his brother Janek have spared no expense in building a modern facility to do just that. Unfortunately it's a few weeks now until our order arrives in Australia for the good people in Oz to see what I'm on about, but be prepared for a exceptional product even taking into account the price.
And then of course there is the iconic Greenlander & Greenlander T. 'Lover's of a line' are raving about these boats & they are no less impressive shining in the flesh than the impressive marketing images we see in the leading sea kayaking mags around the world.
Tahe have a heathy annual turnover & a warehouse like a small aircraft hangar with all of their models on display.Marek & Janek looked after me like royalty, showing me around Tallinn & giving me an insight into their country & of course the rise and rise of their business. If it was wasn't a thousand degrees below zero I would have loved to go for a paddle, but I didn't fancy the idea of following the icebreaker out to welcome the Helsinki ferry to get to open water! I didn't get a photo of it, because I thought I'd get, frostbite winding down the window of Janek's Troopy as we sped along the coast, but sea ice is one bizarre sight for a warm weather dweller like me. We will just have to wait for March to get the Tahe boats on the water.
I'm now in Stockholm en route to London for night before heading to a meeting in Singapore on Thursday. I'm looking forward to a swim.....
Thanks Marek & Janek, I had a ball.....
For those of you heading to the NSWSKC Rock & Roll weekend, as platinum sponsor we have donated a Zegul as the prize for the event raffle, and will have the full range to display to demo paddle.