March 20, 2017

Dave on Design

Young Tosch: Dave, what do you think about when you are designing? 

Dave: Ideally....... nothing. The ideas don't flow when I have clutter in my brain.

Young Tosch: But once you have the idea and get started do you still think about nothing?

Dave: Once I have a general idea, I work on narrowing my focus. I change my goal from emptying my mind to filling it with possibilities. I start to think.

Young Tosch: Think about what?

Dave: Usually I think about who will use the paddle. I don't get all woo woo and try and channel them, but I want to stay focused on my goal, so I think about the end user. I rarely think in dimensions or specs. It's always about the people. 

Young Tosch: Give me an example.

Dave: You know the V1 paddle I am molding... The origin of the paddle goes back to something Kialoa ‘Elele, Al Van Gieson told me. He was training with the great Tahitian paddler George Cronsteadt and Al asked, "What should I be thinking about when I am paddling?" George told him, "The canoe.”

For us western thinkers, it is foreign for us NOT to think about ourselves. But in canoeing, when you get down to the essence, the only thing that matters is how the canoe is moving. So, this summer when I took out my V1 prototypes I thought about the canoe.  

When I worked in the shop tuning the prototypes, I reflected on a conversation I had with George in the Columbia Gorge. George told me he likes a paddle to have a stiff blade and a flexible shaft. I prefer a flexible blade and a rigid shaft. At times when I was shaping the blade model, I could feel myself drifting toward my personal preferences. I told myself to listen to George.  George is a three-time winner of the Super Aito. The Super Aito is the most prestigious V1 race in Tahiti. So, I took George’s design advice and I tested the V1 prototypes thinking about my canoe. 

As a paddle designer I am hardwired to focus on the paddle. But in the end, by focusing on the canoe, I believe I have built a better V1 paddle. As George suggested I used a more flexible carbon double bend shaft and it felt good. I also designed the blade to be stiffer and flatter, not curved like a typical Kialoa. I found it easier to control my rudderless V1 with these features. 

Think about the canoe........ What a brilliant idea!

Young Tosch: I'm going to think about my skis.

Young Tosch Roy is the owner of Free Range Equipment. And a heck of a skier. 




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