Whitewater kayaking is virtually an aerial sport, with paddlers in freestyle competitions performing tricks like airscrew — barrel rolls above a rapid. The lighter your kayak, the higher you can go, so instead of conventional polyethylene plastic, Wave Sport turned to composite materials for its 54 Cx kayak.
The first prototype, a pure carbon-fiber model, weighed just 19 pounds (about 15 pounds less than a plastic kayak) and was easier to maneuver, thanks to the rigid frame. But it proved no match for river rocks, which cracked the hull. In three subsequent prototypes, Wave Sport added Kevlar strips to reinforce the parts of the kayak that take the most abuse. The resulting six-foot-two-inch boat — the first carbon-fiber freestyle kayak made in the U.S. — weighs a bantam 20 pounds but is sturdy enough to survive a hotdog paddler’s acrobatics.