Struer Kayaks being raced in 1960

Above: Struer Kayaks being raced in the 1960 sprint trials.

A brief history of Struer kayaks from my memory

By Dave Green (Subject therefore to some memory loss and possible conjecture.)

Our history is intertwined with that of wood kayak manufacturer Struer. Before carbon and vacuum bagging techniques hit the kayaking sphere, the stiffest possible racing boats were made from laminated wood veneers. We first started making the Struer designs under licence, in glassfibre in the 60's, by carefully making a female mould from the wooden production boats themselves. Later we moved to Kevlar and Carbon. Our boats were much better suited to Marathon racing, due to lower cost and robustness - back then shooting weirs was part of the sport and the wooden boats were too precious. Marathon racing has always been an important part of our history and is where we gained much of our knowledge about build quality. Here's a little about Struer.

Struer's name came into prominence in the 1948 London Games

The town of Struer is on the shores of the Limfjiord - a large inland sea with an inlet to the North at Aarhus and an exit to the South near Struer. Historically famous as a meeting place for raiding Vikings from Norway and Sweden and Denmark before setting off on raiding parties to England and Europe. The central land between the Fiord and the sea is said to have many graves from the Viking period.

Struer's original claim to fame was the company of Bang and Olofsson - the makers of high class recording and radio equipment.From the 30's through to the 50's radio equipment was traditionally housed in laminated wood veneer cases. Many of the workers in the canoe making industry came out of Bang and Olofsson.

Gerhard Sorensen and Mr Koberup were 2 of these. I believe that Sorensen and Koberup initially worked together but by the late 50's they operated as 2 competing companies.

The designer of the canoes and kayaks was Jorgen Samson, a cartographer and canoeist who lived at Skovvengets Alle 18, Farum, Denmark. Farum being an island in the Danish archipeligo. Samson designed for both Sorensen and Koberup. So it was in late 50's / early 60's new designs tumbled out one after the other, first one company then the other. Eventually I believe Koberup went out of business and new relationships were formed, probably from the same work force.

So we had Kirk and Storgaard who made the K4's and the racing C1, & C2's and also touring canoes in laminated veneer on a male mould, applying compressive forces to the cold glued laminates with clamping straps; whilst Sorensen, reformed as Kajakbyggeriet Struer made K1's and K2's only, using more advanced technique with hot cure glues, the veneers being vacuum bagged onto the male mould which was then inserted into an autoclave and heated under pressure. Under this new arrangement Gerhard Sorensen's son Peter took on the marketing for both companies. Peter was (is?) multi lingual and did an excellent job. Struer boats were used exclusively in all International racing right into the early 90's when GRP and its derivatives began to make an appearance.

The limitation of designing for manufacture in wood veneer is that one is forced by the material to work in modified conical shapes. Once the GRP kayak/canoe became acceptable, no such limitation existed and as a result excesses could be taken with the antiquated rules.

Struer in the 2000's is no longer the same company, personel have died or moved on and the company no longer is seen at the fore front of racing kayak/canoe design.