Back when Frank Goodman founded Valley he probably didn’t envisage how much it would become entwined with the history of sea kayaking as a sport. In 1972 when the Anas Acuta, was launched, Valley became one of the very first companies producing a specialist sea kayak. Although kayaking on the sea can be traced back several thousand years through various cultures it was these fibreglass sea kayaks that led to the activity gaining popularity as a pastime.
As demands changed, so the materials used have been forced to progress, from those first glass-fiber kayaks. Improvements in the reinforcements and resins have led to much tougher, lighter products. Glass-fibers are now only one of several reinforcements used: E Glass cloth, polyester Diolen, Kevlar and Carbon fibers all improve the performance of the laminate when used correctly. The biggest improvements however have been in the resin matrices, polyester resins are now significantly tougher and vinylesters and epoxies now offer even greater performance.
Valley has also been instrumental in many features that are now taken for granted in modern sea kayaks. Respect for the sea brought the need to develop safer kayaks. Valley were the first to develop a watertight hatch system specifically for kayaks and introduced recessed deck fittings to ensure safety lines remained in place. It is testimony to the value of these innovations that many competitors still purchase these products directly from Valley for use on their own designs.
It is hard to write about Valley’s history, without seeming to boast, such is the influence on modern sea kayak development. Although it can be seen as “just” history, it should be considered that Valley is where it is today because of the journey it has taken. This is certainly true and this year, like those before sees yet more new developments at Valley.