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With the news of Pelican acquiring Confluence last night it got me thinking about all the other mergers that have happened in this industry. I put together a quick history of the popular SOT, fishing kayak manufactures from over the years; Aquaterra, Bass Pro, Bonafide, Cobra, Diablo, Feel Free, Heritage, Hobie, Hurricane, Jackson, Liquid Logic, Native Watercraft, Ocean Kayak, Old Town, Pelican, Perception, Vibe, and Wilderness Systems.

  • 1898 - Old Town Canoes founded by Wickett & Gray
  • 1950 - Hobie founded by Hobie Alter
  • 1970's - Perception Kayaks founded by Bill Masters
  • 1971 - Tim Niemier is credited with developing the Sit-on-Top kayak
  • 1974 - Old Town Canoes purchased by S.C. Johnson
  • 1977 - Bill Masters develops rotomolded technology for kayaks
  • 1980's - Pelican International begins production of kayaks
  • 1984 - Aquaterra founded by Bill Masters
  • 1986 - Wilderness Systems founded by Andy Zimmerman & John Shepard
  • 1988 - Ocean Kayak founded by Tim Niemier
  • 1990's - Perception Kayaks and Aquaterra merge
  • 1990's - Cobra Kayaks founded by Warren and Glynys Aitken
  • 1995 - Old Town Canoe begins manufacturing kayak.
  • 1996 - Hobie begins production of kayaks
  • 1997 - Heritage Kayaks founded by Hol Whitney and Paul Cronin
  • 1997 - Hobie releases Mirage Pedal Drive
  • 1997 - Ocean Kayak purchased by Johnson Outdoors
  • 1998 - Wilderness Systems and Mad River Canoe merge creating Confluence Watersports (Wilderness systems, Mad River Canoe)
  • 1998 - Perception Kayaks and Dagger merge creating Watermark Paddlesports (Perception, Dagger, Mainstream)
  • 1998 - Hurricane Kayaks founded by Don Grigg
  • 1999 - http://www.TexasKayakFisherman.com is launched.
  • 1999 - Malibu Kayaks is created
  • 2000 - Liquid Logic founded by Woody Callaway
  • 2002 - Confluence Watersports purchased by American Capital.
  • 2004 - Jackson Kayaks founded by Erick Jackson
  • 2004 - Old Town Canoes purchased by Johnson Outdoors (Ocean Kayak, Old Town Canoes, Necky [disc. 2015])
  • 2005 - Native Watercraft founded by Andy Zimmerman
  • 2005 - Watermark Paddlesports purchased by Confluence Watersports (Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Wave Sport, Mad River Canoe, Mainstream [disc. 2007])
  • 2006 - Heritage Kayaks purchased by Native Watercraft creating Legacy Paddlesports (Native Watercraft, Heritage)
  • 2007 - Liquid Logic Kayaks and Legacy Paddlesports merge (Native Watercraft, Heritage [disc. 2014], Liquid Logic)
  • 2008 - Diablo Paddlesports founded by Thomas Flemons
  • 2008 - Native Watercraft releases ProPel Pedal Drive
  • 2009 - Cobra Kayaks purchased by Aquatx
  • 2010 - Feel Free Kayaks introduced to US Market
  • 2010 - Confluence Outdoors introduced Perception Sport (Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Wave Sport [disc. 2015], Mad River Canoe, Perception Sport [disc. 2014])
  • 2012 - Cobra Kayaks moves production to New Zealand
  • 2012 - Bass Pro begins production of Ascend Kayaks
  • 2013 - Vibe Kayaks founded by Joshua Thomas and John Ewald
  • 2014 - Cobra Kayaks discontinues is US Market
  • 2014 - Confluence Watersports purchased by JH Whitney creating Confluence Outdoors
  • 2015 - Hurricane Kayaks and Legacy Paddlesports merge creating BIG Adventures (Native Watercraft, Liquid Logic, Hurricane)
  • 2016 - Bonafide Kayaks founded by Luther Cifer
  • 2017 - GSC Technologies and KL Outdoor merge creating Hemisphere Design Works (Evoke, Equinox [disc. 2018], Sun Dolphin, Future Beach, Third Coast, Heritage)
  • 2019 - Bonafide Kayaks merges with BIG Adventures (Native Watercraft, Bonafide, Liquid Logic, Hurricane)
  • 2019 - Diablo Paddlesports partners with BIG Adventure to produce Amigo
  • 2019 - Pelican International purchases Confluence Outdoors (Pelican, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Mad River Canoe)
  • 2019/2020 Hemisphere Design Works ceases manufacturing (Evoke, Sun Dolphin, Future Beach, Third Coast, Heritage)
Last edited by Neumie on Thu May 28, 2020 11:45 am, edited 4 times in total.
That’s quite a list!

I’ve had and still had a few on the list.

My first kayak was the Aquaterra Prism purchased sometime in the late 1980s from Canoesport in Houston.
That kayak still lives and is still mine, but is on a permanent loan to a camp on the Matagorda peninsula.

The second kayak was the Heritage Marquesa purchased used sometime around 2008. That kayak still lives, also on permanent loan to a buddy that patched an oyster pierced hull and lives on the Brazos River.

My third and fourth kayaks were purchased together from an employee at the BNWR that was soon to leave the area. A Blackwater Dagger, on loan to a friend that lives on a portion of Galveston bay. The other one was a Hurricane Phoenix 160, that one I sold to my uncle. Not sure where it would be these days.

I got my WS Tarpon 140 from FTU around 2011, the WS Commander 140 maybe a year later or so from the ACK where Canoesport once was. Both of those stays with me.
Wow! Who could have predicted that Pelican would not only survive, but climb to the top of the heap? It seems that building high-quality kayaks doesn't always mean survivability and profitability. Hobie always seems to be one step ahead of the pack in the innovation race. And pricing. I don't see them being bought out or merged into another corporate umbrella.
Interesting. TexasJim
LocoSeamonkey wrote:Very interesting. I see where Hobie released their pedal drive, where does the other pedal drive type fall on that timeline?

Native Watercraft's Propel Drive is on the list in 2008 as they were the first competitor to Hobie with their unique design of a bicycle style pedal drive and propeller. Old Town's PDL (2016), Jackson's Flex Drive (2017), Perception's Pilot Drive(2017), and Wilderness's Helix Drive PD (2017) are essentially just a twist on Native's pedal/propeller drive. Nucanoe's PIVOT Drive (2019) is interesting in it's design and it has me wondering if someone could install it on a non-Nucanoe kayak. Feel Free's Ovverdrive is interesting as it incorporated a pedal drive along with a motor system in one unit.

Pedal drives from Pelican, Lightning and Vibe are utilizing Hobie's expired patent on their first Mirage Drive. Drive systems from Eddy Gear, Kayak, and Evoke look to be either licensed from Native Watercraft or are direct knock offs. Mako, Brooklyn, and Riptide are Chinese designs (maybe the Perception Pilot as well????).

Anyways, and in my opinion, the Hobie and Native developed the innovative products which every other manufacturer is playing catch up to.
Yes, we have seen a lot of changes over the years; mostly positive, too. TKF came on the scene in 1999 and we experienced a lot of them as we grew through the 2000’s. Here we are entering the 2020’s and I’m proud to say it’s been quite a ride. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Neumie!
TKFStubb wrote:Yes, we have seen a lot of changes over the years; mostly positive, too. TKF came on the scene in 1999 and we experienced a lot of them as we grew through the 2000’s. Here we are entering the 2020’s and I’m proud to say it’s been quite a ride. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Neumie!

Edited my post to add TKF to the list.
Interesting timeline. Back in the early 2000's (class of '03) it seemed like Wilderness Systems was THE kayak for the coast. I started with a WS Pungo (The Blue Flash), a sit-in, that was fast and tracked so well. I moved up to the WS Tarpon 120 with a rudder and still drive it. I don't get down to the salt nearly enough since the storm blew Goose Island away but plan on making a much needed return in the fall. Happy paddlin' and Tight Loops!
Josh I remember the first Kayak I paddled with y’all was a liquid logic manta ray 14.

For some reason this pic comes to mind when it comes to listing all the kayak manufacturers and the recurring names popping up throughout the years


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