Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Oru Kayak did it. The innovative company led by designer Anton Willis solved a huge issue for open water swimmers who wish to swim with an escort in far-away places…or even waters near their home.

Willis created the Oru Kayak, a watertight 12-foot long kayak that folds in a carrying case that was nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

The Oru Kayak website explains their products best, “Stash it in a trunk. Check it on a plane. Stow it on a sailboat. Hike it in to remote waters. No garage, SUV or roof racks necessary. The Oru Kayak makes boating simple, easy, and accessible— so you can spend more time on the water.”

Willis grew up in northern California, but he was forced to store his kayak in storage when he moved into a small San Francisco apartment.

Inspired by origami, the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, he sketched a few ideas for a folding kayak. His sketches turned into countless paper models and, tirelessly, over 20 full-scale prototypes that were tested in bays, lakes, rivers and oceans over a 4-year period. “When I moved to San Francisco, I started thinking, “What if a boat could fold away like origami? What if you could take it on journeys in the water or anywhere you want to go?

Those questions are wonderful words to hear for open water swimmers, especially since the Oru Kayak is the answer.

After obtaining start-up money through crowd funding via Kickstarter, Willis and co-founder Ardy Sobhani raised US$440,000 in 35 days and pre-sold almost 500 boats to launch Oru Kayak. “It is a folding boat that packs into a folding case. It is perfect for fast, stable and it handles incredibly well. It is perfect for paddling on bays, lakes and rivers,” Willis explains.

After a few years on the marketplace, how is the Oru Kayak doing?

Corey Hass explains his hard-core usage of the Oru Kayak for/in Outside Magazine (see here.

Hass writes, “In the last year, we’ve paddled Oru’s novel folding kayak in the Pacific Ocean, floated it down the Colorado River, used it to hunt ducks, chase fish, took it to Mexico, and even carried it on our backs to reach high alpine lakes. How does this piece of corrugated plastic stand up to a full year of adventure? We break it down here.”

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association