Testing a New Footboard Design

Something that always bothered me about skin-on-frame qayaqs is the footbrace. I want the footbrace to be adjustable to accomodate different paddlers. I have always liked footboards that span the entire width of a kayak so I can move my feet around on a solid platform.  

There are a few design problems to consider: 

  • The width of the kayak varies and the footboard needs to accomodate this.
  • Screws in the gunwale should be avoided. They can be hazardous and hard to remove after the qayaq is skinned. 
  • There should be nothing on the bottom of the qayaq that gets in the way of sliding a float bag or dry bag into the bow. 
  • The footboard must be adjustable and removable by reaching forward from the cockpit.

I developed a prototype design that meets all of these requirements and installed it in a Sandpiper Kid's Kayak and a Beardarka. The footboard in my baidarka is very comfortable. It allows me to do a stronger forward stroke and makes rolling easier. It reduces backstrain on long paddles. It can be quickly removed so that I can slide a tapered dry bag into the bow. The removable footboard is more comfortable, adjustable and provides more room for storage in the bow. 

Footboard - installed

Footboard installed in Sandpiper Kid’s Kayak. It can be adjusted to rest on any of the four pegs.

Footrest - side view

The footrest sits at a comfortable angle for your feet.

Footboard - bottom strap

A piece of webbing with a Fastex buckle is lashed to the keelson below the peg closest to the bow.

Footboard - expanding board

The footboard is laminated out of strips of strong wood. Yellow cedar works well. There is a half lap joint routered into each section of the panel. Stainless steel bolts with wing nuts fit into holes on the front board and slots on the rear board. The board can be adjusted to fit between the gunwales at any of the four pegs. I routered a groove into the back of the board where it rests on the pegs.

Footboard - pins in gunwale

I installed four pegs at the selected footboard positions. The pegs are 1/2 inch oak glued into holes drilled through the gunwale. They are glued with Gorilla glue for a strong waterproof bond that minimizes the impact on the gunwale.

  • This footboard can be removed by reaching into the cockpit and unclipping the fastex buckle. 
  • The footboard can be removed by sliding it toward the cockpit above the pegs. 
  • The width of the board can be adjusted by loosening the wingnuts on the back and sliding the two sections apart. 
  • The strap can be adjusted to work at any of the four peg positions. 

When I am building a qayaq with a customer, we can install a traditional footrest or an adjustable footboard. Each has it's own advantages.