3. August 2018
Beau Lake, a company infusing luxury into waterside leisure experiences, is proud to unveil the Runabout, a game changer delivering refined luxury to a historically-bland pedal boat market
“I have a long history working with fiberglass and carbon fiber, both in the architectural and boating industries,” explains Lee Kline, co-founder and design director for Beau Lake. “The Runabout is inspired by mid-20th Century wooden boats, whose aesthetics have already been incorporated into our paddleboard designs through a lightweight veneer that is petrified within the resin and fiberglass construction.”
Building on the success of the company’s paddleboard line, Kline found further inspiration in the vintage elegance of partner Paul Lavoie’s 1950s Mediterranean-style ‘pedalo’, constructed with square wooden pontoons and mahogany seats. Embracing the same concept of marrying vintage elegance with modern designs and materials, the partners embarked on a journey to redefine the whole pedal boat experience.
“Traditional injection-molded plastic pedal boats stand out like sore thumbs,” says Paul Lavoie, co-founder and Chairman of Beau Lake. “Nothing about them blends into the natural surroundings and architectural designs of today’s cottage lifestyle.”
The ground-zero challenge for Beau Lake was how to incorporate the elegant look of vintage craftsmanship into a high-performance, low-maintenance product built with modern design techniques. Drawing upon key shapes borrowed from classic boat designs of the 1950s and ’60s, Kline’s early sketches evolved into a model based on a reverse transom, where a slanting deck gives the boat a visual sense of forward motion. Once the visual aspect was complete, the company embarked on a quest to transform the Beau Lake state of mind into another tangible product.
“Before being a designer, I’m a builder, with a heavy focus on materials, construction techniques and processes,” explains Kline. “There are merits to be found in the materials and processes of the past, present and future, so collaborating with experienced people from a wide variety of backgrounds has been my entire MO in life.”
Incrporating experience through collaborations
Beau Lake explored many possible collaborations before bringing in Steve Killing, whose years of progressive experience range from yacht designs of the 1960s, to the ultra-modern hull and keel designs of foil-driven America’s Cup vessels. Working closely with Beau Lake’s experienced fiberglass builder, the growing team developed a tunnel hull design for the Runabout. Next up was the pedal boat’s drive mechanism, which presented the challenge of transferring pedal energy into propeller movement that would be both silent and highly efficient.
“I wanted it to do everything, but sometimes the best design is the most elegant solution, which looks great, is mechanically understood and enjoys the greatest longevity,” says Kline. “But I remained married to the concept of having a retractable, turning drive unit.”
Enter Spark Innovations, an award-winning industrial design company specializing in the development of innovative products and inventions. After tinkering with sub-assemblies, gears and complex design elements, the Beau Lake team developed a simple mirror-polished stainless steel drive shaft which connects to the Runabout’s propeller, eliminating noise and surface splash by containing propulsion action beneath the water’s surface.
Beau Lake’s revolutionary Runabout combines the beauty and mystique of classic wooden boat aesthetics with 21st century technology. The self-draining pedal boat consists of three primary construction components, including the hull, cockpit liner and deck surface, while an ergonomically designed, hand-carved wooden tiller with joystick component steers its course. Built for excursions, sunset cruises and lake explorations, the Runabout’s molded fiberglass body, inlaid veneer deck and beautifully finished stainless steel castings and hardware invoke the essence of a Beau Lake state of mind. Added luxury includes one-inch thick leather seat covers that snap off for easy storage, a Bimini cover for weather protection and a compartmentalized cooler that contours to the boat.
With production underway and a launch party set for June 7th, the Beau Lake Runabout has been conceived as an evolutionary product, with optional enhancements already in the pipeline.
Future plans include console integration of a battery-charged e-bike motor, with four settings that will facilitate pedalling and amplify its output.
Co-founded in 2016 by Lee Kline and Paul Lavoie, Beau Lake is a true reflection of the lives and careers of both men. While growing up on summer sails on Lake Ontario, Lee Kline also inherited the passion, skills and aptitudes of his great-grandfather, a machinist, metallurgist and fine cabinetmaker. Kline spent much of his professional career focused on integrating material advancements from the transportation industry into the architectural and product fields. His attention to craft, materials and design has paved the way to successes in working with manufacturers to ensure final products that retain their initial design visions.
While sharing a parallel experience to Kline’s waterside upbringing, Paul Lavoie’s professional career adds core business expertise to Beau Lake. A co-founder of TAXI, Canada’s most creative advertising and design agency network, Lavoie’s skills in creating an appealing brand narrative and understanding fluctuating marketing landscapes has helped launch numerous major brands and products.
Beau Lake believes that the luxury of a waterside lifestyle comes with the responsibility of stewardship. The company is currently in talks with diverse water and conservation charities with the goal of donating a share of its profits to addressing the many environmental challenges posed to water.
Images: Chris Gordaneer