Tradition, in general, is fantastic. It keeps us connected to our families, to our friends, and to the things that we hold dear.
By definition, tradition is “…the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.” The very idea of it is grounding and quite lovely, really. Almost like its own form of etiquette, tradition can provide an unwritten, common language around how things are done.
Yet in most aspects of life, there comes a time when the customs and beliefs of preceding generations need to be questioned. Societal norms need to be challenged. Cultural expectations must be revisited and viewed not through the lens of what was appropriate fifty years ago, but rather what we are capable of today.
And yes: There comes a time when traditional boating gear requires an overhaul, too.
It makes sense that tradition holds so much sway in boating. People have put boats on water for millenia. There’s evidence of sea crossings from as early as 53,000 to 65,000 years ago. Exploration and settlement of the South Pacific region goes as far back as 3000 to 15000 B.C.
Still today, we set rules and guidelines for our boats. A love for being on the water is a multi-generational experience that we tend to pass down. And if you’re being honest with yourself, how many parents out there demand that certain aspects of the boating experience be done the same way, every time?
When it comes to safety, on-water expectations, and etiquette, this makes sense. But when it comes to gear, why do we hold onto some traditions and not others?
Whether or not we consider ourselves early adopters, most boaters do the research and make the best choice for their boat and their lifestyle–regardless of tradition or trend. Boats have evolved with new materials, new hull shapes, and new performance parameters. Electronics have evolved. Our foul weather apparel has improved. Even rope and lines have evolved.
And you know what? We, too, sat on tradition for several years before we questioned, “Why?”
As co-founders of IMPACT, we’ve both been boaters and waterskiers for over three decades. We fumbled and cursed and rolled our eyes at traditional cylindrical fenders for well over two-thirds of our lives. Our parents used old-style fenders, as did everyone we knew.
Boat manufacturers tossed them in for free! Was that their worth? What other “free” items would you rely on to protect a brand new $200,000 investment?
Those inflatable, unwieldy things had been around so long, it’s almost as if we all became immune to their design and application flaws.
We realized we were adhering to tradition without questioning why it persisted.
Our revolution started with the age-old line that kick-starts every major innovation, “There has to be a better way.” So we got to work.
IMPACT products, especially our fenders, look different than old school fenders. They perform better. They are easier to use, easier to stow, and are multi-functional. The materials are more durable and the quality is off the charts. They offer more surface protection, exceptional impact protection, and they stay put to manage friction. In the highly unlikely event that they are punctured or torn, they still provide full protective capabilities. We cannot say the same for air-filled fenders.
Our customers love the ease, the functionality, the colors, and above all, the confidence in knowing their boats are protected. Between their feedback and our rapid growth (not to mention our testing), the IMPACT concept has been proven. IMPACT products work, and they look good doing it!
We understand the traditional aesthetic of boating, and honestly, we love it! But when you look at a wooden cruiser or a sleek yacht or a center console built for pure fun, aren’t you looking at the gentle curve of gunwale and the built-for-speed shape of the hull? Aren’t you appreciating the comfort of the deck and the shape of the sails?
In other words, have you ever looked at a 50-foot sloop and thought, “Those are some gorgeous fenders”?
Of course, perhaps now you will say that with IMPACT. But the point is that when we think of traditions in boating and boating aesthetics, it’s always about the boat.
And that’s what we stand for. We are boaters on a mission to craft the highest quality and most thoughtfully-designed boat protection available. We’re inspired by traditions, but not limited by what they infer.
In Silicon Valley, they’d call us disrupters: coming into an existing industry not just to do things differently, but to do them better. We believe that is when there’s value in challenging traditions.
And we have no intention of stopping. As we said above, it’s all about the boat, and how we can protect it with modern solutions, smart design, and superior performance. That is our new tradition.
Thanks and happy boating!
Brian and Courtney