Advanced OC-1/hard chines/why?

Looking at different whitewater canoe designs, it seems that the “beginner” boats (Impulse, Probe) have softer chines which are consistently described as “forgiving”. I assumes this means they don’t punish the paddler who fails to execute the proper lean.

More advanced boats (Ocoee, Viper) have harder chines which require more perfect technique.

While the disadvantage of a hard chined boat is quite clear, what is the advantage. Put another way, why would anyone want a hard-chined boat, even if they could handle it?


Some info here

Hard chines carve better and, if you
have your leans down pat, allow certain kinds of moves in and out of eddies that are more difficult with soft chines.

This is a complicated area, however. A canoe may be flattish underneath and on the sides, but there still may be a big difference between a tightly rounded “sharp” chine and one that is literally sharp. Some combinations of sharp chine and flat bottom produce a looser hall desirable for wave surfing, but not for slalom. A somewhat rounder “sharp” chine may grab better for running in and out of eddies.

I find that boats that appear relatively round, like the MR Outrage X or my MR Synergy, have enough of a softly rounded chine that they can be leaned away from the paddle quite successfully to stop sliding when finishing a turn into an eddy. In my slalom c-1, that function is assisted by the long tail sliding under the water surface. In open boat slalom, you have older designs like Frankie Hubbard’s Edge with fairly sharp chines, and newer designs like those from Millbrook where the chines, underside, and flanks are much softer in transition.

Responsiveness & Control
The Vipers, Ocoees and similar boats are noted for their responsive nature which gives a skilled paddler better control than he would have in a less responsive boat.

Personaly I prefer the Outrage. Not quite as snappy in the turns but way faster and reasonably forgiving at least compared(by me) to an Ocoee.



– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 1:50 PM EST –

Thanks for the good info.

My real story is that I just got a Dagger Ocoee (used) and have never paddled a "high performance" whitewater solo. I spent several weeks in an Impulse, and have paddled a few others. I found them all to be really easy and fun, so I hope the Ocoee is something I can learn with and progress in my skills.

I think I got a great deal, because the gentleman who sold me the boat is a very good paddler and instructor, and he agreed to spend some time teaching me how to get the most out of it.

Just wondering what sort of increased "performance" I ought to expect.

Thanks again for you help, folks.

A wise decision…

– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 4:35 PM EST –

It would be a wise decision on your part to accept the offer from the instructor that sold you the Ocoee. In my opinion, about the only similarity between an Ocoee & an Impulse is that they are both whitewater solo canoes.

You will notice the differences "real quick"!
You'll either get wet a lot, or your paddling skills will improve. Maybe some of both.


your self rescue skills
will greatly improve, for starters. :wink:

I added an Ocoee to my boat collection (other WW boats are an Outrage and a Quake) about a year ago.

The difference between it and the boats I was paddling… was dramatic.

You really have to stay on top of the Ocoee- always paddling it. Can’t relax like you can in some other boats, and count on the natural stability of the boat to keep you upright. You have to watch out for those chines. They have a tendency to catch river currents and make the boat do things that you don’t want to if you don’t keep your lean under control.

Of all the WW boats I’ve tried, the only one that felt less stable than the Ocoee is the Esquif Zoom.

The first few times I paddled the Ocoee it completely exhausted me. On an early outing, I also had one of the most memorable river thrashings I’ve ever had (on the Little Fork of the Tygart and Tygart Gorge, in W. Va.) Swam 4 or 5 times, couldn’t roll the damn thing, ran Shoulder Snapper Falls backwards (then swam), busted up my new composite paddle…

For the rest of that W. Va trip, I switched back to the Outrage.

But now, after a year, I really enjoy the Ocoee. Very responsive; makes the Outrage almost feel like a truck.


– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 7:26 PM EST –

Considering the lessons from a gentleman instructor, you sure did get a great deal!

An Ocoee is a great boat. Some people love it and some people don't, but it's still recognized a great ww canoe. The more time you spend in it, the more you'll love it. It's a hard boat to appreciate if you only paddle it a few times a season. While you can float around and goof off while paddling an Impulse, you've got to pay more attention to your boat tilt in a hard-chined boat.

Make sure the outfitting works for you. Get your knees wide and well-connected to the hull, and your saddle as low as comfortable.

When you're paddling it well, the edges catch the current firmly and you can really whip the boat around into small eddies and sharp carves. Conversely, if you're dosing or misjudge something, it's the current that will catch the edges firmly, and flip you over.

Hey, at least the water's warm in Manitoba!

My recommendation is to start out on fairly low-volume water where you can get a feel for technical moves with the chines. You don't want to start out by paddling it nervous on big, cold water.

Paddle it a bit and you'll get used to it. You'll have a blast, and you'll look at rivers differently than you did in an Impulse.

Looking forward to paddling with you one day!

Cheers, PY.

p.s. Once Gerry has you tuned up in the boat, make sure you pressure your butt-boating, ex-canoeist friends Mick and Jamie into giving the Ocoee a good try.