Calling all solo canoe paddlers

“the bride” and I got to paddle Bald Paddlers home built 14’-7", 39 pound, solo canoe yesteday, and were so impressed that we are thinking, (just thinking mind you) of looking around for a solo boat with similar specs.

Who has what recommendations ?

We would use it primarily for racing.

We are not looking for a J boat at this time, (at least not yet).

He mentioned Bells Merlin II.

Thanks in advance and cheers,


Factory builds are the Wenonah Advantage, Savage River Otegan, Grasse River Classic(?) and the Bell. Sawyer made a solo called the Shockwave. Also, the Summersong (a little shorter and softer) which I had for awhile - baldpaddler would remember it. They’re fast boats and a little better behaved than the marathon C-1’s in wind and waves.


how about
What type of racing are you going do? All flatwater, river, or mix?

Here are a few in the 15’ range give or take a few inches.

Mad River - Slipper aka Lady Slipper, Independence

Wenonah - Mocassin and Solitude

Clipper - there are a couple around the 15’ range, solitude and another I am forgetting

Hemlock - Kestrel, Peregrine, and SRT

Grasse River - Classic, Companion, Rushton Vayu

Bell - Original Merlin, Merlin II

There are probably a couple more but this should get you started.

I agree with the choices above.
If you are going to be using it primarily for racing, the pedestal seat probably becomes more advantageous. I have an Advantage and a Merlin II. The Advantage is definitely faster, but not as maneuverable as the Merlin II because it has no rocker.

Tend to prefer the 16’-17’ range

– Last Updated: Jun-11-04 9:10 AM EST –

The longer boats just pack a bunch more efficiency and for most paddlers they'll find their balanced top performance in a 16-17' hull. Also many models listed are discontinued, or in the case of Mad River, based upon my personal assessment of there current production and growing bad feedback I'd tend away from the current production and favor a seasoned boat.

In quick summary:

Mad River - Slipper aka Lady Slipper (I was never pleased with this model as it seemed to be somewhat inefficient), Independence (have known many folks to be happy with this hull but I wouldn't consider it the best choice as a racer)

Wenonah - Mocassin (discontinued kneeler for cruising not racing) and Solitude (another cruiser not racer - Advantage is really the Wenonah hull of choice for racing with the Prism being the less efficient but drier choice)

Clipper - there are a couple around the 15' range, solitude and another I am forgetting (I've no experience with the Clippers)

Hemlock - Kestrel, Peregrine, and SRT (Kestrel and Peregrine are very efficient designs and are tuned to paddler size - good trippers and the SRT is alsoi a nice hull design but none are generally considered for standard racing)

Grasse River - Classic, Companion, Rushton Vayu, (also consider Savage River boats - Otegan - the Otegan along with the Wenonah Advantage are personal favorites)

Bell - Original Merlin, Merlin II (very elegant boats but the Magic would be considered the faster boat for racing)

In summary, the NYMCRA C1 Stock (Standard) class lists the following as qualifying hulls:

Grasse River Boatworks: Classic 15'8" 24 - 32 #
Classic XL 16'8" 26 - 34 # Grasse River Boatworks

Wenonah: Advantage 16'6" 30 - 35# Prism 16'6" 30 - 35# Encounter 17'0" 38# Solitude 15'6" 33#

Sawyer: Summer Song 15'8" 53# DY Special 16'6" 35# Shock wave 16'6" 48#

Savage River: Otegan (with modification)

Bell: Magic 16' 36#

Mad River: Independence 15'8" 33#

I hope this helps...

what about baldpaddlers woodie
is it a custom one off or built from what plans?

Test Drive
Would you like to try my advantage. I live in Charlotte and I am free most weekends. I am also toying with the idea of buying a QCC 700 so I would love to try yours. Just let me know.

you’re right
but the poster indicated that he would like a solo boat close to the 14’7" specs he gave. I agree that there are a ton of longer boats better suited for flatwater recreational racing. And yes I mentioned a few discontinued boats but they still can be found - like the sawyers. And in defense of the Mocassin, it likes to be kneeled but you can sit as well and it has comparable efficiency to a merlin II. Anyway I guess the race will depend on what type of canoe to use.

Right and right,
I did mention 14’-7", but I guess anything under 16 feet would be worth trying.

We have a 17 foot Jensen which is supposed to be able to be paddled solo, but it is hopeless for me solo.



Sounds like a plan
I’ll send you a private E-mail


Thanks to all
There is a good list now for me to check out.



one more
I have no idea if anyone races in them but I have a vagabond by wenonah. It is my first solo and feels fast to me. It is 14.5 feet long and in kevlar weighs under 40 pounds. As I said I do not think it is a race boat but I love mine. The few solo racers I have apoken with in person really like the Asvantage.

More about “One More”

– Last Updated: Jun-11-04 6:40 PM EST –

I have a Royalex Vagabond. It's probably slower than the Kevlar model, and I really don't think it's fast enough to race with. In fact, I sometimes call mine "The China Boat" (credit for this goes to fellow P-Netter "memphis") which is short for "Slow Boat to China". Also, check the length with a tape measure. Wenonah lists it at 14.5 feet, but stem-to-stem measurement on mine is 14.0 feet (which doesn't include the plastic caps on each stem. They would add another two or three inches, but they are not part of the hull). I wonder where that extra half a foot went?

Big talk
Since Memphis “don’t come around here no more”, its fair to talk about him right? He’s calling your Vagabond The China Boat when he’s been paddling OT pack canoes and royalex Wildfires. :slight_smile:

None of the three are racers, but I’ll wager on the Vagabond in a fair match on anything but a hairpin turn, multi-channeled, backwater, log-choked swamp like ol’ Memphis paddles.

Interesting about the length issue. I’m not going there…

My misleading statement…
Hey Osprey, actually it was I who first “threatened” to call my Vagabond the “Slow Boat to China”. It was sometime later that memphis referred to it as my “China Boat”. So, he wasn’t insulting my boat, just making reference to a comment I’d already made. I figured it would be best to make that clear, because at this point, not doing so would be sort of like speaking ill of the dead, since he seems to have dropped off the face of the planet.

OK, thanks for the correction, shame to lose an excuse for joshing him though.

You don’t think he took his enjoyment of getting lost in the Wolf River basin too far do ya?

Little to no resemblance
The Jensen is a true tandem design and while it can be pressed into service as a solo, it does not approach the performance characteristics of a true solo design. Even the BIG volume hull on the 17’ Encounter is significantly more behaved than the 17’ Jensen. You shouldn’t draw parallels based upon boat length as solo hulls incorporate significantly different design elements.

Don’t be scared off by the extra few inches of length of the fast solo boats. While they will not turn nearly as easily as the 15’ hulls they certainly can be maneuvered by a practiced hand and they deliver an extraordinary level of efficiency in flatwater racing and cruising.

Ah Yes, the Merlin II
A great boat, and not to mention fast. Paddles well with great secondary stability, but is shy for initial stability.

My biggest complaint about the boat is comfort. Anything over two hours is uncomfortable. Im 6’1" and 215 lbs. and my hammies and buttox take it hard. But, the boat still trims great for my size, and can handle gear on top of my weight, so the tradeoffs are almost worth the comfort.

This boat is my playboat. I would use it more, but comfort limits its use.


You took the words out of my mouth

He built it from plans
and he said it is pretty close to the Merlin II specs.

If I didn’t have so many projects on “the platter” right now I think I would attempt to build a similar one.

It was interesting to hear how he solved each problem and then see the end results.

I have always wanted to build a skin on frame yak, but maybe I should put a canoe in front of it.

I need to live to 120 to do all I want to do!