Canoe Innovation

Is it just me or does there seem to be a real lack of innovation in canoes now-a-days? The late '80 and into the '90s seemed to have such a boom in design for canoes. Some of this I remember and some I have only read or heard about.

My brother-in-law told me about how Phil Sigglekow had a design called the X boat or something with a weird tail that lifted out of the water with a bit of heel and when the boat wasn’t leaned it added a good bit to the waterline length. Apparently it made a slapping noise when you turned.

Are people still doing out there designs and I don’t hear about them, or was it just a phase in canoe design that has passed?

Also what happened to fish-form hulls? I really seemed to work on the Zephyr.

it seems there is a dumbing down of canoe designs.At one time if someone wanted a boat with a particular trait they cound find a designer…

Now there is a bunch of mass market boats designed not to dump the sitting paddler at the dock on demo day.

It used to be that you could get good performance hulls and it was up to you not to do something to get pitched out.

I am always in the market for a new solo. There is nothing current that excites me.

There isn’t enough fish form in the
Zephyr to shake a rod at. The Spark is Esquif’s real fish form boat.

Kinda cool!

Seems everyone wants a kayak.

Maybe not?
This thing weighs a ton! But you bon’t need paddle,it has a transom mount…

Strong words there.

– Last Updated: Jul-26-07 11:38 PM EST –

Those are some mighty strong words, when you say that there isn't a single solo-boat design in extistance nowadays which is worth having. I don't doubt that it's true for you, but from all the posts on these boards about people's favorite solo boats, I don't think many share your view. I'm guessing that you prefer custom racing designs, based on your love of boats which require skill just to keep from getting flipped. Is that correct?

I'm relatively new at this, but I have the impression that even if there aren't a lot of brand new designs, there is a greater variety of solo canoes available now than ever before. That's true for tandems too, for that matter. These designs you speak of which are no longer made; what were they made to do?

While I personally have no use for wide "sport" canoes, I can't see that a design of the sort where skill is required just to stay on board is a good thing for anything other than a racing boat. Can the boats you yearn for turn on a dime or spin, go sideways, or smack into a sudden sideways current or hang and surf sideways on the face of a steep standing wave? Can such a design carry a weeks worth of gear? Can such a design confortably handle the waves you get on a lake which is 5 miles across? Can such a design poke around in little timber-strewn rivers? I can think of one or two canoes that are good for every one of the things I listed, and that's just a few examples of special purposes with a made-to-order boat on the market. In short, your lambasting of every solo canoe that is now in existence suggests that you have an extremely narrow view of what design is useful. Again, that's fine if you feel that way, but I happen to think there are a bunch of nice designs out there, and I see them as doing particular jobs really well, and I do NOT believe that every last one of them is designed with no other goal than simply to keep amateur paddlers from falling out.

I think this pretty much answers any questions. Right now, the rec paddlecraft market is dominated by kayaks. Canoes now seem to be the niche market, and as such don’t seem to get the same level of r&d that they formerly had.

It’s awful hard nowadays to find a good high end canoe. I can think of no fewer than six paddle stores within a half hour’s drive of me, and none carries anything more expensive than a basic royalex canoe. One of those shops carries high end glass, kevlar, and carbon fiber kayaks, but no canoes at all. Most of the stores, if they carry canoes at all, only carry polyethylene boats. One, I think, only has a single royalex canoe. The other deals only in royalex canoes with a few poly boats.

Many years ago, I worked at an outfitter that carried a range of low-end to high end canoes and kayaks. Sure, we sold fewer of the high end boats, but they still sold. But…we sold WAY more kayaks. Corporate decided to stop ordering new high end canoes and rec kayaks ended up occupying the space they once took.

Why? That’s what people were buying.

Speak for yourself.
I’d love to have a MR Outrage for the rivers and a good lake boat like a Bell Magic or Wenonah Voyager. My budget affords used Mohawks (great boats), however.


lol I dont have custom racing boats
I do like David Yosts designs. The Summersong and the Heron of the 80s as well as the Ladybug and Mayfly demanded a certain level of patience and paddler skill.

The Dandy was a good sport boat for its time. A sport boat is not a boat for sports.

I do own eight current solo boats but aside from the Loon Works designs, most dont have that special edge. Only one of these boats is from the late 80’s.

What I found about some fish form boats that I paddled is that they are not too playful in reverse…pretty much dedicated to forward travel


– Last Updated: Jul-27-07 1:55 AM EST –

Those Blackhawk Zephyrs are just old beaters; ugly as sin, and they paddle like a barge.
Contact me, and I'll help you get rid of yours, so you won't be embarassed owning/paddling one.
Help you get rid of your Starship too.

Get ya something new & shiny.......


P.S. Wouldn't mind having one of those old, clunky, Old Town Northern Lights either.

Wasn’t referring to myself, I’ve gone
over to a solo canoe. Next purchase will be a longer solo, a toss up between the Prism, Voyager, and Solo Plus right now…those are the easiest for me to find.

I’d guess the greatest opportunities for future improvements will be in light weight and very durable materials along the lines of Esquif’s Twintex. They are still working out some of the bugs but they are making progress.

I’d like to see some of the older models resurrected in new materials. And there would be a possibility of more custom design to fit the size and weight of each paddler. Mohawk and some of the WW boat builders attempted this with more than one length per model. Some design features may be compromised but this might still offer hope for the really big and little people who just don’t fit a lot of boats.

Some of the great composite boat models did not translate closely in the royalex models. So there is an area for improvement here.

In the specialty boats there has been steady innovation and improvement. I expect there to be more cross over and hybridization with other water sports too. How about epoxy construction?:

small shops
I think that one of the effects of the market being dominated by rec kayaks is that small canoe makers have a much smaller market and there are less of them because of/due to it. Currently there is Hemlock (curtis), Placid, Loonworks…any others? The latter two still do freestyle boats, but very similar/identical designs.

On the other hand we have Mad River, Wenonah, Bell, and Old Town who are making what sells, which is the purpose of a business, but there is no drive for innovation.

Maybe I should start making boats in my basement. Anyone have some crazy hulls ideas I can make?

thebob… as you probably know, the
Zephyr to which I referred is the Esquif Zephyr, also ugly as sin, and perhaps not as indestructable as we hoped. About Blackhawk I know little…

Specialty canoes
I think that once a canoe gets too specialized, the already small market gets really really small. The 80’s saw a lot of neat solos and tandems…but I don’t think they sold remarkably well. One has to be a pretty good paddler to appreciate them.

I think Charlie’s Rapidfire is a pretty cool newer design (or as he stated…an update of an older model). His spitfire is a pretty decent take on the Adirondack boat too.

The fire boats are great boats. I don’t really see a newer design being much different if they were to go for the same end results.

I think there are some design breakthroughs happening a bit in the WW realm…but not nearly like the Kayaks.

We are just too small of a market.

All the more reason to support the really good builders like Hemlock, Placid Boatworks, Tom at Loonworks, etc. IF they sell enough to be profitable, not only will we still have our nice boats available for sometime to come, but they will offer new boats too.

You can always play around with designing and building your own woodstrip canoes.


g2d …
Yes, I understood.

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to “shake the tree” a little, and see if any of the “apples” I’m searching for fell out of the tree. My “true” feelings for Blackhawks are evident in my profile.


Millbrook Boats
Any others?

Well, this is what was sitting around the finish line of the MR 340 yesterday.

Its true - no innovation
in 4000 years.

Canoes are still pointy at both ends and open on top; kayaks are pointy at both ends with a hole amidships.

As “they” say, there are really only two kinds of boats…