After seven years of racing in the Run of the Charles relay race with a Discovery 169, the envy of all the Jensen 17s has finally cought up with me.
Looking for a canoe that meets the 16% width rule for canoe racing as well as something durable (rock/log bumps at flatwater speed) and stable enough for my older parents to use.
The Discovery 169 that I’ve grown up with is a truck in the rec canoe class, and is now a bit too heavy and high volume for my parents to enjoy on a regular calmwater paddle.
Would love to go used to keep costs reasonable, so I’ve been on the lookout for used Jensen 17s, which seems to be the most popular boat in the class.
I know there are many other canoes in the class, just looking for some help in narrowing down the field that meets my requirements, and any shops that might have used/demo of these types of canoes available in the New England area.
If you find a used Sundowner in glass or the heavier duty kevlar layup it should fit the bill perfectly and be a great all round canoe.
More likely to find one used than a Jensen, but you never know what might turn up used.
17 Jensen Alternatives
In areas where the recreational class is limited to 17’ the Jensen is the boat of choice for speed. The 17’ and 16’6" Sundowner/Echo are a tick slower, but deeper and more seaworthy. The 16’6" Escapade is quick, but suited to small people with a load, or big people traveling light. The 17’Spirit and Spirit II are a tick slower than the Sundowner or Jensen, but again deeper than the the others, fuller and with some rocker. In tight streams or races with rough water, the Spirit can be a better choice. It is better for inexperienced paddler because it is more forgiving of trim and stroke synchronization. If the padders in a Jensen are not in sync, the canoe will feel unstable.
If the recreational class in your area allows 17’6" canoes, the Escape is the alternative to the 17Jensen. It is as fast, but deeper. In waves this is good, in wind it can be a hindrance.
Outside of Wenonah, Mohawk made some of Jensens’ older designs and they show up used occasionally. With equal paddlers, the 17’Jensen and 17’Sundowner have no production equals in the rec class. There are strip built canoes in Ontario that conform to a recreational class standard there that are competitive against the Jensen and Sundowner. NovaCraft made a production version, the Thames, that was fast. It is not a good recreation tripping boat for new paddlers, low initial stability.
Fast Rec Canoe
We went through the exact same thing you are talking about. Started out in a Old Town 169 and got tired killing ourselves and loosing to people in faster canoes. In our area the 17' Jensens dominate the 17' and under rec class. The Wenonah Jensen is a great canoe. If the length goes up to 17'5" the Escape is another great canoe. In the Adirondak 90 miler the Jensens and Escapes are normally always the top boats. The old Mohawk 17' Jensen is another good choice if you can find one, they just weigh more.
Our personal choice is a company out of Canada called Clipper Canoes. They also make a 17' Jensen that is a great canoe. It is also a Jensen design and similar to Wenonah. Their quality is top notch and we have raced ours for over 4 years now. It is as fast as Wenonahs, it just depends who is sitting in the seat paddling who will win a race if you are against a Wenonah. I highly recommend checking Clipper out, they make great canoes and are easy to deal with. We have owned both Wenonah 17 and Clipper 17' Jensens and prefer the Clipper.
As for stability, any efficient design is going to give up some stability the 169 might have but we never had a problem with ours. You have to be more careful in a Jensen but we never felt unstable in ours except for maybe in very rough water. They are not deep enough to handle rough waves. Hope this advice helps.
Thanks for the replies so far folks! Going to be snooping around the ads over on the New England Canoe & Kayak Racing Association page, and ask questions through the season, hopefully will be able to find something.