Is this a good canoe for freestyle?

I’ve been interested in freestyle for some time, but can’t afford to buy a canoe for it.

I do have a Compass Cayak Leader, kevlar, 12’6". It is based on a Rushton design.

Are any freestylers familiar with this canoe? Would it be suitable?

It looks like a kayak
and seems difficult to kneel in

The hull shape is an adaptation of a Rushton design but you will have trouble with that deck in kneeling to pitch the bow down.

While FS principles do hold with kayaks the pitching of bow down is difficult and the learning curve is steep for a sitting heel.

You will do better with a canoe. A Mohawk Solo 13 is not expensive and used boats ought to show up locally…on P net. No need to buy a showboat…just a boat that fits your kneespread and is 13-14 feet long or so. Even an OT Pack will do though its kind of wide for most.

FS kayaking is taught by instructors in advanced kayaking clinics…how to accentuate the turns by edging and paddle placement.

Well, sure!
The “original” FreeStyle solo, Mike Galt’s Dandy was a constant flare hull with pinched stems.

Compass was the creation of Joel Flather. I first met him at ORA Summer Market and he came through Placid boatworks for several years running before selling Compass to Andy Zimmerman. They were very much pack canoes, but the seats were removable.

You’ll want a seat or kneeling thwart mounted 5" aft of center. If you get the thwart/seat and drops from Ed’s and the appropriate length 10-24 SS machine screws from McMaster Carr, I’ll cut to width, drill and mount the thwart in Ray Brook at Adk FSS myself.

Ain’t battery powered tools wonderful!

You’ll want some ~ 1/2" closed cell foam knee pad; other than that you’ll do fine. FreeStyle is a skill set, basically advanced whitewater canoeing on qualudes. While some hulls respond better than others, most respond pretty well.

Thanks for the feedback - very helpful.

Yes, my Compass Leader was made by Joel Flather, who died suddenly last year of a brain aneurysm and is sorely missed. I think he would be pleased with his canoe being used for freestyle.

Hope to make the symposium. Look forward to meeting you all.


Next question: what kind of paddle?
Any suggestions about paddles for freestyle?

T-grip or palm grip?

Length - longer or shorter than “normal”? I’m 5’4".

Blade shape?


Any other observations/comments/preferences?

Palm grip
Sooner or later you will be doing palm rolls and a symmetrical palm grip is ever so more comfortable. The t grip is not totally unworkable but the palm grip digs in less at odd angles of grip during the roll.

You can fiddle with a lot of paddles there and your normal length is a good way to start. Some folks find they want to go shorter or longer but you just dont know till you try something out on the maneuvers.

There will be no shortage of paddles for sure.

Hey, Cat!!
If you need a practice partner, let me know. I’ve been interested in trying out freestyle too, and have been told my SRT would be suitable. Unfortunately I can’t make the Adk symposium…my vacation schedule is “chuck” full.