Is this a good canoe for whitewater?

Hi all.

I am considering getting a used kevlar Jensen Wenonah canoe. It was made in the early 80’s, and is 18.5’ long. I haven’t seen it yet. I am wondering if it is an appropriate boat for racing in class I, II, and short easy III rapids, or is it really just for flatwater as the current owner thinks.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Kevlar, rocks, cracks.

A great straight-ahead boat
This is not suitable for ww racing. It is designed to go straight ahead very efficiently and very fast. It has very little rocker and won’t turn like a ww boat needs to do. It is also very long, also making it harder to turn.

I think the previous poster was also commenting on the Kevlar being prone to breaking when hitting rocks. My experience with well-kept Kevlar is that it is very robust, but it isn’t really suited toward taking it through a rock garden.

The current owner is right: this is a flatwater boat.


Definitely a flatwater go fast boat.

Would not discount yet
Wenonah made The WW1,WW2, and WWX all 18.6 downriver boats that many WW racers used back in the 80’s. You would have to get a litte more info to see what you really are looking at. Having raced in that time frame in your area, my guess is that a number of those old WW boats around as they were the boat of choice for many.

My guess is no.
Got any rocker? 18.5’ is pretty long. How much volume in hull design? I’m not real experienced but every downriver boat I see is royalex or poly. Westfields pretty rocky.

this is a flatwater boat
Good for up to very easy class II water, nothing more.

Raced the Westfied
Many times. Always in a glass or kevlar boat. Many times in a Wenonah 18.6 WW1 or WW2. Also in a kevlar C1W. Back in the 70’s and 80’s everybody ran glass or kevlar boats in the race classes, they also did not allow much if any extra floation back then. Although the WW2 and the later WWX had some rocker the WW1 was a flatwater boat with high sides and zero rocker. Took real good drivers to get it thru the rocky stuff thats why I switched to the WW2.

He hasn’t given enough info for us
to know what the boat was meant for.

Downriver WW open tandems have NO rocker, are 14 to 15 inches deep, and have extra depth in the bow and sometimes the stern so that they do not take water on drops. They do not “crack” because the racers know the routes and do not hit things.

So, if we are decide what he has, we need information as to how deep the boat is at the center, and at the quarters.

I have a Wenonah Kevlar jensen 17,
and there is no way I would race it in class III.

I race it every year in the New river, NC race which is class I and has one very mild II.

One year several years ago when the river was low I had to use a lot of Epoxy on the bottom the week after the race.

I would hate to hit a rock going through a class III. I am quite sure that would be the end of the boat.

When I bought it new it was advertised as the fastest 17 foot recreational flat water canoe.

The Jensen 18’s are the same.

It will win you a house full of trophies, but not in races with class II- III.



The main problem with the Wenonah
Jensens is they are not deep enough. For downriver on, say, the Nantahala, you do not need a maneuverable boat at all, if you know the river. But the hull has to be deep so it does not take unnecessary water. Jensen WW racing designs are available, and for that matter, the Encounter would make a decent solo, and the Odyssey would make a good tandem racer.

The trick to avoiding repairs is to know the river, and the guys I know who do WW downriver all make sure they know the river. I certainly can race down the Nanty and never hit a rock in the entire 8 miles.

But would you before.
they let the water out?

The Nantahala Is the easiest WW river to paddle when the water is up, but your would tear the bottom out of you boat around 7:00 AM.

Most down river WW racers use Penobscots, not kevlar boats for the simple reason that most of the races have boat banging rocks, which will trash a kevlar or fiberglass boat.

A non dam controlled river is never the same twice, and any one would have to paddle it constantly on a regular basis to know the rocks at all levels.

There is one race that I have done for the past fifteen or twenty years, and we absolutely have to do it a couple of days before race day to find our proper lines and even then have to adjust for the possibility of a gully washer between then and the race.



Thanks for the advice everyone. Looks like I need to keep looking.

Anyone know where I can find a decent used Wenonah Sundowner or Penobscott in New England?

I see your point, but if racers put
winning as the top priority, they are going to use Kevlar boats. You will not see anyone trying to win the Nationals in a Penobscot.

Did you every hear of

– Last Updated: Jun-16-06 7:17 PM EST –

William McDuffee???

We are talking about down river white water


Sorry, I forgot about the cruising class