Is anyone paddling the new Northstar Northwind 18? Will it track as well as my old MNII? I know it will be a little more seaworthy at the cost of speed. I want a larger volume tripping canoe for my wife and 4 yr old. I may just get another MNII. I cannot test paddle the Northwind beforehand.
You need not worry about tracking
The, closest I've come to paddling such a boat was the time I co-paddled a Bell Mystic, which if memory serves, is a boat that's also 18 feet long. Anyway, I would imagine that an 18-foot Northwind maneuvers a little better than a Minnesota II (that's assuming the rocker specs for the 18-foot Northwind are the same as for the smaller Northwind model that I was able to find specs for), but that's not the same as expecting tracking to be something to think about. Seriously, there are plenty of far more maneuverable (same thing as not tracking as well) tandem canoes which will go a perfectly straight line without the paddlers needing any special skill. If for some reason you are too accustomed to a boat which "tracks like it's on rails", you can quickly learn to make any general-purpose tandem go as straight as you want it to, and your paddling technique will, by any definition, but more efficient than it was before (not saying you are in that category, but this will be true if you are).
NStar’s MN 18
The North Wind 18 has a nominal length to width ratio of 6.75, the Minn II’s is 7, so no perceptible tracking difference. Any tracking issues are with the stern paddler, not the hull; failure to paddle parallel to the keel line, carrying the blade aft of the body, failure to stack the hands and use a vertical paddler shaft.
take a look at GRB Newman
if you are looking at a touring boat with a racing heritage.
Your best bet is to inquire about the block coefficient for each boat you are considering. BC is an indicator of tracking.
That said its way easier not to be dependent on one particular boat and to improve paddling skills so you can make even a whitewater boat go arrow straight. It is possible.
Three things influence going ahead: Paddle, canoe and paddler. And the paddler is the most important.
I will try not to be judgmental because I have seen folks that have disabilities ( a broken arm healed wrong) and all they can do is sweepy type strokes. For them the right boat does help… There is not much they can do about their disability.