Sawer Cruiser canoes

Hi, I have several Sawyer canoes. A Canadian (16’6") I used to race in open downriver races. A George Walsh design. Won the Nationals in it. Great boat! A Charger ( I think) 18’6" white water race boat. Great for open ocean, too. Almost round X-sec. A Lightning, 18’6" very similar to the Charger with a little more bow flair. A Cruiser I think. 18’6" Goldenglass with gunnels pulled in a bit at the stern paddlers seat. rockerless. It was purchased from the Maine Sawyer dealer back in the day as a Cruiser. I see many references to 17’ Cruisers and am wondering if the original Sawyer Cruiser was an 18’6" boat.

Don’t think so
I’m no Sawyer historian but have enjoyed owning a couple Cruisers and think they made some pretty neat boats back in the day. In all the discussions I’ve ever read on Sawyers cruisers I don’t ever racal them being anything other than 17’ 9" long.


Agree. The 18.6" boats were great, but
Cruisers were 17’9" by international agreement.

OP, go to the site and, on the solo section, check out the Swamp Hen. Downriver racer from a slalom specialist.

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Super Cruiser?
As I recall there was a Sawyer Super Cruiser as well as the Cruiser. Could that be it?

Never owned one but have admired the Cruiser for as long as I can remember. During my high school years I recall several races in which I admired them for considerable periods of time from a 3/4 stern view while in my Grumman. Back then I really tried hard to get a good side view but never could quite do it…

Why would they have called a version
the Super Cruiser?

Back in the late 70s, when I was a USCA member, there were 17’ 9" Cruisers, and that was it. Did you get “Super” if they used Kevlar?

I think
the “super” was just a longer version of the Cruiser. A fellow I know had a used Sawyer that he called a Super Cruiser for sale a while ago and it was noticeably longer (though I don’t recall for sure if it was 18’6") than a Cruiser but otherwise similar. Nice boat but I didn’t need another fast tandem. Maybe it wasn’t intended to meet racing standards and was strictly for tripping? Limited number made perhaps? This discussion just brought it to mind and I thought that might be the model name being sought…

Having lived through that era, I’m
thinking you are wrong. I saw the boats, I saw their ads, the Cruiser was 17-9, and longer boats had completely different names.

But it would be interesting to find I’m wrong.

There’s this guy…
over on that used to sell canoes at Rutabaga back in the early 80’s I believe and has a bunch of old Sawyer literature. Here’s a link to one page he posted, which includes the “Super” (not related to Cruiser) alluded to above.

There’s also the “Champion”, which is shown on the page, which is 18’ 6" so maybe that’s what you’e got.

And a link to some old catalogs. The first couple images show 1968 but I believe the ones farther down are later than that.

Some really cool boats!


Yeah, the Super is a 3/27 formula all
out racer, which the Cruiser is not. Aren’t old canoe catalogs fun?

I miss that old Crusier, fast but not so great in big waves. The Charger is my all time favorite boat. I had an early Kevlar boat built in 1978. It cost $2300 35 years ago. Mine was repaired many times and finally fell apart.

You’re luck to have gotten to mess with
Sawyers. Kentucky and Indiana in the early 70s was Moore country. The Voyageur, the Peter Pond, and the Canadienne just before the plant and all the molds burned down. We still have a Moore Voyageur, heavy but fast and able in whitecaps.

We’re all pretty lucky
to have lived through and seen that era. The advent of the glass canoe brought out a whole bunch of designs and ideas that seemed fresh and radical. It seemed like making something simply because it couldn’t be done in aluminum or W/C was the thing to do. I suppose that’s how design often works. (There were some really bad ones too - remember those chopper-gun glass high bowed fake inside-out birch bark canoes with the alum channel to hold the halves together? Junk… but a friend had one and I paddled those some also.)

Sort of like with bicycles. I remember seeing pictures from the turn of the century of big wheeled bikes and duel diameter wheeled bikes and all sorts of innovative designs. Apparently the ones that really worked out best over-all settled out. “Decent with modification” set in. We’ve pretty much seen the same types of design with modification for specialized purposes ever since. Like in canoes and Sawyer help set the direction.

For me back then a Saywer was for racers or rich folks. Like a Ferrari. I paddled a Grumman and was happy just to be paddling. Later I had friends that I paddled with who had Sawyers they’d gotten on the used market. Thanks to them I got lots of seat time in an Autumn Mist and quite a bit in a Summersong also. They were great boats and I’m sure the tandems were too.

These days I stop by a friend’s shop who usually has some used Sawyers of various models. He can’t seem to pass up unique old canoes… he has a couple Beaver super aluminum solos for instance, and some Lotus and Curtis canoes. That’s where I saw this one I mentioned.

I lived through those days also. I wasn’t a racer, never lived on the Nantahala or near any whitewater worthy of mention, probably only got up to the BWCA every other year on average and for a shorter trips than some… but I was awake, paddling, and paying some attention to canoes. Still am.

Thanks for all your considered replies. I just measured the “Cruiser (not)” in question. It is curious. Bow 16", middle depth 12", stern 12". 33" beam at widest point on the hull. I did not check the wl, 3" or 4". I just eyeballed it. It is an 18’6" boat. The gunnels are pulled in at the stern seat and the bow seat is an original slider. It has no rocker and is flat bottomed. Not arched even a little like a Min II. It is virtually a new boat. No blemishes cared for and stored indoors.

I know the Canadian was extended to 16’6" with the George Walsh design. That boat is almost round in X-sec.

Our Charger is our favorite Sawyer. We have it fitted with a Cook Custom Cover and use it for camping as well as ocean racing. We have paddled it in the Blackburn Challenge several times and paddled it around Manhattan last August.

Then there are the other canoes. A couple of C-1s. A Common 16’6" and a Jensen 16’6" ww. A Sawyer Lightning which is the Charger with a little more bow flair. We are just getting that one back into service. A nice Kevlar Wabash Valley 4X32 and a JDII 3X27. Someone stole my 15’ Grumman about 15 years ago.

I will put a few photos of the Sawyers on photobucket and post a link here.

Still not clear which Sawyer the Cruiser (not), is?

Nice fleet
For “classics” I’ve got a Sawyer Cruiser in superlight (foam cored kevlar). For C1s a Jensen WWC1 (16’) that I cut down the sides on to make it more of a flatwater paddling boat, Wabash valley X-cell, and Wenoah J-180.

The cruiser really is a a nice paddling boat. I keep thinking I should sell it as I rarely paddle it anymore but it’s hard to let go. The Champion sounds like a great boat.


Maybe a Sawyer “Outrage” canoe,
which was about 18.5’ and in a kevlar composite layup.

It was fairly fast and quite stable.

I was actually hoping that the “was to be” OT Koru would have been a match, but it didn’t materalize on the market.

Sawyer’s Super was a 3/27" by 18.5’, constant flare pro boat. The high sided variant was my favorite tandem in the early 70s.

The Cruiser, a Lynn Tuttle design was a downsized, 17.8 ft USCA Cruiser.

Sawyer has several full sized USCA Cruisers, Champion 1, II, III and the Legend being the most obvious. USCA Cruisers all had tumblehome. Howie LaBrant drew up the original rules for the USCA Cruiser class, his concept being we should race performance tripping canoes.

Gene Jensen lawyered cruisers with extreme tumblehome and wings spred to meet the 4" width specs. Howie would have been very upset, but he passed beside the road, trying to deliver a load of Moore canoes.

So it goes.

“Cruiser” (not)

– Last Updated: Sep-06-14 11:14 AM EST –

The "Cruiser" (not), I am trying to id. is 18'6" (or 5"?). Has tumblehome, is not a continuous flair, is flat with no rocker, sliding front seat, gunnels pull in at the rear foot rest and continue past the rear seat. "Goldenglass" is a heavy member of my collection.

Interesting? I’m about to try to share
Howie’s closet rod and plywood paddle making technique with a British audience. I made several, and one 5 degree is my kneeler cruiser paddle.

If it’s stable, forget it.

Sawyer cruiser
I still have a mint Kevlar foam core cruiser that is 17ft.9in. I paddled it 4 times with my grandson this summer and does it fly.

Sawyer also made what was called a comp cruiser. A friend still has one that is like new that he used for racing. At the time we were buying canoes and had a good connection with the Sawyer factory and we could get custom layups of different models.

I also still have a couple mint DY Special solo canoes - one in goldenglass and one in foam core Kevlar.

The older Sawyers were and still are a real joy to paddle. I have paddled my Kevlar DY a couple hundred miles this summer. My 71 yeR OLD BODY CAN STILL MAKE IT FLY.