I have a Mike Galt Dandy, long in the tooth, but low miles, and I got to wondering, is the type of paddling promoted by Mike still an active “thing”…is it going on? …are these types of solo sport canoes still in use or in demand? Asking from ignorance, been a long time away from the sport.
Does a Placid Boat Works Rapidfire meet the criteria?
No, sport canoeing moved in a different direction.
One of the reasons Pat Moore dropped out more or less.
Looking back, I understand it better now than then.
I hate to say it, but not so much.
When I stated paddling 20-years ago, a lot of people (including me) were paddling the next generation of those original freestyle canoes - the 14’ river runner. My first boat was a RX Bell Yellowstone Solo, and I eventually purchased a white gold Bell Wildfire. To me it is still the perfect boat to paddle kneeling with a single blade. I have taken it everywhere - flatwater, easy whitewater, lakes, tripping. Personally, I moved more to whitewater than flatwater freestyle, so I would consider myself more of a “functional” freestyle paddler. My favorite post ever is this Functional Freestyle post from 2014.
I still go back and read it.
As I look around now, very few of my paddling friends and acquaintances are paddling dedicated solos with a single blade. A lot of them come from the wilderness tripping side and prefer to paddle small tandem tripping boats solo - not for me. Another big group is former kayakers who moved to pack boats like the Rapidfire paddled with a double blade. Then there is a subset of sit-and-switch paddlers.
I think the demise of RX has had something to do with it. Relatively inexpensive RX versions of these dedicated solo canoes are now kind of hard to find used. Not a lot of people are willing to shell-out $3K for a new composite boat. I didn’t realize that the Wildfire is now made by Swift, but you click order button and it doesn’t show up in the catalogue to buy. I’m sure you can email them.
Like anything there is still a following, but not as popular as it once was.
Depends who you ask.
From my perspective, which is based on attending freestyle canoeing symposiums plus a solo canoe rendezvous last spring, there are still advocates of the sport but the average age is steadily getting older. Luckily there are some younger people getting involved so the sport isn’t dead yet. I get the impression that most people attending these events aren’t necessarily going to participate in freestyle expositions or competitions but are interested in learning more about the maneuvers that can make “sport” canoeing, or any type of canoeing, more functional.
I have two solo sport canoes, one purchased used that is 40 years old and the other one I purchased new last spring. They are the canoes my spouse and I use most often because they are just plain fun to paddle.
The cost of a lightweight composite canoe has certainly increased dramatically in the past decade but what hand built work of functional art hasn’t? (I do consider composite canoes and kayaks to be works of art.) The thing is, we spend our money where are our priorities are. One of my priorities happens to be canoeing so I consider purchasing a quality canoe as an investment in my happiness. For many years I drove cars that were worth less than the canoes on the roof rack.
The increasing popularity of double-blade paddles is an indication that single-blade canoeing in general is losing favor.
I don’t know if freestyle, sport canoeing, and whatever Mike Galt promoted are the same or different. It seems like freestyle has always been a niche sport. The canoe legends that I’ve met (Dave Curtis, Tom MacKenzie, Phil Siggelkow) all seemed to appreciate the wide variety of ways their boats were used.
Last year a paddling.com member passed away so his sport canoes were sold. I think I heard that someone drove a long way to buy the two Lotus canoes. My take is that the demand for Lotus canoes is very small so boats in mint condition go for under $1000 but I also see examples of high asking prices so if you’re lucky you may find a collector that really wants one. I think the collector value is mainly in the history and the craftsmanship and not the performance.
I don’t know if my paddling is considered sport canoeing or not but I’m sure I don’t care.
Another DY designed canoe that Swift is (hopefully) reintroducing is the Flashfire solo. There seems to be a fair amount of interest in that canoe. I saw (and paddled) a beautiful prototype last spring so I can see why.