Want to get into a C-1

I’m an ex-whitewater kayaker who now enjoys the pleasures of canoeing. I’ve never tried a C-1 but I’m very interested in trying it out, especially since there is a nice class II-III run nearby. I don’t want to jump in with both feet and spend a bunch of money on a boat that I might not use that much, so I’ve been watching the ads for a used C-1 for over 2 years now. Unfortunately, I live in Northern California where C-1’s are rare indeed. It definitely appears to be an East Coast phenomenon. From everything I’ve read it would appear a Dagger Atom would fit the bill. I’m too old and tired for playing in holes, so I’m not in the market for a hole-shredding machine - just something that will be fun to zip around the river in. Since it appears an Atom will not be falling into my lap anytime soon, I was wondering if anyone could suggest a model of kayak that I might readily convert - some once popular model that might fit my needs as a C-1 and not be to difficult to locate in the used boat market out here. Your comments would be appreciated.

I don’t think much of conversions for
general river running. A c-1 paddler needs some speed, both for going across from eddy to eddy, and for driving back up to play waves and holes. The Atom has that kind of speed. Converted kayaks usually do not. Others on cboats.net would disagree, but I speak from the perspective of being a lousy c-1 slalom paddler.

The faster kayaks, such as my Animas, are too round to give the stability a c-1 paddler likes to have. Shorter kayak playboats are sometimes firm enough, but too slow.

A principal designer of the Atom, Andy Bridge, was working for Werner. You might find out whether he is still there. He might have something used which would suit you.

C boats
First off you really want to look at http://cboats.net

There are west coats C boaters there who might be able to help you.

I agree with g2d about conversions. Even if you don’t want/need the speed you still have to deal with the stability issue. Most C1 designs run a 27" to 30" beam while most ww kayaks stay around 25". So even the flat bottom “planing hull” designs like my Foreplay are a heck of a lot less stable than C1’s. For me at least that means I’m often bracing when I ought to be paddling.

Other river running C1’s you might be interested in are the Perception Slasher and the Robson Finkenmeister.

The relationship between width and
that reassuring “firm” feeling is not simple. I have a 27" wide Millbrook Wide Ride which feels a bit soft in spite of being flattish across a great expanse of its underside. I think the designer wanted the boat to have semi-planing characteristics, but might also have wanted it to be easy to edge.

My Dagger Zealot, a 10 year old slalom design, is as “firm” in initial stability as any c-1 I have paddled, yet it is actually only 26" wide, with “ears” to meet the width requirement. The Zealot also has excellent secondary stability, and planes better than the Wide Ride in spite of its smaller underside.

I don’t know if I would go along with Tommy about the Slasher. I could never fit into one to try it, but it has a reputation for being edgy, which the Zealot is not. If you could fit in a Slasher, why not try to pick up a used slalom boat on the west coast? First choice might be an Upstream Edge Superglide, which you are more likely to find than you are a Zealot. Composite slalom boats are durable enough for paddling class 2-3, especially if you buy an S-glass/Kevlar training layup rather than a full out race boat with a foam sandwich upper deck. [I rarely succeed in convincing anyone to take this course of action. They are fully convinced that race boats are impossibly twitchy and edgy, even on class 2-3. I don’t know where this comes from, because racers don’t say that, and others have almost never tried true race boats.]

Another possibility is a hotter open
boat. What are you paddling now? If you find a Dagger Ocoee or a Mohawk Viper, you will be zipping around pretty fast, plus sitting comfortably higher than you would in a c-1.

Dedicated C-1s that you might look for are the Atom, Cascade or “Finky”.

There is a Finkenmeister for sale in Portland, OR on cboats.net.

For conversion boats (kayaks), if you don’t strictly a playboat, look at the longer, fuller, round-ended “creek boats”. Such as a Mamba, Nomad or H3.

Cboats.net is full of threads like this:


Good luck! I too am about to into my first C-1, bought a WS Score last week.


Around here kayak conversions
are very popular including wavesport score, pyranah I:3, Wavesport Big EZ and older Dagger Redline. Many of the people who converted once paddled an atom. I would say that they changed from the Atom due to its inadequate playability for them. If you wish, you can e mail me and i can pass on your question to some local c1’ers. I had the atom and paddled it for a few seasons before getting into kayak. I liked it for the reasons you mentionned which included speed. I found it extremley uncomfortable and could at most sit in it for 20minutes before resting. Part of that was because i had the seat very low which increased its stability. I also found my butt would often rise off the back of the seat when upside down and therefore add stress to my rolling and or pop the skirt. I also liked the atom because of the feeling of the boat. It was close to the water and pierced the water which i liked. I was wanting wanting to borrow one last summer to lake paddle to have that canoe feelignn again. If you are serious about c1 get a good roll down. That was another of my negatives i was just not agressive enough to be a good c1 paddler. Atom certainly could take small eddies nicely and was fast. But i had a terrible time with lack of comfort in the ankles and feet. If i could get a cheap Atom again i would. I certainly also preferred the Atom to the Cascade. In any case i am now into kayaks whole hog. Maybe see you on the American this spring.

speaking of getting a roll down…
be aware that even dabbling in C1 is not a relaxing paddling experience. there is little to no down time in a C1, they take a lot of energy and technique, much more so than any kayak, to move along and work through a rapid. you describe yourself as being too old for, can’t remember what, but C boating is perhaps the most aggressive sub sect of all paddlesport in my opinion. tough on the body as well. in an OC1 even something like a Phantom, they are much more forgiving and have much higher secondary (big slab sides) stability so you can fool around in class 2 stuff without necessarily needing a roll. not so with a C boat.

Gee, I must be better than I thought.
I played around in class 2 in my Zealot and almost never had to roll. Class 3 was another matter. However, without having paddled a short playboat, I suspect that managing a playboat c-1 conversion might involve more rolls than kayaking in the same playboat, and will also require more active, aggressive paddling to move through rapids.

i agree, the c1 paddles i know
seems to spend just as much time under water as on top. A few wear all the shoulder, and elbow gear that goes along with the boat. One very unforgiving C1 i recall hearing about was a “mr clean” conversion.

I appreciate all the input. Here’s a little more information just so you know where I’m coming from. I have a KevLight Merlin II which I now only use on mild rivers or lakes. I scratched her up pretty good on the aforementioned river so I won’t do that again. I enjoy paddling it too much on flat water to jeopardize damaging/losing the boat. My other two boats are a Wenonah Adirondak and a very beat-up Dagger Impulse (got in a trade for my last kayak). I’ve taken them both down the local river without too much problem, but paddling the Adirondak is not very relaxing. The Impulse I’ve been paddling with only a center float bag tied down in front of me. It’s worked so far, but last outing I just made it to shore with a boat full of water after running the biggest rapid. Now I know why I need to bag the whole boat. I’ve hesitated to get the whole bag setup because the boat is really thrashed (gunwales shot, nice size dent under by right knee) and I’d rather put the money toward a boat that’s a little sportier. The comments on smaller, sleaker OC’s have got me thinking. If they can do more that just bomb down the river I’d consider them. I wouldn’t think size would be an issue for me with regards to getting into a C-1 (5’10", 170lbs.) I’ll keep watching the ads!

let us know
Let us know if try something out.

Your biggest choice will be whether you go with a runner/creeker (like an Atom, Finky, Nomad or H3), faster and more predictable, or a playboat (like a BigEZ or i3).

I recommend doing some research before getting anything specific, because if you get something too slicey for you, it could be a frustrating intro to C-1.


Dagger Cascade
I used to race slaloms in the old Max C-1s of the start of the 1980s. These boats was very good for playing, but I guess its not so many around any more. One very easy-to-paddle C1 is the old Dagger Cascade. If I dont remember wrong, this boat was designed by champion C1 paddler Jon Lugbill. The boat is very stable and forgiving, and a good boat for the first time out.

I also paddled C1 converted kayaks, but did not quite like it. The K1 is designed for having heavy feet in the front of the boat, while the C1 have all the wight centered in the middle.

These days I just paddle my old Dagger Ovation, a very forgiving and easy-to-paddle OC1.


Impulse = pig
Almost any newer OC1 will be a LOT more fun than an Impulse. That would include the Mad River Outrages. The Dagger Rival, Ovation, Occoe (now made by Bell) and Phantom. The Esquif Detonator and Zoom (lots of folks like the Nitro too but I don’t), the Mohawk Probes and Vipers, the Bell Prodigy, Occo and Outraged just to name a few.

Those will also be more comfortable than any C1 too!

I’ll just add that many folks agree with g2d on the Slasher.

I love it though at 190 lbs I’m about 20 lbs to heavy to really get the most out of it.

I agree on the Impulse
The Impulse was my first whitewater canoe, and while being a good starting platform, I would never suggest one to anyone. No acceleration, turns like a tandem. Do not use this boat as an estimation of the capabilities of an OC1!!! Get out with an intermediate to expert paddler who’s got a hot OC1 and prepare to be amazed. A friend got into kayaking and the highlight of his first real whitewater run was not seeing the other kayakers, but me in my Viper 12 OC1. “You looked like one of those water spiders hopping around out there!” I had to blush a little (and then brag to the wife)!

Hi Tommy

You mention the Mad River Outrage as a cool canoe. I have started to work a little for the norwegian MR distributor, and might have to trade mye old Ovation for a Mad River. Their catalog says that the Outrage X is better for heavy paddlers (I am probably around 220 lbs this summer), but I am not to tempted by a 13 foot boat. Do you think the regular Outrage would be ok for me?

Sorry for hijacking the tread.


Outrage and size

If you are happy with your Ovation you probably will like the standard Outrage since they paddle somewhat alike. The Outrage might be a little faster and a little snappier turning but there won’t be a huge difference.

I weigh 190 and while I’m generaly happy with my Outrage I’ve noticed the X tends to stay on top better in heavy water.

If you can your best bet, as always is to try them out and see what you like.


I’m about 210-215 in an Outrage. The X might be a little drier for me, but I like Outrage fine just, I suspect that I wouldn’t like the extra 1’ if I went to an X.

I think you’d like the Outrage compared to the Ovation, which I’ve heard called the “Slowvation.”


Thanks for your input. I would really like to try the Outrage first, but the distrubutor doesnt sell them, only on specific orders. But if it is so much like the Ovation, I guess Ill like it.

I don`t do much heavy water either, most of my previous OC boating has been in class 3 and an occasional class 4. I like to play in “natural slalom style”, just using the river to make my own slalom course. The last 3 summers I have mostly been seakayaking, but I plan to take up ww canoeing again this summer. I am looking forward to it:-)