Wenonah Catalog - I disagree

-- Last Updated: Dec-07-08 11:39 AM EST --

First off, this post is a result of it being a bit cold and me reading a 1986 Wenonah Catalog instead of actually getting outside - take it with a bunch of salt, as I really do like Wenonah mostly.

Here are the "errors" I found in the 1986 catalog:

Describing the 18' Jensen: "For most canoeing enthusiasts this is the pinnacle."
" . . best all-around hull for a knowledgeable paddler."
" . . and fibreglass hulls have a full layer of tuff-weave making them almost impossible to damage."

Describing the 17' Jensen, compared to the 18': "Either hull does most anything well . . ."

Under the design instructions, Interrelationships: "To find the canoe you'll be happiest with, choose as long a canoe as possible given the limits of your size and the tightness of the corners you must turn; choose as slim a canoe as possible that still gives you a feeling of security; and choose a canoe that is no deeper than required for the gear you will carry and the waves you will cross"

Finally about bent shaft paddles: "common wisdom says that bent-shaft paddles are special-purpose tools for flatwater canoeing while straight-shafts are better for all-around use. We disagree: straight shafts may be better for whitewater if you need to execute a brace, but few circumstances require that technique."

Now, putting it all together, if the Jensen 18' is the best all-around hull for knowledgeable paddlers (I am one), and is almost indestructible in tuff-weave, it sounds like a fine choice for whitewater. I also suppose, though, that a brace might be useful running a Jensen 18 through whitewater.

I disagree with their historical bias towards go-fast canoes, and I believe the best all-around canoe is clearly something like an Old Town Tripper or 17' Prospector.

Their comment about Tuff Weave may
refer to the strong bond made between and ester resin and a polyester cloth. The resin doesn’t just make a surface bond but cuts into the surface of the cloth fibers.

Now, you’re certainly correct that a tough surface does not make a boat durable enough for whitewater. But “durable enough” is, in part, a value judgement. I paddle composite boats, and I expect to repair them now and then. Most people should stick to Wenonah’s ABS models specifically designed for whitewater if that is what they want to do.

Their thoughts on bent shaft paddles for whitewater are obviously derived from their own experiences, which probably stress downriver progress rather than eddy hopping. Serious whitewater paddlers are not any more stupid than other paddlers, and we already know what kind of paddles work best.

I don’t fault Wenonah for their point-of-view derived prejudices. Unlike Redrock/Souris, Wenonah does not treat other builders with know-it-all derision.

Red Rock v. Souris
I have only been to Red Rock’s Web-Site, while I have toured the Souris river facility and met many of their employees. The people at Souris didn’t come across as anywhere nearly as opinionated and one-sided in their views. A pleasant, relaxed bunch really.

I noticed too, how Wenonah no longer makes anything like the Jensen 18, and has really made their whole line much more user friendly. Again, I like Wenonah, but would buy a prospector, champlain, or spirit II if I was looking for some versatility.

If I thought there was a better
"all around canoe" than my ultralight Jensen 17, I would get rid of it and get the better one, but ours does everything we want it to do except class II and above, and we didn’t originally get it for WW anyway.

Just my take but then no two paddlers are the same weight or height or have the same style of paddling, and all have different likes and dislikes.



Hope it’s a long winter
If you are just now getting to the 1986 catalog, I hope your winter is long enough that you can do a bit more reading. Sounds like you have some catching up to do LOL

Jensen 18 and 17 still made
Both are still available they just got moved to the racing catalog.

1986 was a few years ago, and there have been a few changes in the paddling world since then. Take out the 1986 Old Town, Mad River, Bell, or Sawyer Catalog and read what their opinions were back then. Most of Wenonah’s competitors from that era have changed or are gone. The 1988 Canoe magazine buyers guide had no kayaks listed under Old Town, and now they far outnumber canoe models in the Old Town catalog. There is no listing for Bell canoes or Souris River in that same buyers guide.

Every Canoe designer and manufacturer has his ideas about the “ideal” canoe, and they have a location perspective also. What is ideal in Minnesota isn’t the same as in Maine or Tennessee and the canoe designs show the differences in design philosophy.

Canoe Gurus are as opinionated about the ‘ideal’ paddling technique as they are about the ‘ideal’ canoe.

Even those poor canoe folk who frequent these boards differ in paddle technique. What works best for Eric Nyre in Colorado may not be ideal for Fat Elmo in the Pine Barrens or Jack L on a tidal Carolina river. And none of them would say the others are poor paddlers cause they don’t use the same technique.

The Wenonah advice is all still valid as Eric Nyre points out. It was not addressed towards whitewater, and in 1986 Wenonah had no whitewater specific designs, some downriver racing designs, but no whitewater boats.


Out of Salt Guys?
I hear you Mr. Canoehead on the “all around canoe” issue, and about Wenonah having racing roots, but like other posters, most of what Wenonah was saying in what you quoted, makes sense to me.

Thank heavens for Wenonah. I’m looking hard at a couple of their boats for a spring purchase. I had a tough weave Sundowner for a brief time and that layup was very tough. It lets a guy get into a composite boat for just a little over royalex price. Sweet.

All else being equal, fast is a very good thing and darn fun. With Wenonah by golly you can getcha some fast, and they’ve got enough variety of models and layups that there is something there for nearly everybody.

1986 was awhile ago
Been thinking about this for 22 years, eh? I’m glad you finally got it out.

I’ts been eating me up inside! NM