Wenonah J-180 in the wind - How to?

Recently picked up an old J-180 for a bargain and have been playing with it a little. Very fast boat and fun to paddle. For those that don’t know this is a racing C-1.

It’s been calm up until yesterday when I took it out in a little wind, probably 10-15 MPH steady with no gusting to speak of. Into the wind and away from the wind weren’t too bad, but the side wind just killed me. Even with the seat slid all the way to the rear I couldn’t keep the back end from blowing around. Probably paddled about 3/4 mile in those conditions and didn’t take more than a dozen strokes on the right side of the boat. Turning the bow away from the wind was nearly impossible.

The only real success I had was leaning back in the seat a ways, keeping the paddle mostly behind me, and doing partial draws. This resulted in my going swimming. Which I guess isn’t such a success after all.

So how are you supposed to deal with boats like this in the wind? I suppose a deck/cover would be a big help. Is that legal if I wanted to race it?


A rudder works on my Sawyer Summersong.

Of couse, rudders on open canoes are anathema.

As a J-190 owner; You guys are my heros

– Last Updated: Sep-21-09 6:38 PM EST –

And every one we pass in a race in our C-2, I tell them so.
In most races that I enter a cover is acceptable, but I don't know about the nationals.
I think a cover comes standard with a proboat.

I don't care whether it is a suf ski, a K-1 or whatever, but I think a C-1 racing boat is the hardest to master

Stay with it. they are fun and a challenge!


Had the same issue with my Wenonah
Voyager. A Cooke Custom Cover took most of the fight out of the boat in a cross-wind.Also,I accidentally found out that my 40 lb dog sitting behind me was a big help.

What do you weigh?
Are you too heavy for that boat? It sounds like you might not be able to get the boat completely trimmed out, if you are too heavy the front end may be too deep, and you may not be able to slide the seat back far enough to get it trim. You might want to throw a little weight in the far back of the boat and see how that does.

What? No magic answers!? You guys are pretty disappointing.

I guess a rudder is a bit of a magic answer but I haven’t seen much out there as far as after market canoe rudders are concerned.

As for my size, I’m 6’1" and weigh about 170 pounds. Don’t know what the range is for the boat, I feel like I might be towards the upper end but don’t feel like I’m dwarfing it or anything.

I’ll have to do some experimenting with the boat. Or maybe I’ll just stick to paddling my kayak when the wind picks up. Then again, the canoe would build character.


J-180 in the wind

Your size is good for the boat, your height gives you some reach advantage, and the numbers on the J-series boats were the design paddler weight. The complete J-series went from J-120 to J-200 and was later trimmed down to just the two largest hulls.

I have paddled most of the J-series and never felt very comfortable in any of them. The best paddlers in them seem to have good waist flexibility and good balance, something i am short of. But they presented a paddling challenge, so i kept looking for one and…

I too picked one up this spring for a song, and it too is a very early 80’s model. My problem is keeping the open side up; no swimming yet, but a lot of quick low bracing when i would sooner be paddling. The wind is a common complaint in light solos,but it has not given me problems with the stern, but with the bow in the wind. I need to move front in sidewinds and yes the stroke count goes toward 15:2 with the 15 on the lee side and the two on the windward side. ist sure must be good training cause every time i paddle the J-180 and then get into any other boat, that boat seems so much more stable than i remembered.

You are not alone, the Wenonah catalogs years ago stated that J-series canoes were only for skilled paddlers on calm water, but if you could keep them upright, they were the fastest available sitting canoes (as opposed to the high kneel Olympic canoes).

Jack L has been around canoes since the Indians went from dugouts to birch bark, and he still can’t get his to turn around a buoy.


I was told: "Lean and pray"
Evidently I have too many sins on my soul.

I lean and swim!



same boat
I guess if I’m not going to get any magic bullets it’s always nice to hear that most of us are in the same boat (pun intended). They certainly do help promote balance. Between the J-180 and my Thunderbolt I ought to be able to handle about anything else.

I’m amazed how quick the boat is. The first day I got it I took it out on my measured 1.85 mile course. I averaged 5.7mph, the same speed I did in my QCC 600x just a few days before. I feel like I’m a pretty efficient paddler in the QCC, especially compared the J-180. There’s more speed there for the taking if I can handle it.


It is all in what we are used to
I also paddle a QCC-700, and it is like a second home to me. I have no fear of being in washing machine type conditions in it or getting caught in 25MPh winds.

On the other hand a friend of mine who was weaned in a C-1 racing boat, couldn’t take the "tippyness of a QCC-700 that he bought a few years ago, and was so petrified of capsizing that he finally got rid of it.

He thinks nothing of paddling his 19 pound C-1 in whitecap like conditions.



Seat Time
It’s been said before “time in the seat” is what makes it better. I paddled a J200 for workouts for a few years and the more I paddled the higher the comfort zone even in some semi nervous water. I started paddling a DY Special for workouts last year just because the comfort zone was a lot higher in all conditions. Now I find when I do pull out the J200 that the learning curve starts over.

nature of the beast
you take the good with the bad in any boat. it is a racing canoe plain and simple, it’s lightweight and you’re basically sitting in the center, so of course it’s going to “cock” in the wind, like a compass needle. i don’t see a cover helping much and can’t see putting a rudder on it, unless you post pix so we can all have a good laugh at you. good luck with the C1 and have fun.