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Wenonah Touring & River Tandems

Wenonah Touring & River Tandems

Postby GregS » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:27 pm

Wenonah Canoe, founded by Mike Cichanowski, is marketed as "a small, independent, family-owned company that has become an award-winning designer and manufacturer of high performance canoes and kayaks, sold and paddled around the world"

Wenonah Canoe wrote:Living on the edge of the great upper Mississippi River, Mike learned to paddle a canoe at a very young age. By the time Mike became an Eagle Scout, he had built several wood-strip canoes and was molding his own designs from fiberglass. Not only was he good at working with his hands and good at solving problems, Mike took a lot of pride in doing this work and doing it well. So, when the warehouse he used as his canoe-making shop was slated for demolition, he made an important move: Instead of settling down to study Wildlife Management in college, he applied for a bank loan, bought land, and built a small shop on the edge of town. He wanted to build canoes. There was no looking back. Mike, his wife, and young family stuck with it through some very lean years as Mike learned the entrepreneurial skills that would make canoe building a successful enterprise instead of just a lifestyle choice. When plastics, composites, and carbon fibers came on the market, Mike made the jump. It was a big investment and a steep learning curve, but Wenonah Canoe was soon producing the fastest, lightest, most efficient canoes around.

The marketing makes claims for Wenonah as a "Composites Pioneer" (notably as "the pioneer of vacuum-bagging") Special mention is made of Dave Thill for having "led the manufacturing development for 35 years" and of Rick Thrune in relation to "composites technology" and "manufacturing processes".

Associated designers (all arguably better known for their racing canoes) include (most notably) Gene Jensen, Everett Crozier and Dave Kruger.
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Re: Wenonah Touring & River Tandems

Postby GregS » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:34 pm

Wenonah's presentation (in the catalogue, and on the web) is excellent on several front... but most notably in the focus on purpose:
  • Touring
  • Performance Touring
  • Sports and Leisure
  • Down River
  • White Water
  • Expedition
Typically, the "touring" class is mostly (though not entirely) for pottering and having a picnic... and the "Sports and Leisure" is for floating platform activities... and the "Expedition" class is a specialist load-hauler for multi-week tripping. Taking those out (plus the huge Minesota II & III and the somewhat eccentric Prospector 15 and solo-plus) narrows the range down massively.

Open Water / Big River Touring:
  • Escapade 16'6 (sleek composite for shorter trips)
  • Escape 17'6 (as Escapade, but for larger paddlers / larger loads)
  • Minnesota II 18'6" (serious tourer for powerful paddlers / massive loads)
  • Sundowner 17' (Rx option)
Tandem Downriver / Whitewater:
  • Prospector 16' (entry-level downriver tourer, esp. in Rx or Tuf-weave)
  • Rogue 16' (for more challenging rivers and modest loading)
  • Cascade 17'6" (for carrying more stuff on WW)
In terms of versatility... the obvious tandem contenders might be the Sundowner 17', Prospector 16' and Cascade 17'6" - with obvious sacrifices in each case (which might warrant a peek at the Adirondack 16' or Spirit II 17').
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