Canoes, Unleashed: A step into a world without limits

 A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries; a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.   -The Matrix

Da nana… Da nana.  OK, its not that great, but it’s close.

Working on the first hull, all I could think was. “where were these things back then?” There’s something about laying carbon prepreg in the mold that transports the mind to a place somewhere mid-Pailolo Channel, rolling down a big-ass wave. BBBZZZ oh yeah, I’m in the factory, where was I?

Oh yeah, I was trying to convey how exciting these canoes are.  Picture, in black and white, some dude in a ’65 corvette convertible with some dirt on the projector messing up the image (think spec boat).  Next, imagine a supermodel in a bikini and high heels stepping out of a McLaren with champagne floating in the air in slomo (think unlimited). That’s how exciting these new canoes almost are.

At one third of the weight of the canoe you paddled yesterday, and free of the rules that were established to preserve the shapes of canoes hewn from logs (no disrespect – appropriate tech at the time), these new canoes are a huge leap into the present.  The first thing that impresses is the weight, about the same as the average Brazilian female (137.8 lbs. – American women average 167.4).  While the weight is impressive, it’s really only a small part of what is really cool about this new class.

The HCRA specs for canoes define the entry and exit curves at the waterline, making it illegal to have sharp bows and sterns.  This makes it very difficult to design efficient hulls.  Sonny Bradley and Karel Tresnak came up with really great designs working within the confines of these rules.  Without the troublesome entry and exit requirements the gates are wide open to new efficient designs.  I can only guess whether the new shapes or the lower weight will yield bigger gains in wave performance and hull speed.

There’s more… One-seat is my favorite because I get to push off of the bulkhead.  The rules also “nayed” the use of foot braces.  There’s really nothing like paddling with foot braces, it’s breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.  You feel locked in, and can drive straight through your leg.  After a season in a canoe without them I have knee problems from driving with my leg pressed out against the hull.  I say, “aye to foot braces”.

It’s ironic that Tahitian canoes have decks and Hawaiian canoes are open while Tahiti has reefs and lagoons and Hawaii has open water.  Years ago my thinking was that a canvas at 15 pounds was arguably a lighter solution than the deck and skirts combo used in Tahiti.  The tipping point is the stiffness that the deck imparts into the hull. Combine this with the tight fitting individual spray skirts, and a venturi bailer and you have a very dry boat.  That means that the canoe keeps weighing 140 lbs, not 400 plus 8.56 lbs per gallon (salt water – 8.33, repeating of course, if you paddle in distilled water).

Ok, now you know what I meant about the McLaren, so what’s special about UNLEASHED (haven’t really decided on that name)?

When we decided to design and build a production OC6 we faced a problem.  How do you measure the quality of your design when there is no yardstick?  What’s the fastest unlimited canoe?  No one really knows, though I’m sure there are many who will claim to know.

We built Kaumualii, a one-off prototype, using the same design methodology that we have used and refined for 20 years.  Because our hull models are parametric we are able to test hulls and make changes to one or more variables without changing other key parameters.  Imagine that prototype has 12 inches of freeboard at seat one, and a 37′ waterline, but a narrower bow will improve performance.  So you trim down the entry.  The bow would sink lower, the tail would come up, and the freeboard would change everywhere.  With parametric modelling you can sharpen the bow, keep the waterline the same, etc, by generating a new set of hull sections.  ZZZZ ZZZZ

Next we got committed to the idea of building OC6s the way we build the Storm and now the Ehukai – CNC mastered, prepreg tooling, one-piece carbon prepreg construction, with all the extras included.  It’s no joke, it influenced our decision to move into our new 58,000 sf factory.  We built a 5-axis 50′ long CNC.  Designed, purchased, and outfitted (controls, heating, pressure, vacuum) a 46′ autoclave.  Milled the masters, which need trussed steel dollies to support them.

Why not just make a mold old-school?  Typical composite tooling becomes about as rigid a boiled pasta at the temperatures used to cure carbon prepregs, and heat resistant vinylesters expand and contract with heat – a lot.  So if you want to do it right the answer is prepreg tooling.

The result is a canoe that is so stiff that we think its overbuilt, but we’re going to be a little conservative and just go with 140 lb.  The level of finish inside and out is what you would expect on your OC1.  From the testing of Kaumualii, we are excited about the performance of the original, and eager to test the final version.  The ergonomics and comfort are refined from the original which was already good.  Lots of items have been added from hydration systems to GoPro mounts.  It ships ready to race.

Construction Details:

  • One piece construction, lightweight, no seam line making stronger overall canoe
  • All carbon construction, Toray T300 UD carbon fiber prepreg is used 100%
  • High density sandwich core. T500 corecell (much harder than standard foam cores)
  • All cured under high pressure and temperature in an autoclave
  • 100% carbon seats with eva cover, bungee under seat for storage
  • Carbon foot braces with adjustable positions
  • Integrated skirt track, low profile, 100% carbon, light and strong
  • Custom made skirts included, YKK waterproof zippers, color matched to the boat color
  • Velcro mounts for GPS & heart rate monitors
  • Eva covered carbon fiber paddle holders
  • Retractable venturi drain
  • 100% carbon Iakos
  • 100% carbon Ama, 1 piece construction, same construction as canoe, stainless steel/nylon bushing connection
  • Integrated GoPro/fishing pole holder
  • Carbon fiber bulkheads with drains
  • Painted with Awlgrip 2000 paint, high end marine paint
  • Autoclave cured hull heat stable to 210F Produced under high pressure
  • 600gm2 Toray T300 3x200gm2 UD carbon (17.7oz yard) on the outside, 400gm2 Toray T300 2x200gm2 UD carbon (11.8oz yard) on the inside
  • T500 corecell (95kgm3) (5.8lbs per cubic foot) 20% more dense than standard construction


  • Hull weight 140lbs
  • Ama weight 24 lbs
  • Iakos 10 lbs
  • Skirts 8 lbs
  • LOA: 42′ 7″
  • Beam: 19′ 7/8″
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