Esquif is recieving plenty of good press lately as the only whitewater canoe company committed to innovation and new designs. Take, for example, the multi-chine hull of the nitro or the Zoom’s pry dimples. Esquif sent Paul Danks to win the 2005 World freestyle championships in their prototype salsa Oc1. Don’t forget the spark, the slalom boat that’s sweeping every race across north America. And now comes the all-new Taureau—part creeker, part playboat in an all-new material.
Last fall I dragged a prototype Esquif Taureau up five kilometres of black slag railway rock for a low-water run of the upper Petawawa River, the six-kilometre, 11-rapid section draining into Lake Travers on the east side of Algonquin Park. By mid-summer the upper Pet is a creeky class III-v run, the perfect testing ground for the new Taureau.
Other versions of decked open canoes (now there’s an oxymoron) like the Dagger quake and Robson’s CU fly have all been roto-moulded poly- ethylene—kayak plastic. You can’t help but notice the smooth, glassy gel-coat-like gleam of the new Taureau. Esquif’s new material—which they call T-form Elite—comes in sheets, like Royalex. Two sheets are heated in an oven and then moulded to form the shapes of the hull and deck which are then pressed together and joined at the seam.
Time will tell what the long-term durability of this new material is, but the advantages are immediately obvious. The Taureau is rigid, light and shiny. After dragging the boat for hours on sharp gravel and sliding, pitoning and boofing my way down the Pet it looked no worse than similarly treated plastic kayaks and like new compared to Royalex boats.
I’ve heard Mark scriver talking for years about designing an OC1 creek boat. “The move to shorter open canoes was being led by freestyle, not river running,” says scriver. “But we learned that these shorter boats boof better, fit into smaller eddies and are more responsive and forgiving.”
So Scriver, the Robin Hood of open canoeing, and his band of Merry Men, including Paul Mason, Andrew Westwood, Joe Langman and Jacques Chassé, set out to rob the R&D-rich freestylers of their short length, planing hulls and extreme rocker. Adding volume in the ends and a longer waterline, they designed an open canoe creeker and playboat that does pretty much anything except cartwheel. from the forests of framptom, quebec, the Taureau is a legend about the redistribution of honour and justice to the common canoeist.
Scriver admits that some critics are going to see the Taureau as a boat for advanced paddlers only, but he says, “If you compare it to kayaks, it’s closer to a combination of Liquidlogic’s Jefe and their new cR 250.” neither of which are advanced boats.
The Taureau is not difficult to paddle at all. In fact it is wonderfully stable, dry and free of quirky edges. It’s my new boat of choice for technical low-volume runs with small, tight eddies, ledgy drops and fun little holes and waves. It is, however, small and specialized so—with canoeing’s steeper learning curve—it’s a boat that will appeal more to intermediate and advanced paddlers.
Price: $1650 CAD, $1260 USD
Material: T-Form Elite
Weight: 35 lbs
Outfitting: Bulk pedestal (included)
This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2006 issue of Rapid Magazine. For more great boat reviews, subscribe to Rapid’s print and digital editions here.