In 1999 when Jim Henry originally designed the 13-foot Mad River Outrage X its audience was the big-water enthusiast running high-volume Class III and IV stuff and hefty 190-pound-plus paddlers who valued dryness and great stability in their straight-through type of river running. Pushing around 53 pounds of Royalex all by themselves was the price for the rock-solid feel of lots of boat around them.
Last summer a new Outrage X owner came to me with a vision. She saw the X as her very own light hybrid tandem boat.
Its prior owner had moved on to something lighter and smaller and the boat had languished unused for years. She picked it up for a song. She wanted me to rip out the solo outfitting and install tandem saddles, creating what we are now calling the Outrage X2 (times two).
Mad River Canoe Outrage X2 Specs
Width: at waterline 27”
Weight: 53 lbs
She showed up at the Gull River Open Canoe Slalom Race with her X2. After a few runs through the gates, there was a lineup of tandem owners eager to try this fast and nimble creation.
There were two major surprises with this experiment. The first was the fact that the 13-foot hull could carry two paddlers with a combined weight of 350 pounds, and do it without taking on noticeably more water than other tandems going through the course. Secondly, it was amazingly stable and fun to paddle and race.
Henry says he created both the Outrage X and its little sister the Outrage as “fish form” asymmetrical hulls with most of the volume up front like a tuna (more recent hull designs like the Esquif Spark have much more aggressively used this “cab forward” idea), which he says gives the hull its buoyancy. And the forward section is a shallow arch, tapering to a slight V in the stern, which, according to Henry, gives the boat its speed and manoeuvrability.
There are other boats that have morphed in ways that their designers never expected. Dagger Ocoees (now manufactured by Bell) have had their gunwales pulled in and the sheer cut down. The Dagger Genesis, the Grand Canyon solo boat of choice in the early 1990s, has also been reborn as a tandem for lighter—as in female—paddlers. Even the Dagger Prophet has been chopped down and tweaked to become the Ophet.
Taking on an open boat modification project like the X2, like any outfitting, required some thoughtful work. The thwarts had to be moved toward the ends to accommodate the two seats and a yoke installed in the centre for strength. With the two saddles free to move, we took the boat—and a wax marker—to the water to play with the seat positions. A very slight stern-heavy position when the boat was not moving gave the most efficient looking bow wave when the boat was paddled.
The Outrage X is still part of Mad River’s lineup of whitewater solo canoes. But outfitted tandem it is such a sparkling performer that it makes you wonder if it should have been designed that way.
What’s old is two again. | Photo: Rick Matthews