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These light boats are a dream to get onto the car and riverside (people are always amazed at how easily they are conveyed). They jump forward with each stroke yet are easily maneuvered (I have paddled in Class II with them). A beautiful boat that brings much pleasure while on the water.
I paddle most every day and use the boat in 4 different modalities. Trips to the Adirondacks and the BWCA are an absolute delight with the kevlar Advantage. Easily portaged, swift and comfortable, it is the perfect solo tripper. At home on the lake, somedays it is a C-1 speedster with my ZRE bentshaft, other times I get my freestyle jollies satisfied with a straight shaft freestyle paddle (the Advantage absolutely spins when laid over to the gunwales), and when a different work out is called for, the kayak paddle comes out and this golden hued beauty cruises at 6+mph.
Weathercocking issues are a concern of the past. This boat is as neutral in the wind as anything I've paddled.
My only gripe is: What the hell am I supposed to do with all the other boats?
For flatwater and modestly wavy lakes and slower rivers it is a joy to paddle. It has great secondary stability and decent initial stability. I used to have a Sawyer Shockwave in glass layup which was a very comparable canoe. Truth is, if the Shockwave were still made I would have bought one over the Advantage because the seat had adjustable height and angle and the footbrace could be adjusted in seconds with no tools. (Wenonah has just redesigned their foot rest and the new design is excellent). The Shockwave was slightly faster as well, but by an un-important amount.
I am on the heavy side (250 lbs give or take) and it paddles just fine for me. I also have a Wenonah Voyager which is a foot or so longer and narrower with more freeboard.
The Voyager is a better boat for extended tripping with a lot of gear and is faster (longer narrower), but I feel (as do 7 or 8 people who I have had paddle them back to back) that the Advantage is a more pleasurable boat to be in.
With an improved footbrace and seat mount I would give it a ten.
However, I love the boat. I use it for workouts on local rivers and lakes and for exploring. Although no longer competitive for racing, it is very fast and efficient. Efficiency means you can go farther and see more in a 2-hour paddle. It tracks, I lean it like a kayak to turn. I agree with the comment about secondary stability-I am not comfortable in large waves (though I have surfed motorboat wakes). I also like the comment that a boat like this deserves a high-end paddle (mine is carbon ZRE). I think it is good looking and I still get comments ("jeesh, what an intense canoe"). The workmanship is fantastic, it still looks new except for some Seattle moss and a little wear on the bow from paddling though ice sheets on local lakes. I will never sell it.
I got the kevlar ultralight layup, which seems lighter than the manufacturer's stated weight. Now loading is a snap! I decided against the carbon version because it is not supposed to be quite as durable as the kevlar models.
But on to the paddling - - this boat is fantastic! I've never paddled anything quite like it. Even an old guy like me can make it move along pretty well. Of course it won't turn on a dime, but it turns much better than I expected it to. It handles better in winds than any canoe I have ever paddled - tandem or solo. I haven't had it in any really rough water yet, but I've been in enough power boat wakes to become very confident in its stability in such conditions. The jury is still out as to just what kind of waves might cause it to start taking water.
The design of the slider seat is great. It has one easily movable clamp to limit backward movement. This leaves the seat free to move forward easily for the quick changes in trim that you need on a solo canoe. To move further back, you just move the clamp. I do wish I could adjust the height of the seat too, but I can see that such a capability would be difficult to incorporate into the design of the seat assembly. So, I'm OK with it the way it is.
Tracking of this canoe is really good. You can never get away from stroke and switch on a solo, but this is the best I've paddled. A boat like this really deserves a good paddle, so a good bent shaft paddle is in order.
Stability of the boat has been a very pleasant surprise. In fact, that stability has brought about a negative for the boat. I quickly determined that I could fish from it. The negative part is that when I have a decent fish on, the fish can pull the boat too easily. I've had a couple of pretty funny escapades resulting from that. I should stop fishing and get back to my paddling! But, that's a pretty good indication of how easy it is to move the Advantage in the water.
So, my final conclusions are that this boat is more than I expectd. It is fast, tracks very well, has good initial and great secondary stability, not bad in turns, handles wind beautifully, and so on - - - . I have had some experience in solo boats, so that obviously has helped me adapt to the Advantage pretty easily. It may be a little hot for a beginner, but someone who will be patient and methodical in learning the boat will have a lot of fun with it. Part of the fun for me has been smoking the tandems and kayaks I have encountered. The other part of the fun is paddling a well-designed, well-made product.
One final comment - - a tip actually. For those of you who might occasionally encounter a bit of discomfort due to bringing toys home a little too often, I had an easy sale on this one. Being a recent cardiac surgery patient, I stressed the light weight and easy loading of the Advantage to my wife. That's awful! Sometimes I have no shame! But, I do have an Advantage.
I have used the Advantage in rough bay waters with 20 plus knot winds and was able to make progress and feel comfortable. In strong winds it can be as hard to paddle against the wind as with the wind if the waves are close together (because you end up in wave troughs), but with good technique you can get across some uncomfortable windy and wavy inland waters more suited for a sea kayak.
What the Advantage is most suited for is cruising, and that it does well in both versions. The earlier one has a bit of an advantage in speed that later in versatility. It is great canoe on flat water with and without a current. There is something nice about a good solo and the advantage has many of the nicest for flat water.
I have used both versions of the Advantage as a tandem canoe on several occasions. While not as great as some it will do in a pinch, if not wavy. The worst part is that it is a bit cramped and much harder to steer. It is also tippy if you don't have people more in the center and low down. With racing version I have put my friend behind me, and paddled solo but on other occasions split up more like a tandem.
I have tried the Advantage in Tuffweave and find it really nice especially in Florida waters where there is lots of limestone and oysters. I own the precursor in kevlar and find it fast and easy to carry. Either version is good for different purposes.
Many of my fishing trips are to Cedar Key, a small fishing town along the Big Bend section of the Gulf Coast. This territory has a lot of good fishing near oyster bars surrounded by shallow areas that are tough to navigate with outboard motors. The idea of using a canoe to get around these shallows, in stealth mode, seemed like a good one. Because my solo racing canoe (a We-no-nah SSS-J202 at the time) would be much too unstable, I looked for a recreational type version that would still be efficient at cutting through the water. The We-no-nah Advantage fits these requirements perfectly.
At 16'-6" in length and 29.5" wide the We-no-nah Advantage is compact enough for one person to easily handle loading and unloading from the transport vehicle. Due to the narrow hulls and gunwales at the paddlers position in racing canoes, I'm accustomed to keeping the paddle shaft almost vertical and the blade in tight to the hull. Because of this, the 22.5" center gunwale width suits me well. I think most others would find this desirable since it can become quite tiresome when bringing the paddle out far to clear the gunwales. The tumblehome which creates the narrow gunwales also makes for a very attractive shape. This hull looks as good as it moves through the water!
The other feature of the Advantage which translates well from my racing boat is the seat. It is horizontally adjustable in order to trim the boat and is of, what many call, the "tractor" style. These formed seats do a much better job, I feel, of supporting the posterior than the flat bench style ones. I always line my seats with three layers of ½" thick foam used for camping pads for even more comfort. It can be applied with waterproof contact cement. I have been comfortable sitting in the boat on day-long fishing trips.
The Advantage is very stable for me. Because I wanted to use it for fishing, this was a major consideration. Part of the reason why this canoe may feel this way to me is my experience with racing boats which are capable of going over with the slightest error. I would urge other, less experienced paddlers, to compare this boat with other models such as the We-no-nah Prism or Solitude. I have never paddled one of these canoes personally but I'm certain they are even more tip-free due to their greater widths. The trade off, however, is efficiency and speed! The Advantage was originally designed for racing. Its heritage is evident. The We-no-nah J-200 I currently own is certainly faster but not by much. I can maintain about 90% of the J-200 speed in the Advantage. The reduced effort needed to paddle the boat around makes for a much more pleasant day of fishing. I believe that most people would soon acquire a good feeling in this canoe and in the end, fall in love with the ease in which it moves across the water.
My boat is of the Ultra-light Tuf-weave version and weighs about 43 lb. My original thinking for choosing this lay-up was for value. Tuf-weave is We-no-nah's 50/50 composite of polyester and fiberglass fabrics. It provides a good strong hull at a lower cost than graphite and Kevlar. While I'm happy with my decision, my goal is to some day purchase an Ultra-light Graphite model at 28 lb. The lighter weight will make it even easier to transport and even faster on the water, making a fine canoe even better.
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