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Thread: Wenonah Solo Plus

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    260

    Default Wenonah Solo Plus

    Maker's Spec


    Royalex 60lb
    Tuf. Flex 57lb
    Kev. Flex 51lb
    Kev. UL 39lb

    Maker's Write Up

    The Solo Plus is a 16'6" hull with three seats? not so that three can ride but to use as both a solo or a tandem canoe!


    You can add a center seat to some tandem canoes for solo paddling, but most are too wide to reach the water well from the center. Conversely, most solo models are too narrow to fit two people in the ends. We shaped one hull to suit solo or tandem use, and the Solo Plus is unusual since it works well both ways. It's wider in the ends than most solos, yet narrower in the center than most tandems.

    This design doesn't fit one category. Used solo, it's a touring hull that's stable and efficient with high capacity. Tandem, it's a short, performance design. It's fast with two but is less stable than our other tandems, and hauls light gear only.

    Some other models can also serve for solo / tandem use. The Escapde, for example, is designed to work well with an added center seat for solo use. Its focus, though, is different: The 3-seat Escapade is better for tandem paddling but works adequately as a solo, while the Solo Plus is better if you're mainly a solo paddler who wishes to go tandem sometimes.

    Offered in two Kevlar versions, this is a light-weight, high-performance, dual-purpose hull. Made from Royalex, however, the Solo Plus is more economical while still being fairly light, and it can take truly substantial abuse.

    Since it paddles well on calm waters yet can endure rocks, and because it can serve as both a solo and a tandem canoe, the Royalex Solo Plus has outstanding versatility.
    Whether you select a Kevlar or Royalex hull, the Solo Plus is an exceptional value because it gives you in essence two fine canoes for the price of one.
    Last edited by Chrish; 19th-November-2007 at 12:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    between Kinross and Alloa, Scotland
    Posts
    2,490

    Default naff name for a superb canoe

    I had a Solo+ in RX and was so taken with it I sold it to part fund an upgrade to the Kevlar UL version.

    When used tandem it is very fast and a superb day boat for 2 people on flatwater. It would certainly cope with one or two nights away travelling light for 2 people.
    The bow paddler does not have much leg room and there is little space for air bags in the front so we used bags under the seats.
    The fixed middle seat allows for trimming for wind, though in most cases the adjustment is too coarse, (but then it was not intended for this).

    Speed is the overall feature if this boat when tandem paddling and space / capacity is the feature of solo use. It is still fast compared to any traditional tandem boat that is being used solo, but it is big and slowish when compared to dedicated fast solos like the Prism.

    However, the big up-side of this is that it is stable enough to pole and sail which a more dedicated solo boat cannot do so well. Both these features are important for me.

    I have used it to good effect on low grade WW (eg the Tay, less the Gd3 bits). Here it is fast and easy between the rapids and as long as you get lined up correctly (back ferry above the rapid) it gives a dry ride. Sure, you will not be surfing or catching silly little eddies, bit for point and run it copes with gd 2 just fine.

    Really I would like two of these as I will not be using the Kevlar UL on rivers. There can't be too many canoes that warrent having 2 the same but different materials.

    Should be on any flatwater paddlers short list.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    between Kinross and Alloa, Scotland
    Posts
    2,490

    Default kevlar UL version, alloy spec

    Having eventually taken delivery of my UL version I can confirm that it handles very much as the Rx version, though is of course faster. This is partly due to the much finer bow stem (manufacturing/materials allow for this in composite) and partly due to the big reduction in weight.

    My fist trip was with Silvergirl down the lower section of the River Earn. Within 10 yards of launching I had to run down a shallowish small rapid under a bridge. With thoughts that I might end up wrecking the boat within the fist 2 minutes of paddling I positioned myself using back ferries and then slipped under the arch of the bridge, emerging without having touched rock.

    There were a few more sections like this and these I did with the pole. One of the main reason I chose to sell the Prism and go for the Solo+ was the easy of poling. (relative easy that is!). I had to jump over board a few times in the shallows just to protect the hull, but really the kevlar is pretty tough stuff. Not that it will survive being wrapped on a major rapid, but for general bumps and scrapes it should do fine.

    As the layup omitts a gel coat the water line can be seen through the hull. This can be a bit mesmeric as of course it is always changing and moving. The dog seems to like watching it anyway: it keeps her calm.!!

    Build quality on this boat is very good but not perfect, which is fine by me. There are some blemishes in the layup but nothing structural. The fitments are fine.

    I took the 3 seats as standard, but spec'd the tandem seats curved rather than flat. The centre seat is flat and is hung on the adjustable hanger system which is great. There are 2 seat heights flat and 2 angled which is great for kneeling. Because the middle seat if fixed fore/aft I did not spec the adjustable foot brace: I'll fit my own non adjustable one later. (BTW, foot braces really improve paddling: try one!).

    Because the seats are on the Wenonah hangers they are very easy to remove and replace. This means that swtiching between tandem and solo is fast and worth doing to save weight (4lbs saving by removing the tandem seats when going solo).

    We have trips planned which will be ideal for the Solo+ in tandem mode (more adventures on Lewis for a start). As a tandem you must travel light (think backpacking/adventure racing mode) but we are well used to this. It gives a very fast paddle with two determined paddlers and bent shafts.

    Indeed, possibly the only down side to this boat is that it 'makes' you paddle fast all the time. It will of course cruise quite happily using a deep water blade, but sit n switch is my preferred option in this hull.

    It goes without saying (but I will anyway) that car topping etc is a breeze. Although it does not have a yoke the front edge of the centre seat is about right in terms of balance and it is so light that the lack of a proper yoke isn't an issue. Though it might be for big distances. A yoke could be fitted to the seat, or the hangers if you didn't want to fiddle with the gunwales.

    The alloy gunwales are the biggest downside for me. They are very light and well rounded and fit the ethos of a light boat very well. However, they are a nightmare to add outfitting like sailing thwarts, yokes etc. Because of the profile it is necessary to use alloy brackets riveted to the underside of the gunwale. This is strong and effective but looks naff and is just hassle. However, it is a small price to pay for a 16.5' tandem weighing under 40lbs.

    I'd still like another RX version for river running but already having the light weight kevlar has allowed me to sneak in some impromptu paddles as I am able to get the boat off the high rack and onto the car on my own without risking either the boats or my back.

    Anybody who does not aspire to WW should consider the Solo+. I'd never be without one.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Loughborough
    Posts
    113

    Default Solo Plus review

    Thanks (Ten?)boats,
    Interesting about the alloy gunwhales.
    Super report.
    I may get one when I come into money!
    Cheers
    Rob F

  5. #5

    Default Question about Solo Plus

    Hi Ten Boats,

    Thanks for the detailed info on the Solo Plus. I own both a solo canoe (Placid Boatworks Spitfire) and a large flat bottom tandem of unknown origin and I am looking to replace the large tandem with a boat that can be paddled solo. I have narrowed it down to the following boats: Nova Craft Bob Special 15, Placid Boatworks StarFire, Winona Solo Plus, Clipper Tripper S, and the Bluewater Saugeen 15.

    Esentially the Bob Special and the Saugeen are more classic tandems that can be paddled solo using a Canadian style, where as the Starfire, Solo Plus, and Tripper S, are modern designs specifically outfitted for solo paddling from a central seat or kneeling thwart.

    Iím leaning towards the Solo Plus because I like the idea of the adjustable seat system, I like the tumble home of the Wenonah boats, they do seem to paddle more efficiently, and I like the fact that the seats can be removed easily. I have a few questions I hope you will be able to answer for me:

    1. Can the boat be paddled Canadian style? For example, if the middle seat was removed, could it be healed over and paddles solo by kneeling/sitting on the hull? The reason I ask is that it appears to have minimal rocker and Iím not sure the advantage of the Canadian style (reducing wetted surface) would occur.

    2. Along the same lines, it sounds like from your notes on running rapids, that turning is an issue. With my existing old flat bottom boat, I find I can scull/backpaddle it sideways fine to avoid obstacles. Is this the main technique you use for manoeuvring or can a person lean and pivot the boat at all?

    3. You mention poling. I have never poled a canoe, though I hear that people do. Can you recommend any websites, etc. that might give me an idea of the techniques, applications of poling? I kind of like the idea. Also, I figure if you can pole it you might be able to stand and fish from it. Thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Richard

  6. #6

    Default Photos

    Oh,

    And if anyone has some photos of the Solo Plus, I would love to see them. There are very few (i.e. one!) online.

    Thanks,

    Richard

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    between Kinross and Alloa, Scotland
    Posts
    2,490

    Default

    Richard:

    1. Heeling over, yes it can be done, but as yoiu say to minimal advantage and probably not the way you would want to paddle this hull.

    2. Your technique would work fine as well as lean and pivot, but it won't turn fast. |With a bit of looking and planning ahead point and shoot Gd2 is easy enough, with running pry/draws for fine tuning on the way down. Traditional techniques like reverse ferry glides work too but you need a big kit bag to adjust the trim.

    3. You could stand and fish, but you might not like to cath anything too big! Satnding and poling is easier because it is dynamic. Think riding a bike fast and very slow: which is easier to balance?
    I don't know of any poling web sites but there are sure to be some.

    Photo. If you email me direct I can send you some.

    cheers
    TB
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  8. #8

    Default

    Excellent,

    Thanks you for that info. One last question.....shocking as it might be...can you use a double paddle with this boat?

    I know...sacrilege...but I had to ask....

    Richard

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    In the Garden
    Posts
    680

    Default

    I asked a similar question just recently and got lots of helpful info from Tenboats, Pierre Girard and a good few others. Thread here:

    http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...ead.php?t=8783

    As you will read, I was advised to go for a much longer double-bladed paddle than is the norm for Kayak use. From the info I was given and the relatively low cost I purchased this and although I've not tried it, the quality seems excellent.

    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...720&hasJS=true

    Hope this helps,
    TF
    Chaste Snow-drop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
    And pensive monitor of fleeting years!


  10. #10

    Default Paddle

    Hi TF,

    I think you will like your paddle.
    I have both:

    Here is me with the single stick,
    and,

    A double blade.

    I like both, for different purposes, and can get away with using both because my boat is so thin. The Solo Plus is wider, so not sure how it would work.

    my double blade is a Grey Owl ZEPHYR with an oval carbon shaft. The blades are made of eleven laminations of cedar, bass and walnut with a clear fiberglass cloth overlay for added strength. Weight: 24 oz. Lengths: 240cm.

    If I were to buy another one, I would go with an even longer length, 250 or greater, and I definitely see the wisdom of smaller blades. I would not go any larger personally, but I guess everyone is different. I find I make more strokes than some friends with bigger blades, but when I use the bigger blades, I feel it in my arms after an hours or so.

    Richard
    Last edited by Richard Powell; 17th-February-2008 at 01:53 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Update with Link to good photo

    Hi,

    There are not very many photos online for the Solo Plus, but I just found this review: http://www.paddle-fishing.com/content-solo%20plus.aspx This page shows the Solo Plus customized for fishing and has a nice shot of a fellow standing in it.

    Richard

  12. #12

    Default Purchased the Solo+

    On Friday my son and I picked up my new Wenonah Solo+ and took it out for a maiden voyage. It is the ultra light composite lay-up with gel coat, web seats, and aluminium gunwales. Wenonah’s ultra-light lay-up involves a vacuum cured Kevlar hull with foam core reinforcing. Total package weighs in around 45 lbs. This review is based on comparing it to my old flat bottomed fibreglass tandem scout canoe, my graphite/Kevlar 12 foot Spitfire, and my paddling experiences with single and tandem kayaks.

    On First Sight: I was pleased with the overall look of the boat; the gel coat was uniform, the finish inside was even and the boat felt solid and tight when picked up – no fabric flexing or oil canning. There is a slight amount of rippling below the gunwales where the Kevlar is thinnest. The hull shape is not as uniform as my Spitfire. It definitely has the look of a factory made boat, but clean and well put together.

    First paddle: We took the canoe out first as a tandem and I was immediately impressed with the tracking, stability, and movement through the water. There was very little bow wake until we really pushed it, and the progress along the marsh area we explored was quiet. It was the sort of situation in which you appreciate the boat’s smooth long glide. The tracking has to be the most significant performance feature over my other canoes. It felt like the tandem Kayak I have paddled in often, going steady and straight with minimal effort needed to keep it on track. I was able to take a number of photographs while my son paddled in the bow. He made some corrections and kept the boat on course. The seats were still comfortable after two hours on the water.

    Fishing: About half way through the paddle we took out our fly rods just as the wind picked up and found casting easy and comfortable from the boat. We did not stand up, but from the sitting position the boat is hardly affected by the jerk of pulling the line off the water. As we fished we moved along in the wind, but compared to my classic scout boat, the amount of drift was much less. In my scout canoe we would have been half way down the lake. The solo plus, with its harrow waist and low bow and stern freeboard just does not catch the wind like more traditional designs with rounded high ends.

    Solo: We then tried the boat solo. My son liked how quickly he was able to get up to speed and I liked the fact that I could get out of my seat and adjust the foot brace without capsizing. My spitfire is much more responsive but primary stability is low. The Solo+ provides a very stable platform and I relaxed as I put on the steam.

    Turning is an issue. Compared to my 12 foot Spitfire it is much more difficult to pivot or turn sharply and I personally would not be keen to take this boat down a river with sharp bends and rapids. Class 1 straight runs maybe, but for a non-adventurous paddler like me, it would be less than ideal. When the weather warms up and I feel comfortable falling in I will experiment with more dramatic leans and pries.

    The solo paddling station is certainly the widest I have been in, with the possible exception of the Native Watercrafts Ultimate 12. I felt that I wanted to scoot over to the gunwales to get my arms over the paddle when using a single stick, and the 240cm double felt suddenly short, forcing my to increase the angle of the blade. I will experiment with positions to see what is possible. The Solo+ appears to achieve its good solo feel by the use of deep tumblehome at a point in the hull where there is little freeboard. The overall effect is to put you close to the water in the centre of the canoe. Because of this design feature the solo seat ends up being close to the bottom of the hull. I didn’t try kneeling, but with the seat tipped on an angle I would think it would be a challenge to get your feet comfortably under the seat.

    Conclusion: I purchased this boat as a second/guest boat so I can invite family and friends to join me on the water and was attracted by the multi-use capacity and the combination of manageable weight and stable design. Overall there were no surprises with the boat and I am happy with the paddling experience.

    Pros: Stable, multiple-use, good glide and tracking.

    Cons: Minimal rocker and sharp entry lines impede quick turning, and the overall length widens the solo station – long solo paddles may be harder on the arms than a more narrow dedicated solo boat.

  13. #13

    Default Sailing aspect

    Dear Tenboat,
    You mentioned that the solo plus has alloy gunwales are that are a nightmare to add outfitting like sailing thwarts. I am planning to buy a Solo plus and wnat to use the sailing gear (sailboatstogo). What do you mean that the sailing thwarts are difficult to add. Is it becasaue the shape of the gunwale? Besides that is the boat handling good during sailing? And do you have anough room (I am 6.33 ft tall). Look forward to your reply.
    regards Taal

    Quote Originally Posted by tenboats1 View Post
    Having eventually taken delivery of my UL version I can confirm that it handles very much as the Rx version, though is of course faster. This is partly due to the much finer bow stem (manufacturing/materials allow for this in composite) and partly due to the big reduction in weight.

    My fist trip was with Silvergirl down the lower section of the River Earn. Within 10 yards of launching I had to run down a shallowish small rapid under a bridge. With thoughts that I might end up wrecking the boat within the fist 2 minutes of paddling I positioned myself using back ferries and then slipped under the arch of the bridge, emerging without having touched rock.

    There were a few more sections like this and these I did with the pole. One of the main reason I chose to sell the Prism and go for the Solo+ was the easy of poling. (relative easy that is!). I had to jump over board a few times in the shallows just to protect the hull, but really the kevlar is pretty tough stuff. Not that it will survive being wrapped on a major rapid, but for general bumps and scrapes it should do fine.

    As the layup omitts a gel coat the water line can be seen through the hull. This can be a bit mesmeric as of course it is always changing and moving. The dog seems to like watching it anyway: it keeps her calm.!!

    Build quality on this boat is very good but not perfect, which is fine by me. There are some blemishes in the layup but nothing structural. The fitments are fine.

    I took the 3 seats as standard, but spec'd the tandem seats curved rather than flat. The centre seat is flat and is hung on the adjustable hanger system which is great. There are 2 seat heights flat and 2 angled which is great for kneeling. Because the middle seat if fixed fore/aft I did not spec the adjustable foot brace: I'll fit my own non adjustable one later. (BTW, foot braces really improve paddling: try one!).

    Because the seats are on the Wenonah hangers they are very easy to remove and replace. This means that swtiching between tandem and solo is fast and worth doing to save weight (4lbs saving by removing the tandem seats when going solo).

    We have trips planned which will be ideal for the Solo+ in tandem mode (more adventures on Lewis for a start). As a tandem you must travel light (think backpacking/adventure racing mode) but we are well used to this. It gives a very fast paddle with two determined paddlers and bent shafts.

    Indeed, possibly the only down side to this boat is that it 'makes' you paddle fast all the time. It will of course cruise quite happily using a deep water blade, but sit n switch is my preferred option in this hull.

    It goes without saying (but I will anyway) that car topping etc is a breeze. Although it does not have a yoke the front edge of the centre seat is about right in terms of balance and it is so light that the lack of a proper yoke isn't an issue. Though it might be for big distances. A yoke could be fitted to the seat, or the hangers if you didn't want to fiddle with the gunwales.

    The alloy gunwales are the biggest downside for me. They are very light and well rounded and fit the ethos of a light boat very well. However, they are a nightmare to add outfitting like sailing thwarts, yokes etc. Because of the profile it is necessary to use alloy brackets riveted to the underside of the gunwale. This is strong and effective but looks naff and is just hassle. However, it is a small price to pay for a 16.5' tandem weighing under 40lbs.

    I'd still like another RX version for river running but already having the light weight kevlar has allowed me to sneak in some impromptu paddles as I am able to get the boat off the high rack and onto the car on my own without risking either the boats or my back.

    Anybody who does not aspire to WW should consider the Solo+. I'd never be without one.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    4,657

    Default

    I tried a Royalex Solo Plus on a lake, and beecause of my height, I had no problem reaching for solo paddling. The boat had nice glide. Because I mostly paddle solo whitewater boats, the Solo Plus seemd "stiff" in response to my efforts to turn it. But that's as it should be, for a boat designed for good flatwater speed. I didn't try standing in it, because I didn't have my pole along as a balance aid.

    Note that I also tried a Wenonah Rendezvous (Royalex) on flatwater, and it was still too stiff for my taste.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Berrow, Worcestershire
    Posts
    667

    Default

    I demo'd a Kevlar Ultralight Solo Plus last week; had it for a few days. I was looking for a solo boat for quiet-water day or overnight tripping, on bigger rivers (big for the UK that is) and lakes/loughs. My wife was away so I only paddled it solo, but I considered selling my Prospector to fund the Solo Plus because it was supposedly both a solo and a tandem in one boat.

    Initially, I thought it was a lovely boat - very stable, light and quick. I was seduced by how nice the boat looked and the sight of the water lapping against the semi-transparent kevlar hull. Not quick to turn (Canadian style didn't improve it's turning circle) - I thought that didn't bother me until I got back into my 15ft Prospector, for comparison. It was then that I realised two things: one, that the Solo Plus isn't really very fast paddled solo (a fact confirmed when I bumped into Rockhopper in his Argosy and struggled to keep up); and two, that the Solo Plus felt somewhat lifeless compared to my Prospector, and I really did want a boat that was a little more responsive to turning strokes, and correction, when required. YMMV as they say.

    I decided that if the choice for a 'solo' boat was between my Prospector and the Solo Plus, I'd choose the Prospector, and given the same choice for paddling with my wife, she'd have a lot more room up front in the Prospector. And, I wouldn't want to take the Solo Plus to some of the places I might take a Prospector. Apples and oranges, I know, but the Solo Plus is almost an apples and oranges boat itself... promising to be two boats in one, it has the ability to confuse, but I suspect that if it succeeds in either respect, it would be as a fast tandem. I ended up buying an Argosy and will probably keep my Prospector for tandem paddling and for friends to use.
    Last edited by Duck Feet; 24th-August-2016 at 09:16 AM.
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

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