Tuesday, 8 June 2010

All Eyes on Izon Designs

A beautiful canoe made by a talented and iconic boat designer is always a treat to see in action. This Discovery Channel production is a warm celebration of one of Skip Izon's performance tandem designs:

Skip, quoted in the Grand Bend Strip Community Newspaper in August 2008, said, "The third [design I created this year] I call The Little Tripper. It’s a 12.5’ open kayak, like a little canoe, but you use a double-bladed kayak paddle. You’re out in the open, so you’re out in the sun. You’ve got access to all your stuff, same as a canoe, but it’s light and fast like a kayak. So I’m trying to get the best of both worlds."

Ah, doesn't that sound perfect? Best of both worlds, kayak and canoe? Wait... I have one of those! I know, I know, but it feels good to gloat a little sometimes.

And the exciting news is that Skip is interested in getting his designs to manufacturers who can create more affordable versions for the average person on the street. So far, however, it doesn't appear that his Little Tripper has been picked up by anyone.

Chana R. Schoenberger writing for Forbes said, "Izon's boats come unadorned with flashy graphics or trims. "If you can make a natural shape, it ends up looking pretty," he says. "It borders on art." His customers agree. Many row their canoes in the summer, then hang them on the wall in winter."

Schoenberger indicated in the Forbes piece that Izon started selling designs to manufacturers in or around 2003. Hudson Boat Works, Mad River Canoe and Raven Works are listed. Hudson Boat Works' website does not include photos with their boats, let alone reference to the designer. Mad River Canoes doesn't  brag about who designed their hulls either. Raven Works appears to have gone out of business or at least let their domain registration expire. There are numerous links to them from canoe and kayaking sites across the web, but the tent is gone and only a digital wind now blows across the empty stake holes where the site used to be.

Not mentioned by Shoenberger is the Souris River Skeena. This is a white-water-capable tandem tripper with an attractive flat water layup that unfortunately still weighs in at a hefty 50 lbs.

I will keep my eyes peeled for other Izon designs and if you are as interested as I was, you might try searcihg for the drool-worthy pictures of the Shadow River Chipmunk I found online.

Looks like Mr. Izon does not have a website for his company, Shadow River Boatworks, which is not surprising for a fellow who does all his engineering and design calculations by hand without the aid of a computer.

If anyone knows of Izon designed boats being built in a less expensive layup, I would be pleased to know.

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