In general, we prefer to maintain four or five decades of hindsight to accumulate before acquiring a modern canoe or kayak for our permanent collection. In a family as diverse and dynamic as the paddling sports in their myriad forms, there have been many flashy newcomers that have perhaps not had the lasting effect once claimed or imagined. A result of this caution is that a walk through the 500 or so canoes and kayaks in our Collections Storage facility shows a predominance of wooden hulls, peppered lightly by the odd modern composite.
On rare occasions, however, we have the opportunity to acquire a contemporary boat that has a story, a pedigree or a relationship to a singular person that calls for a hastier response. For instance, several years ago we had the opportunity to acquire two K-1 sprint kayaks belonging to celebrated Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden. One, by Plastex, was used at the 2004 Athens Olympics to earn Gold and Bronze. The other, a Nelo K-1, was used to claim Silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Earlier this year, we learned about a great little boat with a tie-dye colour scheme called the Groove C-1 by Massive. Designed by that company’s owners Ian Thompson and Paul Danks for the vibrant whitewater freestyle canoe and kayaking community in the mid to late-90s, this playboat caused one of those wonderful moments in sport where a break-through design succeeds at a meet. In the hands of its accomplished paddler and co-designer, Danks, it cleaned up. In competitions leading up to the 1997 Ottawa Rodeo Worlds, Danks and his Groove had dominated again and again but would ultimately be barred from competing at the Worlds for concerns over the boat’s revolutionary design. However, the boat would leave its mark and many competitors have stated that elements from the Groove’s form influenced future hull designs in this sport.
Billy Harris (Canadian Freestyle team since 1999) claimed that: “the Massive C-1 Groove not only revolutionized the freestyle movement that we have today, but was so instrumental, that the sport had to change overnight to accommodate the capabilities of the boat.
The Canadian Canoe Museum would like to thank accomplished whitewater paddler and filmmaker Ben Aylsworth for the donation of this important part of Canadian sport paddling history and also for compiling many testimonials from the paddling community. In his words:
“The Groove changed freestyle paddling forever. It is, I believe, the most important modern freestyle boat ever designed. It exemplifies not only the lasting impact that Canadians have had on the sport (they don’t call it C-1 for nothing!) but also the spot where the world of kayaking continues to take shape: The Ottawa River.”