Erik Borgnes’ Mohican Review
You might want to consider a new non-ICF kayak if your races are not limited to ICF spec boats. Specifically, the new Van Dusen Mohican. I had an opportunity to race one this past weekend on a slow flowing river that had a mix of shallow and deep water. (Usually, I paddle a Fenn Millenium and a Nelo Vanquish Vintage or Cleaver X – I also have no relationship with any paddling company so this is as impartial as it gets).
The Mohican has a narrow entry and low foredeck like a K1 and a big ICF K1 type cockpit. Footboard and tiller. There was no cockpit coaming. It was 21′ long, but looked and felt shorter. The hull was very flat right under the seat area – surprisingly flat. There is some resemblance to a sit-down type C1 canoe, only longer and narrower. The foredeck has nice cutaways for a close entry. The one I used had a bucket seat like a ski and a venturi drain of the type canoes use that you can open and close, but another I saw (Ted Van Dusen’s boat) was set up like an ICF kayak.
Its stability was exceptional and I’d compare it to a trainer ICF K1 like a Kirton Tor or slightly tippier than a Mako XT surfski. I could have sat on two telephone books and been stable, I think, and that’s what struck me most about the hull. I’m accustomed to losing stability in a boat to gain potential speed, so I don’t understand the physics of the design and I asked Ted Van Dusen about this. He said that if he took away the stability (flat spot) and made it really tippy, it would only gain about 1/2 % better resistance which translates to a fraction of that in mph. Even though I didn’t need all that extra stability, I found myself using more leg drive and torso rotation and the boat just sat flat as I flailed away.
Speed in deep water was very good and it’s difficult to tell the 0.1 or 0.2 mph speed difference compared to an ICF K1, particularly when the ICF K1 resistance is more of the wave drag type and this Mohican is more of the wetted surface area type. My guess is that it has a comparable cruising speed / resistance at 7-8 mph. It felt like it probably doesn’t sprint as well, but my guess is that it marathons as well as a current racing ICF K1 design. In the shallow water sections, I could hardly feel the bottom as the hull seemed to be somewhat immune to the suck water feel. It also was very good at wake riding another boat probably because of the flat spot on the hull. The hull shape looks different from other boats that I’ve paddled, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it felt different in shallows and on wakes.
Overall, I thought it was the nicest hull I’d ever paddled on flatwater and worth a look if you want speed and need some measure of stability and can live with a non-ICF boat. It would be a great boat for an intermediate paddler to learn to get faster in as you’d be much more stable than in a racing ICF K1. Plus, you would never need a faster marathon boat when you do get better. The build quality was also among the nicest I’ve seen. Solid and true as an old Struer I once had.