The Wanda Canoe Club and the story of some old, vintage kayaks


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Firstly, I want to say a HUGE “Thank you” to the Wanda Canoe Club for donating some boats to me and my local paddling group to help us mentor some budding new, competitive paddlers here in Central Virginia.


Some history of the Wanda Canoe Club


Wardell Lee, Commodore of the Wanda Canoe Club
handing over their retired boats to me

I met one of their members, Linda Lensch, at the starting line of the Little D on the Monocacy race earlier this year and we briefly talked about my fondness for old-school kayaks. Subsequently, she talked with her club, The Wanda Canoe Club, and they decided to donate some of their old, club boats to me to restore them and get them back on the water.

I drove up to their club in Ridgefield Park, NJ yesterday as a day trip to pick up some of the boats.

I left at 3:30am from Charlottesville, VA and finally got home at 8:30pm. A very long day of driving, but for my mission, I figured if I had to spend a night in a hotel along with meals on the road then it would make no financial sense to rescue these old boats to share with other paddlers.

When I got up there I realized how windy it was up in the NY/NJ area, and despite my original plan to bring home as many boats as possible, I decided to be safe on the highways and only bring back what seemed reasonable and safe.

I wish I would have had a trailer to bring all the boats back with me.

I worked with the boats this morning and had enough parts from two of the “Slender” K1 trainer boats to put one complete boat together, but the K2 is missing a bunch of parts. It also obviously had some animals living in it at some point as a lot of the foam was chewed up and once I stuck my head into it to figure our what repairs were needed the smell of animal urine and feces almost knocked me over.

These were obviously built as club boats back in the day to be as cheap, durable and flexible as possible, so they are of no modern-day value but they have value to me now as I’ve got 2-3 local paddlers interested in moving up to more competitive paddling but don’t want to drop thousands of dollars into modern racing boats or surfskis.

The Wanda Canoe Club had another K2 I wish I would have grabbed and at least 1 more K1 so I’m asking for your help.

I am committed to getting as many of these boats as possible back on the water and into the hands of new, competitive paddlers in my local group to introduce them to the sport of competitive/fitness paddling, but I am hesitant to take another day off of work and make the round trip to northern NJ to pick up the rest of these boats. The physical toll it took on me is very real.

I wish I could have transported them all yesterday, but I just couldn’t safely do it.

Please, if you can pick up 3-5 more of these boats from Ridgefield Park, NJ to anywhere closer to me in the DC/Virginia area in the coming months or weeks I would be extremely appreciative. Actually, if you could pick them up and get them anywhere closer to me to make a more reasonable day trip I would be eternally grateful.

I want to get as many of these old boats as possible back on the water and give them to aspiring competitive paddlers to help “pay it forward” to the next generation of paddlers.

Let me know if you can transport them. I’ll help offset your gas money and will definitely give blog and social media love to you and/or your paddling/rowing organization.

Please help me get these boats back into the hands of people who will love them and get them back onto the water.

I was able to uncover some information about the Slender kayaks. Slender is a kayak made by Danish manufacturer Struer and these boats were imported into the U.S. by Specialty Kayaks back in the day. These boats are beginner training kayaks for Olympic flatwater racing. By my measurements, the boats are 17′ long and 20″ wide.

‘Slender’, designed by Jørgen Samson, 1960, is built by Bdr. Sørensen, Struer. The dimensions are the same as for the hijacking kayaks, 5.20×0.51 m, but the cross-section is flat U-shaped, so the boat is very calm on the water. The very weak jump at the bottom gives a steady course in the lake. Despite the wider width of the waterline, “Slender” is faster than “Zefyr”, which protrudes deeper due to the V-shape. The boat is sink-free with waterproof bulkhead. Construction method: Cast in fiberglass – polyester; The method is referred to as turquoise.

Update #2, Oct. 9, 2019:

After doing some very light repairs to one of the Slenders, I got it out on the water for the first time this evening during one of our group’s regular Wednesday evening recreational paddles. The boat feels really good and is amazingly stable. It is also very fast!

I absolutely understand why these were used to introduce people to flatwater racing. The cockpit is big enough so you have free knees and get proper leg drive, the boat is long and fast yet has ample stability so even beginners can feel stable and not have to worry about tipping.

I plan on doing a full restoration on this boat and then it will go to an aspiring fast paddler to introduce them to racing/fitness paddling.

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Update #3, Oct. 12, 2019:

I drove back up Ridgefield Park, NJ and the Wanda Canoe Club last night and today brought back the rest of the boats that they wanted to unload.

I had high hopes to find parts for these boats laying around on the floor in their old boathouse and searched diligently, but I was unable to find anything.

If I can’t find parts to get these boats back on the water and in the hands of aspiring paddlers, sadly, some of the boats will have to be finally retired. I can make some of the parts I need, but not all of them, so I’m asking for your help.

If you’ve got old rudders, foot braces, seats or tillers that look like they might fit these boats and are willing to donate them, please let me know.

I’m hoping somebody has parts laying around in their workshop or maybe in a back, forgotten corner of a club boat house to help get some of these back in paddling shape.

Please make a donation to support the restoration of these boats. I will have to outlay money for epoxy, fiberglass, supplies and parts to bring these boats back to life. Anything will help. Thank you.


Update May 4, 2020: Introducing a young paddler to flatwater racing using one of these boats



  1. Your timing is unreal. Just earlier this week I was offered the molds for the Slender and I declined because I’ve never heard of anyone interested in one and the molds are halfway across the country. Where are you located? I still have the second Slender as a project boat. A modern boat comparison would be the West Side Boat Shop EFT/Sleek. PS – If there are more people out there who would like a new Slender kayak, let me know and I’ll buy the molds.


  2. Thanks Dave for restoring the Slender. Was online trying to find one to buy. I fabricated a rudder out of 1/8th inch stainless steel and had a welding shop weld it to a Stainless Steel rod I bought at engine/piston shop for a Slender I use to paddle at WCC years ago.

    IF I can not find one to purchase, WHO makes one with this same stability for someone who has never been in a kayak??? Which boat should I buy?


  3. I have a Slender do you have any information or history the builder does not respond. O and I live in Wisconsin so unfortunately I won’t be able to help you.


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