Tuesday, July 03, 2007

They Did it Again! And Again!!

Way to go Kisseynew! Martin Bernardin & Kisseynew Canoe Company were again in the Yukon River Quest last week. The YRQ is a 740km race down the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City with 2 mandatory stops, one of 7 hrs and one of 3 hrs. Last year Martin Bernardin entered his strip-built voyageur canoe in the Yukon River Quest (see here for my post from a year ago) and team Kisseynew - Denesuline Dalutweh broke the record for voyageur canoes with a time of 42:56:13, came first in their class and second overall.

This year, Martin wanted to do better. He built a new canoe this winter for the race, the "Precipice". The new canoe is 28' long, 36" wide (built to the limits of the rules allowed in the current YRQ rules) and looks like a rocket. It was stripped with 1/8" thick cedar strips, glassed on the outside with carbon fiber cloth and on the inside with kevlar cloth. Inside a couple of kevlar stringers were added to stiffen the lightweight hull. Fitted with seats & footrests, the completed canoe weighs 150 lbs (I think) which is pretty light for something of that size.

A team of 6 was assembled and has been training hard. The older 25' 10" canoe, the Sainte Anne, was used as well with a second team of 6 (the 2006 team was 8), called Kisseynew Skookum Asphalt.

This year, Kisseynew bettered their time by nearly 45 minutes with a finish of 42:16:47 in the Precipice. The competition was tough though and the 8-member team Coureur des Bayou finished about an hour ahead of Kisseynew at 41:15:00 for the first place finish, the first time a voyageur canoe has taken top honours in the YRQ. Third place overall, out of a field of 85 teams and 200 paddlers, was Kisseynew Skookum Asphalt with a time of 45:08:11. It appears that the Kisseynew has played a large part in changing the voyageur class of the YRQ from something of a novelty to a seriously competitive class as evidenced by the fact that the top 4 finishes in the 2007 race are all Voyageur canoes. This year the Kisseynew boats took home $1000 and $500 for second and third place, respectively. First place in the voyageur class received $2500, an improvement from 2006 as last year Kisseynew won $1500 for their first place finish in the voyageur class, $100 less than their entry fee! Ryan Martin of the Kisseynew Skookum Asphalt team was the first Yukoner across the finish line for the second year running.

By the way, there were at least 2 other wood boats in the race. Ken Brunton, a regular over at the Kayakforum.com trips forum was in the race but unfortunately scratched part-way through. Dave & Lisa McGee finished midfield in their cedar-canvas canoe.

Congratulations guys and hat's off to all who completed the race!

p.s. The kayak is completed and has been officially launched. However, I'm behind in posting. I'll get some photos of the completed boat and the launch up sometime soon.


  1. What's your next boatbuilding project? You're about due to start a new one.

  2. Hah! I know. What do you think Carl, maybe a nice stitch & glue like one of the Water's Dancing kayaks, or maybe a kayak like the 18' Point Bennet (another stitch & glue, but form free plans), or maybe a solo canoe like the Freedom 16' (Bear Mountain), or perhaps a stitch & glue osprey, or maybe a fast family-size tripper like the Kipawa (Green Valley) or it's big sister the Winisk, or maybe the 18'6" White Guide? About the only thing I'm ruling out right now is another strip-built kayak. Before I come to any of the above however, I want to add more lighting in the garage & better heat too so that's what I'll tackle this fall.

  3. Well since you got all the hard lessons out of the way in building your Guillemot, maybe it's time to build a canoe. I thought about using all the excess lumber I milled to make a dinky canoe but I have to dig up plans.