Not long ago I got a CD that contains several decades of the Cruiser, the newsletter of the Canoe Cruisers Association in DC. In perusing the old issues I came across this item, which I had forgotten about. This is from August 1974.
What Jim didn’t say in the article was that we owed the new move to a boat innovation. The boats we used were an early batch of Hollowform River Chasers, taken from stock at Appalachian Outfitters, where Jim was store manager and I was a clerk. This batch had been disastrously under-cooked and were as flexible as saran wrap. They were un-sellable death traps for river running but we decided to take a couple out to see if we could get some fun out of them.
What we discovered was that if you plugged hard into a wave or hole the entire bow would collapse down onto your legs like a pair of too-tight pants, the air blowing out the top of your skirt explosively. The skirt would then re-seal around the waist making the flat bow semi-permanent. With no volume in front and loads of it in the stern the boat was stable in a vertical position. We found we could spin down the eddy line for long distances, standing on the foot braces and pulling cross-bow after cross-bow.
Thirty-one years later I applied this experience when I started learning to playboat. There are a lot of similarities in handling characteristics between our old flexy River Chasers and my modern playboat. The world does seem to move cyclically.
Internet disclaimer. Since there’s no such thing as putting too fine a point on anything on the net, let me say it plainly: I don’t really think we invented playboating that day.