On the water, the Shacho is fast - one stroke acceleration at it's finest. Initial stability is good, one feels right at home. The hip pads that come with John's standard outfit connect you to the boat, almost as if they had glued you in.... Eddy turns, wave turns, surfing, all within the first 1/2 hour on a class 3 river- never felt that confident from the start in a new boat. The narrow cockpit together with the pronounced tumblehome make off side strokes a breeze. Tiny eddies catches the boat almost on its own, surf waves also- big ones and smaller ones. For the tiny waves, one has to use his strokes, though. After all, we do this to exercise?!
The Shacho is asymmetric and mine is trimmed a bit bow light. Meaning, I need to lean into the strokes to peel out fast. But again, acceleration is great. The soft chines don't engage as much as the more modern ww solo boats but this is what I like! I feel more in control this way. Final stability is very good as well- can lean the canoe to the gunnels and right it up again without feeling the need for a roll.
Bottom line: if you are a white water open boat addict and like a fun boat that is not breaking your back (or your Bank), have a look at Millbrook's!
Downside (if that is one): looks like a Prospector 16, behaves like one and cost, due to the innovative material, 30% more than a RX Pro 16. OK, the weight...but our test canoe was 12% over weight on my scale - standard equipped! Puts her in close range to a RX Pro 16 weight-wise as well....
Twintex seems to have way more glide than Royalex. And it doesn't get scratched or dented as easy. If you got the $$$, go for it. Otherwise, you might as well buy a cheaper material hull.
Our first few tandem canoes were of the ordinary type: fibreglass, heavy, flat bottom with little rocker and not a hint of a tumblehome (what’s that anyway?). We where satisfied. Everybody was using that stuff. So it couldn’t be that bad. And because all our friends and fellow paddlers where using the same kind of canoe, mostly made by the same company, we couldn’t do any comparison. That changed as our local canoe dealer got a hold on a new dealership. An American company, we hadn’t heard of before in Europe:
We-no-nah. Someone joked: We-Know-Nothing… Not true as later found out! I flipped through their catalogue and especially one canoe caught my attention: ITASCA!
I wanted to try that canoe! But of course, it was the most expensive one We-No-Nah made at that time. And of course, our friend and canoe dealer couldn’t afford to stock one. So he phoned around. Found one, three hours away at another dealership. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t allow us a test ride. Not on the phone, though…
A week later my wife and I visited that dealer. We got our test paddle after all…. I was amazed! The gunnels are pulled inwards at both seats. They are parallel to the keel line at the stern with lots of tumblehome. That accounts for highly effective power strokes without much correction: You tend to do your forward strokes parallel to the gunnels- that of course puts you off course with most canoes…
Not that much tumblehome in the bow (but still more than most canoes), due to the flare Gene gave her there. That accounts for dry runs through high waves. She is ‘ocean’ going-although I like to see at least one shoreline close by when I’m paddling…
At 19 feet length, Itasca can’t be a turning wonder. But empty, with paddlers only, she turns surprisingly easy and fast. Laden, it’s another story…. But fast she is-a Gene Jensen design with really sharp entry lines.
We later ordered our first Itasca. The cheapest and heaviest version-71 lbs. Today, my wife and me own our third Itasca. The lightest one they build. 45 lbs-I don’t like long portages but her weight certainly helps. So far, she has taken on any load we placed into her wide belly.
Three weeks worth of provisions, two kids, a 100lbs dog, me and my wife - all at the same time. I love her (both of them, this time…).
If you meet us on the water, feel free to ask for a test ride. But be prepared for love on first try…..