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charlie wilson

Charlie Wilson's involvement in the canoe industry began when he designed a series of revolutionary, monocoque, portage packs for canoe camping in 1983. The success of Grade VI's canoe camping equipage preceded later day-use designs.

In the mid-eighties, Charlie was drawn into technical canoeing and the FreeStyle paddling community. Charlie co-founded Conclave, a series of national, on-water, canoeing clinics. During his tenure as its first Chair, the ACA FreeStyle Committee developed workshops and instructor standards and Interpretive Paddling Competitions.

An American Canoe Association Instructor Trainer Educator, Charlie chaired the ACA's Instruction Council from 1996 through 2000. As an ACA Director, Charlie chaired its 1995 Bylaws Revision Committee, served two terms as Secretary, one as Vice President, and two as President of the 30,000 member group ending in 2005. His initiatives have included increased emphasis on market research and simplification of instructional programs, both to increase outreach to the paddling public.

He began writing on paddling technique for Canoesport Journal, and has contributed to the American Canoeist, Canoe Magazine, Currents, Paddler, Paddling, Paddlesport, River and Wooden Canoe magazines and several event and club newspapers. He wrote a chapter for Cliff Jacobson's Basic Essentials of Solo Touring, co-authored FreeStyle Canoeing, and Introduction to Canoeing and re-edited Appalachian Whitewater for Menasha Ridge Press. Editor and principal author of the ACA FreeStyle Instruction Manual, Charlie is working a series of books on modern paddling technique.

Charlie joined Bell Canoe Works of Zimmerman MN in 1993. Working with designer David Yost, he conceptualized the FIRE, NORTH and Magic canoe series, and designed Bell's hallmark trim. He served as marketing director and sales manager for Bell Canoe Works, before retiring in New York's Adirondack Park in 1999.

He co-founded Placid boatworks in 2004. Focusing on rugged tripping quality pack canoes designed by David Yost, Pb quickly mastered resin infuse, yielding stronger and lighter hulls with minimal VOC release. Pb developed CobraSox integral gunwales, reducing completed hull weight by another 20%. Charlie retired again in 2009.

A popular presenter at canoeing events, including the Jersey Paddler's Paddlesport, Adirondack FreeStyle Symposia, La Lousianne Symposium, LL Bean's NA Canoe Symposia, Paddlefest, and Midwest Mountaineering's Canoe Event, Charlie's presentations include Efficient Paddling, Paddle Design, Hull Design & Hydrodynamics, and Camping for Paddlers. He hosts the Adirondack Canoe Symposium. When not paddling, promoting it, or writing about paddling, Charlie may be found skiing, mountaineering, or bird hunting. Recent commitments include a crusade to develop Michelin scale starred meals and consulting with Colden Canoe and Swift Canoe and Kayak, continuing a personal dedication to innovative design and superb construction. It’s what he’s always enjoyed doing.

paddling, cooking, skiing, hunting
Lower Saranac Lake, Adirondacks
infusion engineer, paddlesports designer



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