About

A Canoeist Life

Since the early 1930’s and into the late 70’s, the Orr family owned and directed two summer camps. Camp was an adventurous and blessed place to grow-up. At a very young age, Fritz acquired his canoeing skills in classic wooden canvas canoes. Years of practice and experience anchored 8 years on the US Canoe Kayak Wildwater C-1 Team. Fritz also holds 4 National Open Canoe Championships and today he enjoys sharing his canoeing skills at Camp High Rocks and handcrafting wooden paddles.

Over the years, Fritz built his own wooden paddles as his designs and craft developed. He draws from this expertise to continue his journey handcrafting wooden paddles. Each wooden paddle embodies the spirit of simplicity, balance, and performance. Sculpting wooden paddles is a fulfilling trade that transforms a genuine pride from a canoeing heritage. As a craftsman, Fritz combines the aesthetics of design and the wood’s natural beauty into a lasting value of performance and art.

Fritz uses his Grandfather’s original camp logo from the Fritz Orr Club Camp School in Atlanta, Ga. for Fritz Orr Canoe. Fritz Orr Canoe is founded upon his Grandparents’ camp philosophy and faith: strength of character, steadiness of purpose, and acceptance of responsibility to which “I challenge you.”

Thank you for your interest and support. Fritz greatly appreciates your business and looks forward to sculpting your next canoe or stand-up board paddle.

Design

Select appalachian and tropical hardwoods are laminated together to complement their physical characteristics of strength, weight, flexibility and natural beauty. An elliptical shaped shaft incorporates a sculpted hollowed core laminated between hardwood bands that traverses the paddle’s length, as the core tapers through the blade and at the neck below the “T”- grip. The wood’s grain is book-matched in each blade and curved blades are steamed to capture their shape. A laminated grip is carved to a final fit for one’s control hand.

Fritz’s curved blade is a less aggressive design than a kayak curved blade placed on a canoe paddle. His curved blade secures a solid purchase during the catch and avoids lifting water through the stroke. Attention to detail is given to sculpting the dihedral and its transition across the blade’s wings. Fritz offers the following blades: straight, curved, bent, and bent with a curve.

The foundation for his paddle designs are built upon the wooden paddles he crafted and used through his racing career. His wildwater C-1 training logged 400 plus flatwater hours and 180 whitewater days annually in preparation for Team Trails then the World Cup and the World Championships.

Wood Epoxy Composite Construction

An epoxy dynel tip is placed on each blade, then the blade is encapsulated in an epoxy s-glass composite and the paddle is finished with several coats of West Systems. Whitewater paddles have an epoxy dynel edging and a dynel shelve plus the Selway has a carbon fiber power-face. Historical paddles are finished with an epoxy s-glass composite then dipped in a traditional marine spar varnish.

Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is a journey with an inspiration to improve. Fritz employes fine woodworking hand tools to sculpt each paddle. The stock is milled to dimension, individual parts are glued together, then carved to the final shape. The commitment to hand crafting wooden paddles has lead to designing and making his own wooden planes, custom scrapers and spoke shaves.

Stewardship

Stewardship begins by hand selecting mature timber from sustainable managed forests.
Close attention and thought is given to each board, its grain pattern to determine the best use for artistic and performance qualities. Accurate milling through the hand sculpting process contributes to more wood going into paddles and less sawdust on the floor. Zero waste is Fritz’s leadership approach to stewardship of our natural resources.

A carefully maintained wooden paddle will enjoy a long life; an old school philosophy instead of a throw away mentality. Restoration or repair renews a wooden paddle, thus a tradition is passed-on.

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