CANOE RIG is three books in one. It is a book for people interested in books, it is a book about communicating information, and, it is a book for people who love canoes.
CANOE RIG is the book which any book lover will recognize as a "keeper." This book meets all the criteria for a classic: it has the size, the heft, and the shape - you want to share a comfortable chair with this book; it has the pedigree - the publisher, WoodenBoat, and the editor, Peter Spectre, have a reputation for perfection; and it was produced by an author whose devotion to the subject shows through on every page.
When I first opened CANOE RIG I turned each page as though the next illustration was going to pop-up from the page like some of those kids books. The pictures make you feel as though you are the first to discover the simple art of a canoe with a sail. You are drawn through this book - just like the way kids used to (perhaps still do) page through magazines and slap each picture and say "mine" -- you "want" every canoe you see, and you want to know more and more about those canoes. I found myself not just wanting to own the canoe, to sail the canoe, but I also wanted the canoe on a tee shirt, too!
As to the technical coverage of the book, Bradshaw has completely covered the world of canoe sailing. From the basics of wind to the complexities of spars, leeboards, sails, mast support, and rigging, and he included an appendix with measured drawings for sails and leeboards.
I contacted Bradshaw to ask him a question: had he ever read any of Edward Tufte's books on the visual display of information. I was disappointed to learn that he hadn't, for CANOE RIG is an excellent example of the principles proscribed by Tufte -- his books are the bibles of the information age. The illustration is truly worth thousands of words, and the words are straight, to the point and from the heart. Todd did relate that his formal schooling was in fine arts, sculpture in fact. Tufte raised the bar on illustration and information to the level of art - CANOE RIG met that mark.
As a book for lovers of canoes, CANOE RIG will become a classic. It will pose a dilemma for canoe sailors - should I use this book as a text, make notes in the margins, sketch in my own changes to some rigs - or should I keep it in its original condition, to savor on cold nights in the off season? It will also bring more canoeists into the sailing brotherhood - who can look at these simple, yet elegant, craft and not wish to own and sail one?
Simple and elegant are the two words which we strive to use whether we are building our canoeing skills or building our canoes. If it's a simple and elegant display by an accomplished freestyle paddler, we will stare in awe and admiration, because to make the difficult look simple and the precarious look elegant is an art. The sheer of a wood and canvas canoe will catch our eye - for it is simple and it is elegant - but we know that behind the simple is skill and struggle and tedium, and that behind the elegant is design for strength and worth and utility. Behind the simple and elegant CANOE RIG is a sculptor who has produced a work of art.