A decade after whitewater canoeing visionary Frankie Hubbard passed away, Knoxville-based open boater Dooley Tombras cannot fathom what new ideas Hubbard would’ve come up with if he hadn’t succumbed to lung cancer in 2003, at the young age of 41. “Frankie completely modernized the sport,” says Tombras, an elite open boater who’s taken the sport to new heights with his role in The Canoe Movie series of OC-1 videos. “His designs made it possible to run steep creeks and evolved the whole rodeo thing.”
Tombras describes Hubbard’s mid-’80s-vintage Edge whitewater canoe as a game-changer. Designed for whitewater slalom, Tombras said the Edge was the first OC1 to incorporate hard chines for holding a crisp line, as well as lower bow and stern profile for “sneaking gates.” “Before Frankie, boats had round bottoms and everything was really big and long,” says Tombras. “The Edge changed that, and it’s still my favorite [slalom canoe] to this day.”
Hubbard was eccentric.