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Old June 9th 04, 09:23 PM
Marsh Jones
Posts: n/a
Default Solo canoe speed

Jack wrote:


I am looking to buy an efficient solo canoe for sit'n switch paddling. I
have narrowed down the choice to a Wenonah Prism or Voyager. I get on
alright with tippy boats so tended to favour the Voyager, which is longer
and narrower at the waterline and generally held to be 'faster' than the

Will you settle for 'it depends'?
I've paddled the Voyager a bit, and recently added an Advantage (16'6")
to my garage fleet (along with a J-200, Proboat, MNII, Penobscot 16). I
don't believe there is enough difference in unloaded cruising speed
between the 3 boats to worry about. The differences may be more likely
to emerge in the subtle differences between loaded and unloaded,
different water and wind conditions, etc.

If I look at raw specs, the Voyager is probably a _slightly_ faster boat
- higher prismatic coefficient, longer waterline, probably about the
same wetted area. Not as fast as my J-boat, but no dog. The only time
you are likely to notice the difference in speed is if you really get on
it and start approaching hull speed.

Trouble is, I keep getting confused by differences between manufacturer's
claims and 'expert' or dealers' statements about how fast a particular hull
shape is. On their web site Wenonah themselves choose their words carefully
and describe the Voyager as 'quite possibly the fastest solo recreational
racing canoe we make'.

True, but the horsepower curve starts to look like a hockey stick pretty

On a German web site it says
something along the lines "The Voyager is no faster than the Prism, unless
you apply full power: the ultimate speed of displacement hulls with a
rounded bottom has no upper limit."

Are they just stating the ....... obvious? That with the same boat and
paddler weight, the paddler who applies more power will travel faster?
Surely it must be possible to COMPARE how fast two hulls travel if the SAME
paddler applies the SAME amount of power???

In displacement sailboats, the magic number for comparing speed
potential was based on hull speed, calculated at roughly Hullspeed in
knots =(1.3*((SQRT)LWL)) which means that a 16' boat can go about
5.2Knots regardless of how much power you put to it. (Unless you can
pop it over the bow wave and get it planing).
I've read about hull friction and that hulls can be more or less efficient
depending on what speed you are paddling at.

I am the wrong side of 60 and not as fit as I have been; if I am looking to
do 5+ mph fla****er cruising, will the Voyager be faster at the same effort
expended or will the increased hull friction of the longer hull backfire on
me and effectively slow me down compared to paddling a Prism?

Given that either of the canoes you are looking at are pretty sleek, I
would think that you will get slightly better speed from the Voyager,
but not much. If you can paddle both a Prism and a Voyager over the
same course on similar days or with a rest in between, and use a monitor
to keep your heartrate the same, you might be able to quantify it a
little bit.

There are some other things that make a huge difference in how fast you
can go - setting the seat a little higher will give you better leverage,
but make a tippier boat. Using a top quality carbon paddle like a
Zaveral or Black Bart is much more fun and will let you go faster for a
given amount of calories consumed. Figuring out what works best takes time.

I wouldn't worry about the 'wrong side of 60'. I paddle with a bunch of
old guys that can still kick my butt pretty regularly.

Sorry this is so long - I'd be grateful for your opinions.

My opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it - but I hope it helps.
Paddle both boats, pick the one you like, you'll be happy with either one.

Marsh Jones
New Brighton, MN