Advice for paddling a racing canoe?

I recently acquired an old Wenonah recreational racing canoe. It seems most similar to a Wenonah Advantage 16’6". The tag on the canoe ends in 89, so I assume it is a 1989 canoe, but it is in near perfect shape.

I took it to the lake today for a quick paddle. I had a difficult time enjoying it because it was so tipsy. I didn’t get close to going over, but never really gained some speed. When I tried to “race” I felt really unstable, and could get a powerful stroke in. I was using a regular straight shaft paddle (I plan on picking up a bent shaft this week).

When I was able to feel stable and give a few power strokes, I wasn’t able to maintain the direction I wanted. I tried several different strokes to keep myself going straight (The 4 main stokes Bill Mason teaches, specifically the J type stroke), but I couldn’t get a very long stoke in.

I’m open to any advice, article, websites, books, etc… I know I just need to get more comfortable in the canoe. I’d really like to attempt some races, and I know that definitely isn’t going to happen over night, but I’d like to start that journey.

So… help?

Also, is this a good boat? My measurements put it almost identical to the Advantage, but it just says Jenson and Kevlar (aramid) on the sides. Will this canoe stand up well in competition?



What is the length of it ?
When you say “recreational racing” boat, but yet campare it to a shorter boat it is hard to figure what you have.

If it is 18"6", it is a true racing canoe, and you and I can race together and take up the rear of the pack!

First, forget the “J” stroke. All you will be doing is slowing yourself down.

You need to paddle “sit and switch”, which is four or five strokes on one side and then switch over to the other side. Switch just prior to the boat starting to turn.

Turning is the hardest thing to do. Especially a tight turn.

I was told by the better paddlers: “Lean and pray”! - I lean, pray, and swim!

With that said, it is a matter of time in the boat.

My wife and I are pretty competative in our C-2 racing cruiser, but when it comes to that solo I am right there bringing up the rear.

One of my many adult daughters tried it this past fall, and I think she will end up racing it. She took to it like a natural. She is 4’-11" and about a hunded pounds, which probably helps.



Advantage ?
I have an '87 Advantage. As you state, it’s 16’6". The alum tag on rt stern lists serial # ending in yr of manufacture. Just above serial # is a small box w/ model name etched in. The Advantage was a Dave Kruger design & mine states so on hull. If you have serial # but model isn’t noted you can determine same by contacting Wenonah. They’re very helpful.

I think most folks find straight hulled, narrow racing type boats “tippy” the 1st coupla times they try 'em. Like a bike, they gain stability @ speed. After a few more outings you won’t even notice the lack of initial stability, only how fast you’re moving ! The tumblehome adds to secondary stability in addition to improving reach to water.

Tractor seated hulls w/ a footbrace are best paddled sit & switch (thus the name)w/ a bent shaft. If a Zav medium wt blem ($150?)gives you sticker shock consider a Dale Fox wood lightwt.

By all means, give racing a try. You’ll find the competition friendly & helpful. You can always trade up later as your skills & endurance grow. Enjoy the learning curve.

Canoe Racing
The book Canoe Racing by Peter Heed will give you a lot of insight into the sport. Like the others have said time in the boat will improve your feeling of stabilty. At the start of every paddling season my old Wenonah J-200 race boat feels like it is going to throw me at any minute, but after a few hours things settle down.Also as has been said they are meant to be paddled sit and switch with a bent shaft. I find that they also like to keep moving and do not behave all that well when sitting still, but that could just be me. I also find that toe straps on your foot brace will help with stabilty

Do a Yahoo search. there is a HUGE Marathon Canoe Racing message board that you can email/chat or whatever message boards do with americas top paddlers.

also get heeds book the above poster mentioned


Best bet with a single blade
is three short strokes one side then alternate to the opposite side and try to never pull the paddle past your hip. That seems to be how the c1 racers do it that I have seen.