Bell Magic vs. Wenonah Advantage, Prism

Just curious how you might compare these boats. I have been buying and selling boats trying to find my “exact” niche I want.

Recently got a Magic and like it. Starting to like the sit and switch thing for speed. Still like a more maneuverable kneeling boat but want to have both.

I am thinking though that if I am going to have a boat for fast sit and switch paddling then maybe something that is more in the “truly fast” category and not a more general purpose boat may fit my niche a little closer but not sure.

I get the impression that the Magic is not as fast and straight tracking as somethign like the Advantage (there is one for sale not too far from me). I am sure the Magic is a more well rounded boat but I will have a Wildfire and Freedom Solo to cover the other end of the spectrum.

How would you compare the Magic and the Advantage (and maybe Prism) as far as speed, tracking, performance in wind (important to me) and seaworthiness in big wind waves?

Lastly…how about with a load for shorter camping trips?

Last…I weigh 200 pounds. This may be a factor as I have heard that the Advantage is more geared to smaller paddlers.



Additional ?

Hope you don’t mind, I was interested in your question too and would be intereste in adding the Wenonah Voyager to the “comparison” list.


Here’s a Voyageur Ultralite on the Charlottesville, VA craigslist

These boats go fast and straight and haul a lot of gear.

Own a Magic and an Advantage

– Last Updated: Jul-05-09 11:41 AM EST –

and have tripped with Prism. My weight fluctuates between 18-190lbs and I'm 6'1" tall. For every day paddling pleasure in anything beyond fairly calm H2o I'll always grab the Magic, as it seems to go anywhere I look without much effort or force. The Advantage WILL get from point A to point B much faster on calm H2o, but as the wind picks up I can make better time in the Magic due to it's ability to maneuver in wind. The Advantage starts getting a bit harder to get going where I want it to as the wind picks up compared to my Magic. I'm talking the 2-3 strokes on 1 side followed by 20 or more on the other side going off the wind. On calm H2o though the Advantage does hold the advantage in outright speed, pardon the pun. I recently saw a post were some complained that the Magic is hard to keep on course in wind, I never seem to have that problem, or I've got so many years under my belt in an Advantage, that the Magic seems effortless to track in the same conditions. Simply stated, I make much faster time on calm H2o in my Advantage, but that 'advantage' goes out the window on windy, wave filled days, at which point the Magics easier handling and differential rocker takes the lead. On calm H2o the Advantage makes nice, yet slower edged turns and the Magics rocker will turn faster on edge, yet will lack the outright straight line speed of the Advantage.

I did a solo trip in Ontario years ago in a Prism, as I was having issues getting gear to fit in the confines of the narrower Advantage, and the Prism had more depth for rougher H2o crossings. The Prism is very close to the speed of the Advantage but the Advantage would take it in a race, and the Advantages shallower, narrower profile is easier to make time in calmer conditions. The Prisms extra depth make it a much more comforting ride in remote, unpredictable conditions though. I had a bear of a time up there in some wind conditions, the Prism wanted to go were it wanted to go at times. I might have to hit a ridiculous amount of times on one side only to have to switch back after only 2-3 hits on the other side to keep a course. I believe the Magic would have been pretty much a non-issue in the same conditions. It really seems to me like I just have to think about going a certain direction in the Magic, regardless of conditions, and the hull reads my mind and points that way. That is the difference between no rocker (Advantage & Prism) and differential rocker (Magic)! I'd think being around, or slightly over 200lbs I'd be looking into a Prism, though I think all 3 would work equally well empty. I'd probably recommend the Prism for tripping w/gear though. It is deeper than the rest, and slightly wider at the H2oline with more volume in the bow and stern than the Advantage. I like all 3 boats but at 190lbs in an all-a-round hull, I'd grab the Magic for paddling pleasure and the Advantage when I want some speed work. Actually, I'd probably grab my J-boat for speed work!

Prism - Magic

– Last Updated: Jul-05-09 2:01 PM EST –

I own the Kevlar ultra light Prism and paddling partner has the carbon Magic. Since I have paddled them both and if money wasn't an issue, I like the Magic better. Stickman's review of the Prism and the Magic are spot on from my experience of paddling them both. He is also correct that the Prism can be a bear in certain wind-wave conditions, but he is also correct that the Prism is better suited for loading up with gear over the other two boats. The Magic is quicker and more maneuverable, but I didn't find that it needed constant stroke corrections to track straight. I picked up a Prism used to use as a solo fishing platform and because it is also an ease to portage into back ponds and it seems to shine for that. If I were looking for just one boat to do it all and had the cash, I would pick the Magic, but for my more specific needs and the price, I am not disappointed in the Prism except if I have to do big open wind crossings.

I own a kevlar Prism and glass Magic

– Last Updated: Jul-05-09 7:38 PM EST –

One thought though...some here who own Magics have cut the seat drops to turn the boat into a kneeling platform. We were on a weekend outing with 6 or 7 Magics and none had the same drops...Here's a magic and your Magic(Wes's old Magic) are sister boats with serial numbers 1 digit off. They were ordered from Bell by the same shop by N.T. Unfortunatly for me. the previous owner of mined did this boat no justice. He left it sitting out side for 3 yrs with no protection. My gel coat is extremely faded and the wood was in pisspoor condition. However, since he never used it, the interior was mint. Mine came with a Nashwaak cherry paddle as wellas a BB special for $800. Now, unlike my Valley yaks, I'm not so anal about bumps and scrapes..makes for a more pleasant time..

My short experience with the Magic so far has seriously impressed me with its performance in the wind. To m it is extremely neutral in the wind.

I agree about not understanding a previous post where someone had said it was hard to handle in wind…think it was one that was comparing the Magic and the Merlin. Poster said that the Magic was a handful. I completely disagree and have owned both boats. The Merlin is quite neutral in the wind, but the Magic is truly superb in my opinion. It also seems fairly seaworthy in wind waves, although not quite as much as the Merlin…but a lot faster than the merlin for sure.

Maybe the Magic is best for me. I really do like /need a boat that paddles well in wind and waves. Where I paddle is often windy and there is a good amount of fetch. I like padding on rough water days. Would not like to have to sit it out because the boat sucks in the wind.


Have only demoed a Prism…(empty)

– Last Updated: Jul-06-09 12:20 AM EST –

I really like both Magic and Prism's lines/specs.
Only demoed the Prism(empty) on a calm late morning..need to paddle one in a breeze..with any height chop/waves.
Early mornings are priceless but I usually seek out some sort of moderate breeze, especially on those balmy summer days...and the Advantage I owned just had too little of an envelope..stability-wise. I never start a paddling day looking for something in particular, at least not when up here in northern Maine.
Used to carry ~50lbs with me in the Magic = thought it didn't lose an inch or hardly any effort to an empty boat...I've been around 175-185lbs.
I think there are always going to be just has to make his/her priorities, then lays down the cash/plastic for the one that satisfies those priorities and makes you smile the most. That's why more than a few paddlers own more than one canoe.


Magic Vs Voyager early impressions
I’ve currently got one of each. I’ve only paddled each a few times so far so these are not my final take by any stretch.

I am 5’8" and go roughly 180 lbs.

For day tripping the Magic is sized perfectly. Seems quite happy when a breeze comes up. In similar conditions the Voyager feels too big. The breeze pushes it around more than I crare for.

I don’t own a gps so this is all subjective but the Voyager feels significantly faster. It’s pretty good at catching waves. It also feels like it takes more muscle to keep it going at cruising speed than the Magic.

It’s tough work but I’ll keep paddling these two and the Independence at least until I come up with more firm opinions.


Limited time in Prism
on a choppy lake with one to two footers…had a devil of a time turning from going upwind to down with an ampty boat.

It flies both up and down but that transition was a bear.

Advantage kneels and heels pretty well,
at least is does for this relatively small paddler - 5’6" and 155 lbs.

I had mine out today and kneeling control is pretty good, because the upper hull is against the thighs and provides good bracing with the knees in the bilge along side the frame for the sliding seat.

I have the smaller kevlar seat.

I agree with everyone else that the Magic handles wind and waves more easily. I test paddled one last fall the same day that I bought the used Advantage and paddled them one after the other in some mild winds with some chop and boat wakes - both from a sitting position only - and the Magic seemed more confidence inspiring and comfortable in the boat wakes.