bell wildfire vs super nova

i was hoping someone here could help me out! im thinking about buying my first solo boat, Im 6-1, 265 lbs and an average paddler. Im looking for a "all purpose " boat if thats possible.Im very interested in the bell wildfire and the supernova.I can try the wildfire but not the super nova. i paddle on small streams and bays of upstate ny but lake ontario is only 3 miles away!

Again thaks for the help !! Peter

Bell Wildfire …

– Last Updated: May-20-04 7:15 PM EST –

Bell says: Optimum load for a Wildfire is 160 to 280 lbs. I am 6'4"/198 lb.; I don't have any problems with my Wildfire(love it), but you have over 65 lbs on me. Strongly suggest you give it a good paddle before you buy one; I don't think it's the boat you're looking for; especially if you're going to carry any gear at all. I would not want to spend "any" time out on a windy lake with a Wildfire either. As far as I'm concerned; the place where a Wildfire really shines is playing around on a class 2 river, eddy turning, peeling out, dodging a few boulders, ferrying, surfing, just playing & having fun. No problem for me to put everything in it but the kitchen sink & go out for an overnight or multi-night trip; there again, you have over 65 pounds on me! Based on what little I know about Lake Ontario; I think you'd better have some good self rescue skills if you plan on paddling around in a Wildfire on Lake Ontario, or any large lake for that matter.
Only paddled a SuperNova once; don't feel like I can offer a valid opinion on that boat.
I view it as a very responsive, multi purpose, wilderness tripping boat.
I suggest you make an attempt to find, and paddle a Mad River Guide (aka Freedom) before you buy either boats you noted. It might serve your purpose better than a Wildfire, or a Supernova. I base this opinion on having paddled a Guide for over 6 years.

Good luck,

P.S. If possible, get into a Mohawk Odyssey 14, and a Mohawk Solo 14 too.

The load capacity of a Supernova is tagged at 850 lbs. I’m 6’1 and 265…yeah yeah yeah…I’m working on the weight, but I’m big boned :slight_smile: …anywhoo…the Supernova is by far my favorite “all purpose” boat. Today I just purchased a Whitesell WW boat, it eats class IV, but that’s NOT what you’re doing. For rivers, small streams, lakes and general solo paddling… the Supernova is a GREAT boat.

I’ve never met a “cross over” boat I liked (Tripper vs WW) so I refuse to call this a cross over…it’s too good for that :slight_smile: You’ll have to get used to the idea that there is NO initial stability…if you swim out of this boat it will be at the dock, getting in or out…but the secondary stability is bomb proof, and it surfs better than any kayak I’ve ever paddled.

For what it’s worth… I’ve had the Supernova in Shoshone lake in Yellowstone park… large flatwater lake paddling…but you need to manuever the Lewis Channel to get there and back. It tripped wonderfully, fully loaded without hesitation. I’ve also had the boat through some nice Class II+ on the Snake River and wouldn’t hesitate to run her through class III (that’s this weekend :slight_smile: )

You might try emailing Nova Craft in New London, Ontario and see if they can tell you of a dealer that will let you do a test drive. Nova Craft is a small company and the distributers may be “hidden” from view. The guy that handles the boats in our area warehouses them outside of small rural town… but he had almost 30 boats in stock!! It would be worth checking.

Good Luck

Supernova probably best

– Last Updated: May-20-04 7:52 PM EST –

I'd recommend the Supernova. Both are nice boats, but the Supernova will give you a bit more capacity than the Wildfire.

Novacraft lists their dealers on their website so it shouldn't be too hard to find one.

I will add one more

– Last Updated: May-20-04 8:37 PM EST –

and suggest a road tour first to Novacraft and then to Swift. They make a sixteen footer , the Shearwater for wilderness touring. It has some more capacity that the Supernova. I think the Wildfire is a little too small especially if you have any gear. Have you called the dealers for Nova Craft in Ithaca or Winterport? They do sell in the US

Fellow big guy
As another large paddler who happens to own a Supernova. I would hesitate getting the Wildfire. I haven’t paddled the Wildfire, but I did paddle the Merlin. The Merlin felt small to me. It was fine when kneeling, but when setting on the seat it was not comfortable, my calves hit the gunnels in an uncomfortable manner. I feel the Wildfire would be same, or possibly worse since it is smaller.

If you look at the boats side by side you can easily see the huge volume difference of the Supernova to the Wildfire. I easily recommend the Supernova for us “bigger” paddlers.

A friend of mine, about our size paddles a Mohawk Solo 14. He likes it very much, but after running the Buffalo I watched them take water over the gunnels in waves where I went through dry. If you are going to be in taller waves, the higher freeboard of the Supernova is very nice.

weight worries
i’m always cautious about a boat’s listed capacity. bell’s seem pretty accurate. other companies, however, will list how much gear a canoe can hold and still stay afloat on flat water. i’d never recommend anyone put 800 pounds in a traditional solo canoe. that’s a crazy amount of weight. i’d definitely paddle the wildfire a lot before purchasing. i don’t think the merlin offers any more capacity. maybe you could find a smaller tandem and put a solo seat in it. that would give you more volume.

Too many boats in my fleet…
In addition to the Supernova and Whitesell I also have a Mohawk XL13 and a 16 foot Prospector. I still recomend the Supernova as your boat of choice for what you’ve desribed.

If you like the Mohawk name…rip out the seat that comes with the Supernova and install a Mohawk saddle :slight_smile: It makes a real comfortable boat… but the kneeling/sitting argument is beyond the scope of this thread :slight_smile:

I have a Wildfire,
I am 5’11" / 215 lbs, and own a composite Wildfire that I bought used 4 years ago. I knew the minute I got in it that I would love it for day-paddling and playing around, but I thought it might be too small for me to use for canoe tripping, being used to larger canoes, like Swift’s Osprey and Shearwater. The Wildfire is incredibly responsive, and while not out-right fast, it accelerates quickly, and is so light, it is a joy to carry, so I bought it anyway. I have since used it tripping numerous times, typically with ~50 lbs of gear, on moderate rivers, large and small lakes, in snow, high winds, waves, etc. and I have never regretted the choice.

I think this is one of the absolute best all-around solos there is. There are lots of specialized canoes that are better at something, but few that can do nearly everything pretty well like the Wildfire.

And is is also a great-looking boat, which is a bonus.