hull speed variables

Question. Looking at the race results for an 11 miler my daughter and I paddle, our times over the last three years for this canal race were very close. First two years we used a 63# f/g MR Malecite, 16’3"…2:29 and 2:32. This year we ran a Wenonah whitewater X, 18.5’ at 43 #. Time was 2:31. Trim was bow high due to our weight difference. With this lighter, longer boat I would have figured a significantly improved time over the malecite. A jensen 17 or 18, had a 5 minute quicker time with 2 adults. A thwart snapped about 150 yards into the first portage as I was running the portage. Figured we lost a couple of minutes as we both now had to carry and negotiate 3 steep put ins. Figure being bow high lost us a few more minutes over the course. Same bent shaft paddles used, physical condition consistent. Good form compared to other paddlers. We came in 4th. 2nd place the race before that. Any thoughts as to why the two different hulls seemed to net the same times?

I’m not a flatwater racer, but in my
experience with long, “fast” hulls, they need to be trimmed level (some teams may even trim a tiny shade bow down) to realize the potential speed advantage. Otherwise, you just have more wetted area with the Wenonah than you had with the Malecite, and the Wenonah hull is trying to run uphill against the broad expanse of its underside because it is trimmed bow up.

I suggest you reposition the seats to get the Wenonah trimmed level, then see how it feels.

I remember that when we finally got our old 18.5 LaBrant/Moore supercanoe trimmed dead level, it was amazing what a difference it made. Same is true for our Bluewater Chippewa, which is more like a Malecite… not a fast boat, but when trimmed level, faster by a good bit.

hmmmm. Its hard to say but being such a short race, I dont think its a good indicator etc. Add a few more hours of paddling and things may have been different.

A few things to consider if you want to knock off more minutes.

That Jensen 18 is one very fast boat. Origially designed for racing by the late Gene Jensen and if paddled correctly is much faster than the two hulls you paddled.

Drop a few minutes by: The big boy i.e you should be paddling in the bow! The strength of any team should be placed in the front. That right there would knock off a few minutes. Its easier to pull a boat through the water than to push it…so get up front!

Trim the boat slightly bow heavy , say a 1/2 inch or about because a moveing boat rises in the bow when paddled so if you are slightly bow heavy the bow will actually be level with the water when moving.

Also get Peter Heeds book, Canoe Racing at Amazon to learn more about it and knock off your times.


hmm are double bladed canoe paddles allowed in the race?? ya’ll would just fly with double blades!! how about inuit style double blades? I met a dude on the Lower Mississippi who used a homemade inuit style paddle w his yak and man oh man he could do circles around all of of us (2 canoes and a yak) from a distance it looked like he was paddling with a 2x4 lol… think it had something to do with using your large muscle groups more instead of small muscle groups.

Agree with Norm
an 18 foot Jensen designed hull should be level at cruiseing speed. At rest you would be slightly bow down. When you hit the suck water and the stern wants to squat slide forward to keep it level.( unless your seats are locked in place from too much fat, then you are goining to lose anyway)

single-blade paddles require using large muscle groups as well for efficient paddlers. i’m guessing that guy could out paddle you in pretty much anything.

hull speed
Thanks for your suggestions. The bow high trim then probably had the greatest impact. We have front and rear sliders and they were maxed. I rigged the rear to go 4" beyond max forward adjustment. Weight diff about 110 /220. Big guy in the bow theory was tried. Weight loss and or slider surgery would be in order. Don’t know if 10 lbs will do it. Appreciate your thoughts.

Races are won on water, lost on carries
The Whitewater X is a big volume canoe that will tolerate bigger differences in trim than your Malecite. The time you lost on the multiple carries with the broken yoke hurt your time much more on the relatively short race. The Whitewater X on a 12 mile course with no carries should be in the 1:40 to 1:45 range with normal paddlers.

The big person in front is good strategy if the boat can be trimmed level and the smaller paddler is capable of steering a straight course without ruddering. Too bow heavy is much worse than too bow light. The tracking loss is much more detrimental to speed than the added friction of running slightly bow light.

The Whitewater X vs an 18 Jensen is not too big a gap in speed. The bigger drawback to the WWX is the deep flared bow being a big wind catcher on the open water with a light bow paddler. The WWX like the Minnesota II is a descendent of the Whitewater II and nearly alike at the waterline.

On technique for trimming your big weight difference is to use a temporary ballast behind the light bow paddler. Some foam blocks glued into the hull to locate a five gallon bucket can help. Use a pail with an easily removeable lid and fill it with water. You can dump it at each takeout and refill quickly at the put-in. You pick up around 42# of ballast this way and don’t have anything more than an empty bucket to carry over the portage.