Manitou as fast as a Capella RM?

I’ve got a Necky Manitou 13 that I bought last June that I typically paddle about 3.5-4 mph when getting a workout. This weekend I am demo’ing a P&H Capella 166 RM as I’m think about getting a larger kayak. On my first outing, my average speed in the Capella was nearly the same (3.95 mph vs 3.8 mph) as I paddled my Manitou on the same route (5 miles) a few weeks ago. I expected the Capella to be much faster but it didn’t feel any faster at all, which was borne out by my average speed. The Capella is a much nicer boat and more sea worthy, with 3 hatches, front and rear bulkheads, better seat, etc. Is the Capella slow for a kayak its size (16’7") or was it just me?

At those speeds…
There is not a whole lot of difference. The longer Capella has the potential of going faster if the motor has the potential of making it go faster.


Good Question
I own both a 16’9" Folbot Cooper and a 12’6" Warren Little Wing. I can paddle both comfortably at the speeds that you describe (3.8-4.0 mph). A fast (workout) cruise speed for me in the Cooper is 4.3-4.4 mph vs. 4.1-4.2 in teh Cooper, so yes, the longer boat is slightly faster. We both are probably not the fastest paddlers, but many others on this forum seem to paddle in the range or 3.5-4.0 mph.

A longer boat has a higher hull speed, but only if you have the power to push it to that speed and maintain that speed. You should be able to push the longer boat to a faster ‘sprint’ speed for a very short distance. Most of us simply do not have the muscle to travel long distances much faster than 3.5-4.0 mph. Tha is why I prefer paddling my shorther boat - I normally do not derive much benefit from paddling the longer boat unless I need the room for gear.

Thanks for the link to the article. It bears out what I experienced today. My 13’ Necky seems to accelerate more quickly up to speed, but the 16’ Capella seems to hold the top speed a little easier.

For some reason, I thought longer boats were simply faster. Oh well, back to work on my stroke. Actually, my main reason for wanting a larger boat is to gain the extra hatches and bulkheads, making it more useful and safer for coastal trips.

The Capella is really well-made boat with lots of nice features. However, paddling it also makes me appreciate the little Necky a lot more. It has been a fun little boat and I will miss it if I buy the Capella. It’s also very easy to transport since it’s so light.

Not at all more seaworthy!

– Last Updated: Jun-15-09 3:24 PM EST –

Provided added flotation is installed Your M13 will handle HUGE seas! Designed by a world record holding designer it is an awesome little boat.
Your findings around speed for average cruising will suprise NO designer, only consumers.

Good for you for posting "reality". We need more of that around this site.

The Capella is off the shelf more suited to off shore paddling due to the bulkhead issue.

well said

The manitou IS slower!
You’ll never get the top speed out of the manitou that you can get from the capella. But the manitou might actually take less power than the capella to go 3.8 mph. Get a racer to test your boats and sprinting speeds and see which one has a better top speed on the gps. One will go almost 6 mph and the other will go about 5.4 mph.

I have a boat that can go 5.7 and I can keep it there for about 100 yards. It doesn’t mean a thing because this boat is harder to keep at 4 mph than many other boats.

Top speed depends.
Since your giving numbers for OP’s kayaks (and adding sprint speeds to the mix) I’ll assume they are hull speeds. HS can make for a handy comparative figure, and is an interesting bit of wave physics, but hull speeds aren’t top speeds for small narrow craft. Math doesn’t determine that, the paddler does.

Salty’s right as usual about most folks being in too long kayak/too speed obsessed relative to their needs/uses, but flipside of that is most folks are averaging 3 knots on mild waters and anything works for that. Might as well drop any deadwood and not be in anything longer than needed if that’s your thing - and have easier maneuvering and less to fight in wind (depending on freeboard/sail area) and likely enjoy it more if you do get in some fun stuff.

If OP were doing 4-4.5 workouts a difference would be felt. If doing 4.5 to 5 or above consistent pace - time to shop again as the Capella will be taxing. All relative.

These faster than X at same speed threads remind me of the question: What’s heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? A ton’s a ton, and 3 kts is 3 knots. Most kayaks are within ounces of each other for total drag at 3 knots - and not significant enough to bother factoring into kayak selection until speeds of 4 knots, 5 knots, or more over distance are desired. Then the difference can be much larger.

RM 160
The capella 160 RM is the slowest kayak I’ve ever owned. I was very disapointed in it.

It’s just to flexible. Especialy behind the cockpit is a weak point.

The flexibility absorbes a lot of energy.

speed comparisons among slow boats
Good accurate discussion here. I wonder if your Capella (F) was a bad one. Poly boats can be weird out of the tooling and you may have had a faulty one.

But the speed thing. Why do people so focused on “speed” buy any of these boats when the real world speeds, Potential, or otherwise are so close?

Get fit and buy a design focused on forward speed / efficiency and less play.

yeah, it’s you
you picked two good kayaks. The Manitou is a great 13’ kayak and you discovered something everyone figures out,to go faster you have to put out more effort and a long boat doesn’t go faster with the same effort.

A kayaks top speed isn’t the hull speed? How? Wouldn’t I need a much higher level of power to plane it? I’m not trying to be snide I’m just trying to understand the math here.

Greyak and Salty are right on
I own both a Capella RM 166 and a Foster Shadow. Although the Shadow is a foot longer, I find that I paddle both boats at pretty much the same speed.

My paddling companions and I typically average speeds of 3.5 - 4.5 knots (4-5 mph) depending on conditions and/or our mood on any given day.

I don’t really notice any difference in effort between the two boats although the Shadow should have a higher hull speed based on a longer wetted length. This engine, just can’t power enough to see the difference.

Neither of my two touring boats are noted as speed demons, but hey, if I really was into speed, I’d probably be on a jet ski.

Kayaks don’t plane …
… under human power (only surfing).

Hull Speed formula calculates one thing and one thing only: The point where the wavelength generated equals the waterline length (SQRT LWL [ft] x 1.34) = HS in knots). It’s generally pretty well up the drag curve slope so typically means a good deal of effort. Going faster means a great deal of effort (exponentially). Certainly a point of rapidly diminishing return for effort, but not a top limit to speed.

For simplicity lets call “Hull Speed” S/L 1.34. Few paddlers hold that speed in their kayaks, but a lot of paddlers can get there, and nearly all can get above it briefly in a sprint. Elite level paddlers (Olympic K1 caliber) routinely hit speeds that work out to S/L 2.0 to 2.2+ (over 165% of HS). Still, none of them are planing.

Personal example with my QCC700 for perspective:

LWL= 17.55’ so it’s Hull Speed is 5.6 kt/6.5 mph

I typically cruise at 4.35kt/5.0mph average over distances of 10-15 miles - which is roughly S/L 1.04 - or 78% of hull speed. On a good day I can sprint it to near 7 kt/8 mph which is S/L 1.65 - or 124% of hull speed. I am neither very fit nor a remarkable paddler. There are several on this board who can hold 5.2kt/6.0mph (S/L 1.24/92% HS), over distance and sprint a good bit higher than I can as well (more like S/L 1.85/138% HS), and they would not consider themselves near and elite paddler like Barton who routinely exceeds these numbers in his EPIC 18 with similar numbers (though LWL being the nearly the same doesn’t tell the story with the hulls as there are MANY other factors that alter the drag).

Point being not only is it possible to exceed hull speed in a kayak it’s done every day.

The realm above Hull Speed that is attainable (though briefly for most) is “semi-planing” AKA “semi-displacement” mode, it is a transitional area, where displacement begins to be offset by hydrodynamic (lift) forces and back, but is not planing (think we’d be closer to S/L 3 for that transition, but that number is not a one value fits all craft relationship, like HS’s 1.34 to wavelength relationship, and some say that varies too, so I’ll leave that for the naval engineering types crazy enough to get into this with paddlers).

In other words, these zones are about displacement. At a dead stop your displacement is what it is (mass of displaced water = mass of you/kayak/gear). As speed increases up to 1.34 (displacement mode) the displacement increases (you get sucked downward - usually evidenced as the infamous “stern squat” which - as Winters says - is a symptom of speed and not a hindrance). Above S/L 1.34 this begins to reverse and at some point gets back to same as static displacement (hence the “semi” terminology - some lift is there, and that counteracts the suck, but isn’t lifting the hull onto plane either). To get into true planing - where the hydrodynamic forces providing serious lift - takes serious power and the power to speed calcs follow different rules (again, talk to naval engineers for specifics). Suffice it to say that ain’t gonna happen under paddle power.

Since so few paddlers operate in this HS+ zone for long it’s generally not worth getting into in detail. Typical touring and sea kayaks aren’t designed to be efficient in this speed zone, and even if they are (kayaks like Epic 18x, WSBS EFT/Tbolt, surf skis, K1s) it still takes a pretty seriously fit paddler to get there and stay there. Even a decent (but not elite) guy on 21’ ft ski typically is only doing around 6kt/7mph over distance on flat water - which is still a bit short of HS. Don’t need 21’ to do that, but you do need it to ride the bumps efficiently at higher speeds (what they’re made for!). Anyway…

Depending on hull/use - speeds around 60% to 80% of HS is what paddlers should be concerned with IMO as that roughly translates into cruising speeds that can be maintained aerobically by average paddlers. The lower end for typical touring, the upper end for more energetic workout/longer race paces (not sprints). This is where designers are more likely look at the overall efficiency of touring/sea kayak hulls.

For a Manitou 13 that works out (w. est. 11.6’ LWL) a range from 2.75kt/3.16 easy cruising to 3.65 kt/4.0mph at harder (but not sprint) pace. For a Capella (poly - 14.42’ LWL) that works out to a range from 3 kts/3.45mph cruising to 4 kt/4.6mph at hard (but not sprint) pace. Sounds like OP’s workouts are inbetween (70-75% HS), and when you factor in the lower wetted surface of the Manitou - it gets you real close to a wash at those speeds. At just another 10-15%/0.5kt - gets to be a different deal (but then also maybe time for something faster than a Capella).

The reality check for me was…
… finding I was only averaging 1/4 mph faster in a QCC 700 than I’d been doing on a Tarpon 160! Tarpon was at/near the wall though, while 700 has a lot more potential if I’d shed some ballast and work on the motor…

Well I went on a much longer paddle today in the Capella, about 15 miles, and it definitely felt better than my Manitou at extended distances. With my Manitou the seat starts getting uncomfortable after an hour or so, but the Capella’s seat was still comfortable after 4-5 hours on the water. The Capella also felt like it took less effort to sustain a steady pace. However, my impressions of the Manitou have improved after paddling the Capella for a while because it actually compares pretty favorably in speed and handling, despite the lack of storage and a front bulkhead.

i’m out

Final thought

– Last Updated: Jun-15-09 1:55 PM EST –

I'd much rather paddle the Capella, even though the Manitou, for what it is, is excellent. The silly focus on speed leaves the real stuff unaddressed. Capella is a fun playful sea touring boat, while the Manitou is a recreational transitional boat with great ability for such a category.

So, yeah, for the average unfit paddler a longer hull won't add value, BUT, I think we can't swing too far away from the reality that for fit paddlers long allows for more capability for sprinting, fighting current, catching swell etc.

There's a balance in all this. As much as I respect the M13, for me the Capella would be a much better all round choice.

real stuff
a 62 yr old friend paddles an Extreme about three times a week year round,that means he paddles about five times a week in the summer. Anyway a couple years ago we took a couple of Manitou 13 out to a particular channel marker to see the sunset and paddle back. Had the best time.