Matching speed between two canoes

I’m part of a five-person team for an upcoming adventure race and we’re looking for some advice on how to best divide teammates to match paddling speed in two canoes. The paddling will be about 2-4 hours total on flat water.

We have a 17’ Wenonah Sundowner (Royalex with three seats) as one of our canoes. Our second canoe will be a slower design…either a borrowed Old Town Discovery 158 or a rental canoe (unknown type, but probably slow and stable).

Based on your expertise, to best match speeds do you think it’s better to (a) Put the two strongest paddlers in the slow canoe and put the three remaining paddlers in the fast canoe or (b) Put one strong and one medium paddler in the fast canoe so we can put three people in the slow canoe (for the extra boost of having three “engines” in that canoe (assuming there’s room for three people)) or © Some other arrangement altogether?

Any input you can provide is helpful and appreciated! We most likely won’t have a chance to practice before the race, so we’d like to take our best shot at dividing up the team properly.



The OT Disco is a slug !
Put the two fast guys in it and the three slow guys in the Sundowner.

What ever you do, don’t put three paddlers in the Discovery. It will crawl


Can you tow the slow canoe?
Can you put the three fastest in the fast canoe and tow the two slowest?

If you want to race get yourself some faster boats or don’t waste your time. You will be left in the wake of longer faster boats. Length means speed, and find a boat with a beam of 34 inches or less.

Thanks for the responses so far!

I like the idea of towing, but without the ability to practice together ahead of time, I think we would possibly spend more time messing with the tow rope than it would save.

The Sundowner is reasonably fast, but buying another boat to replace the Discovery is not an option for us right now. Any suggestions for the best way to find a “reasonably fast” canoe to rent?

Otherwise, we’re stuck with trying to optimize our speed given the restriction of using these two boats.



Perhaps renting is an option for the day

speedier canoe
I suspect any 17’ aluminum rental canoe is faster than the 158. Alumacraft or Grumman would be reasonable choices if their are options.

rent if you’re serious competitors
You need a kevlar Minnesota II and a Minn III. The two best paddlers should be the bow men in each boat unless their weights throw off the trim. But most Minns come with sliding bow seats for that very purpose…