My first race

I participated in my first race Saturday and am now daydreaming of my next boat purchase. I was an up and back. I did the 6 mile. The kayak classes were 12’ and under, and over 12’. At 12.5’ my Dagger Blackwater put me in the more competitive class. I used my Werner Sherpa paddle and had an official time of 1:17:16. Feeling pretty good about beating my goal of 1:20. Came in second to guy paddling a Stellar 16s surfski. Looking forward to doing another one soon. This was a pretty small field of racers so no idea how that result compares to a larger sample size of paddlers. I’d appreciate feedback from those here with race experience, based on time/equipment how did I do?

This wannabe racer thinks you did pretty good. What surfski are you looking at? The Epics seem pretty hard to beat in price.

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surfski is what I got beat by, I’m leaning towards a kayak that will accept a skirt. I’m ways away from a purchase but researching all the types and classes. I want it to be a long term purchase and not an inbetween type buy. I also recognize that investing in a quality wing paddle will make a difference. so many things to burn my small amount of cash on. :slight_smile:

Surfskis can vary a lot in terms of speed and stability. Most are SOTs and will not take a skirt. The fastest ones are not stable at all unless being paddled or if you let your legs dangle in the water. Epic makes a wide range of them. The more stable ones can be used as an everyday kayak with practice, but most people, unless determined to primarily race, choose a fast standard sit-in kayak. The Epic 18X is an example of this.

Most races have a variety of classes, both for the boats and paddlers. Unless you are determined to be the fastest overall, you have a wide range of boats to choose from to win in a class. Some races will list not only the name of the winners in each class, but tell you what they are paddling. You can also observe for yourself or ask the people who are racing in the class that you might be interested in. The boat is only half of the equation. The paddler in terms of conditioning and technique are the other half.

A wing paddle is designed for a more efficient forward stroke if used with the proper technique. Euro or Greenland paddles are more versatile, especially when using the backside of the paddle for various other strokes or bracing.


Thanks for all that info. I have pretty good balance and I’m thinking kayak that’s just barely stable enough to occasionally relax and enjoy the scenery.

I have an acquaintance that is more into “collecting hardware” (medals and trophies) than going with the true spirit of racing. She brings a variety of boats to a race and signs up at the last minute looking for a class that she can race in that has few or no other entrants to increase her odds of winning.

May she be encrusted with barnacles!

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@Josh_76116, if my math is right, you’re average speed is about 4.68 mph. That’s not bad for a 12 ft boat. Stepping up to a similar boat with a 14 ft waterline would probably push your average speed to over 5.0 mph.

I agree with the comments above that seem to mirror your sentiment: do you wa t to win races or simply improve and enjoy the experience.

Another member of the forum does fairly well in a boat that isn’t noted for speed. He considered buying a faster boat and asked my opinion. All I could say was that I was impressed by how fast he could paddle a slow boat, and I wondered if I’d be equally impressed if he paddled a fast boat faster.

If you like your rig, keep using it and work on technique.

How many races are you going to run? What will you do with the hull the rest of the year? Do you want a hull and paddle just for racing? Get a thin sea kayak say 21" and you can be fast at a race and fast for pleasure. How classes are made is very important if you want to win. Your budget is?

Congrats Josh, it sounds like you did very well. Maintaining 4.7 mph for 6 miles in a 12.5 foot boat is respectable any way you look at it.

Theoretical hull speed is 1.34*√waterline so about 4.7 mph for your boat and 5.4 for the 16 foot Stellar. I think there are many factors affecting boat+paddler performance but that Stellar should be more than 10% faster than your boat so you could also check the time of the Stellar because if it isn’t 10% better than yours you may be the more powerful paddler


Josh did great for his first race. The Trinity River Challenge rec race is 6 miles, 3 upstream and then back and he took second place in his division and third overall out of 15 rec entries. Not too shabby for a rookie. Only other entry that beat him was a guy on a paddle board.

The pro race was 12 miles up and back and many of those surf skis and racing boats Josh mentioned did the 12 miles in well under 2 hours.

Glad to see Josh come out. We need some “young blood” out there. 60% of the participants out there Saturday were over 50.


He was Tom, the 16’ Stellar paddler was about 60 and it was his first race after some shoulder surgery.

Speeds were good, especially for a 125 rec boat, with a heavy paddle.

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Great time for that class of boat. As others said, something in the 21-22" sea kayak class like an Epic 18x would suit you well. I believe the 18x has the same hull as the V8. Its also 18’ which is commonly the upper limit of some boat classes.

For pure speed and enjoyment surfski cant be beat. Once you master stability even an 18" boat is relatively stable. But they dont carry anything, so if you want carrying capacity, the 18x, V7, or some Nordic Kayaks offer hatches. Out of production now i think, but the QCC 700 was also a popular fast SIK as are some of the longer Valley boats.


I might bug the shop to let me try that gray Falcon.

Did you take any pictures?

Thanks for all the input, really appreciate it. The event was a great introduction the world of friendly racing. My take away as far as my next boat goes is to get the boat I think will be most fun and just race in it in whatever class it happens to fall in. Things I want from my next boat are something that has some glide and that I will enable me cover a lot more miles. Got to have the budget conversation with the wife and then I can start scouring Facebook and Craigslist. I’m trying to figure out how to explain to her why I need more boats :grin:. Also, it feels really good to be referred tas on of the young guys on my birthday.

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Thanks the encouragement

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Race pics link might be posted on below website whenever paddlinpals uploads them. Last years pics link is there.


If it’s a “go”, now is the time to regularly check in on local craigslists and others. As summer is drawing closed, lots of interesting boats are showing up. Here is a fast boat that is about 1/3 of the retail price. Unfortunately, it is way, way out of your area:

But, others can be found with patience. Breath deep and repeat, “patience…”


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congrats Josh it sounds like you have been bit by the racing bug!


I have not had time to post official results and photos yet (pesky job). They should be up later this week.

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