Need for speed !

Hopefully some of you canoe racers, or others can answer a question or two:

  1. Which would be faster, a hull with a gloss finish, or a hull with a matt finish ?

    I recently redid the bottom of our C-2. It is clear Epoxy.

    The original finish was a high gloss, but my finish is more of a matt one after my light sanding job.

  2. if the answer is high gloss, should I use a wax or some other method to get it to a high gloss.

  3. If the answer is a wax, what kind would you recommend.

    Thanks in advance,


Used to be
That for small sailboats, the best finish was to wet sand in the direction of water flow with 400-600 grit paper. The idea was to have a finish that would sheet when you poured water on it, not bead.

Probably obsolete now…

Before looking at who posted i was going to say ask Jack L

Could Still Be
Pro bass fishermen run their new glitter boats over a sandbar creating microgrooves in the hull to channel the water and make 'em faster.

I also heard from some racers that slick finishes on a canoe bottom, such as 409 or rain-ex actually slows the boat. As the canoe pushes thru the water, small microgrooves give the water someplace to go, rather than being forced aside by the hull.

It should improve your speed by 0.001%, but make a more significant difference on your endurance since you won’t be working as hard to move the boat.

ericnyre did some coasting tests that
suggested, at least to me, that the effect of finish may be speed sensitive. At higher speeds, naval studies indicate that matte or textured surfaces are faster, but at low speeds, below about 5 knots, I have not seen objective data to settle the issue.

Let’s face it, mostly we paddle at rather low speeds. Rowing shells and flatwater racing kayaks may be the only boats that go fast enough to benefit from matte finish.

Just found these

– Last Updated: Aug-08-07 12:38 PM EST –

Not up North
the big debate among Adirondack racers is not matte vs. gloss, but bear grease vs STP to keep the black flies from grabbing hold and flying off with your canoe.

Jack it doesn’t matter. There are only two boats in your age group. You only have to be faster than the slowest boat in your class to win.


Correct me if I am wrong
(what a stupid thing to say - of course you all will correct me!)

I was under the impression that wet-sanding a hull caused a super-thin layer of water to adhere to the surface. Water sliding against water is very slick - no surface tension.

A waxed or otherwise treated hull has higher surface tension because water will not stick to the surface. Anyhoo, that is the way Cliff Claven explained it.


Get it as smooth as poss Jack,
wax to protect it but don’t wax it yet if you are thinking you will be doing some more work on it. Rolled, brushed, sprayed epoxy is not the best thing to get the ultimate smooth surface unless it is done in mold. Let it cure as hard as possible Jack and smooth out once you Do do this you sort of ‘open the grain’ of the surface and you will probably have to fill all the little micro pukas … some guys just let the wax do this or the grim / slime from the water will do it eventually … not pretty. … this is what I was talking about before … call me if you want.

Q: Have you considered painting it ? Just wondering as you surface is ready for it once you get it real nice and smooth.

It doesn’t matter
If the finish is gloss, matte or flat.

Those only matter to the eye. Smoothness does. Flat can be as smooth and sleek as gloss.

One of these days I’m gonna but a flat black QCC 700 and sneek up on you racers.


I am always looking at

– Last Updated: Aug-08-07 7:33 PM EST –

those younger racers. At least the next class down.
It always feels good when you finish in the top quarter or half of the "kids" class


PS: a couple of years ago there were four and needless to say we got a fourth. Evidently the faster ones are dying off.

I am printing them all and will see what I can come up with.


Thanks Pat
Yes, there are still a few spots that almost seem slightly sticky, so I would not do anything until everything is 100 percent hard as a rock.