New Canoe Team

I have a new 4 person team with little to no experence, that are going to train for a 3 day race next September… We are all in our mid 20s and in decent shape.

Questions include boat- what can we use? I would like to buy 1 boat and have it used in practice and on the race if possible. would like to spend less than $1500. I do not expect to have top of the line or new. I have been able to find used Minnesota 4 from Wenonah, but out of my price range. I can find the Minnesota 3 used in the range of 1000-1400.

First question can you add a temperary seat to the Minnesota 3 to race with 4 people?

Second question could you race the Minnesota 3 with two paddlers in a different race? If so will you suck because you have a slighly longer boat?

Third question- do you just tie this monster to your roof rack with a canoe strap? Or do you need to have a trailer. My small SUV is a bit over 15’ long, not sure rules on driving with a 20’ canoe ontop.

I do want to buy and not rent. I do want to use the same boat for a variety of races if possible.

Please let me know,


C-4 Class
From 6 years experience in the C-4 class in that 3 day race, i will try to answer your questions.

Q1- Yes. you can add a 4th seat to a Minnesota III. the qualifier is your team weight. If average weight is under 160# no problem, you are ideal.If over 160, but under 220#, the Minnesota IV is the better boat, If over 220# per paddler, find a Wenonah Seneca, or a 20’ Grumman War Canoe.

Q2- No. Maximum length for a tandem canoe is 18’6" in almost all races. The Texas Water Safari is an exception and their might be others.

Q3-Not advisable. I haul the 23’ Minnesota IV on my Saturn VUE. It has Yakima bars at the front edge and rear of the roof bolted to the roof, with a long spread between. I use gunwale brackets to position the canoe and a bow rope Vee’d from each side of the hood to keep the bow of the canoe from pulling sideways at speed and in turbulence. Even with my long bar spread there is over 7 feet of canoe in front of the front bar. These long boats with high sides are not something you tie to the cross bars on a factory rack that are 3 to 4 feet apart and go barreling down the road. You need a method of solidly locating the gunwales on the crossbars to limit side to side movement. You need as long a spread between bars as possible; hopefully around 8-10 feet. And you need to secure the bow from side to side movement. And last, you need to secure the canoe to the crossbars to prevent fore and aft movement durng sudden stops and from the wind drag.

The Minnesota IV has around 10,000 miles on top the VUE going to and from races in the Adirondacka and as far south as Philadelphia. 500-750 mile round trips with no incidents so far. Several trips on a Volvo wagon also, long bar spread and good gunwale brackets on Peters’ Thule system.

Good luck and i hope we see your team in Old Forge next fall.


The year before last we raced a Minn 3
with the 4th seat added in the ADK 90 miler.

I bought the boat just for the race and sold it the year after the race.

Bill Miller above has answered all your questions and is a expert on the C-4’s as well as most of the other classes.

The only thing that I can add is if you are all fairly heavy, don’t do it. You would be much faster in a 4 person canoe.

Keep in mind that a longer water line translates to speed.

If you will only be getting it for that one race, you might want to rethink the situation and get a C-2 stock and that will give you lots of race options.

Most local races don’t have C-4 classs or c-3 classes

Jack L

other items
Trying to buy a $3000 list boat used for under $1500 is being very wishful. The Minnesota III and IV are only made in one layup, and only with aluminum trim.

You definitely want to train for the 90 Miler in the boat you will use. You need to work out your seating positions to the best trim and best paddling power combinations. The stern paddler needs to have lots of seat time with the other paddlers in a variety of water to learn how the canoe will handle.

The makeup of the team greatly influences the handling of the canoe. The tracking is influenced by the matching of the left and right side paddlers. The team weight influences the handling in waves.

Every year at the C-4 starts, each day there are dozens of near collisions between boats going very fast with no directional control. Lots of paddle horsepower wasted getting in each others way.

The last advice handed to me from an old sage. “Races are won on the water, and lost on the portages.” You will be carrying a long canoe with all your gear for over 3.5 miles; over varying terrain. Practice long and hard for your carries.


dang straight
I have watched my times improve (in relation to the fast teams) each year as I hone my anncillary skills.

Double carried a Jensen. next time I was in a stock tandem I used wheels. better. Next time I just cleaned and pressed the Minn2 and trotted off. Let my partner grab the paddles etc. Best times in a tandem.

In a War canoe I saw that the Plaidpaddlers concept of wheels was supierior. We were passing other war canoes on the portage… Practice practice practice

New dumb questions…
You said you raced with the 4th seat added, where do you get the 4th seat? is it just something you make up or does it actual bolt into the structure…

Generic question. If I have 1 girl and 3 guys how would you assign seating, does the heaviest guy sit in the back, and go lightest up to the front?

Thanks again.

The bow is the engine
Put the most powerful paddler up front.

Adding the seat

– Last Updated: Sep-22-10 2:19 PM EST –

You can make it yourself,(if you are handy) or buy them, and then install it. - think aluminum tubing and aluminum channels
Wenonanah sells sliding ones and fixed ones.
I made a sliding one for the rear of my Jensen C-2
You can bolt them in or use rivets.

On the placement of the various paddlers: in my estimation, in the c-4, it is more important to get the boat trim than have the power paddler in the bow.
If you're bow heavy, you will be zig zagging all over the lake.

Jack L

New Questions, never dumb to ask
For the 4th seat, get the wide web seat. Either the Wenonah model or a similar one from your local canoe shop. The seat gets mounted to aluminum angle fastened to the side of the hull. Duplicate the mounting for the third seat.

For the seating positions put your widest shouldered paddlers in seats 2 & 3. They are the seats at the widest part of the canoe and you need paddlers who can reach the water without sliding from side to side at each ‘hut’ command. Put a paddler who can keep a steady pace in the bow, everyone else keys off the bow paddler for cadence. The bow paddler needs to have good stroke skills, be able to do draws, posts, and bow rudders. Bringing around the bow on a 20’ canoe with little rocker requires a good bow paddler. We have used two women and 3 men at this position in various races.

You definitely want to be at level trim in a Minnesota III or just slightly light in the bow. We have a bubble level epoxied to the hull in front of the stern seat to check trim, its lots easier than leaning over the side to check draft marks on the bow and stern.

A Minnesota III catalogs at 55#. it will weigh more with the 4th seat and any padding you attach to the seats. Carry weight with 5 paddles, 4 PFD’s, 4 sets of hydration gear, and any extra clothing will be closer to 75#.