speed claims

there’s an interesting recent review here of the epic endurance 18 in which the reviewer mentions that oscar chalupski (10 time molokai champ) claims to have sprinted that boat to 11 mph. i have to admit i found that number a little high, assuming we are talking flatwater. i did a little math for the winner of the 2000 olympics 500m K1 sprint, just to get an idea about this, and came out with 9.5 mph average (500 m in 1.57.84). now i realize we are talking 500m vs the fastest time you could ever imagine, but i’m still a bit dubious.

other thoughts?


measured by GPS?
If he was measuring by GPS and there was a current, he might have made it up to 11mph.

Sounds like,
a paddler on this board that I’ll not name that said he does intervals, one mile in 4 minutes! that’s 15 miles an hour for a sustained distance, I think he was using a T-bolt or something comparable. Maybe I’m just slow as molasses, but that just sounds too steep a pace.


15 mph? haha

– Last Updated: May-27-04 2:27 PM EST –

i'd like to see any paddler keep up with my hobie 16 on a reach, smooth water, 12-15 kn wind, spray flying, windward hull flying. thats about 15 mph. or a sunfish broad reaching in 20 kn wind, smooth water, thats about 12 mph. spray flying and a flat wake, planed out.

well he is one big dude, if anybody could sprint it to that speed it would be him…

Oscar’s 11 mph
claim would involve quite a bit of surfing, I believe, and it is in line with the times posted on some of the interisland races in Hawaii. Pretty impressive. Now 15 mph? Doubt it.

I agree!!
and especially by someone who really isn’t at anywhere the same class as Chalupski or Barton.


All I want to know is
where you mount the outboard motor on a kayak to hit 15 mph. Oscar on a wave, definitely. Joe Paddler on flat water, no. (Or Oscar on flat water, for that matter.)

no doubt you can hit well over 11mph surfing. it’s supposed to be a flatwater max sprint speed. certainly “the big O” could do it if anyone could, but i’m still a little dubious. this same review claims a personal max speed on flatwater of 9.2, which is also extremely impressive. i’ve hit 9.2 on a surfski in flat water, but the highest i’ve managed in a Q700 (similar boat to Epic 18) is 8.8. which is not to say that the reviewer may not be faster than i am, since i’m by no means an olympic quality paddler. 11mph just sounds awfully high for anything but a k1 or a surfski on flatwater, and even that obviously couldn’t be held for more than a moment, or the winning olympic k1 times would be higher.


Maybe the boat was still strapped to his roof rack at the time?

Oscar managed about
15 knots in his surfski on the downsurf leg of the molokai (I believe that was in 2003). That was quite a long distance. 11 mph for a mildly downsurf (or wind or current) sprint is certainly reasonable for a man who is arguably the best open ocean racer in the world.

I’ve seen Oscar deal with arrogant newbies who claimed to be racers and did not know him from Adam. He was so helpful, humble, and gentle. Truly great! I am a fan of his. I never want to meet him with his race face on though. (I mean compete with him; I’d love to drink a beer with him later.)

On a wave, yes
Not average, although IIRC the GPS plot you’re thinking of was showing averages over a 1-minute period, and holding an average speed that high for a minute or more is plenty impressive enough.

It was quite a review
Anyone who hasn’t read it should - It’s good entertainment. Glad someone else brought it up too. I play the skeptic/doubting Thomas/Devil’s Advocate/PIA enough here!

Regarding GPS speeds - in general - I see lower speed reports form paddlers with GPS than Speedmate. Of course it’s Apples and Oranges as the paddlers/boats/conditions are different too - but I see it enough to think I want a Speedmate so I can only see water over hull speed instead of speed made good for a change. I have to think where you place the impeller on your hull can make a differnce in readings too. The water is accellerated at some points as it is moved aside. Anyone experimented with this?

times in 2000 were really slow
In 2000 in Sydney the headwinds were howling. 1:57 is VERY SLOW for 500m. Good 500m times are closer to 1:30 (1:37 won worlds last year) and peak speed for an elite paddler is well over that averaged over the entire course.

Even an elite paddler can only go at 100% effort for something like 20seconds max. A race like the 500 or 1000 is run at more like 80%speed.

Still, I’d side with the skeptics until Epic puts out the claim themselves. Especially given the source of the claim.

Hold the GPS behine you…
and then swing real fast and you can get some real fast spikes… make you feel good… GH

Hi Andrew,
My memory may be scrambled, but I thought the world record 500m time was more like 1:40? If I did my back-of-the-envelope math right, that works out to roughly 11.25mph. I don’t know whether such a speed is achievable, even for a moment, in a non-sprint boat though…


Ignore “Max Speed” reading on GPS.
I think you have to mentally average the readings over at least 20 to 30 seconds to get a realistic speed. And only flat water provides a consistent basis for comparison between boats. Paddler weight and strength, and type of paddle should also be noted.

With that in mind, some of my results for all-out sprint speed are:

Epic Endurance 18: 7.9-8.0 mph with Epic mid-wing paddle.

QCC 600: 7.0-7.1 mph with Lightning Standard paddle

Sonoma 13.5: 6.7 mph with Lightning Standard paddle

I’m 150 pounds and average strength. But given that it will take approximately twice the force to get 1 extra mph out of any of these boats, I think the limits are fairly clear. Again, this is simply a comparison of hulls, having nothing to do with the ability of racers to surf.

might want to read this
article establishes 9.14 mph overall speed for the entire race. Could well have averaged 15mph for a considerable downsurf section.


I believe the 15 mph reference is in in a sea kayaker or atlantic coastal kayaker article.

Sorry for the typo but what I meant is that to run a mile in 4 minutes, you practice by running half a mile in 2 minutes. To do a 30 mile race in 4 hours, you practice by doing 15 miles in 2 hours. Again sorry for the typo.

Saw that

– Last Updated: May-28-04 1:07 PM EST –

After last year's race somebody posted GPS plots of Oscar's and Dean's speeds. I can't find the link right now, but as I recall they were 1-minute averages. Oscar had at least one spike up to 16 or so (don't remember if it was knots or statute mph). Dean's spikes were lower but there were a lot of them.

This year's race was relatively slow because of fairly flat conditions. The course record is a little over 3:20, which works out to something on the order of 9.5 mph IIRC.