Supernova ///Wildfire

Can anyone who has paddled these two canoes give me a comparison? I’m not talking which one is better, but a bit more specific like quickness, stability, handling in moving water, etc.

Thanks Dan

are an addict with the worse form of canoe lust! :wink:

Dan, if you have to ask about stability,
you should not be looking at this kind of canoe.

Stability ?
I may be missing some inside joke, but . . .

In my opinion, the Wildfire’s secondary stability, and its limits are quite important to its paddling characteristics. I have never paddled a Supernova, however, so I’m not going to be much help to you.

No inside joke. Stability is not
an issue for either of these boats. But a lot of people would try them and whine about stability. Stability comes from your head, from the cerebellum. If it isn’t there, buy some flat-bottomed monstrosity.

LOL… g2d is probably correct… but…

I’m a pretty strong proponent of the Supernova. I’ve paddled it in some solid class III and been impressed with the results. I’ve also tripped out of the boat for multi-day trips. Now for a couple of r/l comments… the first thing I did was tore out the seat and mounted a Mohawk saddle and thigh strap and then laced in 54" floatation front and back… don’t even consider running ww without it!!! The airbags can be colapsed or removed to load gear for tripping…but like any canoe… you sacrifice a lot of quick control when it’s loaded and the responsiveness drops dramatically. Both your choices top out at Class III…if you reduce your response margin by loading the boat… well lets just say you better have everything tied in nice and tight!!!

For the heavier ww I paddle a Whitesell Pirahna and have just passed my Mohawk XL13 on to a friend. The ends of both those boats are much fuller and float higher than the sharper entry of the Supernova. If I’m going to play in a heavy ww…I probably won’t take the Supernova… but then I woudn’t trip out of a Whitesell either :slight_smile:

As for stablility… the Supernova for all intents and purposes has no initial stability…if you swim out of the boat it will be getting in or out… the secondary stability however is effectivly bombproof. I’ve actually had a person hanging in my gunwale with thier feet on the side, TRYING to tip it over… a gentle sculling brace thwarted the effort. I’d buy one again in a heartbeat and if you recognize the boat as an excellent solo tripper that tracks well as well as a fun class III ww boat that surfs better than virtually anything in its class… I think you’ll be inpressed.

hard to compare
They are totally different sizes. I couldnt begin to paddle a Supernova and pull off cross moves. Its way too big (wide at the paddling station).

The Wildfire is much more manageable for short armed me…

Hope you find that elusive elastic armed paddler


I have the Wildfire, and Stabilty is not an issue. You’re correct about it being the paddler. When I first got the Wildfire and pushed away from shore, it was the first solo canoe I’d ever been in. I promptly flipped about 6 feet from the launch. Since then I learned a little and realize that the Wildfire is a pretty stable canoe, especially while kneeling. What I’ve heard on P-net, is others who have described the Supernova as tippy, and I just wanted a basis of comparison, because when I first started to paddle, I thought the Wildfire was tippy, but now find it a good hull. I’ve recently received an invatation to meet up with someone who has a Supernova, and wants to paddle a Wilfire, so there’s a possilbilty I’ll have an answer to my question soon. Thanks for everyone’s insights


Disagree… it depends on the paddler…
While I don’t have elastic arms… I did chose the Supernova because I’m a big paddler… 6’1" and 235 (big boned :slight_smile:

The Wildfire is 30" wide with a tumblehome backing that off to 27inches. The Supernova is 31 inches at beam… the 4 inch difference is cut in half as an “off center” measurement. The Supernova is also 10inches longer at 14’10"

Cross over’s are not an issue.

Both Bell and Nova Craft are in business because people choose to buy BOTH models … I tend to disagree with the idea that one is “better” than the other…just as I disagree that a kayak is “better” than a canoe or vice versa.

Dan, let us know what you think after you’ve paddled them both.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-04 11:53 PM EST –

G2D.....He's asking about how the boat performs and inquries regarding initial and secondary stability are legitimate question. There is no reason for you to patronize Dan regarding his curiousity about how a boat performs. He acts like all of us do when we're doing our due dilligence before buying a new boat. He asks questions, does his research and most importantly talks to people that have paddled the boat first hand.

I am so sick of people on this site that are consdescending to paddlers that may not be as experienced as themselves. You, too, were learning the sport and probably had the exact same concerns at one time. The perception of stability differs from person to person and just because someone reacts to a boats stability different than you do, does that mean you're a better paddler?

Would it make you feel better to know that he currently paddles a Wildfire rather than the assumed "flat bottomed monstrousity" you so cavalierly describe in your below post? Most paddlers I know are supportive of each other and choose to encourage paddlers whose skills are developing. Obviously, you're an exception to this rule.

My input
I own a Supernova. I have not paddled a Wildfire, but I was in a Merlin II which has some characteristics of the Wildfire(similar widths and depth and midpoint).

Like Halfapaddle says, the Supernova basically has no initial stability. Once you accept that fact, it is a great boat. I have had one gunnel all the way down, seeping water, the other gunnel resting against my ribcage and still brought the boat back up–terrific secondary stability and she surfs easily.

What I noticed in the Bell. While kneeling the boat was nice, definitely different from the Supernova, there isn’t as much “boat”. The Supernova has a lot of volume. What I didn’t like about the Bell was when setting in the seat. With the lower height and just a bit narrower on the beam the gunnels hit my legs uncomfortably. The added depth and just a bit more width makes the Supernova more comfortable to me while setting in the seat–be aware I am a LARGE paddler and that makes a difference here. I need more room than a smaller paddler.

If you are kneeling–they are both terrific boats.

These two boat are just about the opposite end of the spectrum when you look at them side by side. The bell is low to the water, low volume boat. The Supernova sets up on the water, deep hull, high volume boat. They are both great boats–I think they are designed for different purposes.