V -Shaped hulls?

I’m curious about the advantages of V-shaped canoe bottoms.I have only read of the superiority of the shallow arch,yet some well regarded boats use and have used V’s(Mad River,and Savage River,Vermont ect.)There must be another side to this.


my guess : asymmetry

– Last Updated: Jan-31-08 4:11 PM EST –

when a v bottom hull is leaned its waterplane becomes more asymmetrical than a similar more rounded hull and becomes easier to turn. when upright/ level, the v bottom contributes to tracking:
gross simplification.

no guess about it
that slams home all the basic hydrodynamics of it. First time I was in a V bottom hull I was all nervous and scared. then after about an hour or so, I was fine. Once you use on, you don’t have any trouble getting used to any new boat.


Two similar solo canoes
If you look at two older Sawyer solo canoes, the Shockwave and the DY special, they are relatively similar designs, but the Shockwave is a shallow arch and the DY Special is a shallow Vee.

Having paddled both of these extensively (and side by side with a friend on maybe a hundred occasions), the Shockwave is the faster of the two canoes, but it also gets blown around more by the wind. The DY Special (shallow Vee) sits slightly deeper in the water and is a better canoe for fishing out of as it is less affected by the wind, whether paddling or anchored.

Have owned three Mad River canoes
with varying amounts of V. The Compatriot was a 13’ canoe with marked V. It was hard to turn, whether level or tipped onto one side. It had fishy initial stability, followed by sudden resistance when tipped onto the side. It had unnecessary wetted area (compared to a shallow arch) and therefore was slower than it needed to be.

My 14’ 6" Mad River Guide is what the Compatriot should have been. It is really a flattish shallow arch with just enough V to assist tracking. The flattish bottom makes for wonderful, flying eddies. Wetted area is reduced, so it cruises easily. It has good initial and final stability. It is reasonably maneuverable in whitewater.

My Mad River Synergy is a 15’, high rocker, tandem (solo) whitewater boat. It has a roundish form, but just a bit of V for tracking. It has low wetted area, and cruises easy for a whitewater boat. It really could use more flatness in the bottom, because it does not ferry as well as the Guide. However, in every other way it is much more maneuverable than the Guide.

I don’t see ANY reason to design a boat with a markedly V-bottomed hull. If you want better tracking or better resistance to side winds, there are other ways to get it. I think the best V-bottomed canoe must be the venerable Mad River Explorer. Other V-bottomed boats should be examined and tried out carefully before buying them in preference to a shallow-arch design.

One other disadvantage…
If you do a lot of bony water with rock bottoms, the apex of the V tends to always encounter the rocks first, and so it gets all the wear and tear. At least with a shallow arch, flattish bottom, the scrapes and gouges are more scattered around.

V bottoms
One really needs re3ad Winters’ “Shape of the Canoe” before espousing V bottoms.

They increase tracking - but decrease turning ability, particularly the more stable, inside heeled turns.

They compromise upright stability.

They increase wetted surface, which increases skin friction or drag.

because they sit deeper in the water, hence the tracking improvement and turning resistance, they also localize wear at the V.

There was a few years when I preferred V bottomed hulls, cause they went where I pointed them. Then I started wanting to turn hulls, and I’ve moved to rounder bottoms. More efficient and more responsive.

So again

– Last Updated: Feb-01-08 5:36 PM EST –

So,Why does anybod make canoe hulls that way if they are inferior in every way?Is it structual? Or easier to make?Ignorance?I'm missing something here.

the v shape’s inherent advantages
are really just a matter of preference. i like them, many of my favorite boats are v hulls. sailboats among them. right now i’m into greenland style (v hull shapes) in my kayaks. i like the handling characteristics and the planing potential. one of my funnest rides is busting off on a plane on a boat wake. my roundish hulls felt like a log in the water in comparison. i sold it. imho.

big, open, deep water like Lake Erie
Quick turning is not much of an issue out there. The v’s resistance to wind push is a benefit. The lack of primary stability with instant secondary is a plus when deflecting broadside waves and splash. For me, forward speed is not a primary concern in those conditions.

I love my v hulled Malecite for windy ocean and ocean-like paddling.

I own a shallow-vee tandem canoe
with slight/moderate rocker and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Though big (16.75 ft.)and heavy (about 65#)I’ve had it take on class two rapids and 6 to 8 ft. swells out in the open Gulf of Mexico. With it I can handle quartering waves and swells and still stay dry. When paddling the swirling waters at the mouth of Chatham River down in the western Everglades the canoe stays stable and upright while watching other canoes and kayaks flip in the same spot. Another added benefit… When sleeping in it the shallow vee tends to keep my weight on the centerline which is a Big plus for me since I tend to toss and turn in my sleep. I don’t think I would try that in any other hull design.