Wenonah Advantage vs. Bell Magic???

Curious to hear more opinions about how these two boats compare.

I have a Magic and like it. Find it fast, maneuverable and seaworthy.

Paddled an Advantage again the other day and was surprised. Maybe since I am now more used to sit and switch paddling then when I had first tried it.

I found it to be more stable, faster, track better, allow a more vertical stroke than the Magic, maneuver much better, and be more better for kneeling and heeling. Also did not seem too bad in a light wind.

Have to paddle one more to get a real good comparison but was surprised.

I have heard many say that the Bell is much better in wind and waves. I can see the wind issue given less freeboard, but as to waves and conditions the Advantage would seem better given more freeboard and what I think is more secondary stability.

I also found that despite fact that the Advantage seemed to want to turn into the wind a little, it was very easy to get back on course with a sweep stroke, more easily it would seem than with the Magic.

Curious to hear other opinions.



Matt, Matt, Matt
You’ve paddled the Magic for a while. As I have. Sounds like we have a similar opinion of that boat.

You’ve paddled the Advantage a little. Hope I have the opportunity sometime.

I think you really need to buy rent or borrow an Advantage and paddle it in differing conditions long enough to answer that question for yourself.

Then come back here and let us know what you find.

Maybe save me the cost of an Advantage ?

90 miler
a bunch of Advantages some Magics and Merlin2s.

Advantages came in before the Bells. In the “brown tract”

The Magics I saw did seem a little better. So the question is where are going to paddle? Browns tract was only 5 miles out of 90. In the wind on blue mountain lake the One magic I saw was struggling, and he was a good paddler.

I have paddled both the Magic and the Advantage at one time or the other. The Magic is a nice boat, but it is not as fast as the Advantage, which is a detuned race hull. The Magic is nice general purpose hull.

That is my opinion, and I am sure the Bell cultists will pillory me for it.


Wenonah Advantage
I have not paddled the Bell but I put several hundred miles on the Wenonah Advantage last year as a fitness paddler. Loved the boat. It handles a wide range of conditions well. Yes it is very fast. I raced it on the Des Plaines Marathon and did very well. If I could afford it I would still own it but I bought a Clipper Sea 1. Between the Sea 1 and the Advantage the Sea 1 is just about as fast, if not just as fast. The Sea 1 is more comfortable to spend all day in by alot. The Sea 1 wil handle almost any condition because it has a Feather Craft Rudder and a Spray Skirt. I almost never use the rudder but if the wind and waves pick up I can keep right on going. The spray skirt keeps me warm in the cool weather and dry in the rain. If your looking for a fast all around go anywhere anytime canoe consider a Clipper Sea 1 Read my review at http://www.solotripping.com/community/showthread.php?t=2519

brown tract???
You lost me a bit on that. Are you making a euphemism that indicates that the Magics seemed a bit better in tne rough stuff?

Wasn’t sure.



follow up…
I guess my question is geared towards hearing your overall opinion / feedback but the one issue I am most intrigued by is the rough water handling and handling in the wind.

I like to paddle on windy and chopppy days.

I have read other reviews where folks say the Magic is much better in these conditions.

I have not had the Advantage out in bad conditions, but have had the Magic out. In 20 mph wind on open water I found the Magic did okay. Took some water over the bow and gunwales when heading into waves or sideways. Stability was okay but not super rock solid on the secondary. Could see where a big wave might cause you to lose your balance, particularly if you are paddling it a bit heeled which I tend to do out of habit and to achieve a more vertical stroke. Found that it did MUCH better with a bit of ballast on board which helped it to weather cock less and made it more stable.

The Advantage just feels more stable to me in terms of secondary stability and with its higher sides I am not sure why it woudl not fair as well or better than the Magic. Also have found that due to its more substantial tumblehome it allows a very vertical paddle with no heeling which would be an advantage in rough conditions.

Realy want to get the Advantage out in rough conditions. Will have to check weather for this week!


Brown Tract
Is the one section of the Ninety miler where it is close bullrushes, switchbacks, beaver dams and snotty maneuvering. Try passing a war canoe in a twenty foot wide channel going around a bend and you could learn to appreciate a maneuverable canoe.

Out on th ebigge water and rivers the Wenonahs, grass rivers, sawyers etc start to shine.

The following year I saw the same guy in the 70 miler.

I was pit crewing for some comp cruisers. He was a real good, strong paddler, but the Advantages and Grasse rivers ran ahead of him. Personally I thought he should have come in second not 4-5th.

Browns Tract Inlet
is a section of the Adirondack Classic 90 Mile Canoe Race. It is a tight twisty stream which flows into Raquette Lake. During the 90 Miler there are 250 boats heading into this small stream over the course of several hours.

It is often used by paddlers as a benchmark of how the boat and paddlers handle tight turns and passsing in heavy traffic.


The Advantage is NOT deeper than Magic
overall. The only measurement where the Magic is deeper is the middle and that’s only .5".



Contrary Opinion
Most folks find Advantage to be somewhat faster but significantly less seaworthy and significantly less maneuverable than Magic.

Agree with Charlie
And secondary is sketchy in rough conditions as there is enough tumblehome to create a wing. Bury that wing in a wave and you’re going for a swim whereas Bell’s shouldered tumblehome allows for a more predictable hull.

Number one question, how is the fit? Are you paddling these boats stock or have you added footbraces with stirrups and hip pads? Until the boat is fitted, they aren’t going to be fast. I have both an original stock class Advantage and the recreational version. They’re both screaming fast and a beast in following seas, but the current Advantage is much more friendly. Having paddled fast canoes, I’ve never considered the Magic to be fast. It’s efficient, but it has nothing on some of these older racing hulls. Look up the Jensen C1F if you want to try another stock class racer that’s a decent tripper. Wenonah used to make it and Clipper still does.

not contrary
It depends on where you are paddling and what your purpose is. The advantage is a detuned racer , basically designed to be riden light and fast. The Magic is a light tripper that does alright empty. I always chuckle at these discussions of apples to oranges. I would love to have a Magic, but I would really love a DY special. The bell

Yes, I could see where that could cause in issue if you were it by side waves. I have found the Advantage’s secondary very good until you hit the tumblehome and then it disappears and almost becomes negative heeling resistance it would seem.

Rough water performance is important to me as I like to paddle on choppy days and don’t want to be limited if on a trip etc.

Interesting that the Bell and Advantage both have same height. Just seems like the Advantage sits sits so much higher in the water.

As to maneuverability…I did padle them back to back today and it is hard to say. The Advantage is pretty maneuverable but maybe in a different way. Seems that the bow slides a little in turns eventhough that does not really make sense to me.


Final Analysis
I paddled the boats back to back again. I guess I was wrong. The Magic is more maneuverable than the Advantage, but both do fairly well here.

The Advantage is a bit faster, but seems not to be of major significance. I paddled both with GPS (which had not been able to do previously) and for the short course I paddled they seemed to be within a reasonable amount of eachother in terms of speed.

The Advantage does track better and does just have a faster feel to it / more of a feeling of glide, but perhaps at the expense of acceleration.

Stability: They both are fairly stable but I guess the Magic wins here. The stabilty profile on the Advantage is a bit unique. Also feels as if you are sitting up very high in the boat. I don’t think this is the case, but for some reason it feels that way.

Kneeling and heeling…I prefer the advantage here which is suprising but really do. Just feels better paddled this way and maybe more responsive to heeling. More comfortable from this position / more natural etc. For whatever reason the Magic just does not feel like it is supposed to be paddled from this position (even with the seat raised a bit). NOt sure why, but just my opinion.

Rough water…wish I had a chance to compare here. I have paddled the Magic and it does fairly well, and much better with a load.

Fit: I like the fit of the Advantage. The gunwales are very narrow. They hug my thighs when seated creating a nice snug cockpit which I like. I also feel like I can achieve a very vertical and efficient stroke and for whatever reason just feel a bit higher off the water so feel as if I have a bit more leverage.

Efficiency: Seems that while the Magic may not be as fast, it seems easier to maintain reasonable cruising speeds with less paddling effort and therefore may be more efficient at more reasonable paddlign speeds.

Overall: I think that for me and probably most the Magic is the better all around boat. If you are thinking about racing, probably the Advantage is the way to go I woudl think.

Just my thoughts and a follow up since I asked the question. Figure since I have an answer to it I should share. Of course this is just my opinion based on a small data pool having only a few hours seat time in the Advantage so it did not get a fair shake really.


Thanks Matt
Someday I hope to get some seat time in an Advantage.

In the mean time your comparison is helpful.

Good comparison – very valuable
This was a great comparison of the two boats. Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed information.