What is best angle of trim?

When it comes to adjusting the angle of trim, I have thought that level was the best.

On occasion, I have noticed that when the bow is somewhat downward, that is the the least efficient for forward momentum.

On other occasions, I have noticed that when the stern is somewhat downward I have had pretty good forward momentum.

My question, then, is whether stern slightly down, or level from bow to stern, is more efficient?


– Last Updated: Sep-08-11 6:28 PM EST –

For flat water symmetrical boats I prefer mine trimmed neutrally. A lot of people seem to prefer having them slightly bow light. Some folks who always paddle with a small load in front of them prefer to have the boat trimmed significantly bow light to compensate for the load.

I think for flat water having the boat slightly bow light doesn't hurt unless one is paddling into a wind. In that case, having the boat trimmed slightly bow heavy will make it easier to paddle upwind. Conversely, in a tail wind you might prefer to have the boat slightly bow light.

For whitewater or moving water in which maneuvering (apart from side-slipping) using eddy turns and ferries is anticipated I strongly prefer having the boat trimmed exactly neutral when sitting or kneeling with the trunk upright. If the boat is significantly bow light, it makes it more difficult to engage the bow for eddy turns, peel outs, or upstream (forward ferries). During these maneuvers, the bow can be weighted slightly by leaning forward if the trim is neutral. Conversely, the stern can be weighted during back ferries or forward wave surfing by leaning back.

There was a link awhile back

– Last Updated: Sep-08-11 12:29 PM EST –

about how extra weight in the stern can assist with weathercocking. The weekend after reading the link my wife and I were paddling across an open sound with a strong tail wind and quartering seas behind us as we were heading back to the launch. Neither boat has rudders or skegs and I was getting along by edging my boat but she has problems edging hers and was getting frustrated from constantly getting turned broadside. We both had full quart jugs of ice water in the cockpit. I took both of them and put them in the back hatch of her boat and tossed them as far back as I could. With the weight in the stern the bow acted like a weather vane in the wind and kept her straight the rest of the way back.

When canoing I prefer bow light, but near enough so I can scooch forward on my knees to level out. I have to worry more about shallows than anything else.

Very nicely said…

– Last Updated: Sep-08-11 7:49 PM EST –

not much anyone needs to add!
**originally posted to reply to pblanc**

I like level, or slightly bow light
But never, never, never go bow way heavy.

At one race I went to, my partner, (wife) couldn’t make it, so I teamed up with a friend who is a high end paddler. Unfortunately for me he is a bow paddler, and insisted that I take the stern.

He probably had fifty or more pounds on me, and with both our seats all the way back, we stil just plowed and zigged and zagged.

Little girls and rec canoes left us in their wakes, and to this day when talk of that race comes up we take a big time ribbing.

Jack L

I’ve occasionally run into folks
who routinely weight the stern. They “claim” it makes the canoe track better.

Weighting the stern creates an effect similar to installing a skeg. While it will help keep the canoe going straight (except in a headwind) it also creates drag. Additionally it prevents efficient, effective steering when that is desired. Much better to improve the forward stroke and trim neutral.

As previously mentioned in head winds and tail winds, it may be advantageous to weight respectively, slightly bow or stern heavy.

Marc Ornstein

tough question
How was the canoe designed? On some canoes the design is for bow down! The first stripper I helped with had

1/2 inch of rear rocker. I concor with Marc though level is good in flats, slightly bow down in the shallows and stern heavy in down river current.

I’ve been under the impression

– Last Updated: Sep-09-11 11:40 PM EST –

..... that bow down is best for going into the wind or current , and stern down is best for going downwind and down current .

We paddle tandem in an OT 169 and an OT 16'-10" . This bow or stern down concept has made a big difference for us in winds or moving waters .

One time (and just once) the bow was "too" heavy , it was very high wind on a reservoir . We had absolute control running directly into the wind and forward quartering . There came a point when we decided to turn around and head back , it was the 4th day and time to pack up and go home anyway (plus we were getting tired) .

Bottom line is because the bow was too heavy , the turn was an incredibly crazy side sliding manuver . The turn would just not complete , it would hold like a steel lock about 2/3 - 3/4's the way through and side slide . We gave it everything we had , she keep sweeping the bow as fast and hard a she could , she tried some draws too ... I swept opposite at the stern , pryed and everything else I could think of , and finally just dug the paddle in like a rudder . It was really tiring , if either of us stopped for even a second to catch a break , we began to loose anything we gained cause the canoe wanted to turn back where we started from . We side slipped in a long slide toward shore for maybe 300' or more and then the wind near shore eased a little , just enough to complete the turn and then we were fine .

It was really crazy , we tried everything we could , we got real tired trying to complete that turn and finally I just ruddered and held on ... at the time I had no idea anything like that could happen ... it was really crazy and probably half out of our control , I was laughing hard so that means I was tad scared ... later I learn that it was a weather vaining effect on steriods because of the high wind and heavy bow . I would like to add paddle and stroke ignorance to that list , but I just don't think so ...

Most of the time in high wind and
and seas its very very difficult to get the boat turned from bow into the wind to stern into the wind.

Bow heavy or not… We ran into this tandem on Lake Superior getting caught in wind and trying to run for shelter and also on Wabakimi Lake (which is about 30 miles long) in a 40 mph wind squall.

The boat gets sideways and just stalls . Its incredibly hard to pull the stern upwind.Sweeps never workwell… a series of ten snap draws as far as you can get back on the boat seems to dope slap the stern better. Its actually easier to adjust the angle of a canoe in high waves or winds with no forward momentum going.

I did have one bow heavy experience with a dog in the bow.That light stern kept windvaning down wind though my intended direction was downwind. The dog would not move. So I paddled backwards downwind with the bow paddling upwind… I could stop and get the stern upwind but once underway the boat slew around…hence the unusual tactic of going backwards.

I just never knew it could happen …

– Last Updated: Sep-10-11 12:00 AM EST –

...... I mean we were really flying across the water sideways and forward at the same time during the turn .

I only made that post so others who don't know it can happen might find a way to prevent it before it does ... other than not paddling in such high winds . I think it was kind of a dangerous situation for a while .

At least you have a good idea of what it's like so you can understand what I was trying to explain ... wicked is the word that comes to my mind , and I don't ever want that to happen again .