Whats the best length tandem

for flat water canoe racing. 210 pounders. everyone is paddlind run of the mill canoes nothing fancy, I have 2.4 mi. race coming up soon and never paddled tandems and not in 20yrs. in a single. race is sat. so the learning curve is going to be short and steep.

Just a guess , but for fun …
… I’m going to say , very long , very narrow , and very light . Curious what the tried a true will say about it myself …

what are the choices?


What is your price range ?
Are there classes such as “recreation”, “stock”, and “racing”.

the list could go something like this:

-Bottom of the list= heavy plastic such as OT Disco or equal

  • Middle of the list would be a royalex such as OT Penobscot or equal
  • On up near the top, but not in the racing class would be a ultalight stock boat out of kevlar such as a Jensen 18 or equal

    -At the very top would be a ultralight carbon kevlar competition cruiser.

    I love tandem racing, but it is only fun when the two partners gel.

    Good luck- at that distance you should be able to sprint the whole way!



You nailed it !
Our Comp Cruiser is 18’-6" and is like a stilleto up front with just a pair of wings in the center to make the width regulations.

It weighs 29 pounds



Classes Differ
The canoe class will dictate the length. USCA sets 18’6" as the max length for Stock and Competition classes. Since USCA does not have a national standard for Recreational class, the length varies from region to region. Here in NY, it can be 17’ or 17’6", and some other races set it at 16’. There is also a weight minimum of 55# here, but not everywhere. If you are paddling a rec class you need to find out the specs for your race.

The water on the race course can also favor or limit a type of hull design. Some of our downriver races are on tight streams and have fast water. On those courses, the long shallow straight keeled cruisers do not have a big speed advantage over a rockered, wide aluminum canoe. And the shallow cruisers are limited in open water when the waves kick up.

Check what the canoes turn the fastest times in your race and use something similar.

In flat open water, in the stock class, an 18’Jensen, or Minnesota II are always competitive, with stock class designs from Grasse River and Savage River also hard to beat. Old Town, Bell, and Mad River have nothing that will run with these.

In the competition classes there are other specialty manufacturers who make racing canoes only.

In the recreational classes, if the limit is 17’6", the Wenonah Escape is the boat to beat. If the limit is 17’, the 17’Jensen is the choice, and at 16’6" the Canadian woodstrip racing hull is the fastest. The only commercial version of this hull i am familiar with is the NovaCraft Thames.

If your rec class is limited to aluminum or plastic hulls, the Old Town Penobscot and Wenonah 17’Sundowner in Royalex are the choices, unless you can get your hands on an aluminum Beaver Canoe.


14 to 20 feet

– Last Updated: Jul-01-08 11:29 AM EST –

how about that?

my bad.

i'd agree with most of what plaidpaddler said.

go long and narrow, but make sure you can keep her on her feet. upside down is slow.

and that from a guy
who’s wondering if his paddle that’s too short should be longer…

i do that. :slight_smile: