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 Post subject: Which is Faster?
PostPosted: September 4th, 2006, 11:51 pm 
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Location: Wenatchee, WA
A number of years ago when I was starting canoeing a paddle shop salesman ascerted that kayaks are faster than canoes. While in agreement that canoes have certain advantages over kayaks, I am still scratching my head at this one. Are there solo canoes which paddled with a double blade are actually faster than kayaks? Does the higher position in canoe paddling give an advantage? Can someone shed light? Last winter myself and another paddler in a fairly fast tandem canoe, were resoundingly beaten by a solo kayaker in a special racing boat.


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PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 12:32 am 
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This matter comes up a lot. People who make the assertion that kayaks are faster than canoes, usually are comparing a nice single sea kayak to a cottage canoe.

My belief is that if you factor out water conditions, and the capabilities of the paddlers, and use boats of comparable design, the general order of speed is:

double sea kayak
tandem flatwater canoe
single sea kayak
solo canoe

And overall, the difference between the slowest and the fastest is far less than you might imagine.

Olympic racing seeks kayaks going a little faster than what they call canoes. Long distance races, on the other hand, are won by canoes, or canoe/kayak hybrids.

Paddling a canoe with a double paddle may be faster, but would suffer even worse from what eventually "gets" the kayakers: body strains from holding up the double paddle plus additional torso rotation. A canoe paddled with a kayak paddle requires a longer, and therefore heavier double paddle than a kayak.

I suspect you encountered someone using a surfski, which is a very fast version of a kayak. There are all sorts of ultra fast kayaks.

After repeated encounters, informal races, and trips including both canoes and kayaks, our experience is that there is very little difference in speed. In our Clipper Tripper, we have been outdistanced by novice paddlers in a double kayak, and have also put a fleet of double kayaks behind us. Much to their surprise, especially with the kids in our canoe laughing and playing.

The higher position in cottage canoes actually increases wind resistance. We're fans of low seats in canoes, plus footbraces and low backrests to lock your body in the canoe, which produces more speed with less strain.

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 Post subject: It depends
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 7:34 am 
Just back from a trip in Lapland,
I am ready for answering this question, that I have been
discussing for so many, many times here, probably because I
live in a country where kayaking 'rules'...
Anyway, my answer too this question is not simple, because for me the
question itself has assumptions that should be dealt with first.
From a technical point of view and (probably my European background?) a
kayak is a special kind of canoe. When exactly a canoe can be called
a kayak is difficult to define and depends on (personal) interpretation.
So for me a kayak is canoe, but a canoe is not a kayak, like a canoe is
a boat but a boat is not a canoe. The difference in speed is therefore not
a matter of canoe or kayak, but more the paddle that is used. Paddling with
a double bladed paddle will likely make you go faster than a single blade
paddle in a kayak. But the wider the kayak/canoe/boat gets, the less
efficient the double bladed paddle becomes, up to the point where it
becomes less efficient to use and you are not going faster anymore than
with a single bladed paddle.
What makes the (right) answer more complicated is paddle technique. With
good technique the difference in speed between paddling with a double and
single bladed paddle in similar/comparable hulls is not that big. Often
though the compared difference in paddling speed between canoes and kayaks
is a matter of a (big) difference in paddling technique. If you can paddle
well with a single bladed paddle, the difference in efficiency in
similar/comparable hulls is not that big, probably around 10 procent I
quess. So if you really want too keep things (too) simple, from this
answer you could state that kayaks are faster than canoes.
Whether this speed difference matters, depends on the actual use
you intend to do. For crossing big open waters it may be essential.
Otherwise it depends much on other factors. Personally, I still prefer
using and paddling a canoe. But if I really wanted to paddle on big
open waters all the time without a shore nearby, I would certainly
choose a touring kayak suited to do that well (what many people
call a 'sea' kayak...). Otherwise I do fine in my canoe(s) and
find the difference in speed a negligible factor.

Dirk Barends


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 7:49 am 
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Location: toronto, Ontario canada
Faster in the water, slower on the portage. Also better in the water when wind & waves are a concern.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 8:10 am 
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From S Grant "Paddling a canoe with a double paddle may be faster, but would suffer even worse from what eventually "gets" the kayakers: body strains from holding up the double paddle plus additional torso rotation. A canoe paddled with a kayak paddle requires a longer, and therefore heavier double paddle than a kayak. "

This is a huge generalization. I dont find any of the above true. I can easily do 35 km a day in my solo canoe with a 240 cm double blade (which is 20 cm more than I use with my Current Designs Caribou sea kayak). I use a Bending Branches Breeze Twilite. Its a cruising shape.

The canoe is 15 feet long 26 inches wide at waterline and the kayak 17'8" and 21 3/4 inches at waterline.

Properly held and properly used there is no "holding up of the paddle" and yes there is torso rotation in BOTH single and double blading. Very little torso rotation is seen in most paddlers, unfortunately. The hardest stroke to master is the kayaking forward stroke. Most paddlers use way too high an attack angle which IS tiring on the shoulders and uses those wimpy arm muscles.

The kayak is faster. Better W/L ratio for one. Until I get to the portage and have to unload a dozen 10 liter bags and combine them.

Cant generalize. The Placid Boatworks Rapidfire (canoe) will certainly outrun the generic 16 foot kayak.

An anectode: my husband and I took our Sawyer 190 (which has good speed for a 16 foot rec canoe) in a kayak race. Despite our both using double blades we were beaten by all sea kayaks.

And no they werent ocean racers.

Anyone have experience with Savage River Canoes? Look very fast


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 3:20 pm 
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Posts: 442
This is one of those questions that requires qualification.

What canoes are you asking about and what kayaks are you asking about?

There is another problem. The canoe or kayak is a system consisting of paddler(s), paddle(s) and boat.

A boat with low resistance but paddled poorly may not be as "fast" as a boat with higher resistance but paddled well. One can mix the combinations and see that, unless you know more, you really don't know much of anything. The only true measure of a boat's potential speed is its resistance. This can vary significantly. Those of you who read Sea Kayaker Magazine will notice in their boat evaluations that they use my resistance prediction program called KAPER. Using this program it is possible to predict with useful accuracy the resistance of any canoe or kayak within certain dimensional constraints. For those of you who like to dabble in boat design you will find KAPER is an integral part of some professional and amateur design programs. You can download the program from some websites but I strongly recommend against it as most have been modified by well meaning but careless people.

From a pure design standpoint neither type of boat is faster than the other. Given a specific displacement and specific effective horsepower one can always design a canoe that is just as fast as a kayak and vice versa. In fact, take the deck off a kayak and you have a canoe. The stability of such a canoe may not be desireable to the average canoeist paddling from a high seat but speed has a price.

One thing is certain though, paddling with a kayak paddle is more efficient than a single blade paddle particularly if you use a wing paddle. Several researchers have proven this.

Anecdotal evidence of canoeists who say they are just as fast or faster than kayaks is not very useful. First, one does not know what the kayak was like or the kayak paddler was like. I have often stayed up with kayaks when paddling my solo canoe but I have no way of knowing how hard they were paddling or how skilled they were. I know of plenty of kayaks that have higher resistance than my canoe but I also know a lot more that have lower resistance. I admit that doesn't stop me from rubbing it in.

So the answer to the question is, "It depends." It depends on the boats being compared, the paddlers, the paddle and the technique.

The thing one should ask is, "How much resistance does this boat have at "X" effective horsepower. The boat with the lowest resistance at a given horsepower output will have the highest speed potential.

Whether you as a paddler can realize that potential is another question.

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John Winters


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 3:25 pm 
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More evidence that the only correct answer to most canoeing questions is "Maybe...it depends"

:clap:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 4:46 pm 
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Location: Wenatchee, WA
I knew I could stir up some conversation with this topic. Thanks everyone for all the insights. My own feelings are there are many attributes to consider in a boat besides speed, but speed is nice so long as the boat will handle the type of water you are paddling and the gear or no gear you are taking along.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 5:49 pm 
Agree, IT DEPENDS :o

Depneds on the canoe, the kayak, the water conditions, the paddler and the paddle.

But one thing you can't factor in is using a double blade in the canoe. Call me old fashioned but if you are talking CANOE you are talking SINGLE BLADE :o :o Nopt saying you can't use a double balde in a canoe, heck even I have one. But for a competition to see which is faster, NO WAY.

Just like you can't compare a tandem paddled canoe against a solo kayaker. We have to compare APPLES TO APPLES here. And it seems to me it was canoe versus kayak, not how many paddlers, how many paddles, what type of paddle etc;etc;


Donny


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 6:02 pm 
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hmm....

http://www.arctickayaks.com/Plans/Plans ... aRTW-1.htm

http://www.placidboatworks.com/newpack.html

golly it gets muddy doesn't it?

no I'm not trying to give Donny a stroke :wink:

P.S. looking for recipe for chocolate martini!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 6:11 pm 
I don't get it Kim.???

Donny


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 6:43 pm 
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Martini recipe please?

The former is what we think of as a kayak. The latter is what looks like a canoe.

The more you dig into this the more it looks like quicksand. But I like single blading better too!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 6:51 pm 
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Location: Grand Marais, MN
It's too bad that more magazines don't include resistance numbers in their reviews. Or more companies would include them on their websites. Everyone should email or write Canoe and Kayak to let them know they should include KAPER numbers in their reviews.

Quote:
Most paddlers use way too high an attack angle which IS tiring on the shoulders and uses those wimpy arm muscles.


Because they are canoeists trying to use a kayak paddle like their canoe paddle. I see much more of this from canoeists taking kayaking lessons vs. non-paddlers just starting. :) Of course, I use a high angle paddling stroke with good rotation and a high angle stroke is no harder than low angle. With my 201 cm paddle it's nice to do a high angle stroke.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 5th, 2006, 9:58 pm 
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Joined: July 20th, 2006, 11:02 am
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Location: Kitchener ON
Here's a specific scenario for you. 2 cockey, inexperienced teenagers in a patched up old klepper arius (we used cut up inner tube for the patch job) vs two cockey, inexperienced teenagers in a cottage canoe. I doubt either had good resistance numbers :lol:

Klepper dudes beat the pants off the other guys. Kayaks rule! Hey, wait, I own a canoe now. :o

Fred


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 6th, 2006, 12:32 am 
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It's my impression that when kayakers say kayaks are faster than canoes, they are comparing a tandem cottage canoe to a single sea kayak, with comparable differences in crew.

This makes the comparison "fair", in the sense it uses the parameters the kayakers envision when they state their opinion. But it's not a fair comparison because the cottage canoe is not a comparable design to a sea kayak. Change the canoe to a sleek flatwater tandem, or the kayak to a cheapo or whitewater kayak and you have a more fair comparison, but which the kayakers have little exposure to and knowledge of. But plenty of misconceptions.

Yes, the fact the canoe has two paddlers gives the canoe an advantage over the single sea kayak, but that's the scenario posed by the kayakers, and the configuration most common to both.

Quote:
The canoe is 15 feet long 26 inches wide at waterline and the kayak 17'8" and 21 3/4 inches at waterline.


Are those lengths at waterline for both craft? Most sea kayaks have upturned bows which decrease their wetted length. Despite that, the canoe still will have an inferior W/L ratio. Making up for that, a tandem canoe has twice as many engines (paddlers) as a solo kayak.

The higher sides, higher seats, and greater width of a canoe will force the use of a longer double paddle, and/or higher shaft angle. Compared to a kayak, more energy is wasted by turning the boat because the double canoe paddle blade is in the water farther from the centerline. All this inevitably costs energy, no matter how you slice it. All else being equal, a longer padde will be heavier, in accordance with the laws of physics.

Quote:
An anectode: my husband and I took our Sawyer 190 (which has good speed for a 16 foot rec canoe) in a kayak race. Despite our both using double blades we were beaten by all sea kayaks."


Had you been using, say, a Clipper Whitewater II and bent shaft canoe paddles, I bet the outcome would have been the opposite. I know you've done vastly more paddling than I ever will, so I hesitate to be critical on this. But since we canoe in waters that are the domain of sea kayaks, we often paddle with them, or with them around. Things easily and frequently degenerate into races.

On some trips, it's been typical that the first boats to arrive at the destination are the canoes. I've seen Monster, solo in a Prospector design, using a straight canoe paddle, leave sea kayakers behind. We've had to switch a solo sea kayaker into the bow of our canoe because he couldn't keep up. Our experiences do not support the simplistic notion that "kayaks are faster". Yet, we're not powerful or expert paddlers and we have a flatwater touring canoe, not a racing canoe.

I stand by my summation of the ranking of speed, Olympic comparison, and the results of long distance races.

It also gets into how the human mind works. After pacing or passing kayaks, the kayakers will talk about how they did relative to each other, while ignoring the fact a canoe stayed with them or left them behind. Yet, they certainly had busted a gut trying to stay with us. The mantra that "kayaks are faster" is so effective that their eyes don't seem to be connected to their brains sometimes.

And where wheels can be used, kayaks can be portaged as easily as canoes.

_________________
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