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Home > Magazine > River > Canoe Speeds: Food for Thought

Canoe Speeds: Food for Thought
May 29, 2012

Canoes just aren't fast. I suppose I should just accept it. Still, it might help us appreciate the situation if we take a look at the speeds of various types of canoes. It's worse than I thought.

Here's a canoe pal's estimate:

Racing canoe: 4.5mph
Fast sport canoe: 4
Cruiser: 3.5
Tourer: 3

This is when these are paddled at a moderate effort -- all-day pace.

Get it? Your old Old Town barge cruises at 3 and if you buy the fastest carbon boat you'll only go 4.5 for your extra $2K. Ha!

...Of course, that's a 50% speed increase!

Also, if you paddle all day in a barge you get 30 miles, but with a racer you go 45. That might be relevant sometimes. ...And that's on a lake.

It's worth noting that a decently flowing river -- medium levels -- is about 2.5mph. So that ADDS to your boat speed.

What's an example of a Cruiser? --Maybe a Mad River Malecite. Or a Kruger Cruiser. A Wenonah Sundowner, probably.

A fast sport canoe might be a Minnesota 2, or it might not. Maybe the old Sawyer Cruiser. Maybe an old Amateur race boat. Maybe woodstrippers of fast earlier designs. (In terms of C1's, I'd say a Wenonah Advantage is a Sport Boat -- fast and light and made for workouts but not what any places with in a race.)

Race boats have wings. Whatever crosses the line first.

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