How much of a factor is the weight of the canoe on performance?

Assume that there are two canoes of identical design, materials, etc. The "only" difference between them is that one weighs 28 pounds and the other 34 pounds fully rigged. Both canoes are not affected by the weight difference in terms of the strength and the long-term integrity of the canoe. Assume also that both canoes are paddled by the same paddler (assume he/she weighs 170 lbs) and under the same conditions.

What would you expect to find when the canoes are raced in (i) flat water, (ii) upwind and (iii) downwind conditions under sprint and endurance events?

Is 6lbs a detriment or contributor to performance in terms of who wins the race?

Submitted by GOTHOR321 on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 1:54pm

put 6 lbs in your pocket, go paddle, and tell us about the difference.

#1 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 4:16pm

Maybe safer to put it on the canoe?

#2 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 4:25pm

But seriously. A canoe accelerates slightly on the power phase of every stroke and slows slightly on the recovery or glide phase of every stroke. Change of momentum is what you are going to feel (the effort on every stroke for the acceleration). Momentum is mass times velocity. Your mass is paddler plus canoe. 6 pounds is about 3% of the weight of your paddler and canoe combined. You'd have to determine the percentage difference in speed between the power phase and glide or recovery phase and multipy it by that 3%.
I suspect the difference is going to be very small.
The real advantage is every time you load or unload it off your car. And of course if you don't have the lightest canoe you always have an excuse when you get beaten.

#3 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 4:39pm

them 2 canoes if the heavier one is stiffer I would take that one . I would say the rigidness of a canoe is moor important if the weight difference is 6 lbs.if they are simalar then the light one.

#4 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 5:56pm

6LB on the paddler is more detrimental than 6LB in the canoe.

Onnopaddler will explain why.

Cheers Rambo

#5 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 6:10pm

Jibofo I agree with you in terms of it being a very small percentage of speed lost per stroke but also consider how many strokes you take per race.

ex: these aren't real numbers but lets say the percentage lost per stroke in meters is equal to 1cm loss in glide for every six pounds added to the canoe. Ok let say you average 60 strokes per minute and you have a 60 minute race. 1cm * 60spm= 60cm lost per minute. Now with a loss 60cm per minute and a 60 minute race thats 36m.

lets say that your race lasts 4 hours that puts you at 144m behind the canoe that ways 6 pounds less than yours.

#6 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 7:10pm

you love those distance analogies don't you...

#7 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 7:32pm

well we are in distance season

#8 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 8:49pm

check out for similar discussions with surfskis.
consensus seems to be that lighter craft accelerate faster onto waves (easier to surf), are quicker/easier to get up to speed, and generally less fatiguing than the heavier equivalents (Epic V10 performance vs Ultra lay-ups).

Of course the carbon skis seem to be a little bit stiffer as well...

#9 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 9:20pm

Look back into ocean ohana's post with his time and heart rate data from adding weight to his canoe...nothing difinitive but interesting none the less. There is also some good stuff in that thread about weight and drag.

#10 Tue, 04/22/2008 - 10:40pm

If i hated the color I would be slower for sure.

#11 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 1:22am

Your right, very small differences add up over the time and distance of a race. Of course racing side by side, maybe the paddler in the heavier canoe will put out that fraction of a percent more power needed to stay in contact with the paddler in the lighter canoe.

#12 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 3:57am

Maybe in sprint racing boat weight is a factor but in an outrigger race way too much is going on all the time for weight to be much of a factor at all .

He who catches the most waves wins.

If youre in a close race with another paddler and you catch a wave that he/she doesnt. Even if he/ shes in a lighter boat, it wont make any difference.

In races I`ve been to, even a relatively short section of the course where you can surf a little opens up big time gaps for the paddlers who can take advantage of the conditions.

#13 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 4:20am

Weight difference of 6lbs ain't that much, unless you're aware of it...

Now that you know, when you're in that heavy boat it'll affect your state of mind when sucking wind and racing next to one of the lighter boats under a faster paddler...

Basically, you're screwed. Get the light boat. Just make sure you don't lose to the heavy boats...

But if you like the comfort and style of the heavy boat chances are you'll spend more time in it. You'll get faster sooner and be able to smoke the lighter boats b/c you're a better paddler...maybe.

#14 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 4:35am

Is it easier to throw a stone or a feather? is there a point when its to light and pushed around in the water? Or not?

#15 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 7:03am

here is the results of just one test on this very subject.
Using a Fuze that has a hull weight of 26.8 lbs with seat and rudder, I did 8 .15 mile sprints with a rest time of 1 min 7 seconds on average. I did a about 11 minute / .9 mile warm up that included two .15 mile sprints. I took a 5 lb weight that was attached to the seat and placed it on a floating platform, I then did eight .15 mile sprints, Sprints 1,2 and 5, 6 had regular hull weight. The 3,4 and 7,8 had the added 5 lbs. The conditions were pretty perfect for this testing, Open bay, no wind no tidal flow, No chop. deep water.
Here are the numbers.
Max speed w/o weight 7.7 max speed with weight 7.9
Fastest Time, W/o weight 1:21 with weight 1:21
Max Heart reate w/o weight 178 with weight 177
The averages
W/o weight Time 1:22 Max Speed 7.63 HR Ave. 156 max 173
with weight Time 1:23 Max Speed 7.7 HR Ave. 160 max 174

I also did two .68 mile runs one with one without the weight.
Time without weight 6.08 max speed 7.3 Ave HR 172 max 181
Time with weight 6:13 Max speed 7.2 Ave HR 167 Max 178

A lot more data needs to bo collected, I would love to see someone else do the same type of testing, Longer pieces, maybe a larger weight,

You can see all the data at this link
The first test sprint without weight starts with Lap 4.

Have fun with this,

Another key number I did not list in my original post, The .15 mile distance too about 92 strokes to complete with the added weight, it took 97 strokes without,
At some point I am going to redo the test, I will go over a larger distance, and the time taken from a boat already in motion, It is obvious that a heavier boat will take longer to get up to speed, But mass in motion stays in motion, A heavier hull might be faster. I think a lot will also depend on conditions.

#16 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 11:06am

To make this a true test you need to have 2 weights, wrapped in tape so the paddler is blinded to the true weight verses the foam or placebo weight. Your effort could be different knowing you are paddling with or without a weight.

#17 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 11:24am

Kayaker, either that or you could blindfold the paddler the whole time, that way he can't tell if you put the weight on or not.

Here's an experience I once had. I paddled for a while on a 20 something pound stingray. when I finished I had 4 beers. Then a buddy of mine shows up and wants me to paddle with him again. I went way slower on the 20 something pound stingray+ 4 beers trial. This is a pretty inaccurate trial though because fluid ounces is different that dry ounces, BUT it does show the weight of the 4 beers in my belly slowed me down big time. I didn't need a GPS or HR monitor to tell me that.

I hope this has helped.

#18 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 12:02pm

Mulus, good question! But I think that to make it more applicable to this situation the question should be: Is it easier to throw a stone or a stone that is six pounds heavier than the first stone?
In fact, maybe even better would be: Is it easier to throw a 28 pound stone or a 34 pound stone? A
ctually, and maybe I'm splitting hairs here, since we're not throwing anything, but paddling, the best question would be: Is it easier to paddle a 28 pound stone or a 34 pound stone?

...the answer is: Neither. Both of the damn things are gonna sink. What a dumb question.

#19 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 12:03pm

Pretty interesting results, OceanOhana. By your numbers I would assume that inertia may be as important or maybe more important than accelleration in figuring how to make a boat go fast. Jr, has said he likes the way his boat retains energy when connecting waves. The Zephyr isnt the lightest boat in the world but it glides well and doesnt give up speed .

I have 2 marathon boats almost identical , one of them is 18 feet long , carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction , weighs 18 lbs. The other boat is 18 feet 6 inches and is made of carbon , nomex honeycomb and kevlar and weighs 23 lbs,
The 186" boat has a better glide and over distance is a better race boat than the smaller , lighter boat . I still use the smaller boat for sprint racing at distances no more than 500 meters per race. The light weight boat is smoking fast as long as its being paddled at sprinting effort . At normal race pace it`s not as fast as the heavier boat. Other factors that contribute to the difference between these two boats is thier volume below the waterline. The longer boat has more volume and floats higher on the water than the smaller boat.

#20 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 1:00pm

Heavy paddlers definitely have an advantage with their momentum at speed in the ocean, especially on the smaller gliding style bumps. An old heavy OC1 underway, also maintains momentum that you can actually feel. Bugga to accelerate with though.


#21 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 4:07pm

if you have averages with canoes, like. length 21 feet width 16 inches bend 3 inches and the canoe sinks 2.6 inches when loaded with a 180lbs paddler and you were to change the width to 13 inches and the canoe was to sink 4.1 iches in the water where water is slightly moor dence would it slow? or if you were to make the width18.5 inches and it would only sink 1 inch and float ontop of the water would it be faster?


#22 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 7:43pm

What if you fill your canoe with Helium ? (Hydrogen is even lighter but I'm afraid it my explode....)

#23 Wed, 04/23/2008 - 8:33pm

Lets get some facts together .,weight equals displacment and roughly most new oc-1 have 17-18sq.ft of weted surface at displacment of lets say 170-180lbs and the increase in displacment for every 20lbs equals increase of weted surface by almost 1 sq.ft and in that part also increase of viscous drag(mayor part of overal drag) which for such an increase in weted surface doesnt increase quite proportionaly but a bit less probably no more than 1-2% over all which is well below of what you can measure by simple testing sugested above.
So the canoe weights when speaking of 3-5lb don't mean that much .
And there is no such thing as a to light canoe,there are only strong enough or to soft to be practical .

Filing canoes with gas is a funny idea but not practical as change in diplacment would be minimal(not enough volume) and many very light gasses also have very small molecules which in practice means they can leak trough walls of almost anything even metal not even bother to think of any gaps or joints.

#24 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 3:42am

Mulus, the answer is yes... I think.

#25 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 4:44am

There is a lighter canoes. A Hurricane is light apposed to a Zephyr is not as light , but still runs as fast and could handle moor situations better. And is close to the 6 lbs we were talking about. But not the identical design, and materials in the original question.

In the original question it couldn’t be the same materials or they would weigh the same; and the heavier one I’m guessing would have moor resign. and resign is not strength. But if its moor cloth it would be moor rigidness which would be better.

I think canoes could get much lighter as long as it does not take from the strength of the canoe or rigidness.

#26 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 5:58am

Where do you guys paddle. I have a 11-12 year old nephew in N Van. You guys have a program for keikis?

#27 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 6:01am

Yes but when it gets warmer and school is out we don’t really train them to race as much as to get out for a paddle and sight see even fish some will transition to racing at younger ages. our youngest is 7 he's my Jr. after the snow melts. but yes. keep in touch.

#28 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 9:15am

I guess things are only funny in my head cause I thought my beer weight post was funny but no one else did. Hmmm oh well

#29 Thu, 04/24/2008 - 9:38am

Ok poopoo, that was funny !
Now give me a beer, please.

#30 Sat, 04/26/2008 - 11:40pm

I was laughing too, poopoo! Gotos rock comparison was almost as witty!

#31 Sun, 04/27/2008 - 10:34am

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