Lightning versus Mirage

My club recently purchased the last (and possibly best) of the Bradley Lightnings made in Vancouver.

Last evening we practiced in preparation for a local race and noticed significantly different performance upwind and downwind between our Mirages and Lightning. Both had similarly sized/skilled crews and competant steersmen.

The Mirage easily walked away on the upwind leg from the Lightning ( 4-6' wind and wave swells) but Lightning struck on the way home, easily blowing the Mirage away on the surfing run. I was struck by the superior surfing ability of the Lightning hull, it seemed to sit in the wave more.

At the time of purchase it was discussed that "there may be a performance difference in our sheltered waters" and while we've only had her a short time, however I'm curious if others have seen this kind of performance difference between these two canoes.. I know it's like comparing a Lamborghini and a Ferrari but....any comments? thoughts? personal opinions?

Haiku? (actually I'm hoping for some good info before the thread degrades into our usual Friday foolishness :)

Submitted by Openocean on Fri, 05/23/2008 - 5:42am

Not being made in Vancouver anymore? So who's making them now?

#1 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 5:52am

there's been differing feedback... some clubs around socal have tested it, swapped crews, and said that the lightning took more effort to maintain hull definitely has a different launch point for waves in the hull vs. the mirage- the mirage point is further up. the feedback was the lightning took off faster but the mirage hung on to the wave longer...

but the tahitians came 2 weeks before molokai to test out both the mirage and lightning (they're not restricted by budget, so they don't have to get whatever is available for loan, like many other visiting crews), and test it in all conditions back and forth. well we know, they used and won in the lightning... yeah, they probably would have won in anything, blah, blah, but they're not stupid, they'll pick the boat that's the fastest.

one note, recently sonny saw our rigging, and said we were 4" too low in the front (8" rise which was the original design vs. new 12" rise), so we blocked up the front iako 4"... the original testing was with the old rigging... he said it was an accidental discovery by the tahitians that worked out better... i'm eager to test it out. btw: got a chance to sit and talkstory with sonny about the tahitians, and it's good stuff- wish there was video.

#2 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 6:59am

In flat water our open crew prefers the Mirage. And the little experience we have gained over this season seems to indicate that the Mirage maintains higher hull speed in flat water than the Lightening.

But in open surf conditions the Lightening was considered a better surfing boat. The consensus is that it is stiffer than the Mirage.

We noticed that the seats seem lower in the hull on the Lightening. Either that or it has a higher gunwale.

#3 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 7:34am

if its a 200 lbs mirage over a 400 lbs bradley, I'd take the mirage and vice versa. If theyre both the same weight but one is foam core and the other is not then I'd take the foam core. If everything is the same, weight and materials, then I'd take the boat with the better crew. If the weight, materials, and crew are all the same then its a crapshoot.

I haven't spent a lot of time in a lightning but I've steered a mirage a lot and that damn boat steers like a one man. So easy to maneuver in waves.

#4 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 8:10am

Correction on previous post. Designed rise of lightning front iako was 10 1/2" and modified to 12 1/2" (raised 2").

#5 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:05am

I like the Mirage simply because (as kdkoors said), the gunwhales feel lower, especially in seat one.

Sonny once made a boat called the Encore whose gunwhales were lowered about 4 inches or more. It was sweet. You definitely had to have sprayskirts, but it was like paddling a 6-person one-man. Unfortunately, it didn't catch on, but I dug the low gunwhales.

#6 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:18am

I agree with poops, the steering of mirage is like 1man, my preference has always been mirage. Lighting seems to have many good characteristics which put the boat at peer level with mirage. The feel is different, a bit more control -or should i says easier to steer - and holds its line. I think it depends of steersmen, crew and conditions.

oceanohana, I would have expected reverse results from your trial... hmm

#7 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:29am

i just love the word gunwhale, let all say it together. gunwhale

i concur with the yucky feeling of gunwhales that are too high. just paddled a lightning for the first time last week, and the gunwhales felt really high. not to mention the gunwhales were made very square to enhance their thumbnail ripping ability. But if other people say she surfs good, then gunwhales be damned, she must. My only experience with the lightning is in the flats so far.

honestly, why does someone mention foolishness in almost every first post? when you say something like that, you are more asking for it than preventing it.

and one more question while i'm at it. why have canoes been given the she treatment? when i was on the mainland last week i heard a boat being called a she and that struck me as funny. in all the years i paddled i had never heard of a canoe being called a she.

#8 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:37am

I agree with poops and joe about steering a Mirage. As a hack steersman, I was an expert at S turns in the older Bradleys. In a Mirage I can hold a straight line.

#9 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:38am


As far as the Lightning goes, i could never tell much difference sitting in seat 3, except for the one time I was paddling and the seat dropped out from under which case I would caution you to be weary of the ligtnings made in newport up until about a year ago. (Sonny had to take the mold from the builder becasue the builder was doing such a poor job)

#10 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 10:10am

rumor has it that Lanikai just purchased a Lightning. I guess they going over to the dark side...."Luke, I am your Father"...

The new Mirage was suppose to be OC new ticket. I don't think Karel counted on Outrigger finishing in 8th place in the channel. Had Outrigger won last years channel with the only new Mirage on the water, we probably not having this discussion right now.


#11 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 12:09pm

Rumour has it also that the mold is going to China to be made.?

#12 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 12:21pm

Yeah, the gunwhales are super high in the Lightning, and very square (ouch). The ama w/ the eagle head was cool, too! Are the gunwhales really higher or are the seats lower? Anyway, I liked it well enough. I just like that new boat smell, I think.

#13 Fri, 05/23/2008 - 3:04pm

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