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Cruising speed - boat comparison

Boyd Lake speed test

I have several very different boats in my paddling fleet from sea kayaks to hybrid boats to an outrigger canoe. I am mostly interested in a long distance cruising and racing which requires a compromise between the boat speed and the paddler comfort. The Spencer X-treme canoe is my choice for the Texas Water Safari and similar river races. I believe that I have several boats suitable for open water cruising including WaterTribe Challenges but my choice is not so clear. Therefore, I've decided to compare the cruising speed of my boats.

I've chosen to run 2 closed loops (~18 miles) on my local Boyd Lake. This course allows for different exposure to wind and boat wakes. A significant part of the course, especially the south lake end, is over shallow water (1-2' deep). The course can be completed within 4 hours, so it is easy to repeat it as an afternoon paddling.

I am trying to maintain a crusing speed during the test. So, after paddling 18 miles and a short break I should be able to continue paddling with a similar speed. I am carrying a light load of 10-15lb (my typicall stuff for day paddling).

Speed and distance is tracked by Garmin Etrex Vista GPS. The table below summarizes the GPS trip odometer for the tests performed so far. The graphs extracted from GPS logs show the original recorded speed and the speed smoothed by a running average. The average reading from my heart rate monitor (HRM) confirm that I was paddling at the similar effort in all tests.

date boat paddle distance
average speed
max speed
10/05/03 Sea Wind u/light Zaveral 18.0 4:00 4.5 5.6 133 calm, light wind
11/09/03 Sea Wind light Zaveral 17.9 4:00 4.5 5.7 129 calm
10/11/03 Surfrigger light Zaveral 17.9 3:48 4.7 8.1 130 10-20 mph S wind
10/19/03 X-treme wing 18.2 3:45 4.8 6.9 133 light wind, 1-2' waves/chop

boat speed comparison

I've managed to perform only four tests before winter. I still need to paddle in a variety of conditions before I can formulate any reasonable conclusions. Well, one conclusion is obvious: improve the paddler performance! The tests will continue in spring when ice is gone.

Both runs with Sea Wind were performed in similar calm or light wind conditions. In the first run I was drinking from a bottle (numerous deccelaration spikes in the speed log), then I switched to the camelback.

The Surfrigger run was performed with moderate to strong wind. After paddling against strong wind I did't have enough energy to take a full advantage of wind when paddling in opposite direction. The wind influence is obvious in the speed log. This test run needs to be repeated with a full camping equipment since the performance of the Surfrigger may be quite sensitive to the load as indicated by my Everglades Challenge experience.

X-treme. It was surprizingly high motor boat and water ski traffic resulting in a lot of confused chop. I spent a lot of time bracing, especially, that it was my first time in the X-treme after several months since the last Texas Water Safari.

All three canoes tested are quite comfortable for long distance paddling with Sea Wind being the best one. The sitting position in the Surfrigger is quite cramped due to her narrow hull. I haven't tested yet on the Boyd Lake course my fastest boat, CLC Patuxent 19.5. This low volume kayak is fast but not very comfortable for long distance paddling.