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HomeNL-2019-03 Paddling Perspectives

Paddling Perspectives: Your Cosmic Paddling Questions Answered
March 2019
by Kent Walters

Q: What is the top speed one can achieve in a kayak?
A: Many factors enter into solving for top speed, such as:
   1. Water condition (flat, current, waves, salt or fresh, rapids, etc.)
   2. Wind vector (tail, head, off-side, variable, velocity, etc.)
   3. Hull profile of kayak (SOT, whitewater, rec, sea, surfski, etc.)
   4. Resting ground speed of xMPH (assumes target vector aligned with current)
   5. Instantaneous, or over some specified time or distance?

Traditional: Mark De Jonge paddled 200m in a K1 in slightly above 33 seconds, resulting in an average speed of 21 km/h. Taking into account that you have to accelerate from zero, at some point the speed must have been higher than 13 MPH to get this average, but not much higher.

Personal: Contrast Mark’s achievement to my personal best: On a river flowing 3 MPH with a slight breeze at my back, if I push it, I will cover 3 miles in that hour, for a relative ground speed of 0 MPH.

  Kyle Brandt

Other: Then there is the category of “unusual circumstances”.  For example, Kyle Brandt dropped 186 feet over Palouse Waterfall in Washington, which works out to almost 75 MPH in 3.41 seconds (the force of gravity, g = 9.8 m/s2 , final velocity, Vf = sqrt( 2 * g * height ), and time to pond, T = sqrt ( 2 * height / 9.8).  For those needing more data (and with a warped sense of humor) the splat calculator estimates the energy at impact to be in the neighborhood of 55860 joules (1/2 * mass * velocity2 = mass * g * height).  Lucky for Kyle this energy was dissipated over time by the waterfall-churned bubbly (air-infused) water at the bottom.  See video of this event here:

By the way, it might be instructive to know what Kyle was thinking in that 3.41 seconds.   I also think it would be a valuable contribution to the world for Kyle to validate these calculations by doing this again with an accelerometer in his kayak.

Q: For married kayakers and canoeists, what percentage paddle together?
A: A recent survey suggests somewhat less than 10%.  Implications of these findings are inconclusive, as each married couple is a unique and evolving partnership with each member assuming varying positions on the enthusiasm-to-apathy-to-revulsion continuum.

Q: Within the range of married kayakers and canoeists, what percentage paddle tandem canoes?
A: 50% - Implications: no comment.

Q: Within the range of married canoeists and kayakers, what percentage of the female partners are named “Linda”?
A: 30% - Implications: If you find yourself with a newborn female child, you should name her “Linda”.

Q: How many hours does it take the average person to rack up 100 miles paddling?
A: This is an invalid question.  Statistics show that there are very few “average” people, even though the very definition of average implies a majority of sorts.  For example, if you pass out papers for a secret ballot count asking each individual to characterize himself/herself by checking “average” or “not average”, the count will show that 91% think they are not average, and if you pursue this further, you will learn that these individuals perceive themselves as not average in a good way, IE: Exceptional.  Please note that this is the same method used to preserve our sacred democratic republic, but I digress . . . 

Q: Okay, how many hours does it take most people to rack up 100 miles paddling?
A: As in the first question in today’s list, this depends on several factors:

  1. How many trips it will take to accumulate 100 miles (how many miles is each trip?)
  2. Are you counting hours for preparation, driving, unloading, prepping, camping and cleanup, or just hours paddling?
  3. Are you paddling on flat water or in rivers (moving water)?
  4. Are you paddling with Bruce Bodson or David Portz, or with more “average” (less exceptional) people?

     Bruce Bodson   David Portz
  5. Do you carry a camera with you? (photography doubles paddling hours)
For purposes of a quick answer, we will consider 100 miles in paddling hours with the following assumptions:
  1. spread over 12 trips, 8.5 paddling miles per trip = 7 hours with breaks per trip
  2. actual preparation (not thinking about it, dreaming about it, or generating lists) = 2 hours per trip
  3. Flat to semi-flat water (average local conditions)
  4. loading, unloading, clean up and driving = average 6 hours per trip, including bathroom stops
So, drum roll . . . 
Without camera: 12 trips x (7 hours paddling + 2 hours prep + 6 hours travelling) = 180 hours
With camera: 180 hours x 3 = 540 hours

The author, Kent Walters