Top speed

Does anyone the top speed for the Cheaspeake 17? I know it does depend on the paddler, but areodynamics and water friction does play apart in optimal numbers. Does anyone have any experiance or knowledge about it and would like to share?



6 replies:

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RE: Top speed

You may want to rephrase your question, to make it clear exactly what information you are really looking for, or what your goal is. 

Are you looking for the top speed ever measured by the folks on this forum?  The top speed ever recorded for a race or a timed measurement?  Some power vs. speed graphs for this design under different conditions and loads? 

The first two answers you might get here.  The third one maybe not, because it takes money, time, equipment, and expertise to do the studies and there is no financial incentive to attract the necessary interest.

There is no top speed for a kayak. If you paddle harder you go faster.

RE: Top speed

I'll respectfully disagree with Camper in that there most definitely is a top speed for a kayak unless you get one that will plane, which a Chessy 17 definitely will not do.


This article looks like a reasonably accurate estimator, which I've copied.


Divide the beam (width) of the kayak in inches by the length in inches, and then extrapolate using the table below.


Sprint Speed


5.0 kts.
5.5 kts
6.0 kts
6.5 kts
7.0 kts

For greater precision, the regression model is: Maximum speed in kts = 9.15 - 27.71*(W/L).


This equates to  roughly 5.9 knots, which is a pretty impressive speed.  I've definitely heard of people measuring 6+ knots in this boat but it was probably with some current so hard to tell what still water speeds would have been.  Either way, she feels fast when paddled, I can attest to that having paddled the entire Chessy line when I was researching boats.


RE: Top speed

Knitron, I think you may be confusing "hull speed" with "maximum speed".

It's important to understand that "hull speed" does not mean "maximum speed", although most boaters believe them to be the same.

In fact, racing kayaks routinely exceed their hull speed.

By the way, they routinely do this without planing--contrary to another  popular misconception: that no boat can exceed hull speed without planing.   There is no connection between planing speed and hull speed that applies to all sizes, shapes, and weights of boats. True, some hulls don't exceed hull speed without planing.  But some hulls don't plane without significantly exceeding hull speed.

The fact is that a kayak doesn't have a "maximum speed", unless you mean the maximum speed that a given paddler can achieve.  The speed of a kayak depends on how much power the paddler applies, and of course the weight and balance of the kayak.

If you paddle harder, faster, or more efficiently, you increase the power applied, and you go faster, and the power lost to drag increases. Your speed increases until the power lost to drag equals the power applied.  It is pretty simple.

Hull speed is simply defined as the speed at which bow wave and stern wave are in phase with each other and amplify each other to the maximum extent.  This amplification makes wave height and thus wave drag at that speed higher than it otherwise would be, but it is no kind of speed limit and is not necessarily the planing speed.

To clear up another misconception: If anyone could paddle hard enough to get a kayak to its planing speed, it would plane, but no paddler is that powerful.  To get a kayak to plane on flat water would require pulling it behing a powerboat.

RE: Top speed

While this discussion is informative, I don't think it even begins to answer the original question.

 Yes, the original question was not really asked correctly to gather the desired information, so on behalf of the original poster, I will ask another, more pertinent question.

Over a given distance (say 10 miles) what is the average speed that people acheive in their respective boats.  If you doanswer, give it in terms ofthe conditions encountered:

 While there is a lot of good info to be had, there is a real lack of the anecdotal, real-world data like this this. 

In my plastic boat, I have a 20km paddle that I love to do.  I know how long it takes me in millpond conditions with a favourable tide, I know how long it takes for me in the worst conditions with 40kn headwinds, against the tide and a 3' wind chop. 

For people looking for a boat, the real world info is invaluable in making a decision on what might be best for them.


So, lets start putting some real-world, useful info out there.  (I will once I finish my boat in the next few weeks).

IE  Boat, distance, conditions, wind speed/direction, time, avg speed.

RE: Top speed

I can't offer any technical answers and I don;t know why you are seeking such info for the CH17 but my experiences may be of use. i have been paddling the same distance/route now on a weekly basis for about 6 years. Brisbane River which is tidal so first leg is against the tide and running back with the tide. Early morning I go faster as there is no wind or high speed ferries about. I mainly paddle in the afternoon when the wind is up and the ferries are about. I built a CH17 and paddled it on the river for about 3years.  I guestimate that my average speed in the Ches in these conditions was about 6km/h. I couldn't sustain higher speeds for long (i would sometimes try and keep up with the surfskis) Doesn't sound very quick but it is a tough paddle against the tide which can run at about 4-5kn and I expect that it would go a lot faster in flat conditions. 

To give some context, I am above average fitness, 6'3" & 210lbs. I don't paddle kayaks anymore preferring HP surfskis and I compete in open ocean races from time to time. On the River in the same conditions I average about 10-11km/hr on my ski.

The CH17 got along alright but I wouldn't consider it a boat built for high speed. Cheers

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