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Submitted: 09-13-2006 by plaidpaddler
Have now owned and paddled the Minnesota IV for over a year and have raced it for over 240 miles. It is fast, very fast! With a mixed crew of middle aged, recreational paddlers aboard, the GPS shows a cruising speed of 5.5 to 6.0 mph and a peak sprint speed of 7.0mph. With an all male racer crew aboard, the GPS showed 7.5mph cruise speed and 8.5 sprint speed on the smooth and windless Erie Canal. Tracking is as expected from a 23' long canoe; you can stay on one side for 20 or better strokes, switching only when the crew protests. It is not very sensitive to wakes and waves, but depending on load can be influenced by wind. In a 10-15mph quartering wind, the stern paddler needed to stay on the lee side to keep the canoe on course, the stroke count went to 50on the lee and 5 on the windward side. Turning sharply requires a good bow draw or rudder, an outside lean and everyone back of the bow position paddling on the outside and sweeping hard. Seaworthiness was suprisingly good, I do not consider this a deep canoe and it handles large boat wakes and swells very well. We paddled it on big open Adirondack Lakes in conditions with just the beginning of whitecaps and never took water. In foot to 18" waves taken at up to a 45 degree angle it was dry. We paddled nothing worse so I do not know at what point the canoe becomes wet, but we were dry when a tandem Malecite was taking on water and a Bell Mystic was bailing and bracing.
Portaging was also surprisingly easy. Aside from the extreme length requiring some careful manuevering on wooded portage trails, it carries well. The yoke was mounted at just the right balance point, the canoe carries with the bow just light enough to stay up out of the sightline and easy enough to pull down with one hand for descending trails. At 62# on the scale, it was no worse on my shoulders than a 15' Dagger Reflection in Royalex and its 8' longer with two more seats!
For going fast with a group of 4, this is THE boat. For family camping this is THE boat. For tandem tripping with everything including the kitchen sink, this is THE fast way to go.
For tight Pine Barrens creeks, for rapids without easy chutes, this is not the boat.
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