Submitted: 03-02-2009 by kocho
Just a quick note on exactly how "fast" the Sonoma is in my hands... Since everyone's perception of speed is different, I think it helps to post some "hard" numbers.
First off, I have looked at a comparison of drag coefficients with other kayaks. At may be 3.5 knots it is easier to paddle than any 16 foot or longer kayak I looked at. At 4 knots it begins to lag behind just a bit. Above 4 knots resistance picks-up considerably and grows-up faster than with the longer boats, so the "wall" begins to be felt at about 4.5 miles per hour.
That said, the less than perfect tracking in any condition (due to short length and lack of skeg) even if we ignore its tendency to weathercock, will probably make it just a little more work to paddle in a straight line than a more "tracky" design of similar resistance. But it more than makes-up for this in that it allows me a good range of motion that is not possible with too many kayaks (see my previous review).
As a recent example, my average speed over 2.5 hour 11 mile trip in calm weather was 4.2 miles per hour, including short on-the-water rest stops. It is also notable that the speed does not drop too much as waves pick-up – the boat does not have much bow slap and thus maintains almost normal speeds even against good sized wind chop (but is a wet ride there).
A speed of 5.5 miles per hour is relatively easy to reach but can only be maintained for a few minutes. Max sprint speed for me so far has been up to 6.2 miles per hour but I can only maintain this for less than a minute and my heart rate reaches its maximum very fast there. Active cruising speed seems to be about 4.5 miles per hour. Relaxed all-day pace could probably be held at 4 mph but I never paddle that slowly or that long so I do not know. Surfing down boat wakes or steep wind waves I had it up to 9.3 mph - feels really different to move so fast.