You're currently on the Canadian/International site. US customers visit 🇺🇸

Bear Mountain Sprint Racing Canoes

New to sprint racing? Watch this video for a quick visual primer.

Click here to read about Bear Mountain Boats' latest project, the Dragonfly Tandem Dragon Boat, produced in collaboration with Nova Craft Canoe and Steve Killing Yacht Design

Racing C15 war canoes and C4s is a very old Canadian sport. These classes go back to the very beginning of organized sprint canoe racing, long before it became an international sport.

Until we began building in the 1980s, Walter Walker of Lakefield Ontario had built these boats. He was building on molds that were from the turn of the century using the original building materials and methods. The war canoe mold did change; about 1940 the bow was built up for more buoyancy.

When we began building, we duplicated these hull shapes using our building methods. Input from coaches and paddlers pointed out many quirks that made these boats tricky to handle. Sprint canoes may be the only pieces of sports equipment in the civilized world that haven't evolved every season. The fact that no one asked points out why these classes have endured. A war canoe race is all about paddlers testing themselves in equal boats.

Bear Mountain Sprint Racing Canoes

Building each boat better than the last one is our challenge but also our reward and why we are boat-builders. It concerned us that we were building a war canoe that tracked like a streetcar; fine when going straight in the lane but hard to control in the wash from leading boats. Once out of control, the boat could end up anywhere. The stern of the C4 would sink as speed increased so the boat was always climbing out of the hole. The stern deck was typically below water level so sinking from the stern was common.

In 1999 we decided it was time for a good look at these boats and see what improvements we could make. We commissioned yacht designer, Steve Killing (check out Steve's personal website here) to analyze the traditional designs then give these classes a fresh start with new hull shapes. Our prime objective was to keep the new boats competitive with the traditional boats. We would like to see these classes continue as a competition of paddlers against paddlers.

The underwater profile of the hull (the rocker) has been altered to reduce the tendency of the bow to over-steer, and give the aft a weathervane effect. Underwater sections of the boat have been rounded to reduce frictional drag, especially at lower speeds. The top-end speed has been extended for stronger paddlers by reducing the tendency of the stern to squat. Whether the crew is light or heavy, focuses on technique or strength, they will find these new designs the optimum balance of speed and control.

C15 War Canoe + C4 Water Shots

Bear Mountain Sprint Racing Canoes


Bear Mountain Sprint Racing Canoes

The hull is a composite of a strip-planked cedar core reinforced inside and out with fiberglass cloth that has been impregnated with WEST SYSTEM(R) epoxy resin. This creates a stiff, strong structure that is also very light. Because the moisture content of the wood is stabilized by the epoxy, varnish lasts longer than would be expected with traditional construction.

While each hull is built on the same mold, we work with the coach to outfit the boat to their specifications.

To identify the boat, the fore deck is painted the club color as well as a club logo applied on the bow. We appreciate the effort that goes into raising money for new boats; talk to us about applying sponsor identification.

C15 War Canoe + C4 Floorboard choices and Foot Brace options

Bear Mountain Sprint Racing Canoes

Check out our Sprint Racing Playlist on YouTube, or read our blog post on the history of war canoes.