Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

�Greetings, I finished my Pax 2 weeks ago and started paddling right away. I keep it pretty close to our launch place so I'm able to use it quite often. Just passed the 60 mile mark yesterday, so I thought I'll have a mini review. I use the boat as a pure excersice/racing boat. Most of Tha paddling have been 5-8 mile sessions at either Zone 3 or full on race pace. The boat move quite nicely especially in a slight downriver current, it picks it up nicely. Right now it's in Grey primer, sanded semi smooth but I'll admit to have half-assed that smoothing to get to the water (it's getting and automotive paint job, so they'll take care of it when time comes). It's built just with the inspection ports on BH, with a smaller drain plug on the BH, because I doubt I'll ever carry any substantial amount of gear and any that I do carry, I'll put it on the stern via the BH. It has no skeg and no rudder, tracks pretty straight, and unless it's a tight U turn, it turns fine. You do have to make a strong opposite stroke to get it to start turning but then your other stroke doesn't negate it as sometime it happens on smaller ones. My ratings on the boat, would be STABILITY 7/10 Not once has it even come close to needing bracing, and I used a 3 inch foam as a seat, when seating on the floor the first days, it was anchored to the water (even on the ocean). SPEED 8/10 I am quite satisfied with the performance, my carbon paddle broke laat year and my wooden one got stolen after that so now I use an aluminum one for the moment, that + the not so smooth/DEFINITELY not slippery finish on it right now do impact a bit the performance but still, the boat moves good, over these 60 miles I think if quite gotten the speed the boat wants to go, when in completely flat water, 6.0mph is what I take as it's regular training effort speed, maintainable (6+miles) but also not something where u can just fall asleep and the boat will keep going for you. COCKPIT ROOM 8/10 I am kinda small so I fit nicely, and I can move my knees, don't need any more than that. I'll post some pics once it gets the paint job :D Final comments, EXCELLENT BOAT.

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RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

���Posted from my phone, for some reason it didn't separate the paragraphs the way it looked on the preview, sorry for the tough read.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Awesome, thanks for sharing.  There is so little info available on the few homebuilt racing designs, so every bit of new info helps. 

    If you enjoy paddling workouts, you should try recreational racing.  Having a race to train for helps the motivation for training hard. is a good site for finding races.  If you happen to be in Florida let me know and I can hook you up with the Florida Competition Paddlers Association.  We host about 14 free races each year in the best locations.

    A couple of tips as you move forward.  First, get a wing paddle as soon as you can.  Generally you will see a +10% speed increase with the same effort.  The Epic Wings are good for beginners.  They have a online wizard which will help you choose the correct size.  If in doubt, go with a smaller blade.  Just like riding a bike in too high of a gear, a big blade will tire you quickly, resulting in a slow cadence which equates to slow speed.   Secondly, if you are stable in a raised seat, take a look at the Nelo Rotating Seat.  You can use velcro to mount and it will allow you to get more leg drive.  Lastly, once you get the boat painted, make sure that you put something along the deck/hull to protect from paddle strikes.  When you start to get tired it is easy to beat the boat up pretty bad.  I use a strip of KeelEazy.

I built a Wahoo and have been racing it pretty successfully over the last 2.5 years.  My next build will be a 20' boat to meet the USCA Touring Class Specifications.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Thanks for posting this. I have been eyeing the Pax 20 for a while, but haven’t been able to decide between the Pax, the Mystery or the Björn Thomasson Sea Racer  

I agree with everything that was said about a wing paddle by the way. And the advice about racing. 

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Good to hear about your experience with the PAX 20. See my comments in the "Which racing kayak" thread. My thoughts on the PAX...I'ts not a full-on racing design, certainly not able to compete with the few home built, rounded hull strippers on my race circuit. I thought that for its length and width, it would be faster than it is. I built it with the supplied retractable skeg, which I haven't had the need to use, yet. It turns with difficulty, compared to my Chesapeake 17 LT, and if I try to push too hard through the turns by leaning, I will ship water into the cockpit; I don't use a skirt in warm weather. I will lose time in a race with buoy turns, and will have to take a very wide path. The cockpit is too narrow forward to allow the same leg pump that I can get in the Chesapeake, and I feel that my stroke is less powerful as a result. My size 11 feet are cramped in the PAX 20; bigger feet will have a problem. At 6 ft, 3 in and 175 pounds, I feel the PAX 20 is a good fit. I find it irritating when the flat, plumb bow transom picks up debris and I see spray from the turbulence, knowing that it is robbing me of speed. I believe that I'd build it with a tapered bow, if I was to build it again. The CLC site considers it "tippy" but I have had no issues during straight line paddles, only with attempting a fast (which isn't) turn. In sum, the PAX 20 is a good boat for exercise during paddles not requiring lots of turning, unless it is built with a rudder. For racing, it isn't fast enough to realistically compete with surfskis, or with sea kayaks having a rounded hull profile (strippers).


RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Check out onno paddle he'll make you a custom paddle for less than the production ones. 

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

First of all, thanks to all the responders for their  info.
Hi Mark, I actually have been rec racing for a some years now, but mostly in our racing canoes down here in Panama. In the offseason I had taken on kayaking a couple of times, with this one being the one I finally decided to put all my thoughts into training just for kayaking.

Would love to race on day in FL, I will make it happen soon. I had the chance to race in NY (90 Miler) and really liked the paddling community, my guess would be that it´s no different in FL.

Furthering on Reviewing the PAX 20:
I find my self liking it more and more. I purchased a wing paddle (RPC3 MID WING) and got similar results to what ive heard is standard (like 5%).
Other than that , the boat remains mostly the same, I slapped on a coat of house paint, over 100 grit sanded primer. The paint job is ROUGH, no doubt with some patience, a sleeker PJ would help the boat glide.

The boats sweetspot is definitly around 6.7-7.0 MPH, I think. For most of this last month I´ve been using it in the ocean, and down here in the pacific the tide really kicks in so most of my avg where 7.2-7.5 with and 6.2-6.5 against.
Today was completly flatwater paddling, Clocked 6.85 MPH avg over 8.5 miles. I had good motivation in the form of some other boats around (Cayucos), so its not by any means a "just cuising along" speed.

I am looking into getting a ski, but for now, the pax seems to be serving really good its function as a racing training boat. I am wondering tho on if maybe the pax 18 would have been a better fit, (I am 5´9" 170lbs).

Cant figure out how to put up some pics.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Nice video. The paint job on your boat looks great. And the race is impressive.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

Thanks for the update Sarzepapi.  You have a nice stroke and make that boat move.  You will be really fast in an elite ski assuming you have the balance to keep it right side up.  When you shop for a surfski, make sure that you spend some time paddling before you buy.  Unlike a kayak, so much of the seating geometry of a ski is fixed, so finding a bucket/hump combination that is comfortable for you in of the utmost importance.  Given your size, you may want to look at the Stellar SES.

Although I spend most of my workouts in commercial race boats, I did race my Wahoo in the Suwannee River 26 last weekend.  Start to finish was 27 miles in 4+30 for just under a 6 mph average.  If you subtract the 1/4 mile, 12 minute portage around Big Shoals, I averaged 6.25 mph.  The course was downstream (1/2 mph ave current) with a number of rapids.  The Wahoo is not the fastest of race boats but it is stable/comfortable and I can paddle it all day at ~ 5.7 mph.  Next week I will start building a Mystery.  I am hoping that it will be about as fast as my 20' surfski. 

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review


Hello Mark,


I have looked into the stellar SES, and it looks like it fits my size pretty spot on. The only issue is that I’ve been trying to figure out for a couple of weeks how to go around shipping a ski from the US to Panamá jaja. I´m not willing to pay more for the shipping than for the boat, so I´ll have to put all that in order.

Seeing that your interested in surfskis/fast kayaks, like the Mystery, have you seen Bjorn Thomasson´s strip built racing kayaks and sursfki designs? I once considered on building either the Sea Racer as it is, or the Spindrift, but sit in style instead of open.

My idea was to just leave the cockpit as it is, no humps, or weird shaping, and get a fiberglass seat in there so I can be tilted to the front. I´ve gotten so used to having a positive hip/butt/whatever angle that now even when neutral like in the PAX, I get a weird feeling on my hamstrings. If in a surfski my butt was even lower, I´m pretty sure I might go numb jajaj.

Also, if I get to do a strip build, I will take hint from you hull accents/color ;;)


RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

sarzepapi - No ski dealer in Panama?  As I said before, I would not buy a ski without getting a chance to paddle it first.

I did look at Bjorn's boats when deciding what to build next.  If you can beleive the drag numbers, the Mystery is a fair amount faster than either the Sea Racer or the Spindrift.  For racing here in the US, the Mystery also has the advantage of fitting in the USCA Touring and 20"+ classifications.  Both the SR and Spindrift are two narrow to fit in either of those classes, so they would be competing in the unlimited class.  The other big advatage of the Mystery is the CLC kit.  I just got it and the forms are sweet!

I do beleive that a decked sit-inside Spindrift would be a neat project.  Have you seen the Panthera?  That is basically a decked version of Bjorn's shorter ski (Spray).  After the Mystery, my next (final) build will be something to race in the USCA Sea Kayak Class.  A shortened Panthera (18"), Pax 18 and Yukon are potentials.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   I've been looking at the Mystery kit, and can't wait to hear about the build and its performance on the water. The Pax 20 is probably the fastest hard chine kayak available in kit form, and has done well in local races. I can't beat an equal paddler in a stripper like the Wahoo, but I've never lost to a design comparable to the Pax, and I regularly beat surfskis in the Sound Series "high performance sea kayak" class. I'm averaging 6.0 mph over the usual 6.2 mile courses, with an Epic midwing paddle, and the stock CLC foam pad. A little faster when pushed by good competition. It weighs 46 lb, which is 15% heavier than the plan's specs, probably because I was too heavy on the epoxy. I suppose that I'd be faster if the boat was its intended 40 lb weight. I'm 6'3" and 175 lb.

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Has anyone got experience of the Pax vs a Chesapeake LT17 in terms of speed vs stability? It's obvious looking at the narrow longer Pax that it should be faster but I recently saw an LT17 racing and it was really quick, up amongst the slower skis. I was looking to buy a built up Chesapeake but have been offered a Pax. I'm new to sea racing and not keen on falling in!

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

Hi Paul, 

Mark N is surely going to reply to your question.  he is an active racer and has a 17 LT.

i will approach this from a slightly different perspective.....which is somebody who is not an active racer but is a strong paddler and prefers touring and who enters the occasional race..

so the first thing i would say is a PAX 20 is a purpose built racing boat and it is optimized to legitimately compete in kayak races.    the 17LT is an efficient touring boat that will do just fine in a touring class race (which are few and far between) but will not in any way keep up with a competent racer in a serious race with a PAX20.

a PAX 20 is physically less stable than a 17LT .....but candidly...once you are used to it, its not a distinction that is going to matter.  competent kayakers in tippy boats are not falling in......they just adapt and don't really think about it.   in a PAX 20 you are less likely to be lazing back sucking down a beer becuase you have to be active to avoid tipping.  in a 17LT you could do that.

so if i was really trying to get into racing i would take the PAX and you will need a bit of training.....but it is fine with respect to stability for a racing boat and it can be easily mastered.....and may get wet during the process....but i think its a bit like riding a bike.  once you learn, you don't really thing about it any longer.   

if you are not really interested in racing, other than the occassional fun race, and you want to do touring....then got with the 17LT....or any of the other fast touring boats like the night heron.

anyway, that's my thoughts 

Note at the last 'fun race' (10 miles) i came in second by a long distance to a purpose built racing kayak (which came in first).  i was in a night heron and they were in something like a PAX20.   and then there was a an even larger gap to the main part of the touring fleet which included a 17LT and other boats that were just having a good time.  at the same event there was also a fleet of pure racing kayaks/racers.  they were substantially ahead of our times at all the marks.

hope that helps.





RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Thanks H, that is really useful and interesting. So would you consider the Night Heron a faster boat than the LT or is it a paddler advantage?

Look forward to Mark N's comments.



RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Hi Paul, 

if you go to this link on the site, you will see where CLC identifies their 'performance' kayaks.  the longer ones (not the petrel/petrel play) on this list are their faster/racier boats.

if you scroll all the way to the bottom of any individual kayak, you will see the following:

the first example is the night heron:

the next example is a Mystery Racing Kayak

and the final example is a 17LT

so if you spend some time reviewing these you can get a sense of the speed potential of the boat, stability and other features that may point you in the right direction.

hope that helps


RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   oops...the Mystery is pictured below:

just a note that the Mystery is what i would refer to as a special purpose raceing kayak..... that can be competed succesfully with production racing boats.



RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to add to hspira’s excellent post above.  The 17LT is a wonderful touring boat that is relatively fast, but it will never be competitive racing unless there is a dedicated class for that type of boat (SK class under Sound Rowers System).  Here in the SE, there are very few of that type races. 

The Pax 20 certainly has a higher speed potential, but not all paddlers have the power required to achieve those speeds.  Many paddlers are just as fast in an 18’ boat as they are a 20’.  Assuming that you are strong enough to get that speed, the Pax 20 would certainly be the better of the two for racing.  That being said, the Pax 20 does not have a great reputation in the racing world.  Make sure that you re-read Chris Rucker’s posts above and also here:  

If your primary use is recreational with a little racing thrown in, my recommendation matches hspira that the 17LT would be best.  I raced mine for about a year while I was building the first race boat.  I always was in the back, but I still had a great time.  Of course, there are a number of other excellent CLC designs that are similar.

If you are intent on getting into racing, I can’t say that I would recommend the Pax 20.  Yes, it is a race boat but not a very good one.  A better choice for beginning racers to start is with a successful 18’ boat that fits in the USCA SK and Sound Rowers FSK classifications.  Candidates in the homebuilt world are the Pax 18, Wahoo, Yukon and Panthera.  Unlike the Pax 20, the 18 has an excellent record in competition.  For commercial boats, the 18’ kayaks or surfskis from either Epic or Stellar are great. 

If you want to read a great article on kayak speed, read the following by Nick Schade:  

You may also be interested in the following LONG post regarding my race boats:

This is a picture of my Wahoo beside a friends Pax 18.  I had a chance to paddle his boat and found it to have speed and stability similar to the Wahoo.  He won a National Championship paddling it.

Picture of my four wooden race boats


RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Mark & hspira, thanks this is exactly the sort of information I was looking for. I love the boat performance description with dial guages showing the relative aspects.

My race history is recent, I started at age 60 before lockdown and did a few UK flatwater marathon races in a very stable K1 but did OK. The racing then stopped for 18months but this summer I did my first sea kayak race around the Isle of Kerrara off Oban in Scotland. It was fantastic but I used a standard touring sea kayak. I now need to find a boat that can be my one solution for both inland marathons and sea races and I think I am on the right track with a light weight wooden boat to get the best balance of speed and potential from a newbie senior paddler. I have been offered a Pax 20 at a very sensible price but there is no point buying it if it is not right for the job!

Thanks for your help and advice...I'll let you know what I do next!

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

Hey Paul, For the type of racing that you are talking about, I would look very seriously at the Yukon.  It surfs as well as an 18' ski but is faster on flat water.  I am about your age and have had a very successful year racing mine.  I took first in the FSK class at the 24 mile race in Knoxville beating several much younger guys.  Took a Silver in my age group at Nationals in SK class.

Here is a video of the Yukon surfing 3' waves:

Yukon entering Fame Rapids at Nationals



RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

   Hi Mark,


I can't find the Yukon kit and plan details on the site?

RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review


the Yukon is on the guillemot kayaks site:

guillemot often works with CLC.  guillemot can sell you plans.  and through CLC, they can get forms cut (for a fee) and send them to you so you can build one of these.  it may not be offered as a kit ....but its pretty straight-forward to have forms cut and order strips yourself ....and that pretty much is what a strip kit is anyway -- a set of plans, forms that correspond to the plans, and a big box of strips :)



RE: Pax 20 Fitness Boat Review

As hspira says, the Yukon is a Guillemot design not in the CLC catalog, but the do in fact have the CNC files and will sell the forms as a custom order.  I also purchased their strongback and ordered custom (3/16" hull and 1/8" deck) strips from them.

When you look at the Yukon on the Guillemot web page, note that it has not been updated to reflect the newer version of the boat.  This is a snapshot of the plans which shows a more narror and rounded boat.


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