Kayaks Can Sail

I often hear short wave ski surfers say that sea kayaks can’t surf, and I understand what they mean.  For them, surfing means being able to truly ride the wave and do quick cutbacks and aerial moves.  However, anyone can see that sea kayak surfing has become very popular.  Nigel Dennis made the Romany Surf in polyethylene and P&H has come out with the Delphin.  These boats meet the definition of sea kayaks and they are designed specifically for the surf environment. So not only are we seeing sea kayaks, but we are seeing it as the best way to get to the remote breaks play on them.

I used to make a similar argument that a kayak was not a good sail boat.  After all, the fattest kayak is usually narrower than the average canoe! So it is hard for a kayak to stand up to a beam wind with a decent size sail and not tip over.   When you increase the beam of the kayak by adding outriggers or hydro foils to increase stability, you make the boat complicated, expensive and hard to paddle. You could buy a decent sailboat for less! However, a small sail can help propel a kayak at normal paddling speeds with ease.  You’ll go slower than a Hobie cat, but often you’ll go faster than you can paddle!  And here is the big secret:  Paddlers hate the wind, but sailors love it.  You can paddle when it’s calm and take pleasure in sailing when it’s not!

Adding a sail to a kayak is a lot like learning to surf a kayak.  The paddle it still the primary motive and controlling force, but another aspect of the wind and water is used to ad variety. A sea kayak with a sail is not a sailboat, but it is a great paddle sailor. 

Sailing took me about an hour to learn, but it is taking the rest of my life to become better. There is always something new to learn.  Old methods used thousands of years ago are refined and made better, because modern material science improves what is possible for us to manufacture.

Today I’m working on a deck stepped mast mount that only needs a forestay and no side stays.

1 comment:

  1. I find that a sail on a kayak usually brings a big smile to the paddler if the wind direction favorable. I have been sailing sea kayaks as long as I have been kayaking (6 years) but I have been having fun sailing before that on a windsurfer. Anything that is propelled by a sail in the wind is sailing in my book, just like it is surfing when the wave pushes me along and I no longer have to paddle.
    Surely there are moe efficient crafts for sailing and surfing but none are more versatile than a sea kayak, and compact.
    Add a bit of following seas to a 15 knots plus and the fun is incredible...