How do kayaks sail? There has been a lot of buzz about our kayak sails. A question I often get is – how do kayaks really sail. I thought it would be a great topic for this month’s newsletter. The answer is kayaks sail exactly like a kayak (but surprisingly well). Now I know this is a bit of an obvious answer, but let me explain.
Our kayaks (and not all, but most other kayaks) are designed to go straight but they do so efficiently. It get’s annoying for most paddlers to have a kayak that wanders a lot. When we put a sail on our kayaks, they go fast. 15 mph of wind with our 2 meter sail makes all of our boats go over hull speed by about .5 mph We are seeing between 5-5.5 mph. Our 1 meter sail at 15 mph will push the boats about 1-1.5 mph less. Those speeds don’t sound very fast, but when you are sitting inches over the water it feels like you are flying.
With the use of our lee boards and outriggers/amas the kayaks track about 40 degrees to weather – not bad for a kayak! So how do they tack? – a bit like a catamaran. You need quite a bit of speed and a good sized rudder to get the kayak to tack over. The great thing about a kayak is that you have a paddle. Usually one or two swift strokes with a paddle and the boat tacks well.
The mission of a kayak sail is to have fun and allow you to cover far more distance that you can paddling alone. When we go sailing we typically stay on one tack for some time, and then tack over. They are not racing machines under sail, but they do much better than I ever expected.
All Ellero kayaks are easily retrofittable for sails. We have ways to mount our sails on most kayaks. Kayak sailing is high on my weekend list, and we hope it will be high on yours too!