Best Rudder?

I use the rudder a lot for tracking (prbally due to poor technique) but can really notice the difference in speed. I have a dagger and the rudder is almost a foot long. Does a shorter rudder make a difference and where can you get them?

Best rudder.
Size of blade can be custom tuned.

Have to scroll down a bit… thank you.

My thought exactly…

a shorter rudder
yes it can make a difference,but in waves it’s less effective. In flat water it doesn’t take much of a rudder to keep the bow pointing in one direction. I made a rudder for my first s&g kayak out of a short metal skeg used on Necky rec. kayaks. It worked for tracking but most of what I was needing was a skeg anyway,in waves and for actual turning it had some problems.

The problem is distinguishing between a simple foil/plate in the back keeping the stern from sliding around on a maneuverable kayak or a foil/plate that’s needed to turn a stiff tracking kayak or keep a stiff tracking and hard weathercocking kayak on course. Most rudders are one size fits all when the rudder needed for a particular kayak might be bigger or smaller than what’s available.

If you are strictly interested …
…in speed, from my take it does make a difference.

I just recently posted this in response to another post.

I have a plastic 17 foot Perception Eclipse with a large rudder. I can definately notice a difference in all out speed, and it is slightly slower when it is down.

On my 18 foot QCC with the much smaller Seal-line rudder in all out speed I can’t notice any difference.

About six or seven years ago I was in a race with the Eclipse with the rudder down, and I was right beside another guy, and no matter how hard I tried to get ahead of him, we stayed side by side for several miles. I finally took the fraction of a second to pull the rudder up, and within a short time I not only made up the boat length that I dropped behind but pulled ahead of him. That was when I realized how much the large rudder slowed me down.



Sealine or other foils

– Last Updated: Jul-15-05 3:49 PM EST –

apparently are much more efficient, and create much less drag. I upgraded the Feathercraft rudder that was stock on my QCC to a Sealine, and the difference is noticable. While the Feathercraft was "shaped", and not just a slab of aluminum, teh foil shape of the Sealine is, well, a true airfoil. My testing has not involved flat-out speed - I base my evaluation on the "Gurgle Factor". When a rudder is turned, there is a point where it will stall in the water just like an aircraft wing stalls in air, and the water flow will be disturbed and cause a gurgling sound. The Sealine does the job with less angle, and can be turned further before it gurgles. My hypothesis is Less gurgle = more efficiency.


PS: Look at teh Onno rudder. Foil, of course. Really sweet looking. (had to put in a plug for you, Patrick!)

When a Rudder is Most Efficient
A rudder is an important component for fast and efficient paddling. The components in order of importance in my opinion are:

Good Technique - Less than 5% of sea kayakers even come close to having good technique.

Slender kayak at the waterline - Ideally a boat should be designed for your weight while being as narrow as your skills allow.

Wing paddle - The benefits of a wing paddle combined with the other elements listed here far exceeds the 10% increase in efficiency often mentioned on this site.

Rudder - The rudder allows one to maintain a consistent symmetric forward stroke. The benefits outweigh the additional drag contributed by a rudder. A rudder also significantly reduces slideslipping in a cross breeze making distances paddled shorter. A rudder also allows one to stay on the face of a wave much longer allowing huge increases in speed when paddling in similar direction as waves. The rarely seen understern rudder generates about the same lift with half the area of a surface piercing rudder.

Solid Foot Brace - Like a tiller steering pedestal or Sealine pedal system. This allows one to push with legs to rotate butt on seat for more power from large muscle groups while still maintaining rudder control.

Good Seat - hard, slippery and inclined forward to allow one to rotate upon is best but rarely seen. Traditional seats can be made better by removing padding under butt and using a more modest back support. If your seat back supports your lumbar region or higher, torso rotation is prevented or significantly hindered. Seats can be a challenge because its just as important to be comfortable too. Most people prefer to lean back against a cushy backrest because they have not developed the muscles for correct paddling posture.

Proper Attire - Non-chafing, quick drying tops and bottoms make paddling more comfortable. Tight neoprene or similar shorts make a big difference. Don’t forget good water shoes. The butt and feet are the primary points of contact with a kayak when paddled with best technique.

I know this is more specialization than most paddlers would ever strive to. Frankly many people claim to have no desire to go fast and far in their kayaks. However, incorporating any of these element into your current setup will net better efficiency. Efficiency is something all paddlers appreciate.

Hey, who is this Guy ? ; )
How is the boat going Envyabull ?

The shape of a tuned rudder or skeg for that matter is designed to provide lift, similar to a sailboat’s keel. With that in mind, and assuming that it is correct, the added lift should reduce the wetted surface by reducing volume, by reducing the displacement weight.

No idea if this is correct in terms of our kayaks. I have read many articles in relation to the lift provided by a keel and how it actually does increase velocity.


Hi Patrick
Hey Patrick, hope all is going well with you! I know I have not been on in a while. Just have not had time.

My kayak project has not made much progress. The boat is very fast and ready to be faired for tools. I have only a few minor modifications to make. But, just don’t have time. It sits in garage with the coaming ripped off. I need someone with your compsite skills to finish the project. Interested?

I made a career change into the marine industry. I am now a regional sales manager for a major sailboat manufacturer. Love the field, but it takes a lot of time and travel. Unfortunately, my territory does not include SoCal so can not stop in to see you.

I still make time to paddle and plan on defending my title in one of our local ocean races.