Foot Pressure & Skegs

I just returned from a trip down the Na Pali coast in a Scupper Pro SOT. Very scenic place - lots of sea turtles.

I paddle Class 3 & 4 whitewater and am very comfortable in an enclosed 8-foot boat. The Scupper Pro felt like an open-air bus with a flat tire. But I’m not ripping on sea kayaking because I know it is just a matter of taste, getting the skills, and getting used to the equipment.

One question - in a whitewater kayak I apply foot pressure as I paddle a stroke on each side, which of course helps with power and torso rotation. In the Scupper my feet were on the skeg pedals, so I could not apply pressure with each forefoot without the boat zigzagging down the coast. After a while I figured out I could apply pressure with my heels where they made contact with the footholds, but this still was not as solid as what I am used to. Do sea kayakers normally just use heel pressure and try to avoid pressing on the pedals, or is there another solution?


skeg pedals ?
i think you mean rudder pedals. and the trouble you’ve experienced is part of the problem with having a rudder in the first place.

this is going to start a whole blah and blah and the pros and cons of rudders vs. skegs. so i’m leaving now.

pleast so not gereralize from that

– Last Updated: Aug-17-06 6:43 PM EST –

experience to sea kayaking. That's about like generalizing from paddling my grumman aluminum to ww kayaking

now to answer your questions. The best sea kayaking rigs do not sacrifice ball of foot pedal bracing for rudder control. some folks still make sliding footbraces though.

IMHO, that’s not a sea kayak.
Just my opinion…take it or leave it. Don’t make any assumptions about sea kayaking from the experience you seemed to have described.

Open air bus
with balloon tires. Last time I checked a Scupper pro had molded foot braces,are you saying this one had a rudder?

Just a different setup
than what you’re used to. Pushing off through your heels rather than the balls of your feet works fine, whether in a ruddered Scupper or a surfski.

OTOH, push-pull rudder systems with no solid footbraces are hell-spawned abominations.

Not unusual to have a rudder
on a Scupper, at least around here. It’s useful for kicking the stern back in line in a following sea.

how long oh Lord, oh long will this go on?

push/pull footbraces should have dissapeard five years ago.

No moving pedals
Last sea kayak that I had with anything that moved inside was my ruddered Squall, a rather old design. The bulk of newer design full length (17’ plus) sea kayaks have skegs, no rudders, with a fixed pedal or just bracing off foam blocks against the bulkhead. Also a lot of the newer 16 footers.

You turn the boats by leaning and a sweep stroke, same as a WW boat. The rudder/skeg thing should be used primarily to aid in tracking.

There are rudder systems that have fixed footbraces and pedals at the top of them for rudder control. A search for skegs vs. rudders on this site could keep you busy for awhile.

I’ll just say that I prefer a skeg but don’t rely on it. It’s a mechanical device and Murphy’s Law still applies. A skeg or rudder can make your paddling life easier in some situations but you should be able to handle those conditions without them as well.

dangerous thing…
to start discussing skegs and rudders :slight_smile:

Well designed rudder systems allows for good bracing against pedals without involuntary affect on the rudder - what Celia was talking about.

Badly designed is a PITA. Not only directional control is messed up, some of the recovery strokes/reactions become severely impeded.

SmartTrack Systems
These systems have a fixed foot peg with a separate piece to operate the rudder with the toe, and are hugely better IMO. Tho’ it seems that the company is out of business these kits can still be found on places like EBay. I had the original pedals replaced with SmartTrack ones on my Squall before it ever left the lot because the moving ones killed my calves, even in a half day rental.

But I still had to fiddle with the rudder with the toe the all of four times I did actually use it, and frankly found even that to be a lot of bother and tiring compared to the skegged boats with foam blocks I’ve had since.

Got 2 feet, right?

– Last Updated: Aug-18-06 12:27 PM EST –

Best solution is where the peg itself is fixed and there is a smaller pedal on top of the peg that you push with your toe or forefoot. As sensible as that seems, I've only paddled one kayak that was set up that way.

Two kayaks I own and paddle have rudders controled with the sliding pegs. I do apply paddle-stroke pressure on the pegs, but I hold my other foot in position, too. When you push forward on one peg, the other peg wants to come back toward you. Don't let it. Hold it in position and the rudder stays in a neutral position.

I know this dual foot pressure seems like a PITA, but it isn't much of an issue in practice. I only use the rudder when conditions make it hard to maintain my track by leaning the boat, at which point things are rockin and rollin pretty good, and in such conditions I am usually applying some pressure anyway to fix my knees and butt to the cowling and seat, respectively.

Chip Walsh, Gamrills, MD

Sea and whitewater paddling
There is a perception that sea paddling is boring among the more numerous whitewater paddlers. And for what they do, they would be right compared to the bulk of paddlers at least in my neighborhood, anyway. I would rather be on Devils Island with 2 coconut sacks than condemned to a life sentence with a Scupperpro. The ocean is really exciting and varied providing your skill set and equipment are tuned to it. Class 3 and 4 boaters adjust really well, if my pals are any kind of barometer. If you get the opportunity to watch either of the This Is The Sea (TITS) videos, please do. They are notable attempts to capture the kind of coastal paddling that’s been going on for years. I know a lot of people who have been seduced by the sea into coastal and surf paddling as once bitten the condition is chronic.


Have you spent any time in
a Scupper Pro? There are a lot of things about it that could be a lot better, but you can have a lot of fun with one.