I’m thinking of getting a sail rig for my kayak at a local supplier. It looks like a two pole kite that attaches to the bow of the kayak. I wanted to know if anybody has any experience using them and if they are any good. Can you “sail” paralel to the wind or just down wind?

Thank you all in advance for your input.

Easy Sail
If your kayak has a rudder, just use a golf umbrella. Easy, simple, folds up and stows. Hold on!

Downwind sail…
is not worth the price…find out if it’s suitable for tacking or not…I use an umbrella for downwind sailing and I have a sail for my Folbot…you must have outriggers to use a tacking rig…I think you’re referring to a downwind…that means it can only be used when the wind is behind you…an umbrella works great for this!

Might not be worth it
I was on a long trip where 3 of us (out of 4) had sails. One day, when a strong tailwind was allowing us to stroke along at 5 mph with little effort, we rafted up and began sailing. Our speed dropped to 3 mph WITH SAILS UP. You can’t paddle while sailing.

Then 2 people still wanted to keep sailing while the other guy with a sail put his away. We motored away from the other 2 in ridiculously short order, even though they were the stronger paddlers.

I asked one of the 2 sailors if kayak sails worked with anything other than a tailwind (I had once seen a windsurfer fly along at better than 30 mph INTO the wind, as a motorboat whopped up and down getting nowhere, bucking the headwind). She said that it required more hardware than what was used with kayaks.

In other words, not worth carrying.

Some strange replies to your question so far…

From your description it sounds like a small downwind rig. If so, no it will not tack.

No, you do not need outriggers to tack. You need some form of lateral resistance under the boat in the water. This typically means a rudder and a leeboard on a kayak or canoe. A leeboard alone works and you can steer with a paddle too. This coupled with a good sail shape and presto! A windsurfer can tack way up into the wind.

Might not be worth it? Depends on what your agenda is. Relax and drift in the general direction you are heading? Hike out and scream along? Small downwind rigs are just a way to keep your heading without paddling for awhile. Depends on the square footage of the sail versus the size of boat, hull type and what it’s displacing as to whether or not it’s going to keep up.

There are tons of methods and means available to sail a stable kayak or canoe, with and without outriggers or pontoons. Yahoo or google either and you will get a lot of reading material.

I sail my canoe all the time with a simple little rig from spring creek. I love it.

Good luck.

I have one and in
a mod brezze I can tack up wind, it’s not like my sailboat but it can. Running is not a problem. How ever beating can be a chore if it is puffy that day. And you should check this guy out: WWW.bopaya.com.ar This is the sail rig I have and it’s half the price of anything that I have seen.

Sail rig used on my kayak…
I have this for my Folbot folding kayak:


There are Folbot yachting flotillas all over the States…a lot of us sail our kayaks…

This question comes up often…
I’ve had a sail for 4 years that I use on both my SOT & SINK. IMO, the first feature I wanted was a true “hands free” operation while under way. I didn’t want to have to hold any guideline etc. to control the sail. I wanted to be able to maintain a normal paddle stroke as much as possible. Also, the level of skill required to raise/lower the sail was important. I am not paid to endorse them, But I bought a Spirit Sail for just those reasons. It’s “hand’s free” & I never had a problem lowering or raising the sail. It does require a couple of holes to be drilled into the boat, but the mounting base only takes a few minutes to install and then that same “Scotty” base can also be used for other items such as fishing rod holders, lights etc.

The best part, is that when condtions are right & the sail is used downwind I get about a 30% increase in speed with much less effort. I am not a sailor, but to say the sail is used downwind I mean that if the wind is coming from 12:00 I can very easily put the sail up & sail thru 4:00 to 8:00 without any problem. As far as tacking & trying to go “upwind”, if that’s what you are trying to do, buy a sailboat and not a yak/canoe.

Sail or not?
On our seakayak trips (British Columbia, Quebec,Ontario, Barbados, Venezuela…)I consider better idea to use the fly from our tent than to put up with the extra hardware, the extra volume & the extra pain of the sail.

If you get it for free & have your car near bye, I guess it’s Ok to bring it along…but if you have to carry it & pay for the extra weight to bring it to final destination…I wouldn’t buy it…but sure it looks good on the my neighbour’s boat.

Check out April’s Sea Kayaker
Magazine. They do a review of 13 sails in their Gear Review Section.

Sounds like a twin
Balogh Sail Designs makes a down wind sail that is called a twin that fits your description