Kayak Sails

Does anyone out there ever use a kayak sail? Am thinking of getting one and would appreciate any and all information. We kayak both in sea and lake conditions.


I recently asked about adding a downwind sail to my Wildfire OC-1, and have found these sails to be the ones generally used for this purpose. I am probably going to go with the Spirit Sail.

My basic choices seem to be spinaker type:


Maybe more control, clearly most expensive.

Or, V-type:




I believe all are suitable for a touring kayak.

I use the Spirit Sail…
I think it is a nice downwind sail rig - I have reviewed it in the product review section. I use it on long day trips when the wind is right. You will need a rudder to keep you pointed where you want to go. If you have a tippy boat you may want to opt for the smaller sail as off-beam gusts of wind will try to push you over even though the sail is designed to spill out heavy wind. Important thing is to get a sail rig that allows you to paddle at the same time - that way you can still motor paddle and do corrective strokes if things start to get out of control. I had my sail up in a passing storm front once and had no chance to take it down before being blown across a lake. All I could do was paddle and brace like a madman and in the end my GPS recorded a top speed of over 8 mph, which is like insanely fast for my boat.

Again, sails are a lot of fun in the right conditions and definitely adds a whole new dimension to your kayaking skill set. Plus, you get a free push!

The latest edition of Sea Kayaker (April 2005) has an article about kayak sails.

Not being particularly interested in the subject, I skipped over reading it, but I think it reviewed several different systems.



I made one
using 3/4" dia. PVC pipe with caps on the ends and ripstop nylon. Cost was about $15.00 max. I can only use it effectively on the kayak with a rudder.

It’s fun if you have a decent wind…maybe 15 knots or so. According to my GPS, my max speed so far has been about 5 1/2 mph.

It isn’t really better than paddling, but it’s a nice change of pace if you get bored.


Seakayaker Magazine
Check the latest issue. They review several of them.

Peronally, I have rigged a nylon kite to my kayak. This worked well for me so long as the wind and I were going in the same direction. Not really functional but good for a bit of fun.

Kayak sail in Michigan Challenge…
Here is a link to an interesting story about a guy who raced in the WaterTribe 2003 Michigan Challenge in a Stearns inflatable using a kayak sail. I believe he came in 2nd place overall.

He designed his sailing rig so he can paddle at the same time.