Paddling cross-wind

Paddling cross-wind: Should I have to keep my kayak (continuously) on edge or should I edge only when I take strokes?

Whatever works for the situation
I find continual edging tiring. I generally time my edging with strokes. To maintain course in wind and waves I just time my edging and strokes for when the bow and/or stern are clear of the water. I have the most trouble in flat water with high quartering winds and I think this is where continual edging would be most beneficial. After edging for a while this is when I give in and drop the skeg a bit.

Get a rudder

– Last Updated: Oct-10-10 5:54 AM EST –

and enjoy the ride !

Jack L

If your boat
has a skeg experiment with using just enough to hold your course. Start with half and fine tune from there. You should not need a full skeg in a beam wind.

Shift your weight a little to one side and the boat will edge effortlessly.

Bill H.

easier edging
For just a bit of edge, avoid lifting with your knee. I find that tiring. Instead, just put more weight into one butt cheek. That’s more sustainable.

Of course it depends on your particular boat, but for the most part I drop down the skeg then ease it up a little as I go along and try to reach a happy medium.


if your getting blown way off course or getting blown into rocks etc I drop the skeg edge into the wind continuously and pray like hell…or curse like hell… I keep forgetting which it is.

shifting weight on to a butt cheek is a bit easier along with shifting my hands on my paddle a bit to give more leverage on the wind side (where I may be tending to turn). While I do use my skeg if going for very long or if in a hurry I forgo it much of the time just to keep in practice should my skeg fail some day and also it makes it easier if I suddenly want to go other directions.

I need more info but
Rudder, skeg, or no?

Continuous edging generally works better. While your stroke is intermittent, the turning moment due to cross wind is continuous (though variable with the variation in wind speed and passing waves) so continuous edging is best to counteract this.

Adjust the skeg or rudder to a point that you don’t have to edge to an uncomfortable degree though. If a subtle edge with a shift in butt cheek and heel pressure doesn’t get it then edging is going to get tiring and you need more skeg or rudder.

All my boats are ruddered these days (surfski and k2) but I’ll edge so that I don’t have to use as much rudder. I ran the same way with a skegged boat. I’d use as much skeg as needed to hold my line while edging without grabbing the combing with my knees (just using my hips/heels and maintaining my leg drive for an efficient forward stroke). There’s a balance where edge+rudder is more efficient than just one of either.

If you’ve not got a rudder or skeg then constant edging is still more efficient than only edging while you apply power. If you only edge while you apply power then you’re possibly going to be correcting your course on every stroke.

No skeg, no rudder
I have no skeg, no rudder.

Edging my kayak continuously is really exhausting. Edging only when I take strokes is much easier. But which one is the correct way if no rudder, no skeg?

as stated above, if you edge by shifting weight to a butt cheek rather than more aggressively lifting a knee it can be a bit easier. Shifting your paddle hold so the wind side is a bit longer can help too.

If doing longer distances with a rear(ish) wind and you have no skeg or rudder you can also trying adding some ballast behind you.

Weather cocking??
Are you trying to counter weather cocking?

a couple other tricks you can use is to offset the paddle a bit so you take a longer stroke on the side you are turning into.

And you also can shift your course a bit so you are heading a bit more into the wind and then come back. This can at least give you some relief on a longer distance crossing the wind.

As far as leaning, I personally lean a little extreme on a paddle stroke and that will not only correct me but offset the course a bit and then I can get a few more strokes without the lean needed.

Its good to have many ways to do it so you can give muscles relief.