Rudder or no on AT 14?

My husband is going to town on my Tern and I am faced with this question of a rudder before the inside of the hull gets glassed. I am not concerned about having a rudder for resale value, but I am concerned whether I will need it for extended day/multi-day trips on the ocean. Everything I read about them says they are great trackers without it. But my worry about needing one is based on a recent experience.

I paddled my Spike on a 15 mile open ocean trip (with experienced sea kayakers for my safety’s sake) with wind and a fairly large following swell towards the end of the distance. I’m not sure I would have made the last 5 or so miles without the rudder–I was whupped and it helped immensely.

I’m concerned about a long distance paddle in my Tern and being so tired that I have to have a rudder to complete it. Will the Tern paddle so differently that this won’t be as big of an issue? As I gain more experience will this be less of an issue?

It’s so pretty, I don’t want to slap a rudder on there unless I have to. Any thoughts on this greatly appreciated.

Try a strap on
skeg that is

No, you don’t need a rudder. If the boat tracks well, it’s easy enough to get the the boat to turn with strokes and leaning. I will be installing a rudder on my Artisan, but for sailing purposes only. I plan on rigging it so I can take it off easily when I don’t need it.


You won’t need one…
The AT 14 is one of the sweetest handling kayaks out there. It was designed with the ocean in mind.

That said, you can find out which rudder would fit it and and just install the reinforcement and deck fitting while it’s being built just in case you ever want to add one.

Give Pygmy a call.

I paddled a Tern 14
for a couple years and found the kayak to handle very well without a skeg or rudder. It is probably the best handling kayak I’ve paddled. I weight 165 lbs. and it was very neutral in strong wind. If your lighter than me you can always place some weight in the rear hatch to help it sit lower, if needed. It’s a very well designed kayak if you don’t have to keep up with faster paddlers.

This is what I needed (wanted?) to hear. I will give Pygmy a call, but I’m likely going rudderless. Thank you for responding to my concerns/question.

it’s not a hard tracking kayak
It’s a responsive kayak.

I’m not sure what that means. . .
It doesn’t go straight for the sake of going straight, but rather tracks well in response to the paddler’s movements?

great trackers

– Last Updated: Feb-26-08 1:24 PM EST –

"Everything I read about them says they are great trackers "

I interpreted your comment to mean it is a stiff tracking kayak, in other words doesn't turn easily. The Osprey/Golden Eyes are stiff tracking kayaks. The Terns are more responsive and maneuverable kayaks.

It turns easily. Which means that you have to provide steering input through your body/blade to maintain course.

For point to point straight line paddling a stiff tracking kayak or ruddered kayak is desirable as you spend less effort maintaining course. That does not mean one can't paddle a responsive kayak in a straight line, just that it requires more attention to do so.

The AT14 was designed with maneverability in mind for an athletic 160lb paddler like Michael Powers of the Tsunami Rangers.

For a female paddler around that weight range it's a very stable and responsive kayak.

If you are accustomed to a ruddered kayak and the AT14 is your first exposure to an unruddered kayak you will zig-zag around for awhile until you get it figured out. Developing the basic skills of making a responsive hull like the AT14 point where you want it to go is a worthwhile beginning BEFORE putting on a rudder as the efficiency of your forward stroke will be better as well.

Got it, thanks!
It never occurred to me that a kayak that tracks well (goes straight, in my mind) might also translate into one that may not turn easily.

I feel good about the decision to go rudderless. I use the rudder on the Spike very infrequently anyways. And like you say, I will learn to adjust and hopefully be a better paddler in the long run.

I would put it on just in case you get
caught in a guartering wind. If the wind is just right you will find yourself paddling just on right or left and that can get very tiring. I have a rudder and have only needed it once is the last 6 years but I was glad I had it.