Rudder or skeg

Any suggestions as to a skeg instead of a rudder. I have used a rudder for 20 years but am looking at a boat with a drop down skeg. The salesman in Portland, Or. is really high on the skeg. How is the skeg for crossing windy waters? Tell me good and bad about the skeg. Thank you!!

L Rudders are for sissys…
Butch up and get a skeg…

'bout time for one of these…

GH Ducking for cover…

What Boat is it?

– Last Updated: Sep-01-07 4:56 AM EST –

If the boat turns well a skeg is fine. I went from ruddered to skegged a long time ago.

For crossing windy waters…
it is the paddler, not the equipment.

If you want to make the job easier get a skeg.

If you want to make it even easier get a rudder.

If you are ever thinking of racing a rudder is a must, since you will waste fewer correction strokes.

That last statement: “Waste fewer correction strokes” should tell you something!



Good Morning Jack
I’m supposed to be warming up my old knees before the hammerfest begins but it’s still dark out! I think we’re going to have to move the start time.

Yup. The guy with a rudder is going to whip the guy with a skeg in a race… all else being equal.

I have always been a skeg guy but got talked into a rudder on my QCC because I am racing. I am glad I went with the rudder. With a wing paddle, racing close to other boats I think the rudder is a better choice.

Hey you really started something
with that bike post.

I made sure I kept out of it, but go along 100 percent with what the normal guys like BryanNystrom posted.

Several times I was tempted to post about the numerous times I saw Armtrong and George Hincapie, et ux screaming down the mountains here while training, with the tourist cars taking up the whole road at 15 MPH and blocking them.

Hey another chance coming up for you to give a disance race a try -The Lumber River 40 miler.

Not a big race. Just a handful that like to challenge themselves.



If you are not racing . . .
and if you enjoy using your paddle (and your whole body) to maneuver your kayak, the skeg is the way to go.

depends on the boat
and you.

why don’t you paddle the boat in those conditions and find out?

I could see picking a rudder over a skeg or a skeg over a rudder depending on what the boat was.

If the issue was purely speed/distance I’d pick a very efficient hull and have a rudder on it.

If this was the only boat I owned for a variety of uses it would probably be a maneuverable skegged boat and I’d live with the reduced efficiency.

It’s really not a good idea to reduce the choice of a boat down to the type of tracking aid, how the boat moves through the water for your intended use matters more.

My touring boats have skegs and my fishing boats have rudders. On windy crossings the skeg is trimmed according to wind direction and force unless it is a fixed skeg. The one on my Caribou S barely gets used. When I am fishing, the rudder is mostly used to control a drift and to fight a fish. If you get a rudder, get toe controls not sliders. The sliders are why I went to a skeg in the first place.


– Last Updated: Sep-01-07 10:51 AM EST –

I get the impression that you are looking at a new boat that has a skeg. If that is the case, unless you are talking about racing you should be more worried about the boat overall - its hull design, volume and the balance it strikes between tracking and manuverability - than skeg or rudder. The manufacturer will have built in the most appropriate tracking device. In the case of QCC, where they offer either, it just means that QCC feels that each has a solid advantages with their boats depending on the paddler and intended use.

So are you considering a new boat, if so what boat and for what purpose?

As to the in wind thing, I find that a combination of shifting body weight and apt use of the skeg has solved the problem of limiting or eliminating correction strokes in all but one instance in my current sea kayaks. One time I was in over 20 knot winds where the wind and tide were just plain coming from the wrong direction for me to get a full solution that way. But it was no big deal - I increased my weight shift and got enough on edge that it still greatly limited the correction strokes. A rudder would have been easier, but not so much that I was bothered.

BUT - back to the issue of the boat - I am talking about a kayak with a goodly bit of rocker, so shifting my weight accomplished a lot. If the boat were a rail like my Squall was, it may not have worked as well. While I found the rudder on my Squall useless for my own paddling and a real safety hazard since the cables could slice skin and expensive clothing, it was probably a decent idea for that boat. (There is a reason that a lot of people who do big water rescues won't have a rudder.)

You will find this debated with more than vigor in the thread listed above and many many others. Overall, it is more important to know what boat and paddling purpose you have than to focus on a particular device.

I’m Back
Very pleasant temperature this morning but mighty windy. No close encounters with cars today. One aggressive dog and one guy had a flat tire.

Jack, when is the Lumber 40 miler? Will there be enough water to float a boat? I crossed the Haw on the bike ride and it’s more rocks than water right now.

I’m pro-rudder
I’m a performance paddler and use a wing paddle full time. I don’t race anymore, but still a fan of paddling fast and efficiently in all conditions especially open ocean waves. The rudder allows constant and infinte adjustment on the fly. The forces applied to a kayak on the ocean are constantly changing every moment due to every wave, puff of wind, changes in current, etc… A rudder is the most efficient way of maintaining course and forward speed in such a dynamic environment. A rudder will also open up huge increases in speed by extending surfing runs when paddling downwind or in a qurtering sea. Given my needs, I would always select a rudder over a skeg.

I do not consider a rudder as a necessary tool for steering. All of my ruddered kayaks steer far easier with the rudder flipped up. Just like a skeg, a rudder is a tracking device. The huge advantage of a rudder is that it can be adjusted on the fly, very subtley in flatter conditions to quite drmatically in downwind wavy conditions. Also, most rudders are a hydrodynamically efficient foil shape that creates tracking forces by generating lift. Most skegs are simple plates that create tracking forces by generating drag.

I know there are others with varying paddling goals who prefer a skeg over a rudder. I am curious. What does a skeg do that a rudder doesn’t do better?

for maneuverable boats in rough conditions where close quarter maneuvering is a premium the rudder is a hazard or at risk for damage in landings where one can’t often pick the landing. The difference between rock garden/surf paddling and your point to point performance paddling.

Of course the Tsunami Rangers sit-ons blow that argument out of the water but the rudders are integral with no exposed hardware.

The problem with most rudders is that kayak manufacturers design the hull then add the rudder. Racing kayak designers integrate the entire package with tillers and under hull rudders.

In the category of “touring sea kayaks” more engineering is put into the bungie lacing than integrating the rudder with the hull so that wires and hardware aren’t vulnerable in fubar landings or cause problems in assisted rescues.

still gets down to the boat and not the tracking aid. If the boat does what you want then the skeg/rudder are a part of the package.


– Last Updated: Sep-01-07 4:18 PM EST –

I prefer boats that are easy to control with lean, body English and occassional correction strokes, but I do not race that often. I would rather have a skeg than a rudder. Less worry and consequence of a failure, such as a broken cable.

As I would describe them to a novice.

A ruddered boat as easier to jump in and paddle and go somewhere like having an automatic transmission.

A skeg boat like a stick shift, more work, more skill, but a lot more fun.

No regrets over going rudder to skeg
Actually, I went rudder to “nothing” to skeg. Even on the boat with neither rudder nor skeg, I didn’t want to go back to the rudder.

It’s not really a great comparison, because these are three different boats. The ruddered one NEEDED the rudder.

The skegged boats I’ve tried are way more fun than the ruddered boats I’ve tried.

"performance paddler"
what does this term mean? advocates of ruddered kayaks seem to use this a lot. all of the “performance paddlers” i know (big trips, heavy weather, tide race, white water, surf, etc) all paddle boats without rudders. and believe me, these people are highly skilled, physically strong and talented paddlesport athletes- performance paddlers par excellence. i’ve never heard this term uttered to describe them, or them using it.

if you design a hull to have the least wetted area and long waterline it’ll sacrifice directional control from paddler input compared to the boats you mention. Then you have the fastest most efficient hull using a rudder. If you design the hull to respond well on a lean or have other maneuverability attributes that lessen the need for a rudder it’ll tend to be a less efficient hull.

That doesn’t mean a strong paddler can’t paddle a skegged boat faster than other paddles in racing hulls but it’s pretty obvious, racing hulls have rudders. The people you describe are seeking attributes other than point A to point B speed/efficiency.

THink of the difference between a time trial bike and a road bike, both ‘performance’.