rudders. yeah i know

People get really mad about them. But I love them. I know they aren’t for turning but it is in my boat. My post about nc kayaks got me thinking about the plumb bow design. My qcc 500 is excellent but really it isnt that nimble. It turns on edge but not really that well. I would imagine this is true for other plumb designs. Plus I’m pretty sure my forward stroke is not as powerful while leaning. I think qcc and epic both see the value of a rudder because of their boats. So why would NC tell the consumer that their boat tracks so straight you’ll never need a rudder. Because I think a straighter tracking boat needs one more. Tell me I’m wrong.

Ryan L.

I don’t see the nc as having a plumb bow. There’s more rake to it than epics and the qccs i can remember.

Don’t use a rudder
My boat tracks straight and with judicious use of the skeg it does all I need, that and leaning.

I like a rudder when I put the sail on.

QCC’s are ugly.

mine is really ugly.
The colors are bad. However I assume you don’t like that half of the boat is not sticking out of the water.

Kidding aside. I’m not saying a boat can’t track with out one. I don’t use mine all the time. I’m just saying that as far as getting to point b from a as fast as possible, a very straight tracking boat would seem to lend itself to a rudder to eliminate the waste of effort of getting the boat to turn.

Ryan L.

Very Useful
To direct your drift when fishing. You can set up to sweep over an area and never have to touch a paddle if you work with currents and wind.

I agree the hull seems to have more rocker. They say the very narrow bow and stern act as a rudder keeping the boat straight. I guess I was just thinking about a plumb vs a rockered boat in regards to handling. And since NC just comes out and says their boat tracks straight. So I’m probably taking some liberties in my comparison.

Ryan L.

Not for tracking but for trim
I don’t use a rudder for tracking or turning so much as I use it for trim. sure maybe I could edge all day in the right boat with a side wind and chop. And edging for control while playing in the waves is more fun than using the rudder. But anyone who burns up the miles for day after day in the wind and waves with their kayak will prefer a rudder or a very straight tracking boat.

There are a few boats that are positively neutral in all wind and wave conditions that you’d want to paddle. the best one I’ve tried is Brian’s skin on frame F1. It wasn’t a comfortable boat for me but it was amazing to paddle in 20 knot winds and never need to correct the boat. It simply went where I aimed it AND it turned far better than my Solstice GTS.

Rudder myths
As posted in another thread:

I don’t get mad about them. I love them
I can paddle all day long with out mine, but put me in a strong quartering sea with a 18" chop, and my friends with out them are constantly doing correction strokes while my rudder permits me to paddle straight on.

Then put me in a race with a group of paddlers who are all equal “engines” and the course has tight turns, and if we all go into the turn together; watch me and the boats with the rudders, come out of the turn ahead of the boats without rudders.

Jack L

Why this post?
You already have decided that you prefer to have a rudder to use for turning as well as going straight. It appears that you paddle in all flat water from your profile, so there is little likelihood that you’d have the same desires for a boat as someone who wants to go out and play in surf or tidal races.

There are a number of manufacturers who would say what NC kayak did about many of their boats. Many would say that because their boats have skegs. But skegs wouldn’t work well for you if you rely on your rudder to turn as well as manage tracking, except turning one way in enough wind to grab the bow. Or, the model in question is one that is designed for a paddler looking for playfulness over straight speed.

So - are you considering another boat and trying to really sort this out? Or are you just going to page through all the kayak manufacturers who don’t use rudders and question their statements about their boats?

Rudder - not for turning?

– Last Updated: Mar-11-11 8:34 AM EST –

Since when? When rudders first made their appearance with Necky, Current Designs, Solution and others, it was used as a steering device and sold a lot of kayaks because of that. With more advanced padders who sometimes want more racing hulls, no doubt it's used more as a correctional device than actual steering. The early rudder boats like the Necky Arulks were actually fairly rockered. Many rec boat models that get sold to beginners do get sold because they have a steering device over a model that doesn't. However, three's no doubt that the popularity of the skeg has grown enormously.

I never read any sane reasoning about advantages of the overhang bow vs. the plum bow other than you can make volume a foot back on the kayak and still reduce waterline thus increasing maneuverability. On the other side, you gain waterline length, increasing hull speed. However I think this plays out in longer hulls more proportionally than shorter ones. And I do think aesthetics is important in nautical design, so that has to be taken into consideration as well.

a rudder is for tracking straight

– Last Updated: Mar-11-11 9:50 AM EST –

On a boat like the NC you turn it by edging. Their line sounds like a pitch to those who prefer rudderless kayaks. I have a straight tracking kayak with a skeg. I only deploy it for better tracking in wind. But FWIW I've gotten so used to edging to turn that I don't think the decrease in efficiency is significant. I just lift one knee and continue paddling.

For tracking & for turning

– Last Updated: Mar-11-11 10:33 AM EST –

Most "sea kayakers" would use a rudder for going straight or steer around obstacles.

However, many of the long racing kayaks and especially most surf skis, are actually very maneuverable for their length without edging - my Valley Rapier 18 for example has a very lightly planted stern that swings around at the slightest provocation. So does a Looksha II I hear. Most surf skis are like that too. In fact, it is almost hazardous to paddle one of these without a rudder as they become very difficult to control.

The reason for them to be rudder dependent is (I think), that they need to be highly steerable by rudder and not by edging (for forward paddling efficiency). This is especially important when racing downwind - these hulls are so fast that if you go straight down the wave you will outrun it and burry the nose in the wave infront and lose energy/stall momentarily.

So good downwind racers steer across the wave faces to, ideally, maintain high speed and never stall. This way they maintain speed/momentum and use it to get on the next run rather than paddle hard to catch it. They may not be moving much faster than someone who constantly stalls and re-excellerates, but they use considerably less energy to do so. And over several miles that allows them to actually move somewhat faster with a lot less effort...

Of course, for just keeping a general direction you don't need a rudder and a skeg or a boat that is somehow balanced otherwise and is not greatly affected by wind and waves would do the trick, just slower...

For their intended use the NC kayaks probably indeed do not need a rudder most of the time just like some other brands do need it full time for best results.

Some links…

– Last Updated: Mar-11-11 10:53 AM EST –

Video of tracking/catching runs downwind: look for instance around mark 2:15 and on where you can see the horizon better - the double ski is zig-zagging down the waves, not because they can't go straight, but because it is more beneficial to go zig-zag and maintain speed. No edging required -;) ...**-video-**.html

You’re wrong.
I say that partly because you asked someone to, and partly because I have a solid appreciation for straight tracking sea kayaks where I desire no assistance from skeg or rudder. I don’t honestly believe there is any right or wrong about wanting rudder assistance for a straight tracking kayak. I would just say the rudder is in general of more use on my extremely maneuverable Dagger Halifax 17 than it is on my extremely straight tracking Current Designs Solstice GTS, and having random different people paddling either, that seems to always hold true.

Obviously this is personal preference that goes along with certain styles of paddling. So here’s my personal deal. Lets say a couple hours paddling covering some miles, a to b. Of that time, how much of the total time am I negotiating maneuvers? How much of that time am I just paddling. A wonderful, straight-tracking kayak that allows me to just cruise with minimal directional control, but requires me to use a few well and powerfully executed strokes at occasional turning points? These turns break things up, engage different muscles, force me to actually execute a good stroke, stretch me out a little. I’m all for it, and I honestly think it’s fun. I don’t use the rudder, and I feel more comfortable throughout the day. I can paddle all day, go through all kinds of turns, maneuver in and out of surf, and not feel physically beaten up or mentally annoyed at the challenging turning characteristics. I guess I just understand what I’m working with, the good and the bad. But out all day in a weathercocking hull, understanding the good and bad just the same, and having to cover some miles with constant directional control, and somehow there have been times where I have ended up mentally annoyed and feeling physically stressed.

Obviously, to each each his/her own to some degree. But no, I do not find that straight tracking kayaks are more in need of a rudder. But strictly speaking of turning a kayak, it seems obvious enough that it takes more assistance one way or the other to turn a straighter tracking kayak. What a particular individual personally has difficulty with, balanced with how far they are going vs how much maneuverability is required, then taking paddling conditions into consideration, should bring anyone to their personal answer. Almost sounds complicated? I think the answer to the original post all lies in how much difficulty a person experiences with turning strokes, or you could also throw in whether or not they are racing or hardcore about not costing themselves a few seconds here and there with less efficient turning strokes.

QCC’s are beautiful, you are ugly
I love my ruddered QCC 700.

I hate non-ruddered Brit boats. They are ugly. (and none of them can touch a QCC in a race)

for the record
I was kidding. I love my qcc as well. I love its simple lines. It is however orange and teal. Which is awful

Ryan L.

First, I want to back up Celia. You’ve clearly made up your mind about what you like and seem to want to tout the superiority of the rudder.

Second, the boats I see being pitched around in this thread, QCC700 and the Valley Rapier, are boats with almost no rocker, even if you have them on edge, to say nothing of other design features. While you could control them w/o a rudder it would be difficult. Additionally, to compare them to Brit boats is like comparing a ruler to a banana. It’s not a valid comparison.

so was I
Orange and teal is pretty horrible.

Mine is black with flames on it. After 10 years of wear and tear, and finally wearing a hole through the hull, and smashing a couple others through, I ended up repairing it, then sanded the gelcoat down and painted it.

"…like comparing a ruler to a banana" I like that!

Seriously, it depends on hull design. In the case of the Q400, for example, John Winters states outright that the boat is designed to be ‘helm-neutral’ beyond a 15 degree heel so that it will be less squirrely in confused seas. It would be very frustrating to try to get that boat to turn tightly with leans and sweep strokes alone - it’s meant to be used with a rudder. Other boats are designed to be used without. In many cases, I think the ‘designer’ probably didn’t know one way or another.