skeg affect speed?

I’m doing a 15 mile regatta in about a week with my new avocet. This is the first one I’ve ever done, so I realize I have no chance of winning. But my competetive spirit still drives me to finish with the best time possible. Would a partially deployed skeg drastically affect my speed? Or would it compensate for that by less energy expended trying to track straight?


– Last Updated: Mar-06-11 10:16 PM EST –

You'll loose about 2% off your speed, it's negligible.

Skegs are useful in crosswinds to maintain heading.

Both are true
Skegs create drag, and you lose efficiency doing corrective strokes. Which is least bad? Depends on the conditions and your abilities. The very unscientific way to determine the most efficient option is to do whatever makes you feel more comfortable and at ease. As conditions change you may want to adjust the amount of skeg.

I am not a skeg man, but
If it is a windy day, I would definately have it deployed a bit.

If it is a calm day keep it up.

The less correction strokes you have to waste, the faster you will go

Jack L


Less than constant correcting strokes
and far less tiring.

Use some probably …
The Avocet is not a particularly fast or hard tracking boat in flat waters (where most races are held anyway). So some skeg may benefit you going in a straight line even if there is no wind. Full skeg will probably be more drag than use …

Most racing kayaks use rudders and generally, unless a boat is particularly hard tracking, the loss in drag is considered less than the gain in paddling efficiency due to the fewer correctiong strokes needed…

If you are paddling in a stiff crosswind, you might actually go faster from point A to point B with a skeg deployed because you will make less leeway.

You will have less far to go because your path through the water relative to land will be straighter.

After you visit a few races
You may notice this fact. All serious racing kayaks have rudders and the rudders will almost always be deployed. The only times you do not see this is if the class disallows them. So, I would say that serious racers in serious boats seriously have hashed this out already and seriously prefer a rudder. Which in your case and your boat is a skeg. And most likely you will want it deployed somewhat except for bouy turns.

Some background on tracking
Epic kayaks have done a massive amount of research

sharpen the skeg?
I’ve not owned or paddled an avocet, but had a chatham 17 for several years and think it’s fairly comparable. I definitely felt drag and some flutter / vibration with the skeg fully deployed. My boat was the older chatham with a kinda rounded blunt leading and trailing edge on the skeg blade so I tried “sharpening” it with a file and finishing sander. Wow, what a difference! No flutter and no perception of drag whatsoever. I had to keep checking the slider position to see why I wasn’t turning as easily. Your skeg might already have sharp edges, but if not I swear it makes a big difference…

correction strokes
I’d be more concerned about your stroke and how efficient it is at moving you forward and not side-to-side.

Yep on that … The blade’s foil,
profile and mount in the boat make a huge difference.

Some of those giant slots are not helping either when the blade is up.

just sayin’

you aren’t in a racing kayak
and this is your first race. Anything that enables you to go from point A to B with least corrective strokes is a good thing. Mark off on your skeg control how far the skeg is when partially deployed with only the width of the skeg showing. On some kayaks that’s all the skeg one needs and anymore just causes flutter and more drag.

Just to share my experience. I never wanted to get into kayaking for racing. I had raced bicycles in my 20’s then in my 30’s just liked to be out on the water/waves. By the time I was 40 I had taken classes, had paddled for a few years then took a stroke clinic from a Werner rep and Olympic paddler a few weeks before a citizen race just for fun. The problem was that even though I’d been paddling I never did it to the degree I raced bicycles so I tried applying the techniques I learned in the clinic to a paddle that was too long and had too big of blade on a body not conditioned for sustained effort. Using my breathing as gauge for effort I paddled at an effort that was no problem for my lungs but my shoulders were totally unprepared for the effort. The net result was some screwed up shoulders for a few weeks.

Maybe you’re young and your upper body is up for the effort but be careful, overuse injuries happen when you do something without sufficient training. I used to shake my head at weekend cyclists who trained themselves into injury but here I did it with one race when I wasn’t trained for racing even though I’d been paddling for a few years.