Surf landing, rudder/skeg up or down?

I have a Valley Avocet. One of them more “turny” hulls.

When I surf down wind, I typically drop my skeg. That stiffen up the stern considerably and makes it easier to go straight without having to keep frequent direction control.

But on landing, I don’t want to ram my skeg on the beach. The same applies for rudder, I doubt anyone wishes to leave their rudder down and drag them up the beach.

So, do you pull up your skeg/rudder BEFORE you enter the surf zone? Or only wait till you’re about to land?

All my boats are ruddered, and…
if I am paddling with it down, I will always pull it up before entering the surf zone.

Jack L


– Last Updated: May-31-16 6:09 PM EST –

Up in surf zone, and I don't surf with it down, but I almost always paddle with it down (my boat is prone to weathercocking).

I have an Avocet too
I’ll usually dial in a little skeg when surfing downwind in open water swells. For the surf zone, definitely up before you get there. Well, unless you want practice replacing a kinked cable or broken skeg…

Skeg up and…
try to lift the boat from the rear as to not drag the skeg box in the sand or on the ground as it may fill up with debris and jam.

Always up in the surf zone.

Always up in surf

– Last Updated: May-31-16 9:06 PM EST –

Though granted my surf may not be as tall as for some here.

Basically there is enough for me to handle in surf without having to fuss with a tracking device as well. If I can't stay straight enough without it I am in bigger stuff than is wise for my skills or condition at the time.

Yup and yup
Skeg is always up in surf zone.

Before landing anywhere, I retract the skeg, if it was down.

Second the advice to left the stern end to avoid crapping up the skeg.

for the advice. The consensus is pretty clear.

I do get into the habit of pulling up the skeg when I was about to land. But with surf landing, the point of retracting the skeg needs to be done before entering the surf zone. That’s the part I haven’t gotten into a habit of (don’t have a lot of surf launch/landing in the east coast).

Rudders On My Surfski & Outrigger
Are permanently attached, so they are always down in the “surfzone” and beach landing. On some of my skis, I use to have both a rudder and a skeg. They do help tremendously in the surfzone. Why put them up? If there’s anyplace that you’ll need a rudder, it would be in the surfzone. So I’d leave them down if I had the choice. All surfski paddlers do and the same for solo outrigger paddlers and SUP.

You are talking about stiff boats
And likely bigger surf than anything I am talking about. If I am in surf it is for a necessary landing or skills work, in a fairly maneuverable sea kayak. If I am intentionally in the stuff I have likely taken my most maneuverable boat in. As above, if I can’t manage the boat without it I am in stuff bigger than I should be.

The extreme case is whitewater boats in surf, which of course come without a tracking device but are also a different approach to how to play in the surf than a surf ski.

these craft are considerably less likely to move through the surf broached. Broached landings are not ideal, but they do occur rather frequently. Since both are open, it is also possible to hop out in shallow water and drag them in, should the worst happen.

Most sea kayaks would be full of water and are a hazard to anyone who manages to get between the boat and shore.

Skeg/rudder up at all times in the surf zone.


he’s paddling a kayak, not a ski

What’s the Difference?
I’ve paddled sea kayaks with a surfski deck that handle very well in the surfzone. The only problem I see is getting out of them real fast, especially in shallow water. In big surf, never land on a crowded beach, no matter what you’re paddling.

My reply was to
clydehedlund’s comment on his ski and outrigger which have skegs attached to their hull, though I can see the confusion. I should have made this more obvious than the default (tiny) indentation the server makes on replies.

I have seen really good paddlers who have great control of their boats encounter something that made them broach in surf (my favorite being a small sea lion hauling out on the deck during a landing).

My point was that rudders/skegs tend to not survive if deployed during a broached landing and that craft designed to land bow first can have fixed skegs/rudders since they are unlikely to come to the beach sideways.


" The only problem I see is getting out of them real fast, especially in shallow water. "

Can someone explain to me how surf ski paddlers avoid damaging their fixed rudder on landing?

you just described it
One is much more difficult to get out of than the other, particularly in the surf zone.

I just think it’s bad advice.

I’m still missing the point

– Last Updated: Jun-06-16 1:32 PM EST –

I can get out of my kayak pretty fast too. (Avocet has a good size keyhole cockpit)

But that still doesn't really solve the problem of the skeg being dragged on the beach and getting the cables mangled.

Sorry for being a bit slow. I can see a rudder having a better chance because you can simply drag the boat up the beach, the rudder would flip out of way harmlessly and trail behind the stern. But a skeg?

No Way! They Hit The Beach Sideways Too!
The best way to increase the probability that these boats, with fixed skegs or under hull rudders, will survive, is to bail out immediately and not be on the boat when it hits the beach. Just get out of the way, but be prepared to scoop the boat up before the water recedes. Or else it will knock you down, returning to the sea, and be set up in a position for the next wave to really damage it.

no one gets it but Clyde
See his post below.

Any sea kayaker worth his or her salt has time to retract a skeg before running aground.