VIDEO: sea kayak sailing

I have edited a short video of the best footage of sea kayak sailing:

I have been sea kayak sailing for 10 years and the last 4 with Flat Earth Sails.

I find the simplicity and reliability of Flat Earth sails suit my needs for sailing with kayaks that are rudderless ( I used to sail with rudder kayaks too but now prefer skeg kayaks).

My favorite sail for winds above 15 knots is the 0.8 m² while the larger 1.0m² is slightly faster only with lighter breezes.

I no longer dread windy days and actually prefer a bit of a breeze since with Flat Earth sails I can sail out and back (wind on the beam, from the side) and not need to paddle at all, if I don’t want to.

On longer trips I find that the sail alleviates fatigue and I can paddle greater distances.

Nice video and…
the sculling and roll with the deployed sail was most impressive.

I’ve been playing around with kayak sailing for a few months now using a WindPaddle Adventure. Fun for downwind runnin’ and I can get about 60 degrees off with it. That Flat Earth rig looks very efficient but probably out of my sailing league. I like the lack of permanent mods to my kayak and the WindPaddle is giving me a bunch of bang-for-buck with my recreational use of the kit.

Thanks for posting this.

As always knarlydog does nice videos.

My only concern would be if you get completely rolled over. It looked like you went only onto your side and sculled up. I wasn’t sure from the video if you went completely over or not If so Iam guessing you cant do a regular sweep roll but a sculling roll as its much slower is your only option?

Oh I went to Flat earths website and clicked on order for usa/Canada and blank page comes up. I was curious how much they cost? If I click on UK or Australia you get a page with info but nothing for USA/Canada.

Savannah Canoe and Kayak

– Last Updated: Nov-12-13 3:33 PM EST –

listed them in stock late October. Nigel and Kristen will fix you up. They also had G-Dog's video up then too.

rolling with sail
quote: “It looked like you went only onto your side and sculled up. I wasn’t sure from the video if you went completely over or not”

In the video I fell in on the port side and came back up sculling on the starboard side.

However there is no need to scull with the sail deployed and most times if I get tipped over I release the uphaul (the rope that holds the mast up) to let the sail loose and then just roll up with very little resistance. I just have to remember to remain calm and grab the little rope in front of me out of the cleat before rolling/sculling.

Depending on the kayak, sails usually make my paddling more stable than not, in choppy conditions.

Skeg up or skeg down?
I’m guessing down, but I’d be interested to know your experience here.

“sea kayak” sailing
I have nothing against hoisting a sail while you are in your sea kayak. It can be great fun. But it is not “paddling”. I only raise this issue because of a recent article in Sea Kayaker magazine about a sea kayaking trip that included significant sailing. As far as I am concerned you cannot say “I paddled around X Island” if you put up a sail. You can say I paddled and sailed around X Island. Sailing is sailing no matter what vessel the sail is attached to.

true: kayaking is not kayaking
if not only by propelled by paddle alone if a score is kept.

If one paddles for fun (as I do) kayak sailing ads so much fun, really.

I don’t have a GPS, I don’t keep a log and I don’t boast my “achievements” to a virtual crowd that might care (or not) about my goals.

If one however is driven to get the record of a particular journey/crossing/feat then the aid of a sail might not be totally kosher if fame is to be claimed :slight_smile:

Of course, to each their own.

Unless one has tried kayak sailing it is hard to understand what fun can it really be.

skeg and sailing
I presume that you ask how much skeg is used while sailing?

It depends.

On a well balanced kayak (with sail set up) I use the same amount as I would without a sail. On a beam wind I have about half skeg (depending on model of sea kayak) and usually full skeg when sailing down wind.

On kayaks that lee cock I use little to no skeg on beam wind, on kayaks that weather cock I use skeg.

Edging and weight transfer also aid to direction of kayak across wind.

There are many ways to…
kayak and sailing is certainly one of them. Canoeists have been sailing for years and its becoming more popular with the decked boat enthusiasts now.

I went out again today to play in the afternoon wind. Sunny skies, 55F, water at 43F and 20 mph fun breeze.

Used a GP today instead of the Werner and quite liked it. Less fiddly in the wind and easier to rudder with.

I’ve rigged my WindPaddle with a combing harness and separate sheets so I’m not stuck holding a looped sheet in my hands.

All the while today I was pondering the Flat Earth CZ70 with its advantages and versatility. Think I might just order one and give it a whirl. I’ll keep the WindPaddle for friends who want to try their hand at ridin’ the wind.

I’ve got a WS Zephyr 155 (RM) that I’ve already modified quite a bit so what’s a few more holes here and there!

I always thought a rudder was pretty much a prerequisite for kayak sailing. I’m not a rudder guy. Gives me hope that the sail thing might be something I could get into. Many thanks.

Look into a Falcon Sail.

Made in the USA.

Best Wishes


Flat Earth 0.7
I just recently added a 0.7m² sail to my collection and found it as fast as the larger ones in a stiff breeze. Where once I used to think bigger is better a kayak speed is dictated by its hull speed (maximum speed achievable on that particular hull design) and a larger sail will not make it go faster. Of course in lighter breezes that is not the case, as long as kayak speed is below hull speed.

A 07m² also suits shorter kayaks since the smaller sail will not intrude over the cockpit area.

Setting up the sail properly is however the key to successful sailing. My initial sloppy work resulted in frustration…

Thanks for posting.

Been looking forward to giving this a try!

That looks like too much fun
Very impressive boating, and there was lots of smiling going on. That sailing rig looks like a nice design, being not too cumbersome and pretty versatile.

homemade rig
Thanks for the vid gnarlydog!

I made a sailing rig this fall with the help of the DIY instructions on your website. I used an old ski pole for the mast and boom, sewed up a sail with some scrap nylon, and bought a Ronstan tiller extension joint for the mast base. I’m having fun with it, but the tiller joint is just not cutting it, too floppy. Which brand is used in the flat earth rig?

mast base joint
I use Riley tiller extension as I found the Ronstan a bit too flexible. Not sure if the Riley is available internationally as it is an Australian product:

However the latest mast design from Mick at Flat Earth is way better than having all the pressure on the rubbery joint. I have retrofitted all my sails with this new style documented here:

simplicity is key
I find Flat Earth sails the simplest and yet still extremely efficient sails for sea kayaking.

I have seen rigs that might sail better but the set up is no longer something that I regard safe in a sea kayak.

Adding ropes on deck ads to the risk in case of capsize: I like to keep those the the minimum. Adding dagger board just seems too complicate the rigging before launch and in reality I still want my kayak to fell like one, not transform into a small dingy.

Very, very cool.
But I dare say, upwind sailing back the way you came was completely out of the question(Especially without a rudder.) My own kayak sailing adventures have revealed this fact time and again: One will always paddle upwind much quicker than one can tack any kayak;-)

Great vid!

upwind sailing
my experience with rudder kayaks and skeg ones is that realistically I can make very little progress tacking against the wind.

A sea kayak lacks a keel that a proper sailing boat might have (at least a dagger board) and I notice that while the kayak might be pointing at 45 degrees into the wind and travelling at a decent pace the drift usually negates most of the ground that I could gain going against the wind by tacking.

If my destination is directly into the wind (or 20 degrees off it) I don’t deploy the sail but paddle into it instead. Often sailing is aided by my paddling anyway as it alleviates drift and ads to speed. In quartering winds (coming from behind/side) I don’t have to paddle at all if there is enough wind to be able to surf from wave to wave. There will be a rare outing where the conditions will be perfect (I tend to have tidal flows to deal with) where I can just sail alone unless I don’t care of destination and I am just happy to go out and back just for the fun of sailing.