Weathercocking: SINK vs. SOT

As I’m going vendor to vendor and store to store looking at different SOT’s, I’m hearing some interesting points from salespeople, some helpful and some which don’t seem to make much sense.

The latest was today, when a guy told me that SOT’s are much worse in high winds and have more of a tendency to weathercock than SINK’s. In my mind, whether the cockpit is enclosed or not, there’s still the same mass exposed to the wind: it’s either an SOT with a lower/smaller hull, but with the paddler’s body creating more drag against the wind on top - or it’s the SINK with much less body exposure, but a larger hull to enclose it. Either way, six of one, half a dozen of the other, no?

Now, this could be because the shop did not carry SOT’s, as many shops near Lake Superior don’t because SOT kayaking is wet and the lake is so freakin’ cold. He actually made a comment about that, to which I responded that I have a drysuit, and that kinda caused the conversation to trail off.

Anyone paddle both types of boats and have any insight in comparing the amount of wind resistance in SOT’s vs SINK’s?

An overgeneralization
All kayak designs are different, SOT or SINK. My Caribou weathercocks a little, my Anas Acuta weathercocks pretty significantly, and my BBK Recluse doesn’t weathercock. And they’re all SINK’s. Guess which 2 have skegs?

Now windage, yes, SOT’s have more windage in general, but that doesn’t mean that a well-balanced design is going to weathercock. You might get blown sideways more in a beam wind in an SOT, but that’s design dependent as well.

Bottom line: Paddle what makes you happy. The dealer can’t decide that for you.

I paddle both …
If you want info about SOTs don’t ask a shop that does not sell them. Try posting at

The design of the boats can vary widely for SOTs some are better than most sinks. Big ugly high volume SOTs are not fun in the wind but the same came be said for many SINKS. There are certainly models that would be fine for paddling on the great lakes.

SOT weather control
In your SOT you might have anchor, a 10 pound dumbbell, or a gallon jug of water. Since everything is on top of the boat it will be really easy to strap the weight at the very stern for downwind runs, for upwind runs you’ll want the extra weight as far forward as you can get it.

Load your boat right and move the weight as needed.

This works great in all kayaks but it is very easy to do in a Sit on top.

Lamar at Barrier Island kayaks taught me this years ago when my so I could get my best usage out of my first touring boat that did not have a movable skeg or rudder. He didn’t sell me the boat, but he gave me the advice I needed to use it well.

If the wind direction changes and you are in a SINK then you’ll have to exit the boat to move the weight. Still not a big deal.

My GF has a 14-foot CD Kestral SOT that she uses in the Intercoastal and the Everglades all the time. She has less problem with weathercocking than I do with a Impex Diamante SINK, when I don’t have the skeg down. (both boats usually have a light load for the day.)

If we are just talking wind,
it’s the cross sectional area above the water line that matters. If there is very little area or about equal area front and back, a boat would not weathercock much.

Many SOTs are rather high volume, so they tend to have a lot of freeboard for the wind to push around. By the same token, many sea kayaks have tons of bow volume and little stern volume which can cause weathercocking.

The hull design also has an effect. Many SOTs are fairly flat bottomed which means no keel and they rarely have a skeg. It’s easier for a flat bottom design to rotate in the wind.

My big SOT can be a bear to paddle when you have a constant breeze coming at you at an angle. Not as bad as a canoe, but enough to be annoying.


“by the same token, many sea kayaks have tons of bow volume and little stern volume which can cause weathercocking.”


tons of bow volume would mean the “bow” would get blowed downwind, eh? that would be LEE cocking.

think you should read-up on the subject!


The large exposed irregular surface area of an SOT and paddler, compared to the relatively smooth surface of a decked kayak with sprayskirt may cause an SOT to be more adversely affected by wind. A canoe is less affected by wind when it has a full cover or deck than when it is exposed.