which sail? windpaddle or spirit or ?

I’m thinking about getting a sail for my seakayak for when I do those long expedition style trips, and the wind just happens to favor my direction.

which sail? windpaddle or spirit or ? pros, cons, comparisons?

If I still paddled a kayak
I’d want something like this.


Pacific Action sail

pacific vs spirit?
andy, why did you pick the pacific over the spirit?

nice pics btw …

but those webshot video ads are a pain!

Spirit sail sits in a receptacle and you need to lift it to change the angle. The PA sail has sheets that come to the cockpit. I can raise the sail, lower it, adjust the angle for moderate tacking. I use a GPS that shows me the best point for max speed.

I’ve had it up to 22 mph and it scared the hell out of me. In a skinny boat like mine, it’s not a relaxing sail, but it sure does get exciting at times. Constant balance adjustments need to be made.

list of sails

– Last Updated: Mar-12-10 10:44 AM EST –






article on kite sailing:

list of articles:

Bear in mind…
that the windpaddle and spirit sails are downwind sails only. The PA sail is more flexible in that you can tack with it.

a more efficient design
I am familiar with Pacific Actiom sails.

They are simple and work great but are a bit cumbersome to store on deck when the wind becomes too strong for the kayaker to handle.

It requires both hands to pull in the main sheets and lower it on the deck; something that might be a bit tricky when the water is choppy.

I have designed my own sail (similar to the Laurie Ford one) and Flat Earth Kayak Sails manufactures that type of sails.

For a review on FEKS: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/07/sailing-with-flat-earth-kayak-sail.html

windsurfing roots
I too did a lot of windsurfing so something like you’re suggesting is interesting but I don’t see videos sailing with it (yet?). I’d like to see some video of it being deployed and stowed away. Then there’s the ever so mighty hand of god that comes down and backwinds your sail and slams you into the water. Is there any of that with your type of rig you mention? I can see you can just luff the sail but just how do you reef it or stow it when enough is finally enough? also I’d like to see the mounting points and just what mods will I have to do to my boat? certainly if you’re (me in this case) is going to carry and use a sail then being about to really cook along would be nice!

Here are a few photo’s of my recent additions…


How do the Flat Earth sails deploy and come down? You mention that the PAS takes two hands to take down. Can I assume that the FEKS can be done with one?

releasing the FEKS takes less than
releasing the FEKS (or a similar design sail) takes less than a hand: just two fingers.

The uphaul (the rope that holds the mast vertical) is held by a jam cleat close to the cockpit.

I just grab the sheet (rope) with my fingers and yank it out of the cleat, the sheet is released and the mast comes down and falls into the water.

The forward momentum of the kayak brings it closer to me and I simply pick it up and place it on the deck.

As mentioned by spidennis it’s like a windsurfing sail with a flexible mast base, just in miniature.

In the event that the wind gust was just too strong and tipped the kayak (has not occured to me yet) all it takes to release the sail is one sheet. Tipping with a PAS will require some fumbling underwater to let go of the deployed sail that must be stowed before you can right the kayak.

PAS are held up by bungee and must be pulled down with force, not by itself.

hardware and mods for sail
Hardware and modification to your kayak for installing a lateen style sail (FEKS style) is detailed here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/03/shop-diy-sea-kayak-sail.html

Since you asked I will take some footage of deploying/stowing of the sail in the near future.

It is rather easy but it’s best seen in a video…

Two hands?
The way I have my PA sail set up now, I can take it down with one hand. The way it was originally setup required two hands.


I sure wish we had a head to head comparison on these two different rigs! The PAS rig looks simple enough but I’d think that I could sail better with the FEKS (but only because I understand that type of sailing better?)

In some youtube videos I’ve seen from NZ I saw a feks style running and the bow would dive under the waves. I’d guess a boat with more buoyancy in the bow would work out better? also, I didn’t really get a feel for any upwind performance from what I saw. I’d go the extra mile in design and rigging to achieve some up wind performance!

With the PAC it is hard to make windward progress. I’d expect Gnarlydog’s sail to doa little better. But to really sail to windward you need a BIG keel. Kayaks at best have a leeboard attached to help them.

Most learn to paddle upwind and sail and paddle down or across the wind. You VMG to windward is almost always better if you paddle than sailing and tacking.

the only thing limiting
the only thing limiting upwind sailing (tacking) in a sea kayak is the hull design.

Since sea kayak hulls are rather flat (some more than others) there is nothing that prevents lateral drift.

Incidentally a ruddered kayak will not necessarily sail better than a skegged one.

I have sailed both and my skegged kayaks seem to have a more pronounced “V” keel that makes them sail better than the flat ruddered ones.

While it might seem that I can point the kayak more than just 90 degrees into the wind, it’s the lateral drift that honestly gives me no more than 180 degrees direction when sailing.

FEKS style sail (lateen) are fastest when reaching (90 degrees to the wind). I understand that a PAS is slightly better for running with the wind (wind from behind) but that could be because is a little larger than my sails.

In the end it seems that the hull design dictates how fast you can sail, and as you mentioned, some kayaks tend to bury the bow in chop. A full bow will prevent that.

Sailing with a kayak is not faster than paddling up to around 15 knots, but certainly less tiring and more fun. In lighter winds, if you paddle with the help of a sail ( a good sail should always let you paddle at the same time) your cruising speed will increase a lot with very little effort. Great distance can be achieved with the sail on a kayak.

For images of sea kayak sailing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/sets/72157613068671525/

interesting photos
interesting photos there showing both types being used, together. the single pole design looks like it would weigh less. to have been part of that group and learn what each type sail could do would have been quite helpful! thanks for that link.

I gotta get packin’ now, got a big trip in the morning. 300 miles, 30 miles a day for 10 days down the colorado river starting in austin texas and ending in the gulf of mexico …

fun rigging
My Balogh sail and custom jib in action.



DIY kayak sail
so I’ve found quite a bit about DIY kayak sails, and I got a bunch of old windsurfing equipment that I can cut up and modify so I’m gonna give it a try. I have an V sail idea coming together nicely in the way of parts so I’ll have to give that a try tomorrow. this seems like it might be the easiest way to go but I’ll look into other sail plans as well.

I never did the colorado river trip, instead saving up all my supplies for my coast of texas trip. This will basically be a down winder all the way so as soon as I got a sail working and I know the weather window is open I’ll be heading out!