wing - no rudder - wind

Does anyone routinely use a wing paddle with a rudderless sea kayak in windy conditions? If so, do you have any issues with directional control or bracing due to the wing?


No Issues
I rarely use a rudder on my kayak, but it does have a skeg which when used properly counteracts the effects of wind. One of my other boats has neither a skeg or a rudder! One way to counteract the effects of the wind is to offset your grip on the paddle, so that either one side or the other is longer depending on which way the wind is blowing.

I use a wing paddle exclusively and do fine in windy conditions. Bracing is easy, using a low brace, high brace can be dicey.

How about the ability to turn either into or away from the wind if the boat is not trimmed properly? Are you at a disadvantage with the wing relative to a Euro or GP?


Edge your boat into the wind assuming your boat weathercocks. This turns your boat downwind and counters the weathercocking. This doesn’t load your shoulder up as much as making your grip asymmetric.

Bow and stern rudder strokes are not very effective with a wing because you can only get the tip of the blade in before you get to the wing section. Blended strokes are not really doable. Sweep strokes are what you are left with. For a lot of people, that’s all they use anyway.

Low brace with the back of the wing works well, and no one teaches or uses a high brace anymore anyway.

don’t like it
I’ve paddled a mid-size wing with my non-ruddered sea kayak a few times in steady wind but I don’t like it.

Perhaps with more practice I could get better at sweeps and braces and other correctional strokes with the wing, but its just not as much fun as using my werner, so why try? I don’t notice much difference in top speed and using the wing seems to take more energy for me.

It’s a different story on a surfski or go-fast touring kayak.

Hi Jerry.

I agree with the above, good advice. This is a perfect example why learning paddle skills is so important.

The wing paddle is “intended” for straight ahead efficiency, but with everything else there are exceptions. Note that with practice, paddlers can get a similar benefit by using the same race stroke and muscle groups with a high quality/light Euro blade paddle (search for “surf ski paddle stroke” videos to review the stroke technique referenced); some are better than others for this.

Learn to edge that boat; edging should be as much a part of your technique as the paddle stroke itself (nix the edging when in a true surf ski or if you are in fitness/race mode, then drop the skeg or rudder, keep the boat flat and use all your energy to go forward).

To assist turning (while edging), you can also repeat several abbreviated bow sweeps, i.e. the first half of a C/sweep stroke (a bit harder to do with a wing than a straight blade).

Low bracing works pretty well with a wing, however if you are using the fitness/race stroke that a wing is intended for, you can also build a subtle high brace right into the stroke itself without changing the stroke too much(creates an outrigger effect while edging or rough conditions, without scrubbing speed); this gives you brace “protection” while you are edging (i.e. an offensive brace) vs using a low brace only after you are in trouble (defensive brace).

The above take time to learn and lots of practice to “groove”, so keep that in mind.

Have fun.

I agree with the comments on edging, but they apply whether wing or Euro. Sometimes in strong wind or chop one wants a powerful sweep to re-orient the boat. While edging helps, the strong sweep is still required. Is one at a disadvantage here with a wing relative to a Euro with a rudderless sea kayak?

Wing would be
more effective in a sweep stroke, but not much.

So can one generalize the boathandling stroke characteristics of a wing vs. a euro or GP? To what extent does this depend on individual technique, particularly wrt the sweep stroke?

This is of interest to me because I have no difficulty controlling my non-ruddered boats (Nordkapp LV and Seda Swift) in strong wind with sweep strokes using a euro, but I have found the wing/sweep far less effective in those conditions.

You should modify your stroke

– Last Updated: Oct-15-13 10:58 AM EST –

For a sweep with a wing to be effective, you should modify your stroke so that the "lift" of the wing is maintained through out the sweep phase. You don't want to just pull to the side like you do with a flat blade as you might not get the full power and in fact it might cause the wing to dive under you.

That said, for stern rudders I don't like the wind compared to just about any other paddle. But, even more, I dislike boats that you have to correct all the time in windy conditions, which are unbalanced or too susceptible to winds, no matter the paddle.

Can’t have it both ways

– Last Updated: Oct-14-13 7:13 PM EST –

To the original question, I would say, yes, you do give up something in terms of directional control when you go to a wing paddle. While using proper technique with the wing and edging the boat can help get back some of that directional control, you're not going to get to where you would be with a good euro paddle. Bottom line, paddling a rudderless boat long distances in the wind with a wing paddle is a bear!

I paddle ruddered and rudderless kayaks with wing and euro paddles in the wind and in whitewater. Wing and rudder is the best combo. Wing and rudderless kayak can work very well in still conditions and when sharp turns are not required. If conditions are windy, and especially if maximizing speed is important, or if fatigue may become a factor due to the length of the trip, I would be wanting either a rudder or a euro paddle.

Good article at:

sweep, modified
On the link you cite Barton states: “Modified Sweep Stroke - emphasis the first part of the stroke where the blade sweeps out away from the kayak, then exit the water before pulling back towards the boat.”

Addressing strictly the question of the effectiveness of the sweep stroke to execute a big turn, not directional control in general, I would guess that the modified sweep with the wing is just as effective as a similar sweep with a Euro. Even with a Euro one wants to emphasize the early part of the stroke when the blade sweeps out from the bow.

I use wing only now
Directional control is not problematic, only somewhat different. It is important to remember that there are many braces and many turning strokes. So, for example, the best high brace is a forward stroke (ask any person who paddles a surfski). Modify the blade angle and you have a sweep high brace, which the wing paddle is superb at. Turning strokes are a combination of edging and sweep/support. The wing paddle gives you more support so that the sweep component is more effective. The main point is that you need to do what is most effective for the paddle you have. What is most effective is different for different paddles and you can only decide between paddles once you can do what is best for all candidates.