A kayak sail is slowly, but definitely, becoming a trendy thing. A sailing kayak is easy to make, all you need is a kayak sail and the kayak itself, and a bit of know-how. The sailing kayak will help you in quite a few situations, and a sailing kayak is a very convenient thing. Getting a regular kayak sail is something that you can get for not a lot of money, and you’ll be able to convert your regular kayak, which required paddling, into a sailing kayak, with ease. Now, a sailing kayak has quite a few advantages, and picking the ideal kayak sail kit for your sail kayak can be a bit tricky. Kayak sails are available separately, or you could get a kayak that already has a sail. However, the ones that are sold separately are much more common, so the guide below will focus on that.
The benefits of owning a kayak sail
As far as the benefits go, there are genuinely plenty of benefits. First of all, it’s cheap. Next, it’s portable and very convenient. Over the course of the past few years, they’ve been getting pretty popular, and for a good reason.
Most sails for kayaks will require that you either tie them over the kayak or place them in the middle. For long trips or even fishing trips, they’re great. They first appeared in Australia and New Zealand, and they afterward came to North America, where they’ve spread out pretty well.
How does one choose a kayak sail?
Kayak sails come in plenty of shapes and sizes. There are many differences between them, some small, some large, and there are quite a few considerations you should think about when you’re choosing your kayak sail rig. Let’s take a look.
This is the primary difference between them. You will find plenty of different types, such as traditional kayak sails, as well as some more modern models. For example, wind-paddle sails have a circle shape, while Hobie sails reminisce of the conventional, triangular sails. Sea Eagle sails use a synthetic material, which makes them very durable, but you can only use them on specific boats. For example, the Sea Eagle Quiksail won’t work with Sun Dolphin’s Aruba. You will also find that some sails will only work for sit-in kayaks, while others are for sit-on only.
There are three general types of sail:
V-shape sails, which are downwind sails. Their main disadvantage is that if you happen to have a significant gust of wind headed at you, you will quickly tip over, and you can’t sail upwind with them. You can only go where the wind goes.
Circle shape sails are the most common ones here, and they, also, can go in only one direction. They’re commonly made for beginners, and they have a visor in the center so you can see through.
Tail L-shape sails are some of the best you can get, as you can pivot them if you want to switch directions, and even adjust them to take advantage of the wind, regardless of where it’s coming from. They’re some of the most sought-after kayak wind sail kits, and some of the most expensive ones as well.
This is another one of the essential considerations. Depending on which company you opt for, the most common materials tend to be either plastic or cloth. Cloth is a bit heavier but commonly lasts longer than plastic. However, plastic tends to stay efficient for a bit longer.
Synthetic plastic is the go-to material for some of the newer kayak sails. They might not last as long as cloth does, but their efficiency will be better over a more extended period. Cloth, on the other hand, will lose efficiency a bit faster but will outlast plastic by far. And, it’s much more cumbersome, especially if you get it wet.
The visor is usually made of a plastic, transparent material in the middle of the kayak since it’s something that’s meant for kayakers to be able to see through. This is usually done with sails that are directly in front of the kayaker.
Some sails, such as Falcon Sails, opt for carbon fiber for the masts. This is a great material, as it is lightweight, yet extremely stiff and resistant.
Level of experience
Last bit not least, when you’re choosing your kayak sail, you should consider your level of expertise. For example, if you’re a beginner, and want something that’s easy for both setup, and navigation, you might be best off with a WindPaddle. The circular mast shape makes it easy to control. However, if you do have some experience, and would want something that’s a bit more heavy duty, you’re better off with a Hobie sail. Here is what we’d say are the easiest ones to control and set up, and below are the options, ranked from the easiest to the hardest: Windpaddle, Sea Eagle, Falcon Sails, Hobie.
What are some of the key advantages of having a kayak sail, vs. not having one?
There are a couple of advantages which make having a kayak sail pretty much a no-brainer. It has been picking up steam during the past few years, and you can benefit from it too.
Kayak sailing is a fairly innovative sport. You’re combining both sailing and kayaking, regardless of whichever you prefer. Therefore, you get a bit of a boost from one to the other. For example, paddling can only get you so far in terms of speed, but if you want to add a few extra kilometers per hour to your speed, you’ll appreciate the sail and how it harnesses the power of the wind.
When you have a sail, you’re no longer relying on just your arms. You now have wind on your side, which is a renewable energy source. You can now go ahead and focus on other things that are important in the moment, such as navigating, or fishing, and not worry about exhausting yourself – you still have a way to move your kayak.
In addition to all of the practicality stuff, you’ll also get a lot of fun out of your kayak. The sailing feeling is amazing, and whenever you feel wind coming, you can just pull up your sail in mere seconds. When I got my first kayak sail, I had no idea what to do with it. However, after a few hours of meddling with it during a sailing trip, I was used to it, and setting it up became a piece of cake. I still can’t live without a kayak wind sail.
This is more or less a combination of all the things mentioned, but it’s still worth talking about. If you’re tired, you can go ahead and relax, letting the wind help you with movement. Or, if you just want to make a break without wasting time, you can do the same. It’s also great if you’re fishing, which is one of the key reasons many fishermen who use kayaks get a sail. Trolling is a piece of cake with it, and you can also get to, and from, your fishing area with ease. For people that don’t know what trolling is, it is the art of leaving out your fishing line, and moving slowly across the water, as you wait for the fish to bite. A sail can help you as you aren’t making any sudden movements as you would be with a sail.
How to make one yourself?
Now, if you’re handy, and would rather save some money on buying a sail, you can also do it yourself. But, to be honest, as you’ll see below, there are plenty of options, from budget ones to more expensive ones, and often a pre-made one is the better option. If you’d still want to make one yourself, below are the basics.
- Draw a plan of the dimensions, and the materials you’ll need.
- Get the tarp, and cut it according to your specifications. You will find various types of a tarp, but you’ll be best off with something that’s heavy duty, as it should withstand wind.
- Cut the piping (PVC is your best bet), and create a triangle shape for the mast. You should be careful with this, as the mast must be secure for it to hold the sail on your kayak.
- Cut the rope as well, and use hooks to attach it to the piping. The sail should be mobile, so make sure there’s a bit of giving at the bottom of the piping.
- Make a wooden block for the bottom cutouts, and a mount for your kayak.
- You will need a few basic handyman skills for this, but if you don’t want to buy one, this is how to go about making one yourself.
If you choose to buy, which brands should you choose from?
There are truly plenty of brands, but there are four that stand out from all the rest. They tend to have the best options for specific categories, and spending money on any of them is worth it. So, what brands are they? Let’s see.
Hobie is one of the first kayak companies that got into the sails market. They have great quality sails. The sails are both extremely durable and are a piece of cake to set up. You can find them both online and in major retail stores. Their customer service is also excellent. Their sails are commonly made from transparent plastic materials, which results in sails that are widely lighter than many of their competitors.
Wind-paddle is another company that got in the game early and offers excellent products. Their sails aren’t customizable. However, their circle design is extremely efficient, and you can quickly set them up with just about any kayak you could think of. They are also very simple to pull them up and fold them. The customer service is also excellent. The unique design of the sails means they’re different from the others. The circle goes in front of the kayaker, and you get the transparent visor that makes very easy to see through.
Sea Eagle is another well-known brand, and they offer fantastic sails of high quality. However, where they fall short is the fact that the way they attach to the kayak limits them to working with only some kayaks. Their quality is top notch because of the composite design, and they’re mostly made of plastic. Being lighter and more efficient, they have an advantage over cloth sails.
Falcon Sails. If you’re after high-performance, but expensive options, Falcon Sails are the way to go. Their carbon fiber masts are unmatched, as carbon fiber is a very lightweight and stiff material. When you’re buying one from them, you get to customize your mast, from the colors of the whole mast and all the details, to how the lines will go and how your logo will look like, which is, honestly, next level personalization. And their customer service is also stunning. Even e-mailing the owner will get you an instant response.
Other brands, such as Complete, Serenity or PAS
You can get a kayak sail from other brands such as the ones mentioned above, and they’re usually highly customized settings. For example, some of Serenity’s offerings are large sails, which are oversized and made for professionals, or people that are looking for the absolute best as far as materials go. And, if you’re willing to invest some more money into this, you won’t regret checking these out.
A few tips on kayak sailing
Kayak sailing is a relatively new concept. Even though it might seem like a fairly standard ordeal, you will be much better off if you know some of the safety tips and basic procedures. This will result in you having the best possible kayak sailing experience, and you’ll also feel safe throughout the whole trip.
Know where you’re kayak sailing, and know your surroundings
When you’re kayak sailing, especially in a new place, it’s important to remember the whole area. You should be sure that there aren’t any hazards or incidents that might happen to you while sailing. You should also consider the fact that there are swimmers and boats as well, and you must consider their locations as well, so you can avoid them.
Ensure you’ve got good weather
This is a significant safety tip. Any heavy rain or lighting, and even extreme wind can ruin your whole trip. Checking the weather before you head out is never a bad idea.
Check if you have the right sail
Not all sails are made equal, and not all are for the same thing. Some are for rapids and heavy winds, while some are only meant for fishing. Make sure you have the correct one for your intentions.
Do wear safety equipment
This is a sport that brings a few fairly threatening hazards and dangers. You should wear a helmet, as well as a life jacket. You should be prepared, and you should have all necessary equipment to be able to keep yourself away from harm in case of a collision or incident.
Keep the kayak clean
This isn’t just to make sure you look good, but it also has a major impact on durability and efficiency. When you’re done for the day, you should clean your kayak at all times. This is especially important if you’ve been in salty waters, as you need to get off any salt because it might degrade materials.
Have enough water and food for the day
Sure, you might only be planning for a few hours. However, you can never know what happens, and having more than enough food and water can’t do you any harm. This is an essential safety tip.
Last but not least, make sure you know your equipment
This might seem obvious but is very important. You need to be sure you know how to set up, use, and fold the kayak sail before you head out into the water. You should also know how durable the kayak sail is, and what it can and can’t handle.
Wrapping things up
Kayak sailing is an add-on to kayaking, but it is an innovative sport that will get you into a new dimension. After going through the guide above, you’ll be more than likely ready to purchase your first sail. You should know what to look out for, which brands to prefer, as well as a few essential things before you head out into the water. Happy sailing!