If you’re a proud kayak owner and are looking at getting a sailing kayak, wait. Why not just get a kayak sail for your current one? You can convert your regular kayak into a sailing kayak with nothing more than a simple kayak sail. There are plenty to choose from, from brands to styles and quality option, and you’ll have a sailing kayak in no time. A kayak sail is an interesting option, and a sailing kayak has quite a few advantages when compared to a regular kayak. You will find that with a sailing kayak, you can relax more, you can rest, and you can get further than you would with just paddling. Interested in getting a kayak sail kit and converting your old, boring kayak, into a sailing kayak? Read on!
What are the benefits of having a kayak sail?
You might not think of it this way, but yes, there are plenty of benefits. And before you even get to the models and options, you should know that it tends to be relatively cheap. Besides that, it is very convenient and actually portable. Kayak sails have picked up a lot of steam these past few years, and there are good reasons for that.
They originally started appearing in Australia and New Zealand, and they continued spreading out to North America, where they were actually pretty well received. And, for many, having a kayak sail is actually a no-brainer. There’s no reason why you, as a paddler, can’t benefit from it. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages that you get when you buy a sail kit.
Before even getting into the technical advantages such as speed and exertion, we have to talk about pure fun. Sure, kayaking is a hobby, even though there’s always the competitive side of it. However, fun is the main point here. When you have a sail kit, you can just pull up the sail in a few seconds whenever you feel the wind. When you get your first sail kit, you might be confused. However, it only takes a few hours of sailing and playing with it before you get used to it. And once you do, setting it up and pulling it back down will be a thing you’ll do in seconds.
With a sail, you have another thing to propel you, not just your arms. The wind is now your friend, and the wind is a renewable energy source. This means that you can focus on other things that are important when you’re kayaking, such as fishing, trolling, or navigating, without worrying that you’ll spend too much energy on that and you won’t be able to paddle afterward. You still have a way to move with your kayak, even if you’re tired.
You will find that even though kayak sailing is actually a new sport and a simple one, it is fairly innovative. You have sailing and kayaking as separate sports, but here you’re combining them both in one, regardless of whether you prefer one or the other. Therefore, for example, paddling only lets you get to a certain speed, and even that is done with the help of downstream, and you will get tired pretty fast. However, you can get to that speed much easier with a kayak sail kit, and you could even go faster if the winds are on your side.
Now, having a sail on your kayak does provide all of the advantages mentioned above. However, it is also very convenient in quite a few situations. For example, if you’re feeling tired, there’s nothing stopping you from setting up the sail and relaxing for a bit. Or maybe you’re not tired, but you’d still like to make a break. Your choice. It is also of great help when you’re fishing, which is why fishermen love it. Trolling, which is the art of slowly leaving out your fishing line, without disturbing the water with paddling’s sudden movements, is actually a piece of cake when you have a kayak sail. A kayak sail means you don’t have to touch the water or move suddenly with your body as you would with paddling, and this is a much easier affair.
How do you choose a kayak sail?
If you try to search around and find a kayak sail to buy, you will find that there are more models on the market than you would like if you’re after an easy choice. They come in all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of differences that will also make a difference in your experience with them. However, there are three main considerations when you’re getting a sailing kit, and they are the materials, the design, and your level of experience.
Materials are actually a big difference maker with kayak sail. The most common ones used, depending on the company you’ll be buying from, are either cloth or plastic. Plastic lasts less than cloth, but it does actually maintain the efficiency pretty well during that period. Cloth does outlast it, but the weight is an issue.
- The mast of some well-made sails, such as the ones by Falcon Sails, is made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is a very stiff and resistant material, which at the same time is extremely lightweight.
- The sail’s visor is usually made of transparent plastic materials. It is placed in the middle of the kayak because it’s main purpose is for a kayaker to be able to see through it. This is commonly the situation with sails that are placed right in front of you.
- For some of the newer, better kayak sails, the go-to material is synthetic plastic. As mentioned above, this is a material that doesn’t hold up as long as cloth does, but for that period of time when it works, it maintains the efficiency levels much better than cloth. Cloth lasts more, but efficiency drops rapidly, and it is much heavier, especially if you manage to get it wet, which is something you must count on.
This is the most obvious difference. There are the traditional kayak sails, as well as some modern shapes that stick out. For example, a Wind-Paddle sail is usually in the form of a circle. Hobie sails, on the other hand, will remind you of a traditional sail with its triangular shape. Sea Eagle sails also have a triangular shape, but their design means that they won’t work on any kayak, as they’re specific. You will find three general shapes of kayak sails, circle shape, V-shape, and tail L-shape.
- Circle shape sails, such as the ones by Wind-Paddle, are the most common ones. They only go in one direction, are usually meant for the beginner paddler, and have a visor in the middle.
- V-shape sails are downwind sails. They’re also only able to go in one direction, and they have one major disadvantage. Namely, when you have a large gust of wind, you might very well tip over, very quickly.
- Tail L-shape sails are usually among the best you can get. If you want to switch directions, that’s as easy as pivoting them. This lets you take advantage of the wind, regardless of the direction it is coming from. They tend to be the most expensive ones, but are also some of the most sought-after wind sail kits you can run into.
Your level of experience
Even though it might not be that obvious, this is another important consideration. A Hobie sail, for example, is a heavy-duty sail, but it is far from the easiest one to set up and control. Wind-Paddle, on the other hand, and its circle sails is a brand more suited for beginners. They’re easy to set up, and controlling them is also a breeze. The most popular brands start off with Wind-Paddle as the easiest ones to both set up and control, and then we have Sea Eagle, Falcon Sails, and Hobie finishes up the list. Choose accordingly, and be honest with your skill level.
Can you make a kayak sail yourself?
Absolutely. You won’t actually save a lot of money, as you can buy one pretty cheap, but there are people who want to do things themselves. Here are some of the basics, make sure you read through them before you actually commit to such a thing, so you know what you’re working with.
- Make a plan with all the materials you will need, and draw out all the dimensions before you go out.
- Buy a tarp, and cut it according to the dimensions you drew. For the tarp, your best bet is a heavy duty one, for durability.
- The PVC piping should be cut and made into a triangular shape. This will be your mast, and it is important that it’s secure if you want it to hold the sail well.
- Next, you will cut the rope, and attach it to the pipes with hooks. Make sure you leave a bit of give at the bottom, as you want the sail to be mobile and not immovable.
- Get a wooden block and make a mount so you can get the whole thing mounted on the kayak.
This requires handyman skills, and someone who doesn’t have them is much better off buying a pre-made one. But if you do want to try, this is how to do it.
What brands to buy from?
If you’d rather play it safe and buy one, you’ll be best off getting one from the brands mentioned below. They are the ones that are worth getting, and they have great options for some specific purposes. Let’s take a look at the recommendations.
Wind-Paddle is the best beginner option. They have great options, but the sails they have aren’t too customizable. The circle design they’re recognizable by is a very efficient option, and you can set them up with ease, regardless of the kayak. Pulling them up, as well as folding them, is a piece of cake, and they have amazing customer service, should you ever need it.
Hobie is a bit more advanced, and they’re one of the first to market. Their quality is second to none, and setting them up is a piece of cake. They’re available both in some of the major retail stores, as well as online, so it’s completely up to you. Their sales tend to be made from clear plastic, which ensures they have a weight advantage over many of their competitor brands.
Sea Eagle is one more high-quality option. They have a major downside, though, and that is the fact that they’re only compatible with some kayak. They have a unique way of attaching to the kayak, but this is more of a problem than an advantage if you don’t have the suitable kayak. Their composite design guarantees quality and they’re lighter and more efficient than a cloth sail.
Falcon Sails are the premium go-to if you can afford them. They have completely customizable masts made of carbon fiber, and you can also customize how your logo will look like, or how the lines would look like. They also offer amazing customer service, where even if you e-mail the owner, you’ll get a quick response.
Other brands, from the likes of Serenity, PAS or Complete will give you highly customized settings. This requires that you know exactly what you need, as they’re made for professionals. For example, Serenity offers oversized sails that are ideal for professionals and people who aren’t shy about paying a premium when they want quality materials. If you know what you’re after, and you aren’t shy on a budget, absolutely check them out.
A couple of things you should know about kayak sailing
It’s a relatively new concept, which does seem like something fairly simple. However, knowing some of the basics, such as procedures and safety tips, is a requirement for your own guaranteed best experience, and if you want to feel safe throughout the trip.
Wherever you sail, you should know the area. You need to be sure there aren’t any hazards lurking, and you need to know where you can run into swimmers or boats because you’ll need to avoid them. Check the weather as well, as it can easily ruin your whole trip, and result in the worst possible experience.
Also, kayak sailing is a sport that can become very dangerous, very quickly. Therefore, wearing a life jacket and a helmet is a great idea. This way, you’re prepared, and in case of a collision or another kind of incident, you’re ready, and you have the equipment that will most likely guarantee your safety. Another good idea is to have food and water for a few hours more than your planned trip. You can’t know what might happen, and being prepared is a great idea.
Last but not least, maintain and clean your equipment. A clean kayak doesn’t just look good, but performs better and lasts longer. Clean your kayak at the end of the day, as well as your other equipment, and make sure you do know how to use everything before you head out.
Even though it might seem like a mere add-on to kayaking, kayak sailing is a great way to try a new dimension of kayaking. If you’ve gone through the above guide, you’ll know what to buy and what not to, how to differentiate quality options from cheap ones, and what to be careful about before you head out. Enjoy your trip!