Kayak sailing is more popular than ever, with many people opting to make their kayaking experience more interesting by picking up a kayak sail. But with so many to choose from, how do you know you’re getting a good one? There are lots of types, they don’t all work well, and last but not least, not all of them are worth the asking price. There are other questions to be answered, too, but that’s besides the point.
Today we have an excellent kayak sail to look at. Especially great for people who don’t demand too much out of their sail, but instead want something that works well and packs up easy when you don’t need it. The Westwind kayak sail fits the description, and it comes at an attractive price.
If you’ve ever considered trying kayak sailing, this might be a great sail to get you into that. Without much further ado, let’s get into our Westwind kayak sail review, and see whether you should be investing your hard-earned money in one.
A bit of an introduction
As a paddler, you might be hesitant to try sailing. The thought of not moving too much and not getting much exercise out of kayaking might be off-putting. However, you must’ve found the thought of having a sail that allows you to benefit from the wind at least appealing. And there are some more benefits to enjoy, too.
Another thing that’s off-putting is often the thought of a large sail on the deck of your kayak. For a person who doesn’t want too much fuss, you’ll want a basic solution. Something that’ll be easy to set up, and just as easy to bring apart when you don’t want to use it. Something that won’t get in the way when you’re paddling, and won’t cause any stability issues. All you need is something that’ll give you a bit of a push when you’re going downwind, and the Westwind kayak sail delivers.
Let’s discuss the design
The sail has a spherical, circular design, which reminds one of an umbrella. However, it is much tougher than an umbrella, with no ribs, stretchers or vulnerable tubes anywhere to be found on the sail. This means it is made to withstand wind well, even when it’s a bit stronger. The sail itself is made of rip-stop sailcloth. In order to provide visibility ahead, there’s a horizontal clear window at the center. A deployed sail has a diameter of 42”.
On the perimeter, you’ll find a circular, laminated batten. Even though stiff, you can bend and twist it if necessary. Similarly to an umbrella pop up tent, this allows the sail to be stored into thirds, taking up a minimal amount of space. You can easily store it in your kayak’s cargo area. A potential problem might be the fear of breaking it in the beginning, but you’ll get over it easily, and you won’t have to worry about it anymore. The materials used throughout the sail are light, yes, but they’re also very solid and durable.
How easy is it to set up?
As with any other kayak sail, we would strongly recommend that you practice deploying and putting away the sail on land first. You don’t want to go out in the water without the knowledge or the practice, as this can be dangerous.
Once you get the hang of it, mounting the sail on your kayak is a matter of seconds. Even if you aren’t in a rush, it won’t take more than a minute. It also requires no modifications on the kayak, but instead mounts on the existing deck lines. The flatter profile means that you will experience much less recoil alterations when the wind directions are changing.
When you’re done, you can fold the sail and store it under the decklines. It doesn’t protrude on the sides, but you might notice some interference if you have a high-angle paddling style. It’s made to fit any kayak, but it feels right at home on expedition and touring kayaks that are between 14 and 18 feet long. The size of the sail is a non-issue on the kayaks its intended for, and as mentioned, it won’t stick out too much on smaller ones either.
Handling is pretty good
When you go out on the water, the sail should be stored on the deck. However, once you release it from under the deck lines, it pops out automatically, leaving you to just grasp the sheet of the sail. Lower it, and you’re depowering it. Lift it higher, make it more vertical, and it grabs more wind, pushing you faster and increasing the speed you’re going at. Even with occasional sidewinds, stability is no issue at all. The kayak also tracks extremely well even with the sail. But for more directional stability, you’ll want a rudder.
If you want to stop sailing, just let the sheet go. The sail will flatten immediately, and all that’s left is for you to fold it and store it again. After practicing for a while on land, this won’t be an issue. All things considered, an excellent sail to get into kayak sailing.
Wrapping up our Westwind kayak sail review – is it any good?
At the end of the day, the Westwind kayak sail will seriously increase the fun factor when you’re out on the water. Even if you don’t have any serious experience with kayak sailing, you’ll be sailing in no time.
For anyone who’s against modifying their kayak, the Westwind requires absolutely no modifications, and instead attaches to pre-existing boat hardware. This also means that you can store it away and have your kayak be a plain old kayak in a matter of seconds.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll like sailing, or just don’t want to get a complex sail that’ll transform your entire kayak, the Westwind kayak sail is an excellent option. If you’re already serious, you might want to look into something that’s a bit more heavy duty.