Sea Kayak Sailing – Enhancing The Seafaring Experience by Gethin Roberts
 

Sea Kayak Sailing – Enhancing The Seafaring Experience

26274434565_751a40d531_z

South Pembrokeshire

12901541_10101640731183720_8565949215552622721_o

West Coast of Ireland

Sea kayaks enable their users to explore and play on life-affirming journeys.  Part of the challenge is to safely utilise the currents, swell and winds.  The direct energy of the wind has been largely unused by most modern sea kayakers.  In recent decades sailing rigs have become far more manageable to use on sea kayaks and their distribution/availability outside of Australia and New Zealand is only now becoming a reality.  This exciting development is opening up brand new sea kayaking opportunities and challenges for all.  From downwind coastal runs to traversing huge exposed island chains, like the Aleutians, sea kayak sailing is putting bigger smiles on people’s faces and aiding in epic journeys.

SANY0126

Tropical beach on Caldey Island

12744703_10153840162743950_103381946296525824_n

Windy day at Cadnant Bay Menai Straits

History

Kayak sailing was invented in 1865 when John “Rob Roy” MacGregor designed and built a sailing kayak for his 1,000 mile journey along the inland waterways of Europe.  Those early Rob Roy Kayaks subsequently evolved into the huge variety of kayak types that we know today.  Sail equipped kayaks remained popular into the 1930s.  In 1934, Alastair Dunnett and Seumas Adam (“The Canoe Boys”) used their sail equipped Lochaber kayaks on an impressive and pioneering journey to explore the west coast of Scotland.

Kayak sailing also became popular in continental Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.  In 1928 Franz Romer kayak sailed across the Atlantic from Lisbon to Puerto Rico.  He attempted to continue his journey onwards to New York but went missing, presumably killed, in a hurricane.  Oskar Speck’s similarly epic seven year kayak sailing trip from Germany to Australia should have been widely celebrated as an amazing achievement.  However, arriving at his destination in September 1939 he was interned for the duration of the Second World War.

Kayak sailing subsequently went out of fashion in Europe.  Towards the end of the twentieth century sails were beginning to be developed for use on modern sea kayaks by Australia and New Zealand-based kayakers.  Sea kayak sailing is now commonplace in these countries and is beginning to take hold in Europe and North America.

12112005_10207644408531019_7116226800410281658_n

Skerries Lighthouse, Anglesey

12932645_10101640730974140_4019521894634724354_n

Surfing in Ireland

SANY0043

Surfing near Stackpole

Why sea kayak sail?

  • Speed/endurance/fun

Maintaining the top displacement hull speed is easier when sea kayak sailing.  It is also much easier to get your kayak planing in swell and tidal rapids.  This is particularly useful when attempting to catch less steep waves.  In essence you will catch more waves, considerably increasing your speed and range.  Average speeds of 7 knots with planing top speed runs in excess of 10 knots are not unusual in conditions where it would be considerably more difficult for conventional sea kayaks to plane and maintain average speeds of more than 3-4 knots.

When the waves become too steep it is best to stow the sail away as it will no longer enhance the experience and will, most likely, become a liability.

  • Enhanced safety

The sail appears triangular and conspicuous from afar and/or in overhead rolling swell.

The exposure of paddling along coastlines with less frequent safe landings is reduced if the wind and sail combine to add to the kayaks propulsion.

SANY0112

Caldey Island tiderace

Getting into sea kayak sailing

Equipment

The main airfoil sail available in Europe is the Flat Earth Kayak Sails range of airfoils.  They are designed and manufactured in Australia by Mick MacRobb.  Other airfoil sails are being manufactured for sea kayaks but they are far less common in Europe.

Sea kayak manufacturers

Many composite sea kayaks will need strengthening in order to accommodate a sail mast. You can assess this by pressing down on the deck near the compass recess and gauging whether there is much flexibility in the deck and hull.  Most kayak companies will strengthen your kayak by special order. Plastic kayaks tend to be more robust in taking a sail mast.

Since 2012, P&H kayaks have produced all of their composite kayaks with enough strength to accommodate a sail mast.  Their plastic Scorpio MKII range of sea kayaks has been designed with sailing in mind. It easily accommodates a Flat Earth Sail and handles superbly well when sailed.

Have a go/purchase

Scotland – Karitec are the main UK distributor of Flat Earth Kayak Sails and have a range of demo boats to try out under sail.

http://www.karitek.co.uk/

England – P&H have demo kayaks fitted with sails and attend many sea kayak symposiums.

http://www.phseakayaks.com/

Wales – Sea Kayaking Wales (SKW) are based on Anglesey and have a range of P&H sea kayaks and Flat Earth Kayak Sails to try out.  SKW also run sea kayaking (including sailing) courses in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Llŷn and the Gower.  Flat Earth Sails are available to purchase from SKW.

https://seakayakingwales.com/

More Information

http://seakayakphoto.blogspot.co.uk/ – An excellent blog written by, Douglas Wilcox, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of sea kayak sailing in Europe.

http://www.flatearthkayaksails.com/ – The most popular airfoil sail in the UK at present.

SANY0138

Tenby

Geth

www.seakayakingwales.com

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2016 at 9:29 pm and is filed under Reviews, Technical.


Search

Admin
Log in
Pages
Blog Home
  • Sample Page
  • Archives
  • August 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • April 2016
  • August 2015
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • February 2014
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • April 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • November 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • January 1970
  • Categories
  • Expeditions (8)
  • News (18)
  • Reviews (9)
  • Technical (7)
  • Trip Reports (825)
  • Contributors
  • P&H Paddlers Admin
  • Björn Nehrhoff V. H.
  • Brian Day
  • Christopher Lockyer
  • Dimitri Vandepoele
  • Doug Cooper
  • Gethin Roberts
  • Jay Rose
  • Jim Krawiecki
  • Kate Duffus
  • Mark Kalch
  • Olly Sanders
  • P&H Sea Kayaks
  • P&H Custom Sea Kayaks
  • Paul Kuthe
  • Robert Moffatt
  • Roger Chandler
  • Sid Sinfield