Friday, June 23, 2006

Kayak Sailing with a DownWind Sail

SandyBottom paddling and sailing her Kruger Dreamcatcher


There is an interesting and heated debate on downwind sails on the WaterTribe forum titled "Paddle thoughts". It stated out as a thread on paddles, then switched over to sails. If you plan to participate, wear your e-armour. This is a very opinionated group, and not all agree on the topic. Representatives from both Pacific Action Sails and Spirit Sails have also weighed in. (6/27 - Seems this thread was removed from the forum, it was getting ugly).

During the WaterTribe challenges, Class 1 canoe and kayaks, are allowed a downwind sail if it is less than 1 meter, no lee-boards or outriggers are allowed in this class. Many choose to use a sail for the challenge distances (300 miles for the Everglades Challenge). In the Ultimate Florida Challenge, UFC (1200 miles) there were five paddlers who began in class 1, all were using Pacific Action Sails except one, SharkChow (the eventual winner) was using a Spirit Sail. All had kayaks or Kruger canoes with rudders . Three finished in class 1, SharkChow, Doobrd and myself.

If questioned, I believe all would say they paddled the Challenge, none would say they sailed it. The sail definitely helps. It might increase your speed, or allow you to paddle with less effort for a given pace. With wind, you can eat or take a rest while still moving forward at more than a 0 mph pace. But, the only way to finish these challenges in Class 1, is to keep paddling.

I chose to use the Pacific Action Sail (PAS). I also own a Spirit Sail, but have personally found the PAS more to my liking. I found it to be extremely easy to use and change with the wind. I felt it was easy to use in beam winds as well as downwind angles. This would not be true if I hadn't a good rudder. In the photo above, I have adjusted the sail down to the boat for a beam wind (rather than upright in a V for downwind). I prefer the forward bow attachment, and the easy deployment and release of the sail using the lines attached.

There is also an article, a review of the Pacific Action Sail, written by Steve Isaac, head of WaterTribe, on the WaterTribe Magazine. Check it out at "Class 1 Sailing to the Max".


Much of the discussion (or argument) in the forum thread has to do with how much into the wind, or angle of beam wind, the downwind sails will accommodate. All agree they do not paddle upwind. However, I believe the PAS will sail closer into the wind than a Spirit sail will allow, and in fact the Spirit Sail does not even adjust for beam angles.

When PAS offered to provide me with a sail for the UFC, they advised me to use the sail even in low winds when I didn't think it would help. I did, and with the daily mileage I was paddling, I'm convinced it helped. Some would even describe it as "cheating".

Left: AlaskanSeaHorse paddle sailing his Current Designs Stratus










Right: ThereAndBackAgain paddle sailing his Kruger Seawind into the sunset





Below: SandyBottom's Kruger Dreamcatcher on the move.

2 comments:

Igor said...

Hi, Dawn! I have left a comment a while ago at one of your posts, and also sent you an e-mail. Have you read them by any chance? :)

Captain of the "O" dark 30 said...

I was bitch slapped back to yesterday by the discussion on the message board!! (Going to weather with a PAS sail.) Live and learn.
(Captain of the "O" Dark 30 - formally known as the da biscut)