Sailing a kayak

September 27, 2006

I want to learn to sail my kayak. It sounds like lots of fun and a high speed option!

There are two main options. A ‘pop up’ sailing rig such as the ones provided by Pacific Action in New Zealand.



There are good descriptions and reviews of this sail system here and here.

The other oprion is a kite. When I first started thinking about the kite option I got really excited because I have seen and wanted to try kite surfing in Tarifa, southern Spain (a mecca for that sport).


But it seems its not the same in a kayak.


Sadly the kite has to pull the kayak from near or at the front otherwise it is slews the kayak sideways. This means that the kite has to be a single string version and not the powerful stunt parafoils they use in kite surfing.


images by Mark Harris
The kites available seem to be the fabric versions which i think looks dangerous and incovenient because when they ditch its almost impossible to get them back in the air as they fill with water. Kite surfers use a special inflatable kite with air filled socks that float and don’t take on water. These kind have disadvantages too, not least their price. The other problem is power, a big stunt parafoil would be way too powerful for a kayak – something I’ll need to think about.

Here is a good introduction to powering a kayak with a parafoil kite. And here. I definately think there is a sport to develop using a wave ski and kite surfers parafoil. You heard it here first.

Lastly you can also go more low tech:

“My other wind propulsion unit is a beach umbrella… Its easy to put up and take down and it was cheap. The umbrella moves my kayak about 4 mph in 10 -15 mph winds. It is also good in camp for sun shade and rain protection.” from here

Perhaps by sailing I could make the crossing from Matsushima bay to Ajishima, a crossing of about 25km and one that I have thought about since I started kayaking.

Other sail manufacturers include Balogh Sail Designs


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