Kayak Sail Types

Written by miggi sanchez
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Kayak Sail Types
Know the different types of sails for your kayak. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Kayaking has now expanded into kayak sailing, with the latest innovations with its accessories and equipment. Kayaks are not just used for white-water courses but are now used as main touring water vehicles. Attaching a sail to a kayak brings a new level to the sport, where the paddler is propelled by the wind behind it for a faster journey.

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Compact Downwind Spinnakers

Compact downwind spinnakers, or more commonly called kite sails, are smaller, more lightweight sails most often used in touring. This type of sail can accommodate wind speeds of up to 15 knots and can have control lines attached to the kayak's shaft to help you gain control of the body. This keeps your hand near the paddles in case you need extra support during gusty travels. The kite sail is also very easy to take down, just in case the wind gets too strong and you are in danger of capsizing.

Full Sailing Rigs

Full sailing rigs need to be drilled into the kayak or clipped for a sturdier attachment. Unlike kite sails that can use suction cups as bases, full sailing rigs need bolts and screws for reinforcement. This means that you cannot easily take down the sail in case the wind gets too strong, but this type of sail can withstand winds of at least 30 knots. Full sailing rigs cost around £130 each and look a lot like the regular sails that you see in most water vehicles.

Free-Standing Sails

Free-standing sails are placed close to the paddler, making it easy to control and easy to take down. For sit-on-top kayaks, or SOT's, free-standing sails may be an issue since placing them on the foot wells makes it difficult to reach for the paddler. If you are using SOT kayaks, it is best to use a spinnaker or kite sail, instead. Free-standing sails do not need bolts or suction caps to attach to the kayak's body.

Spirit Sails

Spirit Sails is one of the kayak sail vendors in the market today. They specialise in kayak and canoe sails with a focus on the free-standing variety. Their sails come with a V-yoke and a locking base for easy set-up and installation. Their sails range from £146 to £178 and they offer kayaking and canoeing tips for the newbies. They also sell rod holders and base mounts for adventurist kayak racers, which range from £19 to £45 each.

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