21 March 2013

VIDEO: Sailing with Flat Earth 0.8

A few months ago I received a new sail.
For years I have been using a Flat Earth Sails of 1.0 m² in all conditions and I wanted a new one to use specifically in higher winds. Paddling in stiffer breezes and sailing with the FEKS 1.0 has proven to be a bit tricky for me. I also have come to the conclusion that a larger sail does not equate to higher speed on my kayaks.

The large Flat Earth Code ZERO 1.0 mt sail seems to shine in lighter breezes up to 15 knots; my kayaks are propelled along at a reasonable speed where I still need to paddle along if I want to reach hull speed (the maximum sustainable speed achieved by paddling alone). At around 15 knots of beam wind I find that I no longer add to the kayak’s speed if I add my paddle strokes; maybe with a short furious burst I have a sudden sprint, but not a continuous increased speed.
At higher winds (like 20 knots) the kayak does not travel any faster, despite the sail offering more resistance and heeling over my boat.
As I have to lean over with the weight of my body to prevent the kayak from tipping and I don’t feel too comfortable in winds higher than 20 knots; I get tired from twisting my body.
In reality, the only time I can really make my kayak’s skeg hum is when I have following seas and my kayak is propelled by the wave hitting it from behind.
A few short fast strokes bring the kayak to the speed of the wave and suddenly I am surfing.

Sailing with Green-Piece: the lime-green Impex Cutticuk

I was intrigued to try the new sail: would it still give me the fun rides that I was used to with the big sail but make it easier in higher winds?
After a few months of using the new Flat Earth 0.8 sails (two different ones) I realize that less is more.
The smaller sail propels my kayaks (skeg, fish-form, British style 5 meter-ish) just as fast as the larger FEKS 1.0, when the breeze sends most small motorized watercraft back to the boat ramp.
The smaller sail gives me enough resistance to bring my kayaks to hull speed but not too much heeling over. I can handle the sail better in wind gusts.
While rigging the 0.8 sail I made a taller mast to allow me to reach the boom when stowing the sail on deck. In a lowered position the mast (pocket) is longer than the boom and to keep the two together, when folded, I now have the mast slightly protruding over the cockpit.
As sea kayak sails are generally useless for tacking (head wind) I lower mine and stow it on-deck. The mast, boom and sail cloth are bundled and tied together to prevent wind and waves catching the sail and balloon. A sail hastily stored on deck has filled up with water and made boat handling very precarious; I like my sails secure with a low profile to make head wind paddling easier too.
An unplanned advantage of having a higher mounted is to gain a clearer view between deck and boom without much need for a window.



  1. I would really like to try sailing the kayak. It looks so incredibly fun!

    Take care U:))

    1. A sail on a kayak makes a windy day fun, instead of just a slog :-)
      If you get to try kayak sailing make sure the sail you choose is not just a downwind sail but something you can use in a beam wind too.

  2. Nice video, but have you tried a kite?
    Kayak kite from Kites`rus in the US?
    I have one and they are quite useable and other boats can see you quite good when the kite is in the air. The kite is "one string type" and not steerable, you can even roll with it when airborne.

    1. Never tried a kite on a kayak but seen it done. The one I saw was a two hands operation which left the paddler with no bracing ability... not convinced of that one. With a single string can the kite be used for direction (like a sail) or just purely downwind?
      I have flown stunt kites where direction would be possible on a kayak, if I only had 4 hands :-)

    2. This is with a single string and yes I can use mine with an angle of almost 90 degrees. (that is with my Kayakpro Marlin with rudder), a litle less if you just have skeg on the kayak. I like beeing pulled by the kite and drink my coffee and eat my sandwich, good fun. I can even drink my beer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xau6AQryZZU&list=UUVETVqkc2yZKzxSaaIXx45w&index=24 ;ø)

    3. Rolf, that is pretty cool even if I don't endorse drinking beer while paddling :-)
      Pardon my ignorance with kite flying but how do you launch the kite from the water and how do you bring it back down and pack it away if the wind become too strong? in bumpy seas?
      Also, how do you direct the kite to pull you in a 90 degree direction to the wind if you only have one string?
      I would like to give kite kayaking a go...

  3. Hi Damiano, great roll with the sail in full. I make my own sails and recently send one to Australia. I hope you see my delta inverted in the sea one day. Really, kayaking with sail is diferent.

  4. Hi Again. It comes in a smart bag that can be strapped down to the deck. It is real easy to launch and once in the air you can forget about it. I`ve had mine up in a gale force wind, that was a bit over the top but I managed to get it down without tipping my kayak. In ordinary conditions its no problem "windig" it back to the kayak and putting it back in the bag, even in bumpy sea. If you have the kite in a "up to 90 degee" you can steer the kayak as you are used to, with the paddle or with the rudder. I have had mine in the air with a speed of almost 25 kilometers an hour measured on the gps, thats my record. With ordinary wind it will have a speed from 4 to 12 kilometer an hour. One string kite will set itself in the "almost" best angle to the wind. And about the drinking, 100 meters later we where on the beach ready to set up camp ;ø)

  5. Greetings Gnarly, glad you have also discovered that less is more!



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