14 July 2009

Sailing with a Flat Earth kayak sail

FEKS_1 (c)
I have been sailing with my own designed sails for a while and recently I have been asked to test a new sail from Flat Earth kayak sails (http://www.flatearthkayaksails.com/) .
Mick has supplied me with the latest design of his sails.
After receiving the sail in the mail I inspected it.
The sail looks good: it has a great design with the outer edge white fabric being a Twaron reinforced cloth ("Code Zero Laminate" ZL04).
The pattern of the sail is a higher aspect than the one I designed.
The stitching and finish is superb (much better than mine).

Mick MacRobb supplied the sail only and I made the mast for it.
I used my usual tick walled carbon mast (from Exel Composites).
The sail does not need a boom: it is built-in as a sail batten.

Mick has been listening to paddler’s feedback and has improved his design over the competition.
His battens are finished with a sail fitting and a reinforced coupling that mates to the boom/mast junction. It looks solid. The batten should not brake as in other sails I have observed.

Flat Earth kayak sail folded on deck: mast/boom junction detail.
But how does it sail?
I would say similar to mine.

Sailing and sticking_2 (c)
Flat Earth sail (MEI designed one in background)

Sailing with FEKS (c)
15 knots of wind
The sail area is a bit smaller than mine and I felt a bit less power at 15-20 knots of wind.
My sailing buddy Vanilla was gaining just a bit more ground (water?) than me.

The clear window despite being small is perfectly positioned to see through (on my sail it is bigger, but not better :-(
The kayak did not feel tippy at all, actually maybe a tad more stable than with my sail.
Maybe the reason for this is because Mick uses a bungee cord saddle where the main sheet attaches to the boom.
In a gust of wind the sail spills a bit and prevents the kayak from tipping: nice detail that actually works.
There was one thing that I found a bit annoying: the sail did not fold as nicely when stored.

Mick’s sail requires two bungees for a neat folded sail. Here shown with only one bungee
My sails have the mast and the boom of the same length when folded on the deck.

I can store them by just one bungee cord wrapped around the sail, mast and boom.
It sits on the deck neater than the Flat Earth kayak sail one.
Since my mast is mounted so far forward on the deck of my kayak I can have a very long boom.
Mick’s design is probably best suited for a closer mount.
The boom being shorter will prevent being hit by the paddle while under way.
However Mick’s design optimizes the sail with max surface area and max speed for the given parameters.
Since this sail was not a custom order from Mick I realize that for a perfect set up I would request a sail that has a longer boom.

PS: 07JUN10
a very detailed review of FEKS from Douglas Wilcox can be found here

1 comment:

  1. Flat earth sails are moving with the times, we take feedback seriously .
    What Gnarly didn't say was the phone conversation before the test run where he voiced his concern about the top of the mast sleeve, and his thoughts about it being a bit light on and maybe it would wear through given a bit of use. The history of that part of the sail is that we originally made it heavier and people commented that it was probably to strong. I have decided to re look at it all over again, maybe all it needs is some of the ZL04 we now use in high load areas of all the sails, and on the leech and foot of the prototype that's currently on Gnarly's kayak.

    There have been kayak sails made of laminates in the past , most I have thoght being made of too heavy materials. Now with the onset of new laminates designed for light air sails and code Zero sail rigs we should see more kayak sails made of higher teck fabrics and with a better ability to point higher into the wind .

    The length of the boom is also an issue for folding onto the deck , particularly on British style deck lay outs. I'm a bit loath to lengthen it, as it will change the dynamics of the sail, but it is an issue from a paddler that needs to be seriously looked at . maybe the "Code Zero "second generation prototype will answer this, and maybe have a couple more degrees of twist built into the shape as well.
    I think with test pilots like Gnarly in Queensland and Geoff in Tasmania and input from Kayak manufacturers Flat Earth Kayak Sails will keep up with what paddlers want

    regards Mick
    Flat Earth sails.


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