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Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2002 11:39 pm
by Mark R
The title says it all...opinions invited.
-----------Mark Rainsley


Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2002 12:56 am
by Mike Buckley
And in the best traditions of philosophy, Why Not?

Of course, a proper sea boat doesn't have a rudder! Does it?


Re: Rudders

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2002 1:55 am
by Mark R
A proper sea paddler shouldn't need a rudder...?

-----------Mark Rainsley

Re: Rudders

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2002 10:18 am
by Craig Addison
Never paddled with a rudder myself, so don't really hav emuch input on this one, but I know people who have them & reckon they are worthwhile, I guess it's a bit like power steering, you don't necessarily need it but it makes a noticable improvement, & if it's there you'll use it.



Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2002 12:36 pm
by Mike Buckley
I suspect it's largely a cultural thing - the yanks seem to like em. I was over on Vancouver Island a couple of years back and we hired boats which were all fitted with rudders.

Certainly the boats were comfy, stable and spacious but getting them to turn by edging was almost impossible! The rudder was a necessity.

Interestingly though, the rudder control was what was effectivly the foot-rest! Most of the boats didn't have any form of fixed foot-brace so you can guess how easy it wasn't to get rotation!!! Grr.

Inititlaly we reckoned it was down to the boats being hire-boats and not really set up for "proper paddling" but it soon became clear as we talked to people locally that US/Canadian paddling seems to be a little different from the UK philosophy.

It's a broad generalisiation of course, but the difference appeared to be that we in the UK view paddling as quite a technical sport needing a highish level of personal competency, we like to cover long distance and we enjoy paddling a fast, dynamic craft. US style appears to be much more laid back, view the scenery and perhaps not focused on the same degree of skill development.

By way of example, our entire group had dispensed with using rudders and were ferrygliding happily across a fairly swift tidal flow to a beach for lunch. Another (US) group on the beach were amazed to see the boats being controlled by edging!!

Having said all that, I have an Aleut II which really can't be managed without it's rudder. By comparison, a Nordkapp certainly doens't need one.

Each to his own though. Personally, I don't like em - just something to potentially break or go wrong I guess.


Re: Rudders

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2002 3:41 pm
by Mark R
Interesting points, Mike. My objections to rudders can be broken down...

a] Aesthetic - the sight of a Nordkapp with it's stern sawn off makes me want to cry
b] Another thing to go wrong - regularly, most likely.
c] If you have to rely on a rudder to control a kayak, what happens when it breaks in awkward conditions? At the very least, you shoulld be used to paddling without one...soo it should be for comfort, not reliance.

Anybody use a rudder, care to expalin thier reasons?

-----------Mark Rainsley


Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2002 10:52 pm
by Mike Buckley
No replies huh?

Oh well.

a) A Nordkapp with a rudder would be the same as the Mono Lisa with a biroed-in beard! Anyone who puts a rudder on a Nordkapp should be disembowled, exorcised from the kayaking world, or (at the very least) made to paddle an open canoe while standing up. Down a grade V.

b) That's my concern. In fairness though, the Aleut really does need a rudder and I've never had any trouble with it! Once it's trimmed it's fine. I do live in dread of breaking the thing so maybe carrying a spare would be a good idea. There's plenty of room. Hehe.

c) I (we) COULD control the big Aleut by edging but it's far easier with the rudder. A rudder on a single does save having to edge which can be a little offputting! Especailly for novices.

Personally, I'd much prefer to see a paddler able to edge the boat for turning but having said that, it must be very comforting to be able to steer a kayak without having to risk (perceived perhaps) a capsize so I can see the rudder being a helpful support to beginners.

Thinking about it, apart from the Vancouver experience, haven't seen many folk using 'em.

Now lets talk about SKEGS!!!!!!!


Re: Rudders

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2002 11:21 pm
by Craig Addison
I agree with both your points on rudders, Mike, I paddle a Nordkapp & it doesn't need a rudder, but the Aleut certainly does, as would most double sea kayaks.
As I said before I don't have much experience of rudders, so not really able to comment, only that I have never felt the need for one. Do they compensate for poor technique?

>Now lets talk about SKEGS!!!!!!!<

Same sort of discussion here I feel, I used to have an Icefloe which had a skeg & I hardly ever used it, then it broke & got forgotten, in fact I only repaired it when I sold it. Now the Nodkapp is different, it has much more rocker and really benefits from the skeg in following & beam seas & surf, it can be paddled in these conditions without skeg but not necessarily comfortably, whereas the Icefloe was a pig in quartering seas with or without the skeg.
I would opt for a skeg on most boats, but as with rudders they can and do go wrong.


Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2002 12:04 pm
by dave miller
If you need to ask, you don't know enough about rudders, in which case leave well alone until you do, in which case you may still decide against them.

Basically, rudders allow you to paddle more efficiently, without wasting paddle power pulling your stern sideways, it also allows you to ride swells more efficiently, and finally it extends your envelope, in other words, it allows you to paddle in much worse conditions than you could without (or to paddle ashore instead of a lift with the RNLI.

I don't care about the macho "I don't need ...". I've raced C1s and kayaks enough to know what I can do, and don't give a stuff about aesthetics - I took the hacksaw to my Orion straight away and replaced a 2kg dead weight with something useful.

For a bit more on rudders, skegs & paddle steering, I put an article in Canoeist a year or two ago.

To counter the usual "get a lesson" argument, show me an Olympis kayak sprinter who paddle steered.


Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2002 8:02 pm
by Axel Schoevers
I live in the Netherlands, but kayak culture here is heavily influenced by UK.

I was fortunate to paddle in the US. As for US counts: different country different kayak culture. But the boats we hired were of very high quality (glass fibre) with rudders. The knowledgable guy we rented from had at least one good point against britisch kayaks.

US kayaks are VERY stable and in moderate seas do not require technique or balance to stay upright and remain very stable platforms for taking pictures.

I paddle a sirius over here and I have to remain an active balancing paddler in rough seas. Good for technique though.

Nice to sea a newsgroup solely for sea paddling :)



Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2002 2:47 pm
by Mike Buckley
<US kayaks are very stable> - yep, granted. But also very slow.

Depends what you want and I suspect the paddling styles and ethos I mentioned earlier come into play again.

Taking Dave's comments on board, the guy who wrote Blazing Paddles used (IIRC) a rudder and commented in his book that it certainly made dealing with some of the big swells an easier experience.



Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2002 4:28 pm


Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2002 7:26 am
by Richard Best
I bought a feathercraft Kahuna last year, with the optional rudder. As a novice, I thought it would be an extra insurance in case sea conditions caught me out one day. In fact the rudder has stayed in its bubble-wrap, and I'm happier without it: I'm careful not to paddle in conditions beyond my capabilities. I think (hope) my technique has improved more quickly than it might if I'd been using the rudder. The boat just looks better without it.

Ofcourse, it's a very stable (North American) boat, very forgiving, but it does need to be edged to make it go where I want sometimes.

I'm going to keep the rudder, in a cupboard. I might take it with me if I go out for more than a day, just in case...

Best wishes,

Edited by: Richard Best at: 3/28/02 6:50:09 am


Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2002 2:04 am
by navigator
What did the little fat guy with the cigar say: two kayaking cultures separated by a common language.
It is fascinating for a Canadian to comparison surf among American and British sea kayaking pages. There are great similarities but some revealing differences. Case in point: rudders. Conventional wisdom over here is that rudders are essential for doubles, optional for singles. For most purposes, many of the better kayakers prefer drop down skegs and boats that have low secondary stability, thus easier to roll and edge. On the other hand, when it comes to a long open crossing where one may have to take the wind on the quarter, I have yet to meet one who would not prefer a rudder.
As to the claims that rudders break down, pedals do not permit bracing, etc. this is all a little old hat. One of my sea boats, for example, the Seaward Navigator, has a very solidly constructed rudder with double strength cables leading to levered pedals on pegs. In other words, you can brace up a storm with perfect stability, but you can also turn the boat with a little pressure on the ball of your foot. Such a rudder system may not be for everyone (not even for me every time) but very workable and not really subject to the defects claimed by the critics.
Regards from a Canadian cousin

rudder envy

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 5:59 am
by mr funball
edging? technique? marmite? I'd rather paddle like hell and use my rudder to steer, especially in following seas, but you know us americans, we like all kinds of gadgets that you brits disdain, like, for example, the toothbrush


Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 2:38 pm
by BA
Even Chris Cunningham of Sea Kayaker mag has admitted that rudders are OK, but he will have had to eat a whole truck load of humble pie over that.

Still, as long as Brits believe that a rudder is a danger to their manhood, the sea will remain quiet (still, it would be nice to meet some of Mark's 'real sea kayakers' on the water more than once every two years.

I'd like to kick off Mike's skeg discussion.
A skeg is a rudder that has most of the benefits removed, but at least you can hide it to save embarassment, and as they really are unreliable you can always say that you don't use it anyway (nobody will know if you're lying).


Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 10:27 pm
by MikeB
Oh goodie! Here we go again (seriously, this got debated a while agao - a search will find) - however, a skeg is most certainly NOT a de-benefited rudder.

Debating the merits or otherwise of rudders / skegs without taking account of the design characteristics of the individual craft involved is a meaningless exercise.

There are plenty of craft that require neither a skeg or a rudder. An original Nordkapp is one. Run nicely in a straight line. Absolute pigs to turn as a result.

Their success as a design concept might explain why there are sooooo many designs copying them!!!!!!


more rudder envy

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 5:00 am
by mr funball
well, I am not a nautical engineer, just an underpaid american carpenter, but it seems to me there are basically two ways to design a kayak, less rocker to go straight or lots of rocker to turn better, I am sure it gets more complicated than that, I paddle a prijon yukon expedition, a fine pile of plastic, it has a lot of rocker(especially after sagging on my roof racks in the sun), and a rudder and it turns on a dime(or whatever the euro equivalent is) I just purchased a feathercraft jetstream and only flatwater paddled it so far, it has a rudder and a skeg and adjustable rocker, so I will put on the lab coat and begin testing


Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:38 am
by PhilK1969
Skeg - yes

Rudder on a sea kayak - Bull bars on Lamborgini.

Rudders are OK

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 1:45 pm
by mharrall
I'm an marathon paddler so I'm biased. I don't think they spoil the look of a boat, and most paddlers can probably get by without one if they need to. The advantages are obvious though, more efficient forward motion.

Dave Millar! Are you Dave Millar that used to paddle with BOARC and now lives in Hong Kong?


Re: Rudders

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 2:58 pm
by jimski9
For those who don't eat "yorkie bars" (are we allowed adverts?)

Aw! go on its Friday!

No, not that one

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 2:37 pm
by dave miller
Dave Millar! Are you Dave Millar that used to paddle with BOARC and now lives in Hong Kong?

No, I'm afraid not, nor the one fron Shrewsbury that kept me in novice kayak slalom for a season in the early 70s. I'm the ex Itchen Valley/Royal Navy one. But I know there are more around.

Still, I do like to wind up the 'skeggies' who start by saying they can paddle steer, then use a stealth steering aid. Unfortunately none of them want to paddle with me to show how good they are and prove their point.
I admire those who really do paddle steer only, it's like paddling C1, harder can be more rewarding.



Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:20 pm
by MikeB
As we've debated before, there are boats that are designed in such a way as to be manoverable and responsive to leaned turns, and can be trimmed for effective straigt running in a variety of conditions using a skeg - and then there are boats which will only run in a straight line and take the entire length of the Sound of Jura to turn, even with a lean! :D

Such old-fashioned designs are still thought highly of by those paddlers who haven't yet moved on with modern design thinking - - - -- -

Perhaps the reason Dave can't find people to paddle with is that they lost him while turning sharply round a headland and by the time he'd managed to make the corresponding course correction, they'd vanished into the distance!

Yes, its one more thing to go wrong - not that the skegs on either of my boats ever have, but its a valid point. A rudder is effective too - a well designed one anyway and its interesting that those paddlers who have done major trips (round Ireland for one)seem to have been using rudders.

Having the skills to paddle steer and lean turn is of course important - but we shouldn't discount progress and things which can make the overall experience either easier or more accessible to a wider range of paddlers.

(ducking - Mike)

Rudders and Skegs

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 5:20 pm
by Richard Moss
Each to their own I reckon. If you like using either a skeg or a rudder, then feel free to do so. As long as it helps you enjoy the sport.
Personally I think the lines of my Nordkapp would be spoiled with the stern chopped for a rudder, but if you prefer to paddle with one, whatever your boat thats fine - aesthetics are a secondary consideration to function and ease of use.

The only thing I would add in agreement with others is the need to keep them in good condition. This is well illustrated by an article in the latest Sea Kayaker magazine where a chap paddling solo, got into some problems when his rudder cable snapped and the rudder locked in a turning position. The point is when failures occur, they don't always fail safe and can make matters worse.


Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:55 am
by paddy1000111
I have a Nordcapp HM with a rudder. I bought the kayak with it already fitted second hand. I never would have chopped the end off, however I found that you can get up to an extra 5 miles a day with a rudder fitted. result

Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:22 pm
by Yakdiver
Funny this thread coming up today, for today I have tried out my rudder for the first time, this is my first proper sea kayak I've had, before had sit-on-tops for 10 years. I was finding edging very hard to do and today was to learn more about edging and to try out the rudder.
I'm pleased to say that my edging in now better (haven't fallen in as yet), but the rudder was very good well impressed, but I will work on my edging as I don't want to rely on the rudder too much.

Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:45 pm
by Big Ade
Thank you for all the amusing posts on rudders.

Perhaps neandethal 'British Form Man' goes in more caves than 'Rudder form Man' who has adapted to life away from the coast.
Specus habito

Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:28 pm
by swagstaff
It might be worth looking at what those who paddle long kayaks very efficiently think. ... =Adventure

Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:42 pm
by TechnoEngineer
Hmmm, I have a Prijon Kodiak, and I enquired whether it's possible to fit a Kari-Tec skeg, to which Prijon said, "No". I made it my mission to use the Kodiak with no rudder, however yesterday I was being thrown about in a following sea with some pretty moderate clapotis and a side wind to boot, and it was windcocking to some degree. I didn't want to push the edging, for some reason I couldn't find wave crests to do sweep strokes on, and found myself paddling mostly on my (weaker) left side with occasional rudder strokes on the right, meaning I was not going as fast as I would have liked. At the end of the trip I was practically ready to concede defeat on the issue and fit a bloody rudder!

As an aside, I've noticed that boats with a lot of rocker tend to have skegs, and those without tend to have rudders.

Re: Rudders...WHY????

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:02 pm
by maxturner
I say chop the stern off the Nordkapp, and while your at it chop that hideous bow off as well.........
Many years ago when i had a beard, i did some paddling with Nigel Foster, he thought skegs and rudders were not things that should adorn sea kayaks, he also liked narrow beamed tippy kayaks, with his skill level and confidence all that was great, i don't and never will have those skills and i admit to being a rather timid paddler, so anything that makes for a easier paddling experience can only be a good thing, for a lot of people the rudder achieves this and for an even greater number skegs make life easier, and there are very few if any kayaks which handle all conditions well without the help of these mechanical aids.
I no longer have a beard and paddle a stable plastic kayak with a skeg.