The number one reason is kayak and canoe sailing is a blast! There are so many reasons to put a sail on your canoe or kayak, we have dedicated a full page to this issue. Take a look at our why kayak sail or canoe sail page
Kayak sailing is a blast! Most people who buy a kayak sail evolve into almost always taking their sail every time they paddle, and start to look for wind rather than try to avoid wind.
The short answer is kayak sailing is easy to do. Anybody that is comfortable in a canoe or kayak will catch on to sailing a paddle craft in no time! Compared to windsurfing, it's a breeze ! As the wind increases, it becomes more challenging. Most people will find paddle sailing in light wind very easy to do with just a little practice.
Most new kayak sailors have zero sailing experience before they start kayak sailing, and they still do fine.
Anybody who is comfortable in a canoe or kayak will catch on to sailing a paddle craft in no time! Most people quickly go for the intuitive down wind run, and then start to experiment with going off the straight down wind run. In reasonable conditions, a non-sailor can be sailing across the wind within the first 10 minutes of their first paddle sail. That is a truly eye opening experience!
The owner of Falcon Sails says he would much rather take out a kayaker that is a non-sailor, than a sailor that is a non-kayaker, for a first time paddle sail.
Traditional sailing experience provides a small benefit in terms of knowing the lingo and fine tune adjustments, but it is not a requirement. An experienced paddle sailor with no traditional sailing experience, will do circles around a kayaker with traditional sailing experience and no paddle sailing experience. An experienced paddler with no sailing experience of any kind, will even do circles around a very experienced traditional sailor with no paddling experience.
Before you start, take 5 minutes to make sure you know how to quickly lower your Falcon Sail, so you can fully depower at any time. There is some information on that below.
Any canoe or kayak can be used for paddle sailing. Wide, narrow, short, long, sit on tops, sit insides, sea kayak, rec kayaks, canoes, plastic, wood, and fiberglass, are all fine. Our kayak sail kits can even be installed on a row boat. Any plastic, fiberglass or wood boat will rig and sail nicely.
We have seen Falcon Sails installed on every kind of kayak we can think of except skin on frame kayaks. Including plastic sea kayaks, fiberglass sea kayaks, wood sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, aluminum canoes, fiberglass canoes, inflatable kayaks. We even have seen a Falcon Sail installed on a gas powered kayak. If you have a kayak that is not a skin on frame you can install a Falcon Sail on it. A creative owner of a skin on frame kayak could also install a sail. It would just take some extra thinking and securing a rigid mast on a flexible deck and hull.
All kayaks sail surprisingly well, if you have a good sail rig. The only exception to this general rule are some inflatable kayaks sail poorly and are hard to rig. In general inflatable kayaks are handy if you have some transportation or storage issues, but they have limitations with our without a sail. With the exception of inflatable kayaks, what ever kayak you own and like, is a good kayak for kayak sailing, if you have a good sail rig for it. Falcon Sails can make a rigging kit with everything you need for a fast and solid rigging job for any plastic, fiberglass, wood, or other composite kayak. If you like recreational kayaks, then that is the boat to use for kayak sailing. If you like sea kayaks, sail with a sea kayak. Do not change kayaks to find one that is ideal for kayak sailing. As long as it not an inflatable, your kayak will be good for kayak sailing. If you happen to be choosing a kayak, specifically for kayak sailing and nothing else, typically the short recreational kayaks sail very nicely. They are especially good for people that are new to kayaking. They are easy to set a course, and stay on course. They sail up wind surprisingly well, and they are very stable. If a kayak has more contour to its hull, this is good as well, as it will increase the lateral resistance and ability to sail up wind. A sharp pointy bow entry has its advantages as well for increasing lateral resistance. These things are not critical at all, but will provide some minor benefits over a kayak without these features. lf you do not own a kayak yet and have no particular desires in the kayak you own, a shorter wider kayak is a lot easier to control than a long narrow kayak. If you are buying a new kayak it is best to get the kayak you like with, our without a sail. With a Falcon Sail, you can turn your kayak into a great sailing kayak.
Yes. They work great on canoes. They will even install nicely on a row boat or any other boat you would like an alternative or auxiliary form of propulsion.
Short and wide Recreational (plus sit on tops) kayaks are the easiest kayaks to sail and control. They have the very best stability, are easier to turn and easier to keep on track. Recreational kayakers consistently report great paddle sailing experiences. We put this question in this list because there are so many pictures of sea kayaks with sails on our website. People may get the wrong idea that recreational and sit on top boats are not suitable for kayak sailing and that is not correct. Recreational boats make excellent sailing platforms. The owner of Falcon Sails, and most of his paddle sailing friends are sea kayakers, so most kayak sailing pictures on this website show sea kayaks with sails. In reality recreational kayaks probably sail nicer than sea kayaks do. The most important factor is, you should sail the kayak you like the most and are the most comfortable in, because, if it is a hard shell ( plastic, fiberglass, or wood ) kayak, it will rig and sail nicely.
If you push your limits, you are going to increase your chances of being knocked over. If you stay in relatively calm situations where you feel comfortable, you can avoid being knocked over. Most non-paddlers think canoes and kayaks are prone to tipping over. Usually the first thing that comes to the mind of a non-paddle sailor that thinks about paddle sailing is tipping over. Just like a paddle craft can tip over a paddle craft with a sail can also tip. In practice, most paddlers who give kayak or canoe sailing a good try get past this concern quickly. And if you spend time paddle sailing you will learn it is easy to avoid being tipped over even in heavier winds. If you go to our home page you can see kayak sailing videos of paddlers in all kinds of conditions. If you go to YouTube you will find more kayak sailing videos than you can watch in a night and not see somebody tip over. Once you are under sail and you feel a the wind a level that may cause a tip, you counteract that by skimming your paddle on the surface of the water and it becomes a very effective outrigger. With a single mast style sail rig like all falcon kayak sails you can easily depower it by letting it wind vane / let the boom out. The most likely thing to cause you to tip over is going out in conditions that exceed your skills. If you take it easy until you figure things out you can avoid tipping over. Most paddlers find their limits and stay within them relatively quickly and avoid getting knocked over.
You recover just like you would if you get knocked over without the sail. Assuming you cannot roll your kayak )rolling is easily done by releasing the mast and rolling), and you do a wet exit you will recover in the following way.
Before you go out for a paddle sail, assume the worse and make sure you know how to deal with whatever may happen. You should always have assisted and self rescue skills you have practiced and mastered in conditions more difficult than the conditions you are going out in. It is a good idea to get to know some kayakers that are more experienced than you are to learn from.
With a little trial and error you will find steering very easy to do. Most people master what they need to with steering without thinking a lot about it. It's pretty much the same as steering without a sail. The most efficient way to steer while kayak or canoe sailing is to use a forward paddle stroke. Steering with a forward stroke while paddle sailing is just like steering with a forward stroke when not paddle sailing. Your forward stroke will be more efficient if you use a sweep / sweeping stroke. Though a forward stroke / forward sweep stroke is all you need for steering here is a list of other options for steering.
With practice, turning becomes very natural and you can use combinations
of the above methods to change the balance of your kayak to turn your boat.
The other issue related to steering is your boat trim. Trim in this case relates to your boats tendency to stay on course, or turn into the wind or turn downwind. When everything is ideal, your center of lateral resistance below the water line, is matched with the center of lateral force above the water line. When both are in the same place the boat tends to stay on the course you have set. If your stern is heavy, your center of lateral resistance will be back near the stern, and if your bow is heavy your bow will tend to dig in more and move your center of lateral resistance forward.
Trim is something that changes continually. With experience you will use some of the tricks to impact trim to your advantage. If you do not have a trim problem, or do not care to perfect your trim you can ignore these things.
Just like rudders, skegs are not necessary for kayak sailing or canoe sailing. If you do not miss an adjustable skeg in your kayak when kayaking without a sail, you will not miss an adjustable skeg while kayak sailing. Though they can be nice to have on longer boats (15 feet or longer). Adjustable skegs can be used to change the tendency of your boat to weather cock or lee cock / turn upwind or downwind. All kayaks will tend to turn upwind on occasion and downwind on occasion. These tendencies can be neutralized by adjusting your skeg depth. Just as when you are no sail paddling, a adjustable skeg can be handy for steering. If you want to turn downwind put the skeg down, if you want to turn upwind put the skeg up. This will not necessarily turn your boat, but if used properly, a skeg can improve your kayaks tendency to react to your paddle strokes.
If you do not have a skeg, your boats tendency to weather or lee cock can be adjusted by shifting weight fore or aft in your boat and pulling the boom in tighter or looser. There are a lot of other techniques for adjusting your trim. A skeg adjustment is just one of the techniques to use. It does not take long to discover how to load your boat, lean and adjust your position fore and aft to make its turning tendency to be neutral or up wind or down wind depending on what you want to do at any given moment.
Outriggers are not necessary. Falcon Kayak sails are oriented to normal kayaks, and do not need anything more than a kayak and a paddler to work. Falcon sails are made have the minimum effect on your every day paddling. To go kayak sailing all you need is a sail. You can use outriggers if you would like to use outriggers but are unnecessary. If you want a dedicated kayak sailing kayak with integrated outriggers they are available. They are expensive, and will not allow you to do the same kind of typical kayaking that paddlers do without outriggers. They take away a lot more than they give you, they are expensive, they slow you down, and make transporting your rig substantially more difficult.
The short answer is, you can mount your sail far forward and not worry about your bow being pushed downwind. As a matter of fact the only good place to mount a sail on your kayak, is near the front of the boat.Here is a detailed answer.
Typically initial thoughts about a kayak sail being on the front of a kayak is that the bow will be pushed downwind. When a sail is rigged at the front of a nonmoving boat a simple assumption like that would be partially true. It is a little bit true when a kayak is not moving. Once you start moving this initial assumption becomes less and less true and negligible when you are moving at any decent speed. One the major design goals of any kayak hull is to track in a straight line. When you make a kayak that will track, loads of lateral resistance naturally come with this design goal. This is extremely handy for sailing.
When kayak sailing, the only time your bow gets blown downwind is when you point your bow downwind. In actuality once a kayak being pushed by a sail, the bow tends to turn into the wind. This is due to water pressure on the entry point of the hull increasing as speed increases. Once a kayak is moving at any decent speed the pressure holding the bow from sliding sideways is significant, compared to the pressure at the stern (tail) of the kayak. In other words the bow has more lateral resistance than the stern, and the center of lateral resistance moves forward. So the bow tends to hold its place solidly. All this makes the bow tend to turn into the wind. This is why all kayaks tendency to turn into the wind increases as you start moving faster. This is true with or without a sail. If you paddle on a windy day your bow tends to turn into the wind more and more the faster you go. This tendency becomes irritating at times, but it is very handy for kayak sailing when the best place to put the sail to allow for maximum freedom of paddling is near the bow.
A properly designed airfoil will produce forward push as wind passes over it / convert lateral force to propulsion. This means a Falcon Sail will create much less lateral movement than you would think & a surprising amount of forward propulsion.
Another factor is, sails produce some downward force that further increases the resistance to the bow moving sideways. Additionally paddle sailors can increase the upwind tendency of a kayak by placing gear being carried in the front hatch of a kayak, or trim its tendency more downwind by putting weight in the rear hatch compartment. This is just a fine tuning practice any paddler should experiment with when going out in the wind.
This whole myth / tendency of some to believe a kayak hull will be blown downwind, has a lot of its roots in typical sail boat mechanics. Sail boat hulls are quite different than kayak hulls. Strictly sail boat hulls are almost always made for maximum efficiency to spite almost all other factors. When the wind is light, drag has to be at an absolute minimum. In a kayak, there is always paddle power at hand, so maximum efficiency is not a goal to spite all other factors. A typical sail boat hull will problematically move sideways without a keel or centerboard. If you look at the bottom of a typical sail boat hull, it is obvious why a keel is necessary for keeping the boat from sliding sideways. Kayak hulls do not have near the tendency of a sail boat hull (without a keel) to slide sideways.
A way to get an idea of the level of lateral resistance in a kayak hull is to imagine two identical kayaks being towed by other kayaks. One is being pulled in the normal bow forward direction, and the other one being pulled with equal force from the side to move the kayak sideways. It is quite obvious the kayak being towed sideways is going to have significantly more resistance compared to the kayak being pulled forward in the normal fashion. This is because kayak hulls have a lot of natural lateral resistance. Especially when there is a paddle sailor sitting in the boat. As your speed increases this lateral resistance grows.
If you would like more explanation about the mechanics of this, look at our answers about what direction you can sail in relation to the wind, and also do I need a centerboard. All these issues are very much related.
Every person has a level of wind that is the maximum they can reasonably
handle. So the answer is yes. But with some practice, the wind
range you feel comfortable in will increase quite a bit.
You can get a good idea of what winds should cause a problem for you by setting up your kayak on a windy day with a sail up in a field. If the wind is not enough to blow your boat over when empty, then typically that level of wind will not present much of a problem when you are paddle sailing.
It is very easy to keep a kayak sail out of your way. A Falcon Kayak Sail can be installed on any kayak be raised and lowered and not affect your ability to paddle. If you are particular about your paddle stroke pattern, and you are on a short boat, using a big sail, the boom may get in the way.
You need to exercise good judgment and decide what is reasonable for you. This is something a paddler with good judgment can easily decide on the spot. If the wind makes you feel uncomfortable paddle sailing, you will be happy to paddle without a sail. Most kayak sailors will feel perfectly comfortable in steady winds up to 12mph, or a little more. You really need to decide this for yourself. Some kayak sailors will gain confidence and skills to reasonably go out in 20mph winds. If you are in safe conditions with people capable of doing rescues, you may decide to test your limits. There are many factors for deciding what is reasonable for you. Like your experience, your comfort level with quickly stowing the sail at that wind level, your desire for adventure, water temp, how far you are from shore, is there somebody with you that is capable of helping you recover, are you capable of self recovering, have you practiced self recoveries with a sail, are you comfortable with the boat you are in, is it gusty, is the wind shifty / changing directions, wave height, wave steepness, is the wind off shore or on shore, what direction is the wind coming from, ect. The bottom line is you have to decide this for your self. Typically beginner paddle sailors feel comfortable making decisions like this. A paddler that wants to paddle sail can easily find conditions that match their desires.
One other note. A Falcon Sail can handle more wind than even the most experienced adventurous paddle sailor can handle. The designers of Falcon Sails regularly go out in extremely windy conditions for fun. Testing Falcon Sails in all wind conditions is part of our job. When you feel in control, big wind is big fun.
The Falcon Sail is as easy to take down when you are away from land as any sail you will find. The truth is, its easier to take down than any other kayak sail you can find. To take it down, you simply pull on the forestay line to un-cleat the line from its jam cleat and the mast falls back to you. Then you grab the mast tip to keep control of the sail, fold the sail ( optional ) and then secure it by stretching the provided shock cord ring over the sail and hook it around the lashing hook provided. This takes seconds. If you feel out of control you can skip the folding part. Raising the sail is even faster. You just unlash the shock cord ring from the lashing hook, pull on the forestay line, and set the line in the jam cleat.
You should practice on dry land. In that case you will see you learn what you need to know in about 1 minute. If you are thorough and take your time this learning process would take about 2 or 3 minutes.
Click on the link below to see a video of a experienced paddle sailor raising and lowering the sail in heavy wind, and steep waves. It takes some experience to feel comfortable like this.
The conditions in this video are difficult. The water proof camera blocked most of the sound on top of things always looking easier in a video. In normal conditions lowering a sail is extremely easy. The paddle sailor in this video says he could have been more graceful if he had not been focused on staying with the group that was paddling straight upwind.
Here are some pictures of a Falcon Sail when it is down and out of the
way. Click on them to see a bigger picture.
Here is a picture of a Falcon Sail in its compact stowage position. This option involves removing the top section of the mast before lashing it down.
Falcon Sails allow for other depowering options that allow you to keep your sail up but yet reduce your power if you have more power than necessary. You can read about this by clicking here. There is never a benefit of being over powered vs. having the right amount of power.
If you would like to learn more, you can request a copy of our sail tie down kit instructions.
This depends a lot on how much wind you are willing to experience. You need to use good judgment. In general, you can go faster with a sail than you can by simply paddling. A sail provides a constant force where paddling is a series on and off pushes. What you will find is that you will go faster and farther than usual, with less work than before. Many times paddle sailors go a lot faster and a lot further with a lot less effort.
At the fast end some experienced kayak sailors regularly report steady 8mph and some times 12+mph surges. This is faster than most small sail boats will go & surely faster than 99% of kayakers can paddle. Kayakers that regularly win races, cannot even come close to keeping up with a average kayaker that has a sail up in good conditions.
It takes some time to build the skill and confidence to go out in conditions that will give top results. Most kayak sailors are very happy with simply going faster than before with less effort and at the same time having more paddling fun than ever. /p>
For the most solid & simplistic rig you need to drill some small holes for screws (or rivets we provide if necessary on your boat) . Any system of installing a sail that does not have solid mounting points, will not be as good. Some creative Falcon Sail owners have installed their kayak sail without drilling holes. If you drill holes in your boat to install your sail kit, and decide to change something, you can easily patched or plug the hole with a pan head screw ( which we will be happy to send to you if necessary )
It's simple. If you are not happy with anything we send to you, send it back to us within 30 days in resalable condition we will give you a refund. If you design a real ugly sail, we may have to talk about it. It is almost unheard of, but if anything breaks during normal usage within the first 2 years, send us the broken part, and we will quickly fix it or replace it for you.
We obsess over every detail to make the very best rigs available. Our
design, quality materials and workmanship is the best you will find.
Because we obsess over perfecting every detail, we have a lot to tell you about. It is difficult to keep the explanation short so we made a webpage dedicated to answering this question. You can see it by going to. http://www.falconsails.com/WhyBuyAFalconSail.php
A carbon fiber mast is stiffer, stronger, and lighter than a mast made of an equal amount of any other material. With a carbon fiber mast, your chances of ever having a broken mast is very low. Additionally when the wind blows hard, you get bursts of power and speed rather than a bendy mast that deforms the designed air foil shape of your sail. This is about all you need to know. But we will expand on this a bit below.
Using carbon fiber in a mast is one of the best uses of carbon fiber. The desirability of carbon comes mainly from its strength and ability to not stretch when put under load. This can translate into a mast that is very stiff, and strong.
Carbon fiber itself is only nominally lighter than fiberglass used in the same quantities. Most times when used in sporting goods carbon fiber items are made lighter by using less carbon fiber than would be used if the part where being made out of fiberglass.
If you diminish the amount of carbon fiber used to reduce weight, it can result in parts that are lighter and strong enough to perform like their fiberglass counterparts. Many times this lighter part is noticeably thin and flimsy on some dimensions. A good example of this is the flimsiness you can commonly find when pushing on the hull of a super light boat made of carbon fiber.
When Falcon Sails makes a mast out of carbon fiber, we use the same amount of material as we did in our fiberglass masts. This approach makes the mast a few ounces heavier, but the stiffness and strength benefit is amazing. We have tested our carbon fiber masts against our competition in the compact sail kit group, and have found our carbon fiber masts are 4x stiffer than our closest competition. We also found our fiberglass masts are 2x as stiff as our closest competition. We have discontinued our fiberglass masts because the cost savings (about $25) was very small, and the loss in durability and stiffness is significant.
Our goal is to give our customers the very best kayak sailing experience for the best value. We do not use carbon fiber as an excuse to charge double the price, like is typical with a lot of recreational gear made with carbon fiber. Our carbon fiber mast price over a fiberglass mast is minimal, so the value is significant. We can further reduce our price and order complication by offering our rigs only in carbon fiber.
Our heaviest largest sail kit including all rigging and sail weighs under 4 pounds. This includes absolutely everything you need to rig your kayak and sail your kayak. The mast, boom, sail, lines, deck plate, mast step, pulley, nuts, screws, washers, pad eyes, cleats, ect. Our 1 meter sail with rigging weigh less than 3.5 pounds in total.
Most customers report it takes a few hours to install a sail.
Some people who are very picky and like to tinker take longer.
You can see a detailed video on rigging a Falcon Sail by clicking here.
If somebody asks, we almost always recommend a 1 meter sail. If you are only going to have one size sail, our 1 meter is a great choice.
There are some things to consider before you decide which sail size is right for you. Your weight, your kayaking skills (mostly balance), width of your boat, wind conditions, safety of your sailing environment to name a few.
Even if you only do a limited amount of kayak sailing you will be happy with whatever you decide. A 1 meter sail is the most versatile.
If you are going to do a lot of kayak sailing, more than likely you will decide you want more than one size. In that case a 1 meter sail and a 1.3 meter sail covers almost every situation a normal kayak sailor will choose to go out in.
One great feature of the Falcon Sail design is, you can easily change from the 1.0 to the 1.4 meter sail if you decide you would like more sail. It takes about 2 minutes. You can buy any size sail (without the expense of a full kit) at any time to add versatility to any Falcon Sail kit you have previously purchased. Every size sail has its place for every paddler. The less wind there is, the more reasonable it is to go with a bigger sail. The more wind, the more likely you will like the 1.0 square meter sail over the 1.4 square meter sail.
There are some other factors to consider. It does not pay to be over powered with a sail that is too big. A small sail can push your kayak to hull speed without a lot of wind. Once you are at hull speed, adding power only makes the boat harder to handle and increases your chance of losing control. Being over powered will reduce your progress and make the experience less fun. Our 1.0 meter sail has the greatest wind range where it works well in many conditions. The 1.0 meter sail works very well and is most effective in moderately windy conditions. The 1.0 sail has a taller aspect ratio (which means a taller mast, and much shorter boom) than the 1.4, which gives you more paddle stroke freedom. Some people that are very particular about their paddle strokes will appreciate the 1.0 sail geometry. The 1.4 is a little more likely to get in the way with the boom extending further back towards the paddler.
Here are a few examples of where each size sail has its place.1 square meter sail
The 1.0 sail is by far our most popular, and is the most versatile size.1.4 square meter sail
Typically if a paddle sailor would have 2 sails, this would be a great second size to have.
Reefing is one of many traditional sailing methods to reduce effective
sail area / depowering to make things more manageable. There are a lot of
factors to consider when evaluating if there are any practical / net benefits
in reefing a kayak sail. Overall, reefing a kayak sail is a waste of time,
just like reefing a wind surfing sail is ineffective. After reviewing
all the factors involved, it is easy to see reefing mechanisms on small
kayak sails are a marketing tool that causes more problems than they solve.
Sail makers would better serve their customers by providing simplistic,
predictable sails without extraneous hardware. If you are not in control,
its time to lower your sail.
Read on for a more detailed answer.
There are better ways to reduce the power of your sail. Falcon Sails give you the ultimate tool for reducing sail power. You can lower your entire sail rig from your seat, eliminating its effect completely, in just a few seconds. Read below about practical depowering tools and methods available with a Falcon Sail rig.
Reefing a kayak sail sounds great in theory, but in practice, it is problematic
and gives little overall benefit. Reefing a kayak sail involves bunching
sail material on the mast. Reefing on conventional / typical sail
boats is done by lowering the sail along the mast and tying excess material
on the boom. When sail material is bunched up on the mast, the first
thing the wind will hit is a wad of material rather than an aerodynamically
shaped mast pocket followed by the sail. Once you reef by placing
a wad of material on your mast, your sail will go from reliably converting
heeling force into propulsion, to heeling force acting as heeling force.
It also makes the sail less consistent and predictable.
Reefing by wadding material on the mast also increases the height of the sail's center of force rather than reducing it, as happens with reefing traditional sail boat sails. Raising the height of the center of effort is exactly the opposite of what your goal is when reefing. This is not desirable.
It is far better to use a kayak sail size that will not get you into trouble. If you are looking for maximum power and an option to depower, an ideal plan includes using a rig that allows you to easily change sails sizes rather than having a plan to destroy your sail shape by wadding material at the mast. Falcon Sails can easily be changed allowing you to pick the right size for the conditions. Most paddle sailors feel well covered by carrying a 1 square meter and a 1.4 square meter sail. Some will carry a .7 square meter sail as an option as well. In the rare situation where you make the commitment to go some great distance with no landing options, you should choose a sail size you are confident will not be too difficult to control. If you go smaller than necessary, it will never be a major loss. If your sail is too big for the conditions, it's time to lower your sail. A kayak sail reefed to match the size of an even smaller sail will be significantly less efficient, much harder to handle, and less safe than a smaller sail to start with.
When it comes to reefing kayak sails, there are several significant issues. One problem with reefing a small sail is it will ruin the air foil shape. For example, wind surfers never reef their sails. They choose their sail for the conditions. Larger sails on conventional sail boats reef okay, but small sails do not reef well. This is even truer if the sail is made of desirable (crisp and stiff) sail cloth. Anybody racing any kind of boat will almost always change sails rather than reef. This is true even on conventional sail boats where reefing provides meaningful net benefits. Wind surfers use sails similar to kayak sails with similar material. It is unheard of for wind surfers to reef sails. The reasons for not reefing become more significant as the size of the sail decreases. When you reef a small sail, your air foil shape is pretty much gone and the sail area you eliminate turns into a wind catching blob. A wad of material at the mast, can create more problems than it solves. It also tends to put unnecessary creases in a crisp sail which is better to avoid.
Another problem is that reefing is a mechanically awkward process. An awkward process is not what you want when you are concerned about your control of the situation. Additionally, reefing mechanisms, even if not used, add weight, bulk, expense, complication, and get in the way of the main goal of a sail; which is to provide an effective and efficient air foil. This weight, bulk, complications, and inefficiencies impact 100% of your sailing time, and rarely if ever provide great benefits. The cleaner your rig the better.
Some kayak sail makers opt for the extra weight and complication that
allow reefing by wrapping a sail around the mast. This method involves a
lot of hardware and leaves a large blob up high. This leaves windage up
high with no benefit. With this system, the best you can do is completely wrap the
sail around the mast and live with the substantial weight and wind catching
area aloft. If you have to paddle straight upwind, in heavy wind, this is
very undesirable. Other kayak sails make reefing systems that pull one batten
toward the mast. When this is done, it raises the center of effort,
which creates other sailing issues.
If you look at a traditional (non kayak sail) reefing systems, they always pull the sail down a bit and reduce the height of the sail at the same time. It also does not impact the air flow of the leading edge of the sail. This brings the center of effort down, rather than up. This can be done with a traditional sail because they slide up and down the mast which allows for the sail to be partially lowered in order to reef. It can also be done beneficially on dedicated sail boats, because the sails are much larger, and creases created when folding are a much smaller % of the reefed sail over all.
It is time to reef when you feel as though you can be more efficient with less power. If you have a reefing method that kills your sail's good shape, it may make you feel more comfortable, but the reduction in shape efficiency makes it not so worth while. In the rare situation you feel overpowered for safety reasons, you should simply lower your sail and secure it to your deck, rather than mess with the complications involved with reefing a sail on a kayak. With a Falcon Sail, you can secure your sail on your deck and completely eliminate the complication of a sail, in seconds.
If you look at many pictures of conventional sail boats under sail, you will notice it is unusual for reefs to actually be used. Even if you can eliminate all the drawbacks to reefing kayak sails, the number of times it would be beneficial is very limited.
If you have any doubts about an outing, go with a smaller sail. Then you will have a very easy to handle rig that will be much more efficient than wadding up a small sail to make it even smaller. Or mitigate the risks by staying close to safety and use that day for increasing your skills in handling a lot of power. Having skills in handling a lot of wind power, is a lot more effective than wadding up a small sail to make it smaller and less efficient.
Just like in wind surfing, it is good to have sails of different sizes to choose from for different situations. Falcon Sail rigs will quickly accept any size of Falcon Sail made so you can easily change from one sail size to another. With some experience and reasonable judgment, it is very easy to make smart sail size choices. Most times kayaks are not far from shore. In the rare situation you make a size choice where the sail is too small, it is not a major sacrifice to live with it till you go to shore. In the rare situation you feel over powered, stow your sail and then change it when you get to shore.
Another great option is to use other conventional depowering methods.
You can #1) simply let the boom out more than usual, and or #2) disengage
your boom vang. A good sail will have a boom vang. A boom vang holds the
boom down so the sail is exposed to as much wind as possible. Having a
boom vang allows a smaller sail to provide as much power as a lager sail.
If you have a boom vang you can use a smaller and easier to control
sail and have the same amount of power. You can also loosen your outhaul.
A good sail will also have an adjustable outhaul. An outhaul allows you
to stretch your sail out, to provide the maximum amount of useful surface
area & has benefits similar to having a boom vang. These adjustment
methods can give you a comforting degree of depowering without destroying
the airfoil shape of your sail. Reefing mechanisms on kayak sails end
up putting a wad of material for the wind to catch rather than the air
foil preserving tools and methods available on a Falcon Sail. A streamlined
air foil shape is easier to handle and more predictable than a wad of
material. A good air foil shape turns heeling force into propulsion. A
wad of cloth simply creates something for the wind to catch and make you
uncomfortable when your goal is to be more comfortable.
In the rare situation, you feel as though you cannot control your boat, the smartest option is to just take your sail down. You can take a Falcon Sail rig down and securely stow it in seconds.
If you are dealing with an overpowering tail wind, you will be moving fast enough on your own without the added push from a sail. If you have a cross wind and things are out of control, it is best to just paddle. If you are going upwind, a reefed kayak sail is completely useless anyway.
The four Falcon Sail depowering methods (loosen the boom vang, loosen the outhaul, loosen the sheet line, and lower the sail ) noted above are always easier to take advantage of than the simplest reefing systems. Three of the four allow for a proper shape that is much easier to handle than wads of material created by reefing a small sail. The last resort option is simply lowering and stowing your sail in seconds. This 100% eliminates the complications of having a sail catching wind. Stowing your rig is an option you really should use if you are pushing your limits.
In the end, the most important thing to know is if you feel you may
lose control, it is time drop of stow your Falcon Sail.
A standard kayak hull is all you need to efficiently sail a kayak. See our answer to "What direction can I sail in relation to the wind ?" question below. Falcon Sails are all designed for boats with no lateral resistance appendages (center boards, dagger board, lee boards, keel, ect). Falcon Sails does all its testing without these appendages. As a matter of fact, nobody that tests for Falcon Sails use any of these things while kayak sailing. Any statements of performance you find on this site are based on standard kayak hulls.
These appendages take away from the freedom, simplicity and lightness that can only be had by boats without these complications. All hulls have a level of lateral resistance. The faster a boat moves the more lateral resistance it has. This is especially true for kayaks because they are designed for tracking. Tracking means going in a straight line, which is achieved by designing lateral resistance throughout the length of the hull. A byproduct of a tracking design goal, is a hull that tends to go forward but not sideways. At the front of a kayak where the hull cuts into the water there is even more lateral resistance to movement. More lateral resistance at the bow of a kayak is great for kayak and canoe sailing because the most convenient / practical place to mount a sail is forward of center. One goal for any sail plan is to balance the center of lateral resistance of the hull in the water with center of lateral force created by the wind hitting the sail and the rest of the boat above the water line. This way the sail & hull combined create a balance of not turning into the wind or downwind. The combined lateral wind force on a kayak with a sail, and the lateral resistance of a kayak hull are surprisingly well balanced.
Dedicated sail boat / typical sail boat hulls are made to provide as
little resistance to movement forward through the water as possible. A
byproduct of designing a sail boat hull to be slippery as possible
going forward is a hull that is slippery in all directions. So a
conventional sail boat hull without a keel is very slippery in all directions
including sideways. Without a rudder and a keel
(or other lateral resistance appendage) a sail boat hull tends to
easily move sideways and
spin. Its hull is designed for efficiency not tracking. Except the keel or centerboard,
there is very little lateral resistance in a typical sail boat hull. A
sail boat hull (with a centerboard up) will slide sideways even without
the sails up. This makes lateral resistance appendages critical in
a sail boat hull. These things are not true with kayak hulls. The design goal of a kayak is more for tracking. Tracking
goals are addressed by adding lateral resistance throughout the hull length.
Kayak hulls have much more lateral resistance than a sail boat hull without
a centerboard or keel. One reason sail boat hulls have centerboards or
keels added because their hulls do not have built in lateral resistance
like a kayak hull does. Additionally a boat dedicated to sailing, that
stays at a dock or is moved with a trailer can afford to have the weight
and complication. If your kayak had a hull like a sail boat hull with
no centerboard, it would slip sideways in the wind to a frustrating degree,
even without a sail. Since tracking is a major design goal in a
kayak hull, they have a decent amount of lateral resistance without having a extra
appendage hanging down
in the water. Every kayak has an ability to track.
Another interesting fact about keels and center boars and lee boars, is until modern boats came about, they were not common. Historically, lateral resistance appendages, were not common a lot because the hulls that existed before todays modern hulls, had a reasonable amount of lateral resistance much like you find on kayaks today.
A modern sail boats hull drag is much lower than a kayaks, which
is great in a sail boat for light wind days, but does create a need
for lateral resistance appendages on sail boats. In a kayak you always have
convenient power so this perfected efficiency with little lateral resistance
has much less value / is not worth the tradeoff. One last thing to note.
Even though a Falcon Sail can provide incredible sailing performance,
kayaks are not sail boats.
The amount of lateral resistance benefit a keel, lee board, or center board provide to a canoe or kayak is more than offset with significant sacrifices, including weight, bulk, complication, drag and expense. Standard sail boats that have raise-able centerboards are raised on many points of sail to reduce drag. There are times increasing your lateral resistance could help if you consider no other factors, but overall they are a true drag on the overall performance of a kayak or canoe. Upwind tack lateral resistance issues can be mostly addressed simply by paddling to keep the bow pointed on course into the wind. One last reason to skip the lateral resistance appendages is to stay within the rules for some classes of adventure races. Some race rules allow sails in kayak classes but do not allow lateral resistance appendages.
Even with all these arguments in favor of skipping lateral resistance appendages, you can still rig one if you like.
You can easily sail up wind with a Falcon Sail. The short answer is 300 degrees out of 360 degrees. We have found this is the maximum when all conditions are optimized. This answer requires some detail to fully explain.
Many compact sail makers loosely say you can reach ( sail within 90 degrees of straight upwind ) with their sails. Reaching means you have 180 degrees of potential travel. Some that say this may be correct. Others just get the feeling they are reaching as they go and they say they are reaching. Really they are being blown downwind.
We have tested all the most popular compact sail kits on the market, and they all fall way short of actually reaching. Reality is some that claim to reach are not reaching, and those that may be reaching ( sailing within 90 degrees of straight upwind ) are still falling way short of what a Falcon Sail can do ( potential of providing useful propulsion up to 30 degrees of straight upwind) . Any sail that is at or near its limits will eventually stop providing advantages. If our competition is at their theoretical 90 degree limit, a Falcon Sail is well within its sweet spot. Our best competition is slowing way down or completely stalled at 90 degrees to the wind. If a Falcon Sail is well within its range and another makers sail is near its limits, the Falcon Sail will be much faster, maneuverable, and easier to handle. What this means is at nearly all points of sail the Falcon Sail will be more efficient than any other compact sail kit available today.
You cannot determine your ability to sail upwind based on what direction your boat is facing in relation to the wind. All boats ( including those with a centerboard, keel, dagger board, lee boards, ect ) are pushed downwind from where it is actually pointing. Especially as you are attempting to point your bow into the wind. In practice a gps is needed to determine the precise direction you are actually traveling.
Without precise wind direction measuring equipment on a steady platform you can not accurately measure the direction of the wind. On a kayak you can only determine the general direction of the wind. With a gps and indirect method you can determine the direction of the wind when you are paddle sailing a canoe or kayak.
With the following test you can determine your rigs ability to point into the wind.
First you sail as much into the wind as possible on one tack & take a reading of your actual course. Then tack to put the wind on the other side of your boat and try to sail into the wind as much as possible & take a reading of your actual course again. The difference between the 2 course readings is the range you can not sail in. Your course in degrees is available on most gps devices.
The angle you can sail in relation to the direction of the wind determine what courses are available to you when sailing. When all variables are ideal, you can paddle sail a Falcon Sail 300 of 360 degrees of potential travel. By tacking you can effectively make headway straight upwind. The reality is tacking upwind provides only a little extra practical sailing angles when you consider the option to just paddle straight upwind. Even many sail boats do not do well traveling straight to windward. Though tacking upwind can be fun and the practice can make you a better paddle sailor. Most importantly a Falcon Sail kit gives you the potential to paddle sail 300 out of 360 degrees of potential travel. That means 5 out of 6 potential courses.
Here is a video that will give you a idea of what you can do with a Falcon Sail
Yes. All you need is a extra boat kit. An extra boat kit
includes everything you need to solidly rig your Falcon Sail on
another kayak or canoe.
An extra boat kit, will also allow you to move your Falcon Sail rig from one boat to the other with just 1 minutes effort.
If you would like an extra boat kit, send us an email telling you want an extra boat kit. We will email you an invoice that you can pay on line.
As of writing this, we charge $80 for an extra boat it.
An extra boat kit includes a deck plate, under deck plate, mast compression strut, hull reinforcement patch, sail tie down kits, cleats, fairleads, and all the fasteners you will need.
It also includes a junction ring along with mast standing lines and stainless clips so your additional boat can have custom adjusted lines which allows you to change your rig from one boat to the other in just one minute.
If you leave your sail on your boat between paddles, there is no rigging required. If you need to rig your sail on your boat each time you paddle, you can put a rig together in 60 seconds and remove it in even less time. If you race to put a rig on and off quickly you can put the sail on in 30 seconds, and take it off in less time.
You can leave your sail on your boat all the time. Though it is a good idea to hang your sail just like you would your fine clothing. You should also not leave it on if you are doing lengthy express way driving. In any case you can take your sail off an put it in the bag that is provided with every rig in about 1 minute, so you might as well take it off when you are done paddle sailing.
Very little maintenance. Just keep sand and mud out of the joints, and your kit will last for a very long time. If you do get mud or sand in any joints, just use water to clean it out. Like any sailors some canoe and kayak sailors like to clean their sails. Just use a mild soap with water and a gentle brush to clean off any dirt that you may have gotten on your sail. Let the sail air dry.
After years of research, destructive testing, extensive customer use, obsessive continual refinement, our rigs are about impossible to break or wear down or damage due to exposure with reasonable use. You can break our rigs with a hammer, or maybe harm the actual sail by leaving it exposed to intense sunlight for an unreasonable amount of time. Our hardware is all made of stainless steel, anodized aluminum, Delrin, carbon fiber (or fiberglass if you choose) and epoxy. It has been exposed to a saltwater environment continually many times and there have been zero issues. If there where ever a problem, any rig that does not stand up to use, will be replaced.
Falcon Sails has created a color selection in high quality 3.8 ounce Dacron that is simply amazing. You can choose your color for ever panel on your sail. All the color variations available for every panel add up to Billions of potential color combinations. See our designer by clicking here.
The most common way to attach a Falcon Kayak Sail to your Kayak or Canoe is to use our patent pending deck plate, car, and mast universal joint that comes with our kits. It is very easy to use. The pictures below show how easy it is to slide the mast base onto the deck plate. If you have access under the deck we provide screws. If you do not have access under your deck we also provide the correct rivets to attach the plate and all other parts necessary. See a picture of our updated hardware in the bottom picture. All kits sold after August 2012 comes with this type of mast base. The rigging process is the same.
Our customers have done other kinds of installs. If there is something different you would like to do, let us know and we will try to help you. You can learn more at or install instruction by clicking here or by clicking here for our picture page.
If you are determined to make it happen and have some mechanical skills the answer is yes. It is not a standard installation, and will require you to improvise. Rigging for a inflatable kayak is not part of our standard kit. Our kit is not designed specifically for this kind of boat, but we find that our users are constantly installing our sails on different kinds of boats in creative new ways.
As always we will be happy to provide some help to our customers with anything they want to try. We will help you with inflatables but you are on your own and will have to make it happen yourself. If you are not determined, mechanically inclined and patient this is not a good ideal.
The below pictures are 2 of our customers with a inflatable kayak that rigged a sail on them. Both reported a very good experience. One some wood to make a cross member, and the other used cheap pvc pipe bought from a Home Depot like store and glued this rig together. We do not consider pvc to be a absolutely great method of installing a sail on a inflatable kayak, but this does show one line of thinking. There are many ways to make it happen. It will require some thinking and maybe trial and error.
Yes. We sell sails and sail kits all over the world. Add your item to the cart to see the shipping cost.
We are just getting started. Right now we are working on refining our designs, production, building up inventory, and speeding up delivery times. We will only do things directly related to kayak sailing.