Kayaking Technique Forum

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Skegs vs. rudder vs. nothing

I am confused and maybe some of you folks out there can help me. I am
confused about this whole skeg vs rudder vs going-with-neither. I can see
where a rudder can be handy, but why skegs?

I understand rudders. I use one with my wing paddle when racing. When you
are putting your-all into forward strokes, wasted energy from correction
strokes add up and the rudder really allows you to go faster (I've tested
this in races). This is pretty interesting given the significant drag
casued by the rudder, but explains why all raceing boats have rudders.

When I'm not racing or practicing my racing, i don't use a rudder. Even when
using my wing paddle (which I use for 80% of my sea kayak paddling -- once you
get used to a wing, its hard to go back to the mushy feel of "normal" paddles).
The correction strokes required to track straight aren't a big deal -- I barely
even notice them unless I'm trying to keep up with faster boats.

I also use a rudder when towing people (something I do quite often when I
paddle with kids). With the towed boat pulling on you (especially when it
contains a 10 year old who things is funny to carve S turns while dad is towing
him), the rudder is great for taking some of the pressure off the need to
use lots of correction strokes.

But you can't use a skeg to replace correction strokes. So why would you use a
skeg? I know the standard answer -- it alows you to take a boat with a lot of
rocker and make it track straight. But for experienced paddlers, do you really
need one?

One of my favorite boats right now is my Looksha Sport. They wanted to put
a rudder or a skeg on the boat, but since I wasn't buying it for racing, I had
them put neither on. Yes, I have to work a bit to keep it tracking straight,
but this is not a problem (even in high winds or squirly currents). So
why would I want a skeg?

Given the well known scorn the Brits have for rudders, why are they so
enamored of skegs? The skeg is a high failure point. If they are a crutch
that the experienced paddler can easilly do without, then why have them at

I just don't get it. Am I missing something? For you advanced paddlers out
there, why do you really want a skeg?

thank you,


Messages In This Thread

Skegs vs. rudder vs. nothing
Re: Skegs vs. rudder vs. hull design
Skegs vs rudders vs nothing
The purpose of skegs
Re: The purpose of skegs
The purpose of skegs(ot)
Re: The purpose of skegs
Re: The purpose of skegs
Re: The purpose of skegs
Re: The purpose of skegs
first time buyer and rudders