Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: Surfing downwind without skegs
In Response To: Surfing downwind without skegs ()

With short boats on standing river waves, a rudder will frequently slow you down enough to push you off a lot of waves, so I spent a lot of time correcting course on waves with forward strokes. I found myself doing this with my sea kayak- and also found myself far outpacing the group.

Going down wind you will often have waves catching up to you from behind. This means the waves catch your stern first, lifting it. The water on the forward face of the wave is moving faster than the water on the back face. So the stern is being pushed forward and the bow is in relatively slower moving water. If you are a little out of alignment with the wave, this will push the stern off to the side. In other words you are struggling to keep the boat going straight.

One solution is to paddle faster, so the waves aren't overtaking your from behind. Instead you are surfing down the face and going fast. The occasional sweep stroke to keep on line and adjusting to the wave direction. Maybe you don't even bother trying to maintain a straight course, but link onto the best wave going in your general direction and count on a wave going your way to come along eventually.

In bigger, faster waves you may start using low-brace stern rudders to slow yourself down so you can stay in the pocket of the wave as you surf along.

The benefit of this technique is you go fast. The downside is it is extremely high energy paddling requiring extended periods of aerobic effort. But it is a lot of fun.

For downwind runs like this it is possible a ruddered boat may be better than non ruddered. The rudder allows you to concentrate on efficient forward strokes while you use the rudder to control direction, but you can have a lot of fun even without a rudder.