Kayak Sailing

My kayak sailing addiction!


Here is another variation of a cat rigged configuration I have used in the past. The sail aft is a polytarp sail and the forward sail is made from a windsurf sail.

Notice the lee board is mounted to the front in this configuration and I am using slightly more buoyant amas. Again the lee board is mounted to the left so if I ground out the securing nut loosens.

Tip: - to make a cheap sail (if a suitable donor windsurf sail is not available) try making it out of polytarp. You can put some shape into the sail by cutting darts into the sail. Rather than bothering with a sewing machine use double sided carpet tape. The polytarp sail in the picture lasted for a couple of years. See here for some ideas on shaping a polytarp sail.


A few years ago I experimented with a spinnaker on my kayak. It was an old symmetrical spinnaker from a 420 that I cut down into a sort of asymmetric shape. When I tested it off Teignmouth in South Devon I didn't have any lee board towards the front of the boat and quite understandably all my kayak wanted to do was steer down wind. The mast not having any stays also bent in a gust!

Anyway I quite fancy trying out this idea again but with a better balanced lee board arrangement, so I took the spinnaker to my local sail maker to make some modifications and in a couple of weeks I'll give it another go!

To start with I shall just hold the mast wedged into one of the foot well recesses with one hand. If the sail proves successful I might add shrouds to the mizzen mast so it will be capable of taking the extra loads generated by a 45 square foot spinnaker! 

The setup would obviously only be a light wind option but I quite fancy the idea of ghosting along with a lovely spinnaker flying. Of course although it is a large sail area the advantage of a spinnaker is the speed in which it can be taken down when the wind picks up!


This picture shows the setup I have used for about a year now.

My kayak is a Scupper Pro which is a very sea worthy kayak. I made a mast step to take the outriggers and mount the forward sail (part of an old windsurf sail)

The mizzen sail is an old dinghy sail and is slightly larger of the two sails. Total sail area is about 35 square feet.

I can comfortably sail into wind with this setup, the limitation being the small size of the amas as they bury fairly easily. Going off the wind in anything over a force 3 is fantastic fun and provides some exhilarating sailing. As I have said before, this is no Hobie AI beater but it is a cheap way to experience something similar. The positioning of the sails allows me to have a full paddle stroke even when both sails are set.

Tip - For my masts and booms I use aluminium paint pole extensions bought from my local DIY supplier. They typically cost around £15 and for your money you get 3 x anodised aluminium tubes of different thickness.......Billy Bargain!


Here is one of my favourite kayak sailing configurations using a 17 square foot mizzen made from part of an old windsurf sail and a Pacific Action sail up front. For this configuration I don't use any outriggers. This is my favourite configuration for multi day trips or when the conditions are a little unpredictable.

By not using any outriggers I can easily take down both sails on the water and I am back to a standard sea worthy Scupper Pro. Using outriggers is fine but when things get a little wild on the water I am happier without them!

Tip - To make a cheap sail pick up an old wind surf sail and cut it down to size. It comes ready made with a luff tube for the mast! Old well used sails are the best as they are not so stiff and roll up easier if you need to take down the sail on the water.


Over the years I have added all sorts of lee board and outrigger attachments to my Scupper Pro. The two pictures here show how I have adapted the aft tank well so I can fit a lee board and mizzen sail.

Tip - Always mount a swivelling lee board on the left hand side of your kayak if possible. That way if you run aground the screw thread will loosen and not over tighten and possibly cause structural damage.

I  made a plywood plate shaped to the tank well and riveted it to the kayak using 90 degree brackets. I have used this setup for a few years now and it has never shown signs of stress even when using a 26 square foot mizzen!

Tip - For the lee board I use a windsurfer centre board. They are fairly easy to pick up if you keep your ear to the ground, for example many sailing clubs have a pile of unwanted old windsurf boards. The foil shape is better than any home made foil I could make.