W Kayaking in Strong Wind

W kayakers usually report excellent performance of their boats under wind, mainly because it tracks well and offers various means for power-paddling and counter-affecting the wind.

Here are some tips that can improve your W kayak’s performance when you’re paddling in strong wind:

1. Paddle only in the Riding Position, and lean a bit forward, with your knees lower than your hips – That would give you extra power.

2. Paddle from the middle of the cockpit, as much as possible -

  • If you paddle from its rear it would raise your W kayak’s bow and expose it to the wind, and the boat will turn away from the wind.
  • If you paddle from the front of the cockpit, the stern will go up, and the kayak will turn into the wind.

3. Lean your W kayak into the wind – That would make it harder for it to affect the course of your W kayak.

4. Cover the front of the cockpit – That would improve the cockpit’s aerodynamics. Any waterproof fabric or plastic sheet would do for that matter. Every W kayak comes with a preparation for a cockpit cover that’s easy to use, and you can cover the cockpit in seconds.

5. Apply short J strokes on the side from which the wind is blowing, and more powerful strokes on the lee side (the sheltered side) – That would help you track.  You may even hold the paddle not from its middle, so that you can apply longer strokes on the lee side.

6. Any object protruding from the deck is exposed to the wind, and therefore generates additional drag – Dismount deck mounted rod holders, and store your fishing rods inside the hulls whenever possible. A milk crate would act as a small sail that’s controlled by the wind, so you’d better avoid using one.

7. Keep paddling in a steady pace and a straight course – This is not about one-time corrections, but about minimizing your effort and getting there. Precision and efficiency are as important as power.

8. Again: Remember you can move fore and aft along the saddle, and by that control the angle in which your W kayak will point relatively to the direction from which the wind blows: Paddling from a forward position will tend to point the bow into the wind, and paddling from a backward position would tend to point the bow sideways and away from the wind (not a desirable thing).

Here is an instructional video on the subject:



11 thoughts on “W Kayaking in Strong Wind

  1. What about a rudder, has anyone used one with a w kayak?

  2. A rudder requires 10% more power from the paddler just to keep going in the same speed. In other words, it slows you down by 10%. Therefore it’s not a good solution unless you’re paddling a traditional, sit-in kayak, or a SOT kayak, and then you have no choice but to use one.

    To the best of my knowledge, no one ever saw it necessary to outfit their W kayak with a rudder for paddling.

    As for sailing, I used a rudder for steering when I played with large-size sailing rigs and outriggers.

    Yoav

  3. What do you mean by “steady pace” and why is it important?

  4. Jeff McGovern says:

    I spent lots of time on wind blown flats and the W is by far the best kayak I’ve ever used in terms of the dealing with it. Going into it, by the way no matter how you plan mother nature makes sure you are, it’s great. As Yoav suggested the riding position is the best and you can just lean into it if you need to. I’ve been out in gusty condtions that have had winds hitting 25mph steady with some gusts a tad higher. The water and waves are like a washing machine but the W chugs right on through. I’ve left many a sit on top yaker in my wake under those conditions. One time I was so intent on gettting behind an island to avoid the coming big blow I left my companion over 200 yards behind me. He was steadily paddling a sit on top and all he could say was I blew right by him and off toward the horizon. I have always told folks paddle at a pace like you are taking a walk over the water. The is the effort you want to use. Once mastered you can paddle for a very long time and not get tired to any degree. The W is the boat you want for fighting the wind because in it the fight is just not a problem and you will win.

  5. Clef,
    When paddling in strong wind it’s important to conserve your energy, because you’re required to spend more of it.
    Every time you accelerate you spend a lot of energy, and each time you slow down you have to accelerate back to your normal speed.
    When you’re paddling in a steady pace you maintain your boat’s momentum, and that’s less wasteful in energy terms.
    Yoav

  6. April Leder says:

    Alternating between sprinting and resting is not a good idea when you’re kayaking, and if you do it in strong wind you could wear yourself out before reaching your destination.

    April

  7. I tried paddling under wind with regular size kayak paddles, and found the longer WW PSP works noticeably better in such conditions because it offers a wider range of strokes, both in length and style.

  8. Quebec Seakayaker says:

    Wind, waves and current expose a basic flaw in the design of traditional sea kayaks. These commonly have a “Swede Form”, that is a bow that’s longer than the stern, meaning the kayaker sits closer to the stern.
    Swede-form kayaks are prone to get turned by the wind (and current, waves) to point in the direction to which the wind is blowing, and that forces kayakers to struggle continuously just to keep going in the direction they want (tracking problem).
    The other form that sea kayaks have is called “fish form”, where the kayaker sits closer to the bow than to the stern. These kayaks tend to point into the wind, or current, or waves, because their long sterns make them turn this way, similarly to a weather-vane.
    Sea kayaks that have cockpits exactly in their middle are somehow better, but they too tend to turn – sometimes into the wind and sometimes out, because they have a “rocker”, meaning their middle part is deeper than their bow and stern. The rocker helps turning these long and hard-to-paddle boats, but it’s bad when tracking is concerned, and really problematic in windy conditions.
    For these reasons most modern sea-kayaks are required to have rudder systems installed in them, and that’s a real pain.
    QS

  9. SOT fishing kayaks are worse because they are wide, and that makes them harder and less efficient to paddle, plus their deck is crowded with a fisherman and his gear, and that’s not the kind of surface one would describe as being “aerodynamic”… :D

  10. SOT fishing kayaks don’t track well at all, even if they are long. You must have a rudder if you want to go anywhere with them.

    Mike

  11. SOTs are paddle boards, and you’re not supposed to go anywhere with a paddle board, really. It’s just that some people have such a strong urge to go fishing that they’ll use anything for that, even if it’s a sot “kayak”!
    Marco

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