Kayak sails

Submitted byJohnAbercrombie onThu, 07/04/2019 - 15:01

I'm interested in kayak sails and your experiences with them.


Currently looking at Flat Earth and SeaDog from Australia, and Falcon from the USA.



Etienne Muller

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 13:56

Have you considered making your own? I would think it would not be too difficult.


I'm thinking heavy graphite tent poles and some water repellent nylon fabric and a nice temp sail could be created easily. The tent poles are already designed to bend quite a lot, they're collapsible for easy storage and the sail could be any design that sets up and breaks down easily. I'll be doing this for my wooden canoe project...I'll be sure to share the end results.


Mon, 07/08/2019 - 14:41

Etienne said:

Have you considered making your own? I would think it would not be too difficult.

A through deck 'Tassie' style wouldn't be too hard to make the mast and boom.

For a 'flip up' type sail like the FlatEarth, it's a bit more complicated as one needs to source the tiller extension fitting for the mast base, pay separate shipping, etc unless you have a very well equipped chandlery nearby.

Still, do-able, certainly.

Making a sail that performs well is a different skill. Even commercial operations like FlatEarth have the sails made by a professional sail loft.

For $325 USD (delivered), it seems easier to buy the complete setup from Flat Earth.



Mon, 07/08/2019 - 14:49

Pruden17 said:

I'm thinking heavy graphite tent poles and some water repellent nylon fabric and a nice temp sail could be created easily.

Unless they were poles for a very large tent, I think they'd be too weak.

Gnarlydog (kayak blogger form OZ) uses graphite tubes with aluminum tops for his sail setups- the graphite tubes are about an inch in diameter, as I recall.

You could try PVC if you want something flexible, or just use aluminum tubing. A hockey stick would be another avenue to explore if you didn't mind a non-round mast.

Some sort of sail cloth or even plastic tarp material will hold its shape better than regular nylon fabric.


Mon, 07/15/2019 - 23:20

Thanks for those pics.

Have you used the sail?

What do you think of it?

I used the sail in lakes, if you do not want to row you can only use the sail, but of course you need wind.

It is highly recommended to use a rudder to stay the course.

wind circle

With Beam reaching, broad reaching and reaching work perfect.

With close reaching and close hauled is better to down the sail and paddling.


I decided to make my own sail using it as a template.

sail 1



Tue, 07/16/2019 - 21:59

If that pic of the sail with the red kayak shows your copy, you did an excellent job!

Was it difficult finding all the parts for the mast, and the sail hardware?


About sailing upwind with a kayak sail, Mark Sundin (Expedition Kayaks, Flat Earth Sails) said to me in an email:

"None of them sail upwind, at least not any faster than you could manage with a very relaxed paddle stroke, regardless of what you read on the internet! "


Thu, 07/25/2019 - 13:43

I bought a Flat Earth 'Footloose 80' sail which arrived a couple of days ago.

I'm still deciding on exactly how to rig it, including where to put the cleats for the mainsheet and mast uphaul, and what cleats to use. The 'kit' includes a couple of 'laydown' clam cleats, but other users seem to have used vertical clam cleats and cam cleats. When I asked Flat Earth for a cleat recommendation, the answer was : "The cleat is fine if you want to go to the expense. We don’t see the need. Sorry I thought I’d made that pretty clear. As John Lennon says, whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright."

All the parts for the install are included with the sail, but there aren't good install instructions included, so it's a matter of following links and searching online to find pictures and videos for guidance. There isn't even a parts list in the box, just the mast parts, sail and a bag of hardware.

One email I got from Expedition Kayaks/Flat Earth included the sentence: " but overwhelmingly in our experience people appreciate working it out for themselves with the help of our loose guidelines". So you are pretty much on your own to find the recommendations for placement of stays and other rigging...

I think that they are using sales with that attitude, but they seem very sure that 'no specific instructions' is the right approach.

If you have any questions about the Flat Earth sail or if there are specific details (for making a DIY copy) that you want, just ask me.