By Vladimir Brezina
Anyone paddling a kayak very soon discovers the power of wind. Even a modest breeze pushes the kayak briskly along. A headwind cuts progress right down. And, once the difficulties of controlling the kayak in wind and waves are mastered, a good tailwind makes the miles fly by.
Since expedition kayaking is all about using the available natural forces to complete the journey in the most economical manner, why not use the power of the wind most effectively, by putting up a sail? Even purists who consider this cheating will sit up straighter in a tailwind, or hold up a jacket, or even open an umbrella. Why then not a real sail?
Kayak sailing has caught on! There is now out there a huge variety of kayak sail rigs, both home-made and commercially produced, ranging from simple sails that are not much more than umbrellas to serious rigs. Most of the simpler sails are downwind sails, offering little or no cross-wind, let alone upwind, performance. True upwind performance, comparable to that of a small sailboat, takes a true aerodynamically efficient upwind sail, and usually outriggers or stabilizers of some kind that allow a much larger sail to be mounted and used aggressively without fear of capsize. Some of the most powerful and elegant such rigs are made by Balogh Sail Designs.