Kayaking is a pleasant experience every paddler would love to engage in. However, the whole paddling may leave a sour taste in your mouth and force you to rethink your decision to float on the water often. The reason for this is the inability of the kayak to track better, or so the paddler thought.
Tracking in this instance means the ability of the kayaker to have firm control and steering of the boat. It is most common to associate this with the movement of the kayak in a straight line or bow-forward, as experienced kayakers would put it.
Why Your Kayak doesn’t Track Better
Many factors contribute to the hard tracking you experience on your boat. While it may appear as if the kayak has “a mind of its own” or tilts in any direction the wind tosses it, a greater part of the problem lies in the paddler’s lack of experience in keeping the boat in a straight line. A defective boat or the functionalities of the kayak you choose can also cause it.
Despite the factors that kick against the control and steering of your kayak, you can be sure that a solution is out there. Read further to discover how to make your kayak track better.
Use Your Skeg or Rudder when the Wind is Pushing from the Rear
Weathercocking is a common term in the world of kayaking. It has to do with the dynamics of the wave, and wind combines to disrupt the movement of the boat in a straight line. In this instance, the wind blows from both sides, which makes it hard to keep the kayak in a sane movement. Hence, it is ideal to put your boat’s skeg and rudder to good use in such a situation.
Use the Rudder to Affect the Flow of Water
The rule of the thumb is to deploy these when the wind is pushing the boat from the rear. To maintain stability and to keep the boat moving in a straight line, it is important that you slightly push the rudder to the opposite direction where the tailwind is coming from. By implementing this slight paddle strokes, you would be able to maintain an even track on the water, just as it empowers you to be in control of the kayak throughout the journey.
Use the Skeg to Anchor the Stern
The skeg, on the other hand, is like a “feather on the end of an arrow”. It helps you to anchor the stern against the forces of the wind that tend to push the boat sideways. The skeg comes in retractable forms for sideways movement and the movable that is deployed in an up and down movement.
It is important to apply enough force on the skeg, as this, in turn, affects the resistance of the kayak against the waves and winds that tend to toss it about.
Lean in Towards the Tracking Turn
Your weight also has a role to play in the inordinate tracking of your kayak. It is ideal to use the paddle as often as you can just as you have to twist your torso and lean far away from the hull. The rule of the thumb is to lean in a way that the hull of the boat is one-third on its side of the water.
Use a Short Paddle
Understandably, you want the boat to track faster. A good way to achieve that is by deploying the paddle to good use. However, you could be complicating things and aiding the bad tracking of the boat by using a long paddle.
Contrary to the notion that big paddles are more effective, they are hard to use, which can make the boat not to track rightly. Therefore, you should use a shorter paddle, preferably one within the lengths of 210-220 cm.
Strokes can make a Kayak Track Better
Your boat may indeed be faced with turbulence initiated by the wind. You also need to understand that the weight capacity of your loads and your unbalanced leaning are other factors that can push your kayak off course.
Despite these challenges, using powerful and calculated strokes could be all you need to keep the boat in the right direction. Read on to discover how to make a kayak track better using strokes.
When you are in the midst of a group of slow-moving kayakers or when your boat is faced with threats by the wind, it is advisable to paddle away from that direction as soon as you can. That is where the rudder stroke comes in to help you.
By deploying this, you would be able to steer the kayak towards the blade’s direction. This does not only help in slowing your kayak but also facilitates the change of direction without additional effort. However, you must stroke gently to avoid reversing the boat to another direction.
The sweep stroke is one of the favorites of paddlers. It helps in drifting the boat away from going off the course and setting it back on track.
The forward sweep model is the most popular variation. In this instance, it helps the paddler to deploy the strokes in a particular direction while the kayak swings to the opposite direction where the sweep is made. For instance, if you deploy a forward sweep stroke on the left-hand side of the boat, you can be sure that it would tilt to the right-hand side, after which you steer on back on course to move in a straight line.
Paddle without the Skeg or Rudder
It is worth noting that the rudder or skeg outlives their usefulness when the water is calm and the boat is not threatened by the wind. Hence, you are better off from using them when there is no wind and the water is calm.
Instead, you can deploy a forward stroke on one side. On the other side, you would bring the paddle blade parallel back to the water before inserting it into the water.
Final Words on How to make a Kayak Track Better
The effects of the wind can mar your kayaking journey and waves but you needn’t worry because the steps we just discussed would help you in maintaining control over your boat.
Now that you have learned about how to make a kayak track better, you may want to drop a comment or let us know how the experience was after your next kayaking trip. We look forward to hearing from you.