*Kayak Sailing allows you to go farther and do more
*Kayak Sailing allows you to go faster
*There is nothing more relaxing...
*Kayak Sailing will make you a better kayaker in all situations
*A kayak sail gives an option to save your energy
*A kayak sail is great for fishing
There are plenty of good reasons to rig a kayak with a sail. The most obvious is speed. In winds of ten knots or more, most kayakers would be hard pressed to keep up with a kayak sailing downwind, even if the chasing paddler is an accomplished chop hopper willing to soak up the sweat that fast, downwind paddling requires. As he or she grunts and accelerates off each wave, the kayak under sail scuds along, always one boat length ahead.
On longer trips and expeditions, a sail can be a valuable addition for more reasons than speed. If bad weather delays you and the next leg of the trip is downwind, you can rig the sail and off you go, easily making up with speed the time you lost. In this scenario, the advantages of a sail multiply because you've got free hands to make a VHF radio or satellite phone call, run the GPS, read relative angles or angles-off-the-bow to keep track of where you are and where you're going, eat a sandwich, run the desalinator, or set up the solar charger, etc.
There are lots of kayak sail rig options out there, ranging from the complex to the simple.
Some, most often affixed to doubles owned by outfitters, have semi-permanent aluminum masts stationed amidships with a sloop's recognizable right triangle sail. Other sails are simple, free-floating affairs akin to tarps, several metres square, often sent aloft by a lashed pod of kayaks and with lines at each corner attached to paddles. The sail hovers above the kayaks like a cloud, pulling the pod along.
Finally, there are single-kayak foredeck-rigged sails. These are typically V-shaped, with wishbone masts holding a rigid sail aloft, a sort of upside-down wedge, jutting up from the foredeck and resembling two fingers making a peace sign inside a sandwich bag. Sometimes those masts, small as they might be (about the length and stiffness of a two-piece paddle) are somewhat unwieldy. They have to be stored when not in use, tend to clutter the deck, and need to be lashed down.
Rudder control on such sailed kayaks is optional; the majority require little more than a paddle deployed bow-rudder or low-brace turn style for steering. Still another type uses fixed rudders and larboards, and can be sailed both across and up-wind, effectively turning the kayak into a sailboat, a style seen mostly on folding kayaks like Folbots and Kleppers.
Nick Wiltz, who lives in the kiteboarding/sailboarding mecca of Hood River, Oregon, has come up with a new design, the WindPaddle, that solves many of the problems associated with kayak sails - the bulk, the hassles of foredeck storage, the overbig presence - in a unique way. His sail, like any kayak sail useful in wind ranging from moderate to fresh, requires mast support. His take on the mast, though, is a circular loop, configured from stiff but flexible, virtually unbreakable plastic.