Kayak With A Sail: Kayak Sail Guide

how to sail a kayak

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 8/13/2022

If you have a kayak, installing a sail on it might allow you to change it into a more sophisticated vehicle that draws power from several sources. But, what exactly is the purpose of the sail that you have on your yak?

We have investigated the potential benefits and drawbacks that may arise as a result of installing a kayak with a sail kit on your watercraft. We will describe the various kinds and discuss how you might be able to utilize one of them with your yak.

Taking A Quick Look At The Top Sail Kits

  • Scouting Sail using WindPaddle
  • Harmony Upwind Kayak Sail Kit
  • Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail
  • WindPaddle 47" Adventure Sail is a phrase that.
  • Hobie Kayak Sail Kit

Why Use A Sail On My Kayak?

Why Use A Sail On My Kayak?


Gaining additional speed in your kayak is one of the primary advantages of using a sail. If you have a sail, you will be able to harness the wind's strength, allowing you to go more quickly while using less effort via paddling.

If you want to travel large distances, this could be helpful because it should help you tire out less quickly and cover a more considerable distance in a shorter time than when you were paddling by yourself. A sail can also allow you to take a break from paddling, allowing you to do things like eat lunch or get a drink, for example.

Not only that, but it may add a bit more excitement and intrigue to your kayak and your paddling excursion, providing you with additional aspects to improve your enjoyment beyond what you would get from merely paddling.



When you use a sail on your canoe or kayak, you risk reducing the overall stability of your vessel, which is especially problematic when there are high winds. This is especially the case when you use the sail.

When you have a giant sail, you can harness the strength of the wind more effectively, but if your sail is not in the correct position, it will increase the likelihood that it may cause you to capsize.

Having a sail linked to a sit-inside kayak might also hinder your ability to roll, which means that you might need to remove the mast first or do a wet exit before you can secure your sail and get back in the kayak.



Suppose you fish from a sailing kayak rather than using all your energy paddlings to get to your favorite fishing area. In that case, you can let the wind propel you across the water, which may make for a delightful fishing experience. In addition, it can free up your hands so that you can fish even when moving. This may also be an excellent approach for trolling since it is a means of traveling over the water that is quieter and more cost-effective, and it causes the fish to be disturbed only to a small degree.

When To Use A Sail The Most Effectively

Best Time To Use A Sail

Kayak sails are an excellent accessory for touring kayaks, sea kayaks, or any other type of kayak that you plan on using for an extended period since they may help keep you more comfortable and efficient while paddling.

Canoeing and kayaking in open water, especially when there is a slight breeze or mild wind that can assist in propelling you across the lake, can be perfect activities for these.

Choosing The Appropriate Kind Of Sail To Use

Choosing The Right Type Of Sails kayaking

Sails In A Circular Shape

Circle Shaped Sails

Circle-shaped sails are precisely what their name suggests: sails that have the shape of a circle and have a style that is more comparable to that of a parasail than what you may think of as a regular sail for a sailboat. The circle-shaped sails used on kayaks can be perfect for novices since they are simple to operate and control, and the majority of them have a window that allows the user to see where they are heading. Before moving on to more advanced sails, it is a good idea to become familiar with the fundamentals of sailing and how sails function, which these sails provide.

Most canoe and kayak bows are designed to accommodate sails in the shape of circles, and these sails can typically be readily handled by hand. Because of the form of the sail and its location on the boat, these sails are most effective when employed in downwind sailing conditions, when the wind may help propel the ship forward.

Sails In A "V" Shape

V Shaped Sails

A V-shaped sail is just what it sounds like: a sail with most of its surface area at the top. This leaves a small space at the bottom end, which means it is less likely to be in the way than other types of sails. However, there is a possibility that some of them still have see-through glass panels so that you can see what's in front of you.

Because of how these sails are constructed, they may be able to capture more wind due to their higher height; yet, because they usually have a lower surface area, this may mean that you compromise speed. Because they often have difficulty changing course, they may also be more suited to sailing against the wind.

V-shaped sails have the potential to be the most beneficial for kayak sailors who already have some experience with kayak sails. Still, they also have the potential to be useful for novice kayak sailors. However, because they have a top-heavy design, they may not be suited for use on vessels that are either tiny or lightweight, particularly in conditions with severe winds.

Sails Shaped Like An L

L Shaped Sails

L-shaped sails may be the best option for experienced kayak sailors, but novices should probably steer clear of them. They have a more traditional look and are frequently shaped in a manner analogous to sails found on sailing vessels.

On the other hand, these sails might be more challenging to use, as they may need a higher level of sailing expertise than, for instance, a circle sail. When using a sail with an L shape, it is typically possible to regulate the direction one travels by moving the sail.

These sails will often be equipped with a mast and frequently have a boom (the horizontal pole that swings out from the mast and holds the base of the sail down). This can make it possible for you to sail in whichever direction the wind blows instead of being restricted to only sailing when the wind is coming from behind you.

Kayak Sailing Tips

Kayak Sailing Tips

Places To Set Sail From

It might be familiar to you that there are points of sail already. The points of sail are broad rules that describe how to sail following the direction that the wind is blowing and your boat's position. They are followed by sailing vessels of every conceivable form.

  • Close Hauled is a sailing term that refers to when a vessel is sailing as close to the wind as is physically feasible, with the wind blowing towards it at an acute angle. You can't sail directly into the wind like that.
  • When the wind is blowing towards you at an angle that is more than close-hauled, close reach is often the position of sail that allows you to travel the fastest.
  • Beam Reach: The wind is blowing from a direction that is perpendicular to the course of your vessel, and it is striking it on the side.
  • Running: At this time, the wind is directly behind you, and for your sail to capture the wind from behind your boat, it needs to be at a right angle to your ship.

 Sailing Tips


You were maintaining your well-being when out on the water should be your first focus. Even if using sails might make paddling a kayak a more enjoyable experience, you shouldn't ignore the potential dangers involved.

Before you step out the door, it's vital to look at the forecast and see what the weather has in store. You should avoid venturing out during stormy weather for the same reason that you shouldn't go paddling. However, regardless of the temperature, you should always ensure that you are adequately equipped for safety, including using a personal flotation device (PFD).

Because having a sail attached to your kayak might affect its stability in really high winds, you should ensure that you are confident in your abilities to operate your sail and your boat before you go off on your adventure. Waves on open water may also affect your stability, but you should be aware of your capabilities and limitations.

It would be best if you got some practice with your sail before you take it out on the lake. This will ensure that you can set it up or take it down quickly if necessary. And this is of the utmost importance: make sure you don't use a sail that is too difficult for you to handle. You should get experience on a sail designed for beginners before moving on to more advanced sails.

5 Best Kayak Sails And Kits

Scouting Sail using WindPaddle

WindPaddle Scout Sail

  • 42 inches in diameter when deployed, and 15 inches overall (folded)
  • Area: 9.62 square feet
  • Twelve ounces is the weight.

The WindPaddle Scout Sail is a sail with a circular form intended for usage in winds ranging from 4 to 18 knots and can be purchased from WindPaddle. Beginners can use it since it is simple to operate and can be controlled with a single steering line, making it simple for you to also hold onto your paddle.

Due to its circular shape, this sail works best when sailing with the wind at your back. If your vessel is between 8 and 15 feet long, you should make good time with this sail. The convenient window in the middle of the sail lets you see where you are going. It features mounting clips that allow you to attach it to bungees, handles, D-rings, and a wide variety of other locations on your boat. It also mounts directly to the bow of your watercraft. In addition, you can easily set it up on the water, which can be folded up when it is not used.

Kit Includes Both An Upwind Kayak Sail And A Canoe Sail For The Harmony

Harmony Upwind Kayak Sail and Canoe Sail Kit

  • The length is 12 feet.
  • 6.67 feet is the width (at boom)
  • Area: 40 square feet
  • The scale reads 22 pounds.

The Harmony Upwind Kayak and Canoe Sail Kit are adaptable to both canoes and kayaks, allowing for more versatile use. This sail has a sail area of 40 square feet, which means that it should be perfect for bigger kayaks and canoes since it should be able to collect more of the strength of the wind than a sail with a smaller sail area.

It's a sail in the shape of an L, much like the sails you'd see on conventional sailboats or sailing yachts. When sailing against a headwind, the boom may come in handy because it allows you to change the position of the sail. Because the mast is telescopic, it may be collapsed into a more compact size, making it easier to store or carry. This package also includes outriggers, which may provide your vessel with additional support, and a sail that can be easily attached to the bow of your boat with only one screw. Both of these features are included as standard. More experienced kayak sailors may find it to be the perfect sail.

Harmony Upwind Kayak Sail And Canoe Sail System. Telescoping Mast, Boom and Outriggers,.

Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail

Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail

  • Thirty-six inches is the length.
  • Fifty-nine inches is the width.
  • The weight is two pounds.

This Rapid Up Sail from Advanced Elements is designed in the shape of a circle with a V-shaped element in the middle. Versatility makes it suitable for various canoes and kayaks. Because of its oval form, when it is deployed, it creates a V-shaped effect. It is meant to function better with the narrow form of kayak decks and might be beneficial on inflatable kayaks and rugged shell boats because of how it is shaped.
It enhances visibility by providing a clear window in the middle and two smaller glass portions on either side of the item. It is recommended that you utilize the sail when paddling towards the wind so that the wind may press against it and provide a helping hand while also allowing you to move more quickly. On the other hand, it should not be employed in situations with a headwind. As its name would imply, this sail is intended to be set up in a hurry by using the spring frame included in its construction.
It comes with adjustable attachments that may be used on a variety of canoes and kayaks, and it also can be attached to other kinds of boats. Also, it's easy to use, making it an excellent choice for those new to kayak sailing. When not used, the sail may be folded into a compact size and stowed away on the deck for convenience. It makes it easy to deploy the sail whenever you need it.

WindPaddle 47" Adventure Sail

WindPaddle 47" Adventure Sail

  • 47 inches when deployed, 16 inches when not deployed (folded)
  • Area: 12 square feet
  • Sixteen ounces is the weight.

As a result of the fact that this WindPaddle Adventure Sail is intended for canoes and kayaks measuring between 14 and 18 feet in length, it can be an excellent choice for a wide variety of touring canoes and kayaks. Although it was developed for winds ranging from 5 to 30 mph, it may be more effective for sailing against the wind.

The circular sail has a window cut out in the middle to provide an enhanced vision of what's in front of you. Canoeists and kayakers of all skill levels can utilize it. However, sea kayakers with higher expertise are the primary audience for this product. Clips that may be fastened to a seat or bungee cords can be used to attach the WindPaddle sail to the bow of most types of kayaks and canoes. In addition, it has one control line, making it more straightforward to operate even when holding your paddle.

Hobie Kayak Sail Kit

Hobie Kayak Sail Kit

  • One hundred twenty-three inches is the total length.
  • Area: 20.25 square feet
  • Weight: 16.4 kilograms

The Hobie Kayak Sail Kit was developed especially for the Mirage and Pro Angler ranges of Hobie kayaks, including tandems. These kayaks typically have a designated mounting point that allows you to install the mast. The Hobie Kayak Sail Kit includes everything you need to set up and sail your Hobie kayak. On the other hand, it does not function properly with inflated yaks.

When sailing, the pedal drive fins that come standard on Mirage kayaks can contribute to the creation of stability in the water as well as additional resistance. The kayak sail kit consists of a two-piece mast that does not include a boom and features a furling hook that allows the mast to be folded up when it is not in use.

While you drive with the other hand, you may use the other hand to regulate the direction the sail is facing. In addition, it has transparent glass located at the foot of the sail to enhance your field of vision while you are out on the sea. Rolling it up or folding it down makes it more portable, and a storage bag is included.

What About Kayak Sail DIY?

What About Kayak Sail... DIY?

The benefits of making your sail could not be overstated. You might, for instance, determine your budget and create whatever kind of sail you want, in any color you wish to; this would give you the bonus of personalization.

You may also have the opportunity to design a sail specifically for your vessel, allowing you to obtain the sail that is the perfect proportion for your boat in terms of its size and shape.

Adding a sail that you created yourself to your kayak has potential dangers. It is possible, for instance, that it cannot be stowed or removed as quickly in an emergency or that it is either too heavy or too massive for your vessel. There are several strategies that, depending on the conditions, might not be appropriate for heavy winds and might lead you to fall overboard.

How To Build A Kayak Sail

How To Build A Kayak Sail

What Is Required Of You:

  • Ripstop nylon was used.
  • 2 x 22mm PVC pipe (6 foot long)
  • 2 x 18mm dowel rod (6 foot long)
  • 2 x PVC tee pieces
  • Cord de bungee
  • 2 x Hose clamps
  • Sail control line
  • Powerful thread for stitching
  • Hose pipe (about a foot long)
  • Pool noodle (about a foot long)
  • Caution tape
  • Webbing made of nylon

Step 1: Make Cuts In Your Nylon.

Make Cuts In Your Nylon.

If you want a sail in the shape of a V, appropriately cut your nylon, but make the bottom of the sail flat rather than pointy. At the top, the width should measure 53 inches. The length of your nylon and the width at the bottom should be 14 inches, and the size should be 63 inches. Make two little squares on either side of the rectangle. You will be securing your ropes to this point using your clamps.

Step 2: Drill Holes For The Pipe.

Drill Holes For The Pipe.

You may fold your nylon on each side so it folds over your PVC pipes using your sewing thread and your PVC pipes. Your pipes should be able to fit into the gap you've formed within the folded cloth once you've finished stitching down the edges. When you have finished cutting out the squares, there should be two gaps on either side, and you should be able to see the pipes at the spots where the gaps are.

Step 3:  Insert Your Pipes.

Insert Your Pipes.

Put a dowel rod into each PVC pipe using the available ones. Because of this, we will have more strength.

After that, you can insert a PVC pipe into the edge seam of the cloth where you just finished sewing it. As a result, you should insert two PVC pipes along the margins of the nylon fabric. At this point, your sail ought to start appearing a little bit more like a sail.

Step 4: Join The Tee Parts Together.

At this point, you can join the tee pieces to the lower ends of the PVC pipes located at the aft end of your sail.

Step 5:Thread Webbing Through Eyelets

Thread Webbing Through Eyelets

You can thread a piece of nylon webbing or another similar fabric through the hose pipe so that you have enough quantity on either side of the tube. Because you will be utilizing this to tie it to your boat, a length of between three and four feet could be sufficient.

Step 6: Involves Threading The Hose Pipe.

Involves Threading The Hose Pipe.

To connect the two sections of the tee, you will need to thread your piece of hose pipe through both of the openings. You may alternatively attach a length of rope or nylon webbing to the underside of your sail and then connect it to the hose pipe using this method. Because of this, the sail won't be able to ride up the sidelines.

Step 7: Pool Noodle Puts On

Pool Noodle Puts On

You may unfold your pool noodle by cutting down the center of its length. Then wrap this over the hose pipe and the tee pieces to secure them. After that, you may fasten it using duct tape or another suitable method.

Step 8: Attach To Kayak.

Attach To Kayak.

Possibly, somewhere to attach the webbing is already available on your yacht. Depending on your vessel, this will vary. Pad eyes, which are used to attach the webbing beneath this, can have their screws undone. Alternately, you might choose to safely fasten it to anything that is already on your deck.

Step 9: Attach Your Ropes.

Attach Your Ropes.

As soon as you have formed the opening in the sail, use your hose clamps to secure the PVC pipes. After that, fasten your bungee rope in place. You should be able to attach it to a point on the bow of your vessel if you intend to use it for that purpose. Check to see that it is secure yet still able to let the sail lay down flat.

Following that, connect your control lines. You should be able to reach and utilize these while seated in your vessel since they should be long enough. After you have the bungee and the control lines properly fastened, you can go ahead and tighten the hose clamps, and you will be ready to go.

Video: Use An Umbrella?!

Is This The Best DIY Kayak Sail Ever Made?



You are now motivated to either purchase or create your kayak's sail now that you know more about kayak with a sail. Putting a sail on your kayak is not only going to make your paddling trip more exciting and faster, but it will also make your kayak more practical, especially if you plan on doing any fishing.

Even though you could have a lot of fun doing it on the water, you should always put your safety first. It is in your best interest to avoid sailing when the weather is poor since a sudden wind blast might catch you and your sail off guard. If you think your other paddlers would find this fascinating and want them to participate, then you should share it with them. Leave a comment below telling us about your kayaking and sailing adventures.