Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Flat Earth Kayak Sails news!

An exciting package arrived at Seakayakphoto Towers yesterday. Its elongated shape and Australian postmark had me salivating in anticipation. Four prototype sails for future models of Flat Earth Kayak Sails have been sent for final testing to Florida, Queensland, England and Scotland, and am I lucky to get my hands on the Scottish one? Kathy in Florida and GnarlyDog in Queensland are getting 1.0sqm versions but Duncan and I in the UK are getting 0.8sqm versions. This in no way reflects any inadequacy in GB paddlers but represents that we don't get steady trade winds. Our winds tend to be generated by low pressure systems and as a result are gusty.

This sail is likely to be called the "0.8" (for 0.8sq m). The whole sail is made of what Flat Earth Kayak Sails call Code Zero cloth. This is a mylar/dacron laminate, which is reinforced by spectra threads. It is much lighter than either the standard all dacron sail or the XP sail, which is dacron reinforced with code zero material on the leech, like my blue/white sail. The current standard size sail is available in Code Zero cloth but this new sail has a completely different cut.

The new cut has oriented the panels and the seaming to encourage twist at the top of the roach but also to put more fullness into the luff than the previous sail. The length of the luff and the full length sprit batten are unaltered but area has been moved from the bottom of the sail higher up and appears as an extended roach in the leech between the top of the sprit and the clew. The roach is supported by two mini battens that are sewn into the leech. This effectively makes it a lower aspect sail and because the cut has also been altered to put a deeper draught into the sail (with the fullness well forward towards the luff) it should make it more powerful for its size. Because the mast length is unaltered, the centre of effort of the sail will be moved higher into cleaner air, which should encourage good clean laminar flow across the sail. I really can't wait to try it out.

Please note these are prototypes and the final production version is likely to change before it is introduced some time in 2012. As it is likely that the current well tried standard sail will continue in production alongside the new sail for some time, I would encourage anyone who is thinking of taking up sea kayak sailing to go ahead and buy the standard sail now. As the mast and fittings are the same, you could always upgrade in the future, by just buying a new sail.

Talking of fittings there is also a new prototype mast foot. As you can see when the mast is vertical the mast rests firmly on a large penny washer. (It would rest even flatter if I had not mounted the mast base offset to avoid the inverted V of the Delphin deck!) This should get round the problem reported by some high wind sailors where the old tendon joint deforms under pressure loosening of the stays in the gusts.

 Yet when the rig is lowered, the tendon joint magically reappears!

If you pull the mast back as far as the stays will allow, then you can see the secret. The tendon is fitted into a little stubbie  (I think that is the correct strine description) mast that slides into the main mast.

What an elegant design. I think this new design will benefit even more than the current design from having two side stays at right angles to the mast and a back stay. So if you just use two rear mounted sidestays and no back stay, now is the time to get the drill out!

Again this new mastfoot design is just a prototype, so Mick has instructed that I chuck as much sand and wind at it as I can. Delighted to oblige Mick!

What bonzer news from Flat Earth Kayak Sails! This new rig looks a right bottler!


  1. Douglas, I am jealous that you are the first to get this brilliant new sail :-)
    The sleeve over the flexy joint is pure genius and yes I am one of those "no backstay" sailors.
    I am now very intrigued but this new mod and might retrofit my existing ones, once you report that everything is working OK.
    One thing: I am not a big fan of a white sail; I am more of warm colours kind of guy

  2. Looks excellent. Do you think moving the centre of effort up will increase the heeling effect much?



  3. Hi Douglas,

    Having seen you accelerate away in Loch Tamnabhaigh under the moonlight, I dread to think how anyone will keep up if you get an even nore efficient sail!

    Really informative post, apart from the sail info, I learned a new term; I always thought that a "stubbie" was something Stines necked a couple of whilst waiting for the shrimps to cook on the barbie?! :o)

  4. Greetings Gnarly, White will go well with our snow covered mountains! I think the sails will still be available in other coloured cloth. I do like the look of the UJ!

    Hi Tom, how are you getting on with your sail? I don't think it will affect heeling too much, I have found my current sail to be remarkably stable.

    Ian, you must have a shot of the sail when you are home, maybe we could dispose of a few stubbies while we are at it?


  5. good morning, Tom, Iv found thers not much in the heeling moment from the old to tehnew sail, Iv found the new cloth to be more responsive, and im abel to get beter shapes out of it, im looking forword to geting sume feed back from the test team, so fare Iv been yousing the new .75mtr rig on my 14 foot skin on frame and found it beter than the sail I was yousing on it. I think the final design will be avalabel with diferant colour trims , althow the red, yellow and blue sails do look grate, I think the future will aventualy be that all flat earth sails will be produced in the coad zero laminate . all things to ther own and I think the new sail range of 1meter, .8 meter and .75 meter will be in production in limited numbers in erly 2012

  6. Thanks guys- yes they're a fantastic bit of kit and a great investment.

    For me, I think the lack of heeling is partly due to the fact that I never really get that close to the wind, and in a steady breeze you end up placing your weight so that the mast is upright anyway. Also, at speed you can create so much lift with the paddle that bracing is much easier than normal.

    Interested to see the line-loks too, I've been using truckers hitches.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Hello Tom, I too used trucker's hitches but found them difficult to loosen in winter when tied in 2-3mm dyneema cord.

    I will let you know how I get on with the line-loks.