Since lock down lifted I have been testing various prototypes of the KCS KY-PRO Sail System. The system is available in three versions:
1. Sail only to fit other rigs such as Flat Earth Kayak Sails.
2. Sail, carbon fibre mast and boom, universal joint and deck fittings which require the deck to be drilled.
3. Sail, carbon fibre mast and boom, custom front hatch with mast foot and stay fittings, cleats that can be attached to the RDF fittings near the cockpit by using longer bolts. This option is for those that do not want to drill their deck or want to attach a sail to a borrowed, hired or demo boat.
Background to the test
I have been a long time user of a variety of kayak sailing systems. I have owned and used Pacific Action V sail, the KayakSailor rig and various Flat Earth kayak sails. I have also borrowed and used the Baloghsailsystems Batwing and Falcon Sails rig. They all are excellent in their own way and each has their strengths and weaknesses.
For the type of paddle sailing I do in the west of Scotland I prefer the Flat Earth sails in 0.8sqm size. They suit the open exposed waters and the sometimes gusty winds off the mountains. They are not as large and powerful as the KayakSailor, Baloghsailsystems and Falcon Kayak Sails rigs so you always need to paddle while you sail but in chilly Scotland this keeps you warm, especially in winter. The Flat Earth Kayak Sails in addition to being smaller also have a looser leach and this gives them a much wider wind range than the other designs.
I was therefore delighted when Ronnie Weir of KCS produced his prototype sails to find they are a similar size to Flat Earth designs and, though of different design and materials, have a similar range of intended use, i.e. for most users they are intended to be used on flat or rough open water from F2 up to F4/5. The KCS sails are made in Scotland by Owen Sails, a long established yacht sail maker based in Oban. Owen Sails started out in the mid 1980s making windsurfing sails and I still have one of their 6sqm, six batten slalom sails. So they know about smaller sails too.
This test was carried out on the Solway Firth, Firth of Clyde, Sound of Sleat and Loch Hourn on the west coast of Scotland. Conditions varied from F2 to F5.
The 0.75sqm KCS KY-PRO sail overlaid on a 0.8sqm Flat Earth TradeWind sail. Note similar head and upper roach but reduced area, shorter luff and longer foot of the KCS.
1. The KCS KY-PRO 0.75sqm sail tested on a Flat Earth aluminium mast and boom with the mast foot bolted to the foredeck forward of the compass recess.
2. The KCS KY-PRO 0.75sqm sail tested on the KCS carbon fibre mast and boom with the mast foot bolted to the foredeck, forward of the compass recess.
Everything worked well, the sail set nicely on the carbon fibre spars. These look great, but I could not honestly detect any difference in performance over the aluminium spars in the Flat Earth rig.
The mast foot is obviously to the rear of where most kayak sails would be mounted in front of the compass recess (how this affects paddle sailing is discussed below).
2. The KCS carbon mast, boom and stays are well made, light and strong, with great fittings.
3. The KCS hatch mount with mast foot and spreader bar for stays is a brilliantly engineered solution for those that do not want to drill holes in their own boat or want to fit a sail to a borrowed boat. Its downwind paddle sailing performance was unaffected but it does limit pointing angle upwind and cause the paddle to hit the boom if you use a high paddle style going upwind or across the wind.
Lastly, the way the hatch mount is constructed, I can see no reason why an existing paddle sailing rig, such as a Flat Earth rig, could not be fitted to the hatch mount.