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Independent Gear Review: Wind Paddle Adventure.
~ under the power of a warm summer breeze ~
I have to admit before I had a chance to experience the Windpaddle Adventure sail, I had a bit of a negative impression of kayak sails in general. I had all sorts of questions like: where do I put my paddle? How do I brace? How do I see? Do I have to drill holes in by boat? Can I control the freaking sail? Oh, and the big question, "Why would I?".
Well after a few weeks playing around with the Windpaddle sail I got the answers to all those questions, and even the one about, "Why?"
Windpaddle is really quite innovative in its simplicity. You'll have it out of the pack and be on your way in just minutes. The Adventure model is lightweight, only about 13oz and comes rolled up into a 15 inch disc that you can easily stow on your deck. Fully deployed its 42" in diameter and tugs you along quite well. I still have a lot to learn about maneuvering a craft under sail, but I'm certainly inspired to take more time to learn how. One thing I did realize is that there is something wonderful about cruising silently along under the power of a warm summer breeze.
You’ll be sailing in minutes even if like me you hate reading instructions. It only takes a few moments to take the curled up sail and attach it to your boat using clips to secure it to the left and right parameter lines. Then you just slip the sail itself under the bungies. To deploy the sail you simply slip it out of your bungies and let it snap open. You grab the top lines, catch the wind and off you go. If you've never tried a sail on a kayak before you'll be amazed how fast you can go. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the angle of the sail right but you’ll find it’s pretty intuitive. Whenever the wind gusts or get's a bit rough you can simply let the sail fall forward and it will lay down on the deck. To put it away you grab the sail on both sides and sort of pinch and twist, it will fold right back up with little effort. It took me a bit to get the hang of that twisty thing, but after you do it a couple times you'll find it's quite simple.
I tried the Windpaddle Adventure with both my Rockpool Alaw Bach & my NDK Romany, both boats with a fair amount of rocker. The waves were always under 1 foot and the wind was fairly light, but on one day I did have some gusts to contend with. The sail worked fine on either boat. You can't really screw it up. Just deploy the sail and you're off! I'm certain there are some kayaks out there that would let you move a bit more quickly.
The sail has a nice big window in the center that allows you to use the sail and still see where you are going. It can get a bit of spray on it, but never so bad that you can't see.
Handling sail AND paddle
It took watching the enclosed video for me to figure out that I could hold the paddle and the control cords at the same time (a good argument for reading instructions). This is another great feature of this particular sail. You are always free to brace or simply drop the sail and paddle within moments. I never felt that I would get out of control. The one thing I was really curious about was what would happen if I had to let the sail go and was knocked over. In my experiments the sail always fell flat across the deck and did not get in my way when I rolled. However I could envision it falling back on me and make rolling a bit more of a challenge. The sail does catch a lot of water when rolling, so you'd better make sure you have a very solid roll (see photo).
Kayak sails have been popular in Australia in New Zealand for sometime but are still quite a novel concept in the States. After having some time to play with the Windpaddle I can see why they enjoy it. Once you become skilled with the sail you could cover miles quite quickly. I’m still getting a feel for turning the kayak under sail but I’m learning that a good edge is at least as important as the angle of the sail. The charm of the Windpaddle sails is their simplicity and ease of use.
All in all sailing a kayak is a unique and fun experience. For those of you looking to give it a go, the Adventure by Windpaddle would be a great choice. Oh, and I promised you an answer to the question “Why?”, so here we go: Because it’s pretty darn fun, and that’s what kayaking is all about isn’t it?
For more details & pricing visit www.windpaddle.com