Anti-rudder?

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Anti-rudder?

Postby 580phil » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:28 pm

Hello all

I have been lurking for a long while on sea kayak sites and have been hearing a fair bit about getting rid of the rudder. Why is this? When I broke the rudder off my K1 it was unpaddlable - it would turn one way and be unstoppable. My wife complained loudly in her run of the mill B line when I would go cross chop with ease (my first sea kayak from BC had a huge underhung rudder - great for surfing) I put a skeg on for her and it did little better. I then whacked off the skeg and put in a rudder. She was so pleased she said I could get some real kayaks and we got some Mirages. A little DK 12 I had had no rudder and was fun but in a chop my paddle rhythm would get stuffed up by me having to double stroke one side to keep straight. Then on a boys trip I put my mate in my wife's (when it had the skeg) B line and he just kept turning it around on glassy water and no wind. I had to swap my little BC sea kayak with him so we could get anywhere.

So why would you not want a rudder? I do not for a minute think people who don't like them are stupid. I just have never ever not wanted one. All of my sailing boats have had rudders and I have broken them three times in 30 years and I have sailed an awful lot. I really like rudders. My catamarans have two of them! On my sailing cat it tacks really well because it has big rudders. I would like to put a bigger rudder on my Mirage so that I can surf better in it. It is a bit disconcerting to flip the pedals and feel them bite only air.

In fact I would like to put a composite pivoting rudder on it like on a Hobie. Pull it up for beaching and way down for paddling. Resistance at low speeds (and kayaks only ever travel slowly) is due to induced drag. So the more you turn a rudder the greater its drag. A big rudder turned less is about the same drag (or less) than a smaller rudder turned more. It is not until you get fast that smaller foils pay. Is there some Greenland thing I am missing here? I reckon I could make a strong, light really schmick composite rudder that goes up and down easily - just like sailing cats and dinghies. Why are the only up and down ones flat alloy plate? High drag when used and easily ventilated. There are 45ft catamarans out there with lovely strong, pivoting rudders that let them go on the beach.

I am a rudder lover. Why isn't everybody?

cheers

Phil
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby schroeds » Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:28 pm

because they do malfunction (they're much more fragile and exposed to damage than a yacht rudder eg contact with the bottom) and also because their use allows the paddler not to learn valuable boat control skills like edging. I have limited test paddle experience in the new breed of rudderless kayaks but I can tell you they handle great, easily steered. That's my version anyways.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby 580phil » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:40 am

Gday Shroeds

I get that rudders are more fragile than a yacht but I come from a multihull and dinghy background. I spent 5 years travelling the East coast on two different boats, both multihulls. The last trip (3 of the years) was on a 38ft cat I built. I would push that thing up creeks, over sand bars, near reefs etc and often had us running out of water. The rudders are designed to flip up and they do this well. I would have had our 4 tonne family cruiser on the beach more times in a year than a some kayaks - maybe 15 - 20 days in a a year.

Instead of getting rid of the rudder (we can't) multihull designers made strong, light kick up rudders. I guarantee a kayak builder could make a rudder that is strong and able to bang onto the beach. It would have a safety fuse and a pivoting section. It would cost more.

I guess there are two ways about this - either you learn to live without a rudder if it fails or you design a better rudder that can take the beach loads. My preference is for the latter.

cheers

Phil
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby mick M » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:54 am

Rudders do fail, if you cant paddel without one what do you do when your a day and a half from nowher and cant mend it ?
anser lern the skills of paddling without a ruder. My mailstrom has a grate ruder, its hiden in the deck, so it wont catch on things, its low slung in the water so a smaller blade is all thats needed, but the mailstrom dosent need a ruder, it traks well in just about all sea states, I sail a lot and when the kayak gets up and muvesunder its 2 sails its nice to have a good responsiv ruder to help it point, and iv found with 2 sails it points beter than most kayaks do.

Mirages can be paddeld without rudders, take the time to remuve your ruder, or tape it shut to practice your paddel skills.
and definatly have a paddel of a dedicated no ruder kayak, the new crop are quite remarkabal
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby 580phil » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:15 am

Thanks for the reply

I didn't mean to come across as a guy who thinks no rudders is dumb. We sometimes get newbies on boat design forums who say "Why don't boats have this great idea I have?" and you want to say "Listen mate, it is that way for a reason"

I get the fact that rudders can fail - I was on a Hobart racer one year that ran over a Sunfish that knocked the rudder off 50 miles off the coast. We had to use a piece of ply on a spinnaker pole to get back to Eden. Only half the crew could steer the thing.

So let me get this right - the experience I got from my pretty tawdry old kayaks is not the norm. Cross seas, quartering waves (when I want my rudder) are fine if the design of the kayak is better. I certainly did not get a nice kayak till I got my large ruddered short sea kayak from Vancouver. (It was on a crazy multihull from the Vancouver area that visted Oz) Then I got the Mirages.

I will try how no rudder goes. Am going for a paddle tomorrow

cheers

Phil
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby owenw » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:31 am

G'day Phil,
When my wife (Annie) and I were doing a recent skills course with Rob Mercer (Balanced Boater) the 1st thing he made us do was to remove our Mirage rudders, (takes about 30 seconds). We then spent the rest of the day doing all sorts of things without them. It took all of about 5 minutes to get used to edging for turning etc, so the loss/breakage of a Mirage rudder is no big deal. Also when surfing the rudder is often out of the water so edging, stern rudder steering etc is essential. At the recent NSWSKC R'n'R I noticed that a large percentage of the Mirages of experienced paddlers had the "racing" rudder fitted (which is flush with the bottom of the hull) to minimise the risk of any damage etc. This seems to be a real good compromise as it works well in flat water and for countering any weathercocking in sea/wind, albeit with a bit more "lock" applied. I've still got the standard rudder, but will soon get a smaller one for beach launches/landings. Owen (Klanner)
Life truly lived is full of risk; to fence out risk is to fence out life itself.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby schroeds » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:36 am

The sailing boat/kayak analolgy doesn't work in my view.
1 - look at the rudder attachment point, its fragile on a kayak conpared to a sailing boat...there just isn't the same amount of fibreglass/reinforcement available
2 - look at the kayak cables and swages, again pretty lightweight stuff
3 - a kayak in a surf landing might well move backwards or sideways onto its rudder, it's not just moving forward and kicking it up
4 - a kayak (at least many models) can be readily steered without a rudder.you don't actually need one, unlike on a sailing boat

Having said that, the Mirage rudder is a strong system compared to many. I rekcon there is also an upside to a rudder for long straight line paddles where you just want to relax into it. I also paddle a ruddered boat but anything that can go wrong will go wrong so I'd rather not have it, all things considered. If i didn't I'd refine my paddling skills and I reckon my next boat may well be one of the fantastic new generation rudderless boats that Mick's talking about, they're a lot of fun and handle great. Over to you Mark Sundin!
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Mark Sundin » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:20 am

Sorry Schroeds, I've got a container to unload....
Watching you spinning around my racing boat mate, I don't think you have too many skills to work on.
This is a great debate folks.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Pete L » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:16 am

Ah, This old chestnut!

This argument has been going on for as long as I've been kayaking. On matters of such concern I always look to Zen budhism for an answer.

As Ty Webb said in Caddyshack " A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish."

That should clear up any questions you have.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Mark Sundin » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:19 am

I reckon this is is such a misunderstood debate, mostly driven by something akin to snobbery by the rudderless cadres (sorry to all my snooty mates...!) and a lack of understanding of what rudderless paddling is about, from the rudderphiles. Phils initial post reveals two common threads. The first is that there are some - read most - kayak designs that won't handle adverse conditions without a rudder. The second is that his mate couldnt steer with a rudder, which is the way things go in a sport where people invariably start paddling, before they seek instruction.
On the first thred, the only thing that can really affect a kayak's directional stability, regardless of your skill level, is the wind. A quartering sea can too, but as your skills rise you should begin to deal with them better. Almost all kayaks weathercock, that is, turn towards a beam wind. Rudders were developed to counteract this tendency, & interestingly weren't initially intended as a steering device, but rather, like a modern retractable skeg, as a device purely for tracking. If a boat is designed not to have a rudder, it will have some other feature - a harder chine or skeg - that will help it to offset the effects of wind on directional stability. If it's designed to have a rudder, it doesn't really matter how good you are, you will have a bastard of a time in a beam wind if you think you can pull the rudder up & still comfortably say in a straight line. There are only a handful of designs around; among them Mick's Maelstrom, it's close cousin the Nadgee & Nigel Dennis' Explorer, that really & truly can be paddled without skeg or rudder.
On the second topic, 90% of paddling in both my rudderless sea kayak, & rudderred racing kayak, is done using my under-deck muscles. I use my hips, knees, feet to alter the shape of my hull using edges, in order to control the directional stability of my kayak. It's a choice I make, because with a bit of dedication, it gives me a huge amount of control over my craft in all conditions. I also have a sea kayak which is designed to be paddled in a more - sorry for this awful word - holistic way. When I'm instructing boat control, I always stress this body control for directional stability, discouraging Phil's mate's double dipping in favour of better use of edges to effect turns. Rudder dependency leads paddlers to become reliant on their top half for power, & their toes for steering, leaving out all the big muscle groups in between that have such a pronounced effect on your kayaking if they can be engaged properly. You can see the difference on the water, there is so much more fun to be had when your whole body gets involved, increasing your skills definitely increases the enjoyment, in my humble opinion. It's something like the difference between driving a manual & an automoatic car. If your choice is to keep it simple, bushwalk on the sea, use your boat as a device to get from A to B, without being too bothered about this high falutin' skills stuff, than that's great, it's just not the way I choose to paddle. My advice to rudder boat paddlers if they do have ambitions to increase their skills, is to swap over the rudder cables. That way you're using a much more correct technique for directional control, push on your left foot to turn right & vice versa. Edging skills flow quite naturally from that base.
In my 20ft long, 42cm wide racing kayak, I set the rudder pedals back so I have to reach to get them, using the rudder as a tracking device so I can concentrate more on my forward stroke. Without the rudder I would expend more energy on corrections, and in that particular boat all I want to do is go fast. Having a rudder on that boat is great, as it is designed to have one. I still use my edges (and hence my below deck muscles) to take off on a wave & steer on steeper waves when the rudder is poking 2 feet into thin air, but the rudder is there to dull the unforseen direction changes.
Pulling the rudder up, or off your boat won't generally do you any favours in the fun stakes, becuase in all likelihood if it has a rudder, it's meant to be used. What it will teach you though, is how to control the boat without the rudder when it fails, & even forgetting about the hydraulics of a sideways surf, they do occassionally fail. That said, the Mirage rudder is one seriously clever, innovative & above all proven design; I've only ever seen them come unstuck when the owner has been tardy in the minimal maintenance required.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby gnarlydog » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:15 pm

hmmm...
If that does not settle it than I don't know what will.
Mark's observations and explanations are very much in line with general consensus on rudders/non rudders coming from experts.
Well written.
Can I quote you when others will ask me why I have sold my ruddered kayaks and gone to skegs?
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Mark Sundin » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:10 pm

You'll have to work out a way to watermark my name onto your comments.....
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby gnarlydog » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:32 pm

as always, any work that is not mine is duly credited
asking for permission from the author of images or text is essential
Your wording will be in quotes (") and credit will be given
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby gages » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:17 pm

As a skeg paddler of 15 years I agree mostly with what Marks said but one angle I now use is that playing around with your muscles on a multi day paddle can lead a rudderless paddler very frustrated in a following sea/quartering wind and struggling to keep the Kms ticking over

I would argue that a boat has too handle well without a rudder or a skeg first---- then it doesn't really matter what you use as a back up--- rudder or skeg as they are just all a bonus on top

Some of my concerns are

When you need a skeg and I mean really need it you will find that you need to get more in the water and by putting more skeg in means there is more bite in the water and as often happens a wave or the wind will knock you off course and with lots of skeg in the water your kayak will be harder to turn/edge resulting with you lifting the skeg blade up adjusting your course and then setting it again --you can spend more time playing with a skeg than a rudder


The down side of a rudder is that a lot of paddlers get dependant on it and loose those skills that are needed in a seakayak one way or another

I would suggest a kayak that handle's well without either and that means no weathercocking or hard paddling in a following sea/quatering wind is the best choice then use your weapon of choice rudder or skeg

8-) it doesn't really matter
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Mark Sundin » Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:05 pm

Sorry one other often forgotten safety issue to do with rudders, apart from the often touted but doesn't often happen breakage, which I'll pose to you guys as question. You're paddling along in your ruddered kayak, & a wind from abeam of 25kn+ builds. Your paddling partner who is upwind, falls in. You lock your rudder hard to turn to help with a rescue, but the wind is so strong that the boat just keeps going straight. Sweep strokes don't work, & your mate is starting to get cold & desperate. What would you do...?
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby mick M » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:25 pm

keep gowing and tell enyone who asks " I was paddling alown " :lol:

seriosly fers thing I do is get the ruder out of the water , hall the main sheet in hard on the mizen sail, let the main on the forid sail fly, get ready to brace suverly, as this will almost every time whether cock the kayak, drop the sails, and padel back into the wind.
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby TIMAX » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:53 pm

Mark Sundin wrote:Sorry one other often forgotten safety issue to do with rudders, apart from the often touted but doesn't often happen breakage, which I'll pose to you guys as question. You're paddling along in your ruddered kayak, & a wind from abeam of 25kn+ builds. Your paddling partner who is upwind, falls in. You lock your rudder hard to turn to help with a rescue, but the wind is so strong that the boat just keeps going straight. Sweep strokes don't work, & your mate is starting to get cold & desperate. What would you do...?

I'd turn the rudder the the other direction and throw it into reverse to bring the nose around , then chuck it in drive and go for it!
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby Kels » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:48 pm

Mark Sundin wrote:Sorry one other often forgotten safety issue to do with rudders, apart from the often touted but doesn't often happen breakage, which I'll pose to you guys as question. You're paddling along in your ruddered kayak, & a wind from abeam of 25kn+ builds. Your paddling partner who is upwind, falls in. You lock your rudder hard to turn to help with a rescue, but the wind is so strong that the boat just keeps going straight. Sweep strokes don't work, & your mate is starting to get cold & desperate. What would you do...?


Hi Mark - I'm guessing this is a trick question but I'll bite... if you flick the rudder up the boat will weathercock towards your mate - the rudder is preventing the turn in your example. Of course you should also throw the boat onto its side to get it 'round fast and flashy! 8-)

Cheers,

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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby 580phil » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:58 pm

Too long on the K1

I think I got this all wrong. I never raced my K1 but I did train with racers. We were always trying to keep hips stable and the boat flat. Flopping from side to side was uncool and marked you out as a beginner. Lots of vertical paddle and shoulder and hip rotation. I remember watching the racers at a start - all paddIe extended at the line and the best keeping the boat pretty still. I spent years getting that right and now you want me to forget it? Wow I thought I was going so well.

All the flopping about, when beginning, used to stuff up my stroke. Eventually I got better at balancing the K1 and could concentrate on a nice stroke and the boat kept flat on its own. So I brought that technique into my sea kayaking - boat flat. It is also a sailing dinghy racing thing - flat boats are faster and better controlled.

I guess I can't get this until I have a go at it. I am pretty happy with my 580 and will not get another kayak, unless it is a double, so I am happily stuck on a ruddered boat anyway. I have to sell a few bigger boats before I should get some more kayaks in the quiver. So anyway -if someone gets an expert for their little group I would love a shout to come along and get the real deal. No rush but I would like to get some expert advice first hand.

As a cheeky answer to Mark's question. If the rudder is stopping you turning it must be at a negative angle of attack. This means it needs to be turned more. Most foils work up to about 8 degrees (very rough)So if you want to pivot on the spot and you do not want your rudder to reduce your turning ability you should be able to flick it about 82 degrees each side. Sounds dumb as no other boats do this but no other ruddered boats have assisted turning like kayaks. Really I would not expect anyone to do this - by lifting the rudder you move the centre of lateral resistance of the boat to the middle where it can pivot. But it could be done by super rotation.

cheers

Phil
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Re: Anti-rudder?

Postby schroeds » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:02 pm

There you go Phil, you now have a phd in rudders!

"hall the main sheet in hard on the mizen sail, let the main on the forid sail fly, get ready to brace suverly, as this will almost every time whether cock the kayak, drop the sails, and padel back into the wind."

.........Hey Captain Mick, do you do all that while standing on the poop deck yelling "Avast ye matey?!!"
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