Sailing Santa Cruz Kayaks E-mail
Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:00

Jim Martin is the innovative designer of the Raptor, and owner of Santa Cruz Kayaks. It gets windy almost every day on the Monterey Bay, and of course, that got Jim to thinking.....Take a look at his slick sail design and don't be surprised if a product hits the market soon.

 

It seems as though 80 percent of my fishing trips result in wind picking up by mid-day. This usually gets me to thinking about what would be the perfect sailing rig for my kayak. I like the way some of the other rigs worked, but they just didn't have the control I wanted. I wanted a sail that would allow me to sail upwind without having to drop a leeboard. Stability is also an issue. In a kayak without amas (outrigger pontoons), stability gets challenged so having a way to quickly and safely reef (release the sail) is paramount.

raptor.sail I came up with an idea that I thought could work. I had to fabricate a roller furling set up in order to quickly reef no matter what the conditions were. The sail needed to be positioned behind the cockpit and not have any support lines. I borrowed a friend’s Hobie sail for the initial test. The kayak sailed along ok... The second test flight I added the Kayak Sailor to the front. That test was a success and allowed me to understand how the kayak would handle. It also popped the idea in my head about fabricating a roller-furling jib next.

I did a little research to learn how a furling system should work, then came up with a design that could quickly be attached. The whole rig can be set up or taken down in 3 minutes. A few snips on another sail, some duct tape and a few stitches later I had a jib sail... now I just needed wind and good timing to allow me to get OTW.

When unfurled, the main sail acts like a weather vane, pointing the kayak into the wind. To shift either direction you only have to travel the boom over using the control lines that also act as a "mainsheet" dumping wind out of the sail if needed. When in doubt, let it out, is how the saying goes. To give you better control, just un-furling the jib sail will balance out the whole rig, allowing you to steer using only the jib sheet and light pressure on the rudder.

The Raptor has a hybrid hull design that is half catamaran and half paddleboard. The unique keels along each pontoon work like skegs to prevent side slippage. This cool rig turns the kayak into a sailboat. It's a lot of fun to sail. Several times I've sailed it in 10+ knot winds and not tipped it over yet, although the last attempt on the ocean was a bit unnerving. I was sailing alone and not really dressed for immersion in 49-degree water. I reefed heavily that day, but still managed to confidently maintain control, including in and out through the surf.

 

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