Sail Rig

I am about to start building a CH17LT from the kit.  I am pretty sure that in the future (Jan 2014?) I will build the Mk3 sailrig for use on this kayak.  Are there any things that I can easily do during the kayak build that will make adding the sailrig next year easier?  I am thinking about things like reinforcing the mast step and/or deck.  Thanks for the help.     

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RE: Sail Rig

Buy the plans and make the modifications while you build. If you are going the kit route for the sail rig, I think you can deduct the cost of the plans.   Dave

RE: Sail Rig

That's a good question. Some of what I have to say may be applicable to the kayak build, but the rest is just general things to think about when building the sail rig and adding it to the boat.

I built the 17LT and later added the sail kit. I have some posts somewhere in this forum on the things that I did to beef up the kayak for the added stress to the boat from the sail rig. Please go look for the posts and if you have questions about anything I did, I will answer. You might decide to do some of those things while building the kayak instead of after, like me.

One thing that comes to mind for the kayak building process, might be to increase the end poor in the aft end of the kayak. Your rudder takes a lot of stress. One thing I did after the fact was that I wrapped the end of the kayak in carbon fiber to add more strength. It was a carbon fiber blanket that simply wraps around the end and covers the back 14 inches of the kayak.

Depending on how you want to steer the boat, if want to add pedals to control the rudder, you might want to pre-drill the bulk heads where the control cables go through them and maybe pre-run the cables before attaching the deck - not a biggie either way

Also on the rudder controls, and I welcome disenting opinions, it was a pain to add rudder pedals after the kayak was finished. You might want to install them before the deck, but I am not too sure if this is a good idea or not.

When it comes to positioning the mast, I placed the rear aka too close to the back of the cockpit (maybe 2 inches) and my paddle stroke suffers as a result - I hit the aka. Also I think it added to additional weather helm - but John or somebody can correct me (please). You only have a small area to work with, but I'd increase the distance on my boat from about 2 inches to more like 4 inches if I could.

Most of the work I did on the kayak to support the sail system was around beefing up the underside of the deck, and the inside of the bottom, I did this using additional wood that spans the underside of the deck wall to wall, and additional wood on the inside of the bottom wall to wall and added carbon fiber (fiberglass would work) to cover it. I placed it inside my kayak and used a small floor jack on top of more wood over a plastic sheet to press the sandwich in place for drying - you cannot do this to the deck before installation because the deck has to curve during installation, but you can do the bottom. The pieces measure maybe 12 inches wide wall to wall. If that is not clear please let me know. The end result is that I have double thick floor and deck where the akas span the deck and also where the mast step takes all the stress. And it is a LOT of stress in big seas and winds.

I added additional wood (1 inch thick blocks) under the deck where the cleats and fairleads installed. But I'd wait on the wood supports for fairleads until you know where on the deck you want them (after building the sail rig). I also modified the aka attachment method and aka spacer and beefed up the mast step quite a bit - I think I mentioned this in my prior posts, but you have to build the kit first. I also added more wood to the aka spacers to make them thicker - probably overkill, but look at my forum name for a personality hint. One last thing and I think this is important, on the lee board, coat that sucker with fiberglass or make it thicker or do both. Mine smapped off in rough seas right at the mount and it was not even all the way down. I think some flex might be necessary to alieviate stress, so I won't use carbon fiber there (maybe only at the attachment point?).

You will love the sail rig, or at least I do. Can't wait for spring. I am shooting for the "Run For The Border" race in California this july. I will make some changes to the rudder assembly/controls. I added a hand tiller for redundancy that saved my big oceam crossing trip from disaster.

Good luck. Happy to help you if I can.


RE: Sail Rig

Sorry, for some reason my long post went online without my user name. It is "what could go wrong" in case that helps your search.

RE: Sail Rig

I would concur with What Could Go Wrong in that his posts on the subject are worth looking up. I recall his posts well here and his experiences are well worth the read. Something's I'm not sure of as far as assembly prior to the rig. For example I cut the hole in the attached deck placed a piece if my mast in it then where it came to rest keeping the mast vertical was where I epoxied it in place.  One essentially directed tbe other. 

Said another way, don't put in the mast step then attach the deck and cut the hole in the deck. If I'm stating something too obvious here my apologies.

A word of advice: 


My west river 180 wa supposed to have it's sailrig built right after the kayak was completed . In reality years went by. I was happy, I was paddling - and fast - but I always hemmed and hawed at the idea of should I or shouldn't I.  Once I finally hoisted sail in the sailrig I kicked myself for ever debating it.  Do yourself a big favor and immediately launch into the sailrig build. Don't debate it or rationalize why it's ok not to - just do it. When you see how effortless the speed is, how extended your range has become and how utterly stable a tri-hull is you'll love it.  







RE: Sail Rig

Thanks very much for the tips and advise.  I had also called CLC and asked them this question and like above, the primary discussion revolved around the rudder.  After some thought, I have pretty much decided to go with the CLC sailing rudder kit, tiller steered only.  I really don't like using a rudder when paddling and many of the places I kayak are too shallow anyway.  I am a long time sailor so tiller steering is more natural for me.  I will certainly take the advise and make sure the stern end pour is substantial.

My 17LT kit shipped yeaterday and I will start it in a couple of weeks.  I have three weeks off work (wife has to work) and my dad is coming to visit so we will build it together.  In actuality, I will do most of the work while he drinks beer and makes suggestions (as it should be).  I anticipate having the kayak complete or nearly so when I have to go back to work.

Unless I really dislike building the 17LT (my first build), I will start the sailing rig a year from now when dad comes back down.  I don't have room for a long term project in my garage and I want to spend my off time on the water and not working a project when the weather gets nice.  When I do start the sailing rig, I will study this forum closely.  I am sure that I will have more questions as I go.

Thanks again for the help.

RE: Sail Rig

I thought about adding a rig to my 17LT.  Mark N--throw in some in some pictures if you can  so we can  see how it's going. The next best thing to doing a build is watching someone else do one.

Thanks :)

RE: Sail Rig

Oh the rudder thing...

My west river 180 was NEVER paddled with a rudder. I didn't like the idea of squishy or frctionful cable lines and such but let me tell you straightaway - the clc rudder that comes with the plans is a beautiful thing. I added some mods to the rudder profile - 20% leading edge ahead of the pivot point so its balanced. I was shocked at the success. I couldn't point a course - temporarily let go of the rudder as it sat on the akas and the thing just layed there like it was attached to nothing!  There's that initial slight pressure as you steer but once its in place - a banced rudder is so effective its deceptive. My rudder extends 14" below the keel line. Despite my kayak having a STRAIGHT keel that doesn't like turning its gives way to rudder control impressively.  Prior to sailing I wondered if the straight tracking kayak would have steering failure - it was the first thing I tested and when I saw my now swinging port and starboard with tiller sweeps I was greatly satisfied. My tiller comes up along my right and I push to go right, pull to go left. I love it.

When I paddle its merely eye bolts poking out the stern unobtrusively and the craft is a clean machine. True to Harris' statements : IOU do get your kayak back.


One of the major pluses of the sailrig is low wind efficiency. You aren't plowing a 600lb. Day sailor barge through the sea but a super light highly efficient kayak hull and at any one time, one AMA.  Light zephyrs will push you along surprisingly well.  Upwind efficiency while not quite as high as a laser is still very good and it'll get you where you want.  Oddly, for as good as it is on low wind, it paddles like a dog . In my experience though the wind has to be truly becalmed to make it worthwhile. Even 5-7 knots will move you along. Nothing like 15 but yyou'll make passage .


just don't let a decade flyby - get the thing sailing when you can.



RE: Sail Rig

IOU was meant to be you


couldnt was meant to be could in the clc rudder paragraph. 



I love and hate auto correct.




RE: Sail Rig


thanks for your posts. I've been sitting on sailrig plans for about half a year and your posts have pretty much got me stoked for a spring build. Guess a few trips to Annapolis will be in order!


RE: Sail Rig

Couple of rudder questions for Pete:

Did you build the rudder from plans or from the kit?  If you don't mind, could you share more details regarding the rudder modification?  A picture or drawing would be wonderful.  Did you rig a line so that you can pull the rudder down while seated in the kayak?  Lastly, what did you use for the tiller stick?

The light wind sailing qualities that you describe are exactly what I am looking for.  We have a 25' Nimble Arctic yawl that is great trailerable cruiser but not much of a light wind sailor.  I primarily plan to use the kayak to day sail on those hot light wind summer days in Florida where the Nimble stays on the trailer.  Who knows, maybe I will eventually take on more of an adventure like the Florida 120 or Water Tribe event.

I don't want to get to far ahead of myself because I have not built the kayak yet.  The kit arrives today and I will start the build in two weeks.

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