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Rudders, Yea or Nay

    A rudder helps keep the boat on course and makes for easy direction changes using pressure on foot pedals rather than having to paddle incessantly on one side. In calm to light wind and wave conditions you may notice no need for one but as the weather kicks up you'll quickly see the advantages.

     Depending on who you talk to a rudder is either unnecessary or absolutely essential. Rather than depending on how someone else priortizes their needs, it's better to assess your own. What type of wind and water conditions do you intend to paddle in most often? Do you plan on paddling longer distances?

    In our kayak club we have members who paddle with and without rudders. Often we will have a paddle of 8 miles or more, sometimes along a windy, rough part of the coastline.  In these situations our rudder equipped members are smiling and enjoying themselves while the others are struggling to keep their boats on course. Any non-equipped rudder paddler that I know, in these situations, would gladly paddle a rudder equipped boat but even so you need to look at the majority of paddling you'll do and decide if the additional cost will make sense to you.

     Fortunately you don't have to decide before purchasing a boat. Rudders can easily be installed at any time you decide you'd benefit from one. One thing to think about before buying though is if you want to purchase a model that will be able to accept a rudder at some point. Not all models will. Most of the longer kayaks will have them as an option. Ask before buying or look at the specifications for the different models.