While tracking is such a simple concept, it can be so challenging to get right for many new kayakers. Luckily there are easy ways you can improve your tracking skills quickly and efficiently.
What are easy ways to improve your kayak tracking? Easy ways to improve your kayak’s tracking include installing a rudder or a skeg to help combat the wind that causes the kaya to turn and go off track. You also need to make sure your kayak is in a good condition and work on executing proper paddling techniques and maintaining a good body posture.
Keep reading to learn more useful tips that would help you quickly improve your tracking.
8 Pro Tips to Improve Your Kayak’s Tracking Quickly
1. Choose The Right Type of Kayak
The kayak’s design has a huge impact on its ability to track well.
Kayaks that are designed with longer hulls are known to track better. But they’re not as efficient when it comes to maneuverability, so turning the kayak to one side can be somewhat difficult. They’re the most suitable for beginners.
If you are looking for kayak upgrade, you can check my picks for the best kayaks under $500 here.
2. Installing a Rudder or a Skeg for Proper Tracking
A rudder is a moveable fin that drops down the back of the kayak. A skeg, however, extends and retracts from the bottom of the kayak and acts similarly to an anchor.
Both are used to aid in steering the kayak and counteract different factors that can cause your kayak to go off course.
You can use the rudder or skeg when there are winds pushing the kayak from the rear making it hard to track and stay in a straight line. You can also use a rudder or skeg when the waves are coming to the side of the kayak making it difficult to keep the kayak straight.
For a full guide on proper tracking, check out this simple guide on kayak tracking.
3. Choose The Right Type of Paddle Blades
There are three main paddle blade types – Feather blades, asymmetrical blades, and curved blades.
Asymmetrical blades are good for tracking straight while curved blades are good for creating more powerful strokes.
Feather blades, on the hand, are the most common with beginners. They’re easier to use and they reduce wind resistance which gives the kayak more momentum to keep it moving forward in a straight line.
As you gain more experience, you can switch between different types of blades to see which one fits your paddling style better.
4. Choose The Appropriate Size for Your Paddle
Choosing the appropriate paddle size can help you a lot with improving your paddling technique and avoiding getting fatigued quickly.
This generally depends on the size of your torso as it determines the distance between you and the water when you’re in the kayak. So, the longer your torso is, the longer paddle needs to be.
However, many expert kayakers recommend using a shorter paddle for beginners who are working on improving their tracking.
A shorter paddle is easier to use and it enables you to track better as it can be used as a rudder. The ideal length for a paddle is about 210-220 cm for a kayak that is under 25 inches of width.
5. Make Sure You’re Holding Your Paddle Correctly
The position of your hands when holding the paddle should be a shoulder width apart and your elbows need to be at a 90-degree angle. This position is commonly known as “the paddler’s box.”
It’s a good idea to use some tape to mark down where your hands are positioned on the paddle so you can make sure you’re always holding it the same way every time you use it.
You can also check this simple video below to see how to properly use a Kayak paddle.
6. Practice Properly Executing Different Paddle Strokes
First you need to learn that there are different kinds of paddle strokes that kayakers use to achieve different goals. It’s important to perfect all kinds of strokes to be able to control your kayak and track better.
In order to execute your strokes properly, you need to match your strokes on both sides of the kayak. This means you need to make sure that your paddle is sweeping the water at the same distance from the kayak on each side.
You also need to make sure your paddle is hitting the water with the same amount of force on each side. If your paddle dips into the water a little deeper on one side, more momentum will be generated from that stroke resulting in throwing your kayak off track
7. Maintain A Good Body Posture
How your body is positioned in the kayak has a great impact over how well your kayak tracks.
To improve your posture, keep your body upright and bend your legs slightly. Also try to rely more on your core muscles to power your strokes while relying on the muscles in your shoulders for extra support. This will allow you to rotate your upper body better and give your arms more freedom to paddle efficiently.
Keep your feet rested on the foot rests and not push too hard on one or both of them because applying too much force on one footrest while paddling can cause your kayak to go off track.
You also need to distribute your weight evenly by rotating your hips to shift your body weight and avoid putting pressure on one side of the kayak.
8. Keep Your Kayak in A Good Condition
Old or cheap kayaks are more prone to damage from use. Shallow cuts and small scrapes won’t have any effect on the ability of your kayak to track well. However, you need to be concerned about larger scrapes and deeper dents as these will affect the way the water flows against the bottom of the kayak and cause the kayak to track badly.
So, you need to make sure to properly maintain your kayak and to regularly check it for any signs of damage to be able to make repairs accordingly.
How to Install a Rudder to A Kayak?
To install a rudder to a kayak you need to attach the mounting bracket to the stern by drilling a hole in the kayak then slide the rudder into the mounting bracket. Next install the lift lines in their designated holes and make sure they can move freely. Finally, insert the line through the holes in the back and connect them to the foot pedals on each side.
How to Fix the Scrapes On the Bottom of Your Kayak?
You can fix any scrapes on the bottom of the kayak by sanding the hull using a 400-grit sandpaper. You can also apply a gel coat to make the hull smooth and reduce the friction. Fixing the scrapes would help improve the ability of the kayak to track well.