I damaged the rudder on my Fenn Swordfish when trying to carry my boat in a howling south-easter. I was keen to try an elliptical rudder, so bought an Orka Elliptica rudder from The Paddling Centre, leaving the original with them to be repaired.
I have heard paddlers mention a “downwind rudder”, or elliptical rudder, which supposedly makes steering when catching runs easier. As pretty much the only time I am falling out of the boat at the moment is when trying to catch runs, I though this would be a great opportunity to try out an elliptical rudder.
The ever friendly, super helpful Dawid Mocke at The Paddling Centre quickly helped me switch the rudders out. The shaft of the rudder is a bit long, and he had to add some washers below the T-piece as spacers to attached the rudder correctly, and then the shaft was a bit long and pressed up on the cover of the steering device, which he solved by duct-taping the cover firmly down. In the long-term I will no doubt just trim off the extra length.
What a difference it makes! I spend a morning paddling in-and-out of small surf at Fish Hoek Beach. It takes some getting used to as initially it made the steering on my Fenn Swordfish feel really twitchy and over-sensitive, and a heavy foot resulted in feeling like I was close to getting tossed out the ski! After getting used to the response I was able to exert far more control over the steering of the ski in all situations, specifically — and most importantly — when surfing in on swell and catching waves. I still need to experiment a little with the adjustments of my pedals to find out what works best for me, and then I need loads of practice!
Naturally everyone has their own opinion and preference, and a quick search on some of the forums will enlighten you. I do urge you to try one out for yourself and see how it works for you!
Here is a brief outline on some different rudder designs: www.thinkkayak.com.au
R450.00 @ The Paddling Centre