Kai Wa'a Rudder Quiver


For the last couple of years I’ve been asked if we offer a deeper rudder for our canoes. For so long I've been happy with the Standard Rudder I designed, why?, because it works with our designs and we have never needed anything bigger or deeper in terms of rudders to help control our canoes. Our canoes handle any condition you throw at them so we have never been caught up in the thought to created a deeper rudder. Well.., Covid hit and more time than I needed was on my hands so I decided to hit the design table. Amongst some bigger projects that I enjoyed working on (that we will see next season), I decided to also put some time into developing a small quiver of rudders to contribute towards some of the conditions we generally see during our seasons of paddling as well as our world wide reach through our Ozone distribution. Flat water, medium surf, and good open ocean bumps are the three cornerstones we looked at.




First is our FLAT WATER RUDDER. In 2004 I developed one for our Pegasus canoe but it had a little too much sway in it when pushing through flat conditions so it caused more effort in always keeping the canoe on track so speeds weren’t heavily improved. During those tests I lost interest but knew one day I would have to get back to focusing on this project.

With our worldwide reach these days I felt it was time to get on it. I made several prototypes in different shapes and sizes, all of which I was happy with but in the end I had to chose one. Here she is, a small vertical rudder with enough grab to handle small wind bumps, afternoon sea breezes, and hold a line in flat water with very minimal drag on your hull. We have done all our testing here on Maui in an assortment of conditions and are very happy with the outcome of this rudder. If you paddle a good amount of flat water, this rudder will hand you a freer experience with more release.



Next is our MID WATER RUDDER. This rudder we originally designed for our Vega Surfski. With a Surfski you don’t need as much maneuverability as you do with an OC-1 so we made several prototypes for the Vega that were smaller than our Standard OC-1 rudder. One shape was similar to our Standard rudder shape, but smaller, and the other was a little shorter with the bottom cut off. In the end we preferred the smaller rudder with the flat bottom edge. With this mid water rudder, we really enjoyed the performance on the Vega and thought it would be fun to try it on an Ares. To our surprise, on the Ares, she ran really nice especially in a moderate wind (10-20 knots). In 10-20 knots of wind she has plenty of grab, but due to smaller surface area she had a bit less drag and it was noticeable. I did push it in heavier winds and she ran nice but you have to anticipate more. In moderate winds she shines. This rudder would be a great all around rudder for most conditions and if you are looking to optimize your performance, having a quiver of rudders helps in taking advantage of every condition.


Finally our GALE FORCE RUDDER. Honestly, I’ve been dodging this rudder for sometime because I didn’t want to follow a trend set on by others that were trying to fix their problems. The Ares, and all of our designs in the past handle great in the roughest of conditions with our Standard rudder so I never saw the NEED to fix anything with our rudder depth and design. What pushed me to move forward with the Gale Force rudder was the couple of inquiries that came through from time to time and the desire to play with designing up some prototypes for fun during this time at home because of Covid.


With the Gale Force rudder, I wanted to find a deeper rudder to assist in tracking when the paddler chooses a line and also the fun challenge of finding minimal drag in a deeper rudder. I didn’t want to necessarily find a rudder that turned my canoe harder because I would then have a rudder with a lot of drag. I wanted, simply, more control and to me control is finding your direction and holing it. I have tried other canoes out there with deep rudders and found they felt as if I was dragging a small bucket behind me, all the drag felt like it was back in the tail of the canoe as well, traits I didn’t want in my designs. I made several prototypes here on Maui to play with in our windiest of conditions. The troughs are shorter here so in windy conditions the rudder grab is very important and crucial. Some of the designs we did got the thumbs up and others felt like a touch of drag so we tossed those out right off the bat. We riddled through the designs and came down to two somewhat similar prototypes.

The first manufactured Gale Force rudder didn’t pass the test either so we sent it back in to get modified for better efficiency. The final product is finally here and runs well. I personally love the tracking aspect and line holding performance of the Gale Force rudder. The rudder doesn’t shift your canoe hard left to right and nor would you want it to but it does the trick when you need it to. This rudder has become my choice of rudders when doing a good downwind because of the hold in direction and it’s hold in some critical positions. If you are looking for a little more confidence on your steering in heavier winds then this is your rudder.

It was definitely fun to get the creative juices going and designing again in 2020. Stoked to be able to better serve our worldwide community with a quiver of rudders that will excel in the conditions they paddle in. Enjoy!


Rudders available in our online SHOP for the following models:

ARES OC1 - Gale Force Rudder, Mid-Water Rudder, Flat Water Rudder

ANTARES OC1 - Gale Force Rudder, Mid-Water Rudder, Flat Water Rudder

GEMINI OC2 - Gale Force Rudder, Flat Water Rudder

VEGA SURFSKI - Flat Water Rudder

VEGA FLEX SRUFSKI - Flat Water Rudder



Aloha! Kai






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