I knew that for very long kayak journeys I would want a sail on my kayak so I could be reasonably certain to cover the longest stretches (sometimes upwards of 50 miles) without being too exhausted, and because there is a limited amount of time I can devote to kayaking endeavors before I have to be back at work. Covering long distances when the wind allows was therefore essential. There are several kayak sails brands, each with different strengths and weaknesses. The ideal features of a kayak sail are that it be light weight, easy to setup, easy deployment and deck storage, robustness, and some upwind capability. The Falcon Sail does a good job at fulfilling most of these criteria.
The Falcon Sail mast and boom are both made of carbon fiber which makes them light and strong. The sail is resistant to tearing but also light weight and has batons for extra rigidity. All metal components, including screws and pad eyes and hooks are chrome plated, and I have not seen any rust develop, even though I have gone several days without washing off the saltwater.
The YouTube video below from Falcon Sails goes into detail through the entire set up process.
Many kayak sails are made to be strictly downwind sails. While the Falcon Sail works best downwind, it is possible to use it in a beam reach, and even sail slightly into the wind. This of course depends on the kayak, with the more V-shaped boats having the ability to sail the tightest reach. With the Taran, I have found that anything much tighter than a beam reach quickly becomes inefficient and will be easier to just paddle.
The Falcon Sail has three versions; a 1 square meter, and 1.1 square meter, and a 1.4 square meter. I pondered which size to choose, and decided to buy the 1 square meter sail; my reasoning being that the smaller sail will be usable in a greater range of conditions. My experience has been that the small sail provides more than enough power, and if winds are more than 25 mph, I would probably not use the sail at all.
SURFING WITH THE SAIL
While catching green waves under sail is a lot of fun, I religiously avoid being under sail if there are large breaking waves, or any condition that may require me to brace into the wave to avoid being rolled. Getting packed into a barrel while under sail will very likely damage the sail and the kayak, and one’s self (I once dislocated a shoulder). I also stow away the sail whenever I go to land.
The YouTube Video below from Falcon Sails shows how to paddle with the sail. On strong winds you will find yourself having to lean quite a bit to keep your balance.
ROLLING WITH THE SAIL
Rolling with a deployed sail is not a good idea. When stowed, however, I have found that I only need to adjust my technique slightly and will make wide sweeping movements with the paddle to avoid having it caught under the sail. This is especially needed, if the paddle is leashed. I can roll on either side, but to avoid sail issues with rolling, it's better to have the stow location on your weak rolling side.
It is possible to roll with the sail deployed, but it is quite difficult, and your technique needs to be be very refined. The lines should also be lose so that the mast won't be raised when you come back up, or you might damage your boat. The YouTube Video below from Falcon Sails shows how to do a roll with the sail, but I don't recommend trying, especially in difficult conditions.
STOWING THE SAIL
When not in use, the sail is stowed on the deck on either side and is secured in place with bungee cords. My experience is that in order to properly secure the sail and ensure that it does not come loose, two to four bungees should be used, and they should be in a cross pattern with the hooks alternating between high and low. That way any lateral movement that may dislodge a set of bungees from their hooks will be countered by the opposing bungees. This is especially important when surfing breakers, or while out in very rough conditions. If the sail ever comes loose, it will inevitably be during the worst possible moment, because only rough conditions will dislodge the stowed sail. See the photos below for how I did my set up.
I would like to say here that Falcon Sails has very good customer service. Patrick, the owner, is very responsive to emails text messages and phone calls with questions, and will help you out with replacement parts if you get in a bind during an expedition. He gives peace of mind that you won't be left hanging if you run into any issues.