Fenn Elite S rudder recommendation

4 months 1 week ago - 4 months 1 week ago #33946 by atlanticsup
I've recently purchased a Elite S after having a Swordfish S for 18 months.  The Swordfish S has been great, but I just decided to see if I could get used to the Elite S and was pleasantly surprised. In the rough stuff does not feel that much off the Swordfish though admittedly I needed to change my remount technique (haven't fallen yet but I tried a remount after my 2nd paddle and found I could not remount at all. So quick look online and a new method has made it pretty easy).

So the Elite S is magic, it just seems to have that extra to hop waves. Only thing I still am not convinced about is the rudder, and I feel that it is not ideal for heavy downwinders. I've had recommendation to change to an Orka Elliptical and seen some paddlers use this and rave about it. I have also been recommended an Orka Sharkfin by a top paddler as he reackons the Elliptical may be a bit overpowering (this rudder tends to lean into direction of steer) and not needed (and I suspect also more all-rounder in flatter conditions). 

I suspect the answer is to try both and see which suits me best but would appreciate anyone's experience on the Elite S and trying different rudders.

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4 months 1 week ago #33947 by robin.mousley
I paddle a Swordfish S, but used to paddle an Elite, and have paddled a friend's Elite S a couple of times.

For the stuff that I do (more or less constant downwinds in choppy water), I'm bullet-proof in the Swordfish S and have several of my best times, including my best two times in the Swordie - so I have no feeling of FOMO when it comes to "elite" level boats, except in the most flat of races - which occur very seldom anyway.

My buddy who paddles the Elite S swears by the elliptical rudder - says the boat tracks straighter and, at low speeds, turns better.  If you're a super-elite hero paddler who can turn 360 degrees by leaning at just the right time, then no, perhaps you could stick with the shark-fin rudder, but in my observation, those paddlers are few and far between and have paddled all their lives...  by far the majority of paddlers will primarily use their rudder to turn.

On the Swordfish, I use a DK rudder from Don Kiesling in the US - it's even more effective than the elliptical rudder and I recommend it to the hilt.  The best thing about the rudder is that it keeps the boat super-straight...  Even on the flat, I think it increases my speed - perhaps by reducing the amount of fish-tailing when I'm really paddling hard.  

You never want to use a lot of rudder at speed - as your friend says, an efficient rudder will induce roll in the boat if you stamp on it when you're moving fast.  The shark-fin rudder is almost useless at speed anyway - the meat of the rudder is behind the pin, so it becomes harder and harder to turn, the faster you're traveling. It also has a horrible-shaped, flat cross-section, so it stalls very easily.  The elliptical rudder is easier to turn at all speeds because it's balanced - but that also means you can over-use it at high speed and induce roll.  The elliptical has an airfoil cross section so it stalls less easily than the shark-fin.

The DK rudder has the best of both worlds, being super-effective, but also balanced so that it does tighten up a little at speed - so it's difficult to over-use it.  

So IMO, it's definitely worth putting a more effective rudder on the boat - try it for yourself.  And if you can, try the DK rudder, it's awesome.  Get hold of Don at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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4 months 1 week ago #33948 by MCImes
Ditto to everything rob said.

The shark fin shape is junk. Do not bother with it
Elliptical is slightly better but still inferior to the airfoil shape of DK rudders
I highly recommend a DK High chord rudder in whatever length makes sense for your conditions (~9" for downwind is a pretty good start)

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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4 months 1 week ago #33951 by DMax
I also want to second all the Rob says about the DK rudder.  I replaced the stock standard rudder on my Stella SR with a 9inch DK surf rudder and it was like paddling a different boat!  I have recently done the same on my Swordfish S, primarily for tracking and stability when paddling downwind and in confused refracted ocean waters off the Sydney coast.  When paddling in flat or calmer waters in Sydney harbour, with the DK rudder, I've found no reduction in boat speed.  I couldn't recommend Don's rudders highly enough!

Cheers, Dave

Current boat: Fenn Swordfish S (Hybrid layup).
Previous boats: Epic V8 (Performance layup), Stella SR (Excel layup).

Location: Sydney, Australia.

"The sea lives in every one of us" - Robert Wyland.

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4 months 1 week ago #33957 by atlanticsup
I'm going to try borrow an elliptical rudder, as the DK fin is not really around here and I have not seen anyone else using on on an Elite S. On my swordfish S, the elliptical transformed the ski so much and has made it a really fun (and fast) ski (can't imagine if I would feel the difference on the DK rudder but there must be something to it).

I would love Fenn to take a bit more effort on the rudders though as they are doing themselves a disservice to their amazing skis - interestingly I have tried the Sharkfin rudder (admittedly in flattish conditions) and found it much more responsive than the standard Fenn rudder. 

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