Steering Systems

There are many features and options that the designer can choose to include or omit with the overall decision being dependent on the end benefit or performance that he/she would like the boat to have or do.

The different features to consider when looking to purchase a canoe, kayak, sea kayak or sit-on-top can be found under each heading. 



There are 2 types of steering systems generally used to control the rudder on a recreational kayak or sea kayak. These are "fixed pad with hinged flap" control or "sliders".


Fixed Pad with Flap Steering System

Australis use the "fixed pad with a hinged flap" steering system because: 

  • the fixed pad system supports a better paddling technique because it gives you leverage from the firm platform to brace against when paddling; 
  • the boat runs straight as part of its normal course and you only touch the flaps when you want it to turn; 
  • because the flap is a hinged mechanism, the chances of sand getting caught in the steering mechanism is virtually eliminated. 


Sliders Steering System

Australis do not use the "sliders" steering system  because: 

  • you need to physically hold the slides parallel to get the kayak to run straight. If your feet are not positioned exactly even, you will tend to skew in one direction; 
  • when you paddle, you need to be able to get leverage by bracing off the boat with your feet. Sliding footrests make this difficult, because each time that you try to brace, you will get a slight movement of the slide and therefore twitching of the rudder. 
  • when sand gets into the mechanism, the sliding action can jam. 

The first plastic sea kayak that Australis made, the "Trilogy", had "sliding" footrests.

We originally used this system, because from our market research we were told that "ease of adjustment" was the most important feature that people were looking for;

We perservered with this system for a little while, but decided to change to the "fixed pad with the hinged flap control" system because we know that it gives a better paddling experience; 

Whilst the "fixed pad with flap control" steering system takes a little longer than "sliders" to adjust, we believe that the superior paddling that you will experience, far outweighs the extra 60 seconds that it takes to set your footrests.

Also, once you have your kayak set up to your personal preferences, there is generally very little (if any) need to alter the adjustments.

Some designers choose to use "sliders" because:

  • when you have people of different heights, they believe that this system is quicker and easier to adjust; 
  • this systems seems less complicated to adjust for people of different sizes.