Mini Outriggers

We first introduced our mini outriggers over ten years ago as a safety add on for novice canoe sailors. The idea behind them was to greatly add to the stability of the canoe for the less active sailor who didnt want to sit out to balance their canoe. Nevertheless it soon became apparent that they were also a benefit for the adventurous active sailor who wanted to push themselves in more challenging conditions to give themselves a greater margin of safety.

mini outriggers



The normal way we mount a pair of outriggers is on a laminated bent beam. The beam is 8ft long with about 9inches of upward curve. This holds the outriggers out of the water when the canoe is sailed level. This allows the sailor to balance the canoe with their body weight and feel the natural balance of their weight counterbalancing the sail .Even when the outriggers are held out of the water they have a stabilising effect on the feel of the canoe. Like a tightrope waker who uses a long pole to baalnce, the outriggers on their beam add greatly to the rotational momentum of the canoe, making it feel like a much larger craft. Any sudden gust from the wind has a slower effect on heeling the canoe, giving you more time to react to counterbalance the gust.


If you let the canoe heel to a nice sailing angle, the leeward outrigger will then rest on the surface of the water and the extra stability from the buoyancy in the outrigger will start to support you. The outrigger has a buoyancy of around 50lbs so as it gets pushed further into the water it has a large righting moment to help support the force from the sail.


mini outriggers

The outriggers are 4ft long and around 5inches wide so have a length to beam ratio of around 10 to 1. This shape has a very low wavemaking drag and doesnt noticably affect the balance of the helm. The outrigger can be driven along at 6 or 7 knots without any noticable slowing or turning effect on the canoe. If you are sitting right out to try and keep the canoe level, one of the risks is a sudden lull in the windstrength causing you to capsize to windward. The windward outrigger will prevent this and give you time to pull yourself back into the canoe.

We are often asked if the outriggers would work better if they were larger, but being larger outriggersbrings other problems. We manage to make these outriggers work with just a single beam. If they were much longer they would probably need to be supported by two beams. A second beam would really interfere with the space in the canoe and get in the way of paddling. Also we have found that at 50lbs on an 8ft beam, most people can right the canoe if you do get it wrong and manage to capsize. For several years this didnt appear to be a problem because we knew of no-one who had managed to accidentally capsize. However as people start to push their limits with large sails and increasing wind speeds we have seen accidental capsizes occasionally happen. With the outriggers on , an inverted canoe is very stable and if the beams were longer or the outriggers larger, capsize recovery becomes extremely difficult.

An article on capsize recovery with outriggers (click for the link)

As well as greatly reducing the risk of capsize, outriggers also make it much easier to get back onboard after a capsize. The outriggers are large enough on an 8ft beam, to support the weight of an average person sitting on the gunwale. Because the beam is bent upwards, you can lower the gunwale almost down to the waterlevel before the outrigger is fully loaded so reducing the freeboard that you have to get over to re-enter the canoe.

Our outriggers are made from g.r.p with a bonded on marine plywood deck. The bent beam is made from laminated marine plywood. We supply stainless assembly and fixing bolts.


A pair of outriggers on a bent beam- £450

Single outrigger alone- £150