Start with adjusting footbraces. If you go for a longer tour or are experienced with adjusting paddings then go ahead with it on dry land and keep a good eye on all parts that might fall off. They may become expensive to replace. Most of the tuning will be done in your brain and body and that is where kayaking classes come in. Our teaching experience and your focus on techinques will be put into practice by finding locations and situations where you can use them. However when you choose your boat and pack for a tour you can choose
to place your heavy gear in from of front compartment or in the back for beneficial weather cocking. Heavy things would be put close to midships and low to increase stability, while sometimes you may want to increase or decrease your kayaks steering and surfing sensitivity by keeping or moving weight forward or backwards.
Sea Kayak tracking and steering
Directional stability and steering is to be considered when choosing a kayak. The most appareant detail on a kayak is the availability or the lack of a rudder. Another popular option is to have a skeg, especially if your kayak is called a Brittish style Sea Kayak. The third option is to have no movable parts to assist in tracking or steering. This third option relies all the way on the hull shape for maintaining or avoidance of tracking. In some paddlesports such as canoe polo tracking properties would only slow down you as a player.
Rudder equipped boats are faster to paddle. Without a rudder the paddler needs to use extra strokes to maintain or to change direction. A multitude of strokes that we and other sea kayakers teach are not driving the kayak forwards. They have other benefits. Replace one forwards stroke with a stern rudder and you will loose some travel distance per hour. The more steering strokes you use, the more you will loose. By using a retractable skeg you may reduce the number of corrective strokes needed compared to a boat that has no steering or tracking aid at all. Forward driving strokes replace corrective strokes in a rudder boat and therefore the travel speed increases. The drag of the rudder is a minor effect in the equation. Lost or a broken rudders can give drawbacks of varying seriousness. If it is stuck or bent it may steer into one direction. If it has fallen off, then manouverability is totally up to the properties of the hull, and those properties can vary a lot. Hull and deck shapes can make kayaks turn up or down from the wind, chines in the hull may cause the boat to respond with a turn when edged or when paddled through a wave.
Retractable fins or skegs in the back under the boat are popular in Sea Kayaks. It may be a trend and it drives paddlers to a necessity of learning strokes that are fun to learn and may be handy in rough waters with cliffs, narrow passages and shallows. A well functioning skeg would retract if hitting an underwater object. It can break just as well as a rudder but that would not be a disaster since most skeg boats are designed to behave well even without the skeg. Variations exist, some boats may become seriously impaired in stronger winds.