Oxford shell - is skeg necessary

Hi. I'm looking at building an Oxford shell. I'm wondering about the skeg though. Is it really necessary. I'm concerned because it seems to be the weakest part of the hull - a good place for water entry and easily damaged - especially in the very shallow waterway where I will be using it.

cheers and thanks



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RE: Oxford shell - is skeg necessary

I don't know if a skeg is absolutely necessary because I have never seen any shell (singles all the way through eights) without one.  I suspect it is however, knowing that with a sliding seat rigging you will be going fast enough it would be awkward (you would dump in the water) to end up sideways in the water when you least expect it. The skeg hopefully keeps you going straight.


I don't think it is that easily damaged, as it is held in place only by caulking, and could pop out if you struck something.  Also, it is sealed in with epoxy and fillet, so if the skeg comes out, it still won't leak.





RE: Oxford shell - is skeg necessary

On a traditional shell, even the wood hulls made by Levator, they are all round bottom hulls, so they will not track without a skeg.

With your oxford kit, having a V shape just like all the other kayak kits, it will likely track ok under your control with the sculls.

If you use a skeg, lightly silicone it in place, designing it to come out if it strikes something. Trace it out on cardboard to save in case you hit something out on the water and lose it, so you can make another.

On another note, if John designed the skeg into the kit, he did so for a good reason. I would call CLC directly and ask, since they have rowed the hull. 

Don't worry about rowing in shallow water. Your oars will hit bottom long before your skeg does.


RE: Oxford shell - is skeg necessary

I had the same question when I was finishing my Oxford shell. I did water trials with and without the skeg.

The craft tracks noticeably straighter and is easier to handle with the skeg. Without the skeg, any out-of-true in the hull (especially at the bow) will make for a tendency to sloooowly turn in one direction. It's manageable, but in the middle of a work-out without the skeg I had to apply a very small amount of consistent extra pressure on one leg during the drive to keep tracking straight. (I suppose that this could have just been my technique though - I had been a sweep rower up until launching my Oxford shell.) Addition of the skeg completely got rid of this turning tendency with no further trimming or rigging required.  

RE: Oxford shell - is skeg necessary

In my experience, the Oxford Shell goes from being a fast and fun rec shell to being almost unusable when the skeg is left off. I've never been in a shell, racing, rec, or otherwise, that didn't have a skeg about that size, shape, and location.

We take the skeg off when transporting our demo model sometimes, which leads to its inevitable misplacement right before the demo.  I'm sure we've had some demos with a missing skeg that left prospective builders thinking, 'What was WRONG with that boat!'

RE: Oxford shell - is skeg necessary


How right you are.  Case in point:  Okoumefest 2009.  You did not get teh skeg on teh boat and I found it very hard to keep on track.  the skeg is definitely necessary.


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