Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Booms: Aluminum vs. Wood

I hate it when this happens... it ruins all the fun.

OK Folkboat Class, raise your hand if you've ever broken a boom during a race. Keep your hands up if it was an important race when it happened. I've broken a boom and I've seen a bunch blow up also. Since our class rules won't let us make them thick enough, in just a few short seasons the wood flexes and flexes then... breaks. Then you are out of the race. This is a Peter Lyons photo taken on day two of the SF Cup. It's a great picture for several reasons. One, it showcases the first ever use of an aluminum boom on a Folkboat in SF(GBR 718). Two, in the same picture DEN 1130 is showcased moving very fast and keeping up with the front of the fleet with wood boom(wood hull too). Three, it's gusting over 40+ knots. Now the wood is beautiful and all, I'm not anti-wood, buy here's the clincher for me... in this very race the wood boom broke and the Danes sailing the boat were forced to retire. That had to suck.

When I went to Europe last summer to race in the Swedish International Championship and the Gold Cup, half the boats had aluminum booms. They are stiff, last a long time, don't break in half and require far less maintenance. The John Mast booms have 4 sliding adjustable attachment points... 2 for the mainsheet and 2 for the vang. The outhaul is internal with a purchase system so it literally takes 2 minutes to take the old one off and put on the new one and you are good to go. All you need is a shackle to hold the clue of the main, done. I'm getting one. Not because I need one, but because eventually I will. I also keep a spare mast around, but that's another story. One has already been sold to US 103, Peter Jeal said to me he wanted one and 8 more are on their way from Denmark.
The downside is the load is transferred to the gooseneck and mast track because cranking on the vang can be done without fear of snapping the boom. I suppose a heavy duty support plate on the mast will be next... speaking of which, you should see the goose neck on Peter Jeal's boat... he made it himself, I've been bugging him for years to build me one just like it, but he hasn't done it yet. Peter, please?
Regardless of your love affair with wood, aluminum booms are being brought over, will be used and are available if you want one... very soon, see classifieds for more information.


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