Understanding the staysail boom

  • May 25, 2020 2:53 PM
    Message # 8992061

    Why is it there?

    A hundred years ago William Atkin designed the 32 foot Eric which we know became the modern day Westsail 32. He included the staysail boom as part of the design. When the Westsail Corp. built the 32 they included the staysail boom, all the necessary hardware and had the sailmaker include a jack line on the staysail. It would have been much easier and cheaper not to include the boom. Was it included to make the boat look more traditional? Was it included for self tacking so us lazy sailors would have just one line to pull instead of two? Was it included so the sail would not collapse in light air? And why do you see the captains that race these boats keeping their staysail booms?

     If you look closely at your W32 or someone else’s you will notice the staysail tack point is in a different location than the pivot point on the fwd end of the staysail boom. Seven inches aft of the tack point to be exact. Why not 6 inches or 12 inches? It was designed that way so when you are close hauled the two points are in alignment and the sail is flattened. As the sheet is eased so is the foot of the sail making it fuller. This is a subtle change maybe not noticed by you but it’s there and makes the boat go. 
     The designers knew this a hundred years ago. The builders at Westsail knew it. The racers know it gives them an edge. Now you know it. 

     If yours is missing for whatever reason, Westsailparts.com and Bud can help you make her sail the way she was designed. 

  • June 08, 2020 10:17 AM
    Reply # 9023156 on 8992061

    Hello Lee

    Good post.  Thanks.  I too am in the same camp.  There are a number of good reasons not to have a Staysail boom but sailing performance is not one of them.  The location of the clew when sailing is crucial to performance.  Using the boom, I can locate the clew anywhere I want.  This can not be done otherwise.  I may not have enough knowledge to locate the clew for the very best performance, but, at least, I can put it where I think is best.

      It seems that about once every passage I am sailing with my "Little Wings".  That is, a reefed Main (or double reef), and a winged out Staysail (or reefed staysail).  Again, this works much better with a boom.  If the staysail boom was not there then I would have to carry a Staysail Whisker pole.  That's just me. 

    There is another camp that tends not to want to use the Staysail at all.  That is fine as long as the sailor understands the trade offs.  One of the great Westsail assets, Kern Ferguson, once said "Luff length is performance.  Foot length is crew abuse"  When going to weather, Luff length is more important than square footage.  The two forward sails offer more luff length. 

    I fully understand the many reason for not using a Staysail boom and/or the Staysail.  I am also not a member of Facebook but know this subject has been well discussed there.   All of us will make the choice that we are comfortable with.  I am with you.  I use my Staysail boom and staysail whenever appropriate - for me.   Thanks,     Dave

    Last modified: June 08, 2020 10:21 AM | Anonymous member