New Radial cut Standard Sail in the works? New composite top mast?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by JuanCH, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. sprayblond

    sprayblond Member

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    Not so sure about that. A bendier top section may in fact also put less pressure on the bottom section of the radial thus making it less likely to permanently bend. 10 radial bottom sections bent this season. Once it blows over 15 knots the mast gets bent. I can start an aluminium recycling business...
  2. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Interesting discussion. A few points to clarify.

    First, on the spar testing, note that some 5-6 years ago there WAS a program to develop a new top section that was meant to be for the Radial only. The aim of that program was to produce a spar which was softer with the intent of lowering the weight range. That project was ultimately deemed to be unnecessary and halted.

    The goal for new spar project is to produce a spar that exactly reproduces the static and dynamic characteristics of the current top section to make it a one-for-one swap for ALL of the Laser rigs - Standard, Radial and 4.7. By definition, it is the same weight, it has the same dimensions, etc. It is best described as a composite spar - it has carbon but is not completely carbon.

    With respect to potential issues of breakage, sun damage, etc... there are several reference points. First, the spars from the initial project 5-6 years ago are still in existence - in fact they are used on a nearly daily basis at the Laser Performance facility in Weymouth where they are used in learn to sail programs and as rentals for people who want to bash around in a Laser (not racing). They store them in racks outside and treat them as any other spars would be treated (ie poorly). They have reported no problems. As well, composite spar technology has come a long way and many (most?) larger boats these days have carbon rigs - that necessarily sit in the elements 24x7x365. If they don't suffer from sun damage then its probably safe to assume that a Laser spar will have a fair lifetime. Finally, this type of spar technology is pretty mature, there are literally hundreds of thousands of composite spars for sailboards all over the world - some even multi piece rigs. We're not charting new territory here.

    The current prototypes have been in testing for over 6 months now. They have been used extensively for training by sailors in several parts of the world and have seen plenty of abuse - from high speed capsizes, being ground in the mud on the Berkeley Circle, etc. No breakages have been reported so far - or at least that I'm aware of.

    And, I might add, none of the spars have developed a permanent bend.

    Its too early to determine what the exact retail price will be for the spar, but its clearly understood that it probably won't be cheaper than the current spar, nor will it be an order of magnitude more expensive. It seems to me that most people would agree that even if the initial price of the spar were 2-3 times the current one that the projected lifetime of the spar, and lack of permanent bending, would make it cost effective. And, of course, since they exactly reproduce the current spar you are free to continue using aluminum if you so choose.

    In the end these are prototypes and the project is ongoing. So, don't hold your breath just yet!
  3. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    You betcha!

    For non (US) politicos, this is Palinspeak....

  4. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    A lot of UK sailors I know balk at the current UK retail price of around £100 for the top mast which is, in effect, a length of ali tube with a few pence worth of plastic riveted to it.

    To ask them to then possibly fork out £200 to £300 for a composite top section is likely to be met with a large amount of derision and disgust given that the current top section is viewed as overpriced for what it is (the same syndrome as the sail which is why we see an issue with replicas).

    Time will tell (I know this is in the very early stages)...hopefully the spar will be more reasonably priced than 2-3 times the current spar (plus insurance companies over here do not like carbon spars and load premiums considerably).

    I almost forgot, thanks for the clarification Tracy. I do appreciate there are times when you cannot be as open about certain issues as perhaps you would like to be.

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