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Boom vang necessary/helpful?


New Member
As previously stated, I recently bought a Mod 1 Capri 14.2. No boom vang on it, sounds like it never had one.

I've always sailed (larger) boats that had a boom vang. Do you all find it necessary? Should I invest in one? ($100+ for the hardware it appears, from Catalina Direct.)

Trying to decide right now as I consider that, a boom kicker or a topping lift as well.

P.S. - Anyone know of good sailing lakes in NE Indiana, or thereabouts?

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Hmm, nobody's answered your question yet... a boom vang isn't necessary, but it's definitely helpful and certainly worth the price. If you don't have a vang and you're sailing off the wind, especially running downwind, your boom will rise and the main will billow a bit and form a funnel, through which you'll dump air... which equates with a loss of power & boat speed. This will turn your boat from a rocket sled into a nautical slug, I'm talking a dramatic loss of speed under certain conditions. If you're simply sailing on a recreational basis, using the boat as a floating platform for drinking beer, no worries, you can do without it... but I'd still recommend one, as knowing how to put it to good use will improve your nautical skills. This applies to all small craft, not just the Capri.

I should add that when three of us (large guys, I was the smallest at a trim 200 lbs.) went sailing on my friend's C-15 in a stiff breeze, the guy furthest forward had a little trouble crossing from side to side when tacking... he was a novice, you understand, so he kept getting fouled up in the vang, LOL. We wound up detaching the vang from the boom while beating to windward, that way this big guy had more room to slide from one side to the other, then we reattached the vang once we bore away under the Point, since crossing (or shifting live ballast) was no longer an issue, or infrequently so. It was a nuisance while pulling a series of short tacks in the narrowest part of the channel, so we just said, "F#% it, get it outta the way!!!"

An experienced sailor can jury-rig a boom vang with a piece of line, a neat trick when done right aboard a boat with no vang, or a boat whose vang somehow went kaput. Fittings, hardware, gear, etc., occasionally break under stress, particularly if you're thrashing hard... so keep that in mind, it's nice to know you can still rig a vang if necessary. I'm talking small craft here, not IACC boats or maxi sleds, LOL. I'm sure others here can give you more input, I'd simply recommend you buy a vang when ya get around to it, it can make an enormous difference in boat speed on downwind runs, and other points of sail as well. As for the topping lift, that's more useful aboard larger craft with taller rigs & heavier booms & mainsails, don't think you'd really need one aboard the Capri... just my $.02, you understand.

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Active Member
Agreed that the vang is a must for the serious sailor. Now I play it off against my Boomkicker so it keeps the boom at a constant position. I had slugs installed in the main so it can be lowered and kept in the track. Put a stopper in there just above the slot. By doing that you can flake the main on the boom and then hoist while underway. Just like I used to do on my Catalina 22. Of course you need your small Minkota trolling motor pushing with your tiller locked to keep the proper heading. Since the Boomkicker is a bit on the flexy side (2 fiberglass rods) that's why I clip the mainsheet to the back of the boom. Then you can really draw down on the mainsheet to keep the boom solid. No topping lift needed!
Now as far as Lake Michigan goes I had 10 years experiance there. It can humble you in a hurry as I discovered the one time I took my Capri out there. The huge drawback is not having a weighted fixed keel. I hear the Capri version of this is far superior in rough water, the swing board model is really a large sailing dinghy! I would caution anybody to think twice about getting out on big lakes with this boat during potential rough water conditions. The risk is not worth the reward. Going fast (even planing) with my boat on small to medium sized lakes has also been very rewarding. It's kind of a thoroughbred!
Kind of miss the rough water days on Lake Michigan with my C-22, but still am enjoying my sailing immensly!
Topping line/lift thoughts from 30+ years with the Capri... The shortest answer is it's so cheap, quick and easy to install I'd just do it. Longer answer is during 10 years of trailering to Lake Michigan (Weco Beach Bridgman, and Silver Beach St. Joseph) I never had it and got along fine. Later when I was trailering in Hampton Virginia we'd launch from ramps in small ports or bayou sort of fingers where I'd have to electric trolling motor out from some awkward corners to get into clear air, that's when the topping was essential. Trying to manage in the cockpit with the sail on the boom but not raised and work the motor etc was ridiculous until the line could hold the boom up out of the way. Now we're living on the water in Florida so we only use the motor on calm full moon nights to cruise to restaurants without the sails but it's still great to have the boom out of the way. You'll see from the pictures it's that when the boat is sitting on the beach it's just easier to rig and manage with the line.

I did a quick release on the boom end (it's a dog collar clip actually) and I just screwed an eyelet into the cap. I used to unclip it and bungee it to the mast after the main was up but honestly it never gets in the way or hung up on the batons so I just leave it now. I can't remember how I attached it at the mast but I can snap pics if you don't come up with an easy idea. Originally the whole line was the smallest diameter stainless steel rigging wire I could find but we occasionally would throw a tarp over for shade cruising with the motor on windless days and we'd want the boom higher so I switched half to some spare 5/16" (or smaller) line I had sitting around and that's been the way it's stayed for years.

It's honestly saved me a couple times when I've limped in on the jib after huge wind has picked up and I needed to drop the main (I probably could have respected the forecast more and not got caught in obscene wind, but I have a bad habit of just pushing out as it gets rougher... I'm in a huge bay, I'll drift to some shore eventually).

Probably the nicest thing is I always remember when folks would try to 'help' me and they'd untie the main halyard and essentially just let it go which would always result in a sickening thud from the boom dropping randomly on the hull somewhere. The line eliminates that and with the quick release it doesn't slow you down even if you're dropping the mast for trailering. To me that's so many benefits for nearly no painful investment or downside.

Enough said, it's certainly not mandatory but it's easy, makes rigging slightly simpler, and may be occasionally essential to get you out of weather you should have avoided ;-)

*** Bonus *** I threw up some family pics from when Hobbies ruled the beaches on Lake Michigan. I miss those 'rough water days' Aquaman refers to myself. Raced Hobbies (66011) for 10 years and enjoyed every other boat the family owned and sailed.

20180415_145913.jpg20180415_150012.jpgAzalea 19 May 18 105.JPGAzalea Thanksgiving 16 042.JPGAzalea-2 27 May 17 027.JPG



Regarding the vang, I think you need it. It is the only means of keeping the boom down and managing the twist of the main when not hard on the wind. This aspect of sailing Capri 14s has been the hardest part of my learning curve, and I am still fighting with it. I am accustomed to boats with main sheet travelers, where the sheet tension can be the primary means of trimming the main twist.

Regarding the topping lift, they can be useful for very light air days when there isn't enough wind to to shape the sails. In that situation, the weight of the boom will pull the leech taught (like in my profile photo). That said, I wouldn't bother with it. If the wind is that light, take some time to enjoy a cold drink. If you just want to get the boom out of the cockpit, make your main halyard a few feet too long and use it to hold up the boom.

Capri 14.2 #528 "Free Ride"


Hi Andy. In addition to the obvious sail tuning functions, I'd figure that the vang helps keep the boom and main sail in place in the event of an unexpected capsize. But then again I'm paranoid of getting knocked down.

My notes show a Harken boom vang kit from Catalina direct (minus the line) at $50.98. This is a 3:1 setup. .PN J8033.

Alternately, Harken's catalog offers a setup for a "simple 4:1 self cleating vang used on small dinghies" for $64 retail (minus the line). PNs are 226 and 245.

Ronstan and Barton options may slightly cheaper if you piecemeal the blocks. Hope this helps.
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