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Radial Bottom Section Bend


Active Member
Hi everyone,

I thought it might be fun to go out sailing earlier today as winds were in the teens gusting into the 20's. Given that I weigh 165, I decided to use a radial rig.

While pulling the sail off after I was done, I noticed that the bottom section (Laser brand) now has a slight bend in it :(. Taking a look at it more closely it has bent exactly at the upper end of the inner tube. Total deflection is about 1/2" over the length of the bottom section. It looks curved and not kinked to the eye, but running one's finger over the section you can feel a slight deflection. The bottom section has a Laser Vanguard sticker on it, and while I bought it a long time ago, I think it has been used maybe two or three times before in fresh water, so it looks and is essentially new.

Here are my questions:
  • Has anyone had this sort of thing happen before (normal sailing and bending radial bottom section), and is there anything to be done? I did a little bit of exploring on-line, but the jury seemed split on whether the spar can be bent back.
  • Now that it is bent, will it continue to become worse through "normal" sailing? Normal being winds mostly under 15 .
  • Will I even notice the bend while sailing?
  • Finally, given that Laser Performance seems a bit of a mess right now, am I likely to be able to find a new one?

Thanks for you thoughts.


Active Member
My 2 cents -
- has it happened to me - no. I'm about your weight + sail in wind like that often. My radial lower comes from Intensity (I'm not a racer.)

- will it worsen- hard to guess. To my knowledge from owning boats + airplanes, in general most common aluminum alloys harden when they bend- that is, the part gets more rigid+ brittle, and less flexible - which makes it more likely to break, rather than bend more. But there's a big "BUT" ... whether aluminum hardens at all, and if it does, how MUCH it hardens, varies WIDELY depending on the specific alloy of aluminum, and what kind of heat treatment has been done to it. As I understand it, generally the higher-strength alloys, and the heat treatments which increase tensile strength, usually increase this "work-hardening." I have no idea tho, what the part might be made of.

- Can you bend it back - IF it's made from an alloy that hardens when it bends, that suggests that you NOT bend it back, because bending it again will harden it more than it already is. It needs to bend + flex when it's carrying the sail. I'd GUESS that you're better off leaving it bent (just the once); and that bending it back would possibly? ... or likely ?? ... increase the odds of it breaking. BUT again that is just a guess. However, keep in mind that if it does break, obviously the top of the mast comes down and the sail gets yanked over a jagged end. My upper section broke once, and it tore my sail up badly over the break. If it's a class-approved sail, that gets awful expensive.

- will you notice ... I'd guess that you'll see less belly in the sail, like you have vang on, when you don't.

- I can't comment on availability of a class-approved replacement. Certainly easy to find "practice" parts from Intensity and Annapolis Perf Sailing but I understand that they're not legal in a race.

Good luck - hope you're able to figure it out.