Latest News: Forums Technical Carbon poles

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  • #20674

    I have received a couple of requests for a change in our rules to allow carbon fibre spinnaker poles.

    This is your opportunity to have your say.



    My opinion: There is no speed advantage whatsoever, and if someone wants to spend an extra 20% on their pole, who cares? But as usual the AGM will probably vote against it for all the wrong reasons. Been there done that.

    BTW, do the cruisers still have a vote on class rules? The last time it was the cruisers that voted against carbon poles…… What do they care?
    May I suggest that only owners of certified and registered boats get to vote on racing matters?  That is how we do it over here. Boats without a certificate are technically no Wayfarers and are hence not allowed to vote on racing matters (i.e. the class rules).  (And also: one boat, one vote).



    I’d like to hear the rationale for the change from the people who are proposing the change in order to get the discussion started, but here a couple of thoughts on the subject.

    I had a look at a few spinnaker poles in other classes which are offered in both aluminium and carbon.  The difference seems to be carbon is up to 1.5 times more expensive, but about 40% lighter than aluminium.

    Lightness offers a number of performance advantages, ease of handling of the pole and and due to the reduction in weight, improved acceleration and the ability to gain more than a heavier boat in a gust, especially in lighter conditions.

    Also, a lighter pole will make it slighter easier to keep the spinnaker flying in marginally light conditions.

    With a spinnaker pole, these advantages may be very marginal, but they are there.  Marginal differences can win or lose races.

    Obviously, being the better sailor is the prime requisite for winning races, but little things can help too.

    Lack of boat weight and equipment weight DO offer performance advantages of heavier boats.

    With the cost of carbon poles versus aluminium, will allowing them into the class let sailors with deeper pockets gain a performance advantage, however marginal, over others?

    Should we keep the status quo?

    But let’s hear from the advocates for carbon poles on the forum for their thoughts.





    I don’t know where you got your information on who voted for what but we in the UKWA are democratic and have one vote per boat no matter which boat one sails.

    Carbon prices have come down and the argument against carbon before was to do with “cheque book sailing” and nothing to do with cruising.


    a lighter pole will make it slighter easier to keep the spinnaker flying in marginally light conditions.

    No, the pole is positioned by the position of the attachment point on the mast, the uphaul,  the downhaul and the guy. The pole weight is not part of the spinnaker trim equation.

    If there are no performance advantages, and it is only a matter of money, we should allow it. It may help rejuvenate the boat and bring a younger audience to the class. Money should only be an argument if it  buys performance. If it does not, who are we to deny sailors for spending their hard earned cash on what they love most?

    By the way, for the same reasons we should allow modern electronics like GPS-es. Nobody will win a race by looking at a computer screen and pressing buttons. It will remain a game of tack-ticks. Knowing where the competition is and trying to out smart them. Feeling the waves and the wind through the helm and ones butt. But if electronics brings a new and younger audience to the class. we should seriously consider it.

    We had the carbon discussions before, as far back as the early two-thousands, when the AGM was still held at Putney embankment. Check the minutes from that era.





    I have been racing for many years now with a crew tall and strong enough to cope with the spinnaker pole in demanding conditions. I now sail with my wife as we enjoy sailing together, however she is only 5’2″ and  when the breeze is up she struggles with the pole on many occasions.

    The way forward for us is to go for a twin pole setup which will alleviate that issue nicely. However to make this the best of this a Carbon pole would make a much nicer setup. The weight argument would not come into it as we are doubling the arrangement and probably come out on a par (if not heavier), as for cost, the most expensive part is the new ‘D’ ring needed, the poles themselves are a standard uniform section so much reducing the cost.

    For us to stay competitive in our 55 year old boat I see this as an important update, I see it as an improvement that is not going to break the bank and will make our lives aboard much quieter having gybed without raised voices on board 🙂



    Just received my UKWA newsletter and there was a comment in the Carbon Poles article that I feel I needed to point out. It was referring to also having carbon tiller extensions. This I have seen on many racing and cruising boats  and I’m sure they have never been refused an entry to an event to date!

    So where do we draw the line? Tiller, tiller extension, spinnaker pole(s)?? All of these I see as an option to have when they need to be replaced.



    I do not expect any performance advantages from a carbon spinnaker pole. As stated above the pole weight is held by the pole uphaul so will make no difference to the spinnaker trim in light winds.

    It will make handling the pole a bit easier and should prove an advantage for lighter/smaller crews.

    The difference I would expect would be a quieter clunk against the boom which would be particular beneficial with a twin pole set up. Vote YES from me.

    88 – my twin pole set up is manual but means no change to the D ring. My 2 ali 32mm  poles from P&B were roughly the same price as a conventional tapered double ended pole. Don’t use 25mm as they bend too much (or I can let you have some cheap). The extra cost is in string and needing an adjustable downhaul (most boats are using a shockcord downhaul system).

    I see no advantage to a carbon tiller on a boat the weight of a Wayfarer but would abstain on that vote as not bothered either way.

    Swiebertje – Electronics is a whole can of worms –  they can give huge advantages when sailing in tidal waters. They can beep to tell you when to tack on the lay line allowing for tide for example or tell you how long it will take to accelerate and reach the start line from where you are now (including tacking if needed). So they can replace a lot of skills and be a major game changer giving the advantage to the boffins with deep pockets. If just one person spends the money and knows how to use it then everyone else will be outclassed so a big NO from me.

    Andrew Morrice

    Such a refreshing change to see a live debate on here I thought I’d pitch in with a few observations as a non-racer (of wayfarers).

    Everyone says you shouldn’t be able to buy your way to the front but consider the effect of a decent set of sails vs a clapped out set.  Sails aren’t cheap yet no-one is debating the effects on the class of people who buy a new suit every season.  The state of foils again is key to boat performance.  What if I can’t afford a lovely new smooth foil and don’t have the confidence or skill to glass it?  Again, never discussed.  Everyone talks about boat weight, and yet comes ashore and piles into the beer, pies, cakes and chips …

    It is interesting to see the different approaches taken in different classes.  I mainly race my Osprey (another Proctor/Hartley class).  They have taken the approach that it is the hull shape/weight, centreboard, and rig/sail dimensions that define the boat.  An Osprey fleet is a marvel of variation, particularly amongst the wooden boats, and for many its carbon carbon everywhere.  Overall they seem massively more relaxed about innovations within the design, and I suspect this attitude and all-carbon rigs have done a lot to keep the class alive.  There is a feeling the tin rigged boats are slightly outclassed, but not enough that they are asking for their own handicap.

    So, perhaps we can relax about a carbon spinny pole?

    Boris  W6330





    Message posted by John Dighton on behalf of Colin May..

    The main points about the carbon poles are that it is all to do with tip weight, not the all up weight as that is not an amount to worry about in the great scheme of things.

    The weight on a crews wrist is greatly reduced when having to hold and maneuver the pole on a single pole boat, it’s just a better weight to move at those tricky times.

    Another point is that we can then buy thicker poles for the job which give a better hold for the crew.


    Cost, yes its more but as we are giving a choice to the class and not making it compulsory then it should not worry the class with regards to cheque book.  The costs can be a lot closer to Ali than it used to be, the world cost of ali has risen significantly over the last few years, look at the masts and booms!

    The second point i would say is that it gives choice, you can buy a carbon pole but you do not have to sell it with the boat,  my pole is three boats old!!!


    I would also change some of the other rules at the same time to allow carbon, tiller extensions, cleats and any other fitting that is available in Carbon, reason being that if you have a breakage and you go to a chandler at an Open or Championship and the only item they have to sell you is carbon and they do not have an ali version, why should we exclude the same fitting just because it is made of carbon and loose a competitor from a championship.

    Choice, you don’t have to buy it!



    Colin (via John)

    the class rules as I read them already allow carbon tillers/extensions and fittings in that there are no controls on these at all.

    2.5 Deviations from the official drawings and specifications are prohibited save for the following:

    (a) Running rigging arrangements;

                   (b) Tiller and tiller extensions;

    (c) Fittings;

    So really the only issue is the spinnaker pole.


    Quite so Colin.

    Our rules specify what materials can be used for mast, boom etc.  Where a material is not specified such as fittings, tiller and extension then we can use anything we feel is appropriate.


    So how many people think that this option would be classed as cheque book sailing? It’s an interesting thought, this would cost about £150 v £90 ish for an aluminium one. Let’s compare that to say a new set of racing sails, they can range from £1100 – £1400 for a full suit, is that classed as cheque book sailing? Let’s think a little further, how many people have sold their old wayfarer and bought new MK4 because it’s faster? Is that not cheque book sailing? Where do we stop calling it that and when do we move forward not backwards?




    One cannot compare a pole, carbon or otherwise, to new sails. The sailors that buy new sails every season also sell their, one year old, used ones at a good price. This brings their annual costs down significantly. At the end of the day they haven’t spent much more than the guy that sails his sails until they tear from the mast in an F1 ‘gale’.


    I am happy for carbon spinnaker poles to be allowed.

    I have found that the weight of the pole is less of an issue than the loading from the sail in heavier weather especially when trying to set the spinnaker on the reach.  Stronger crews have the advantage in strong winds especially at the gybe mark!

    In light weather, a lighter pole is no advantage as the weight is carried by the pole uphaul when the pole is set.

    I am not convinced that the saving of the odd kilo of pole weight is going to make my boat go faster against those champion sailors whose all-up crew weight is several kilos heavier.  Something else is needed that I have yet to find!


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