Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mast Design and Materials

In the previous post we looked at how aluminium masts break and corrode.  This post examines how new carbon composite materials have allowed better approaches to the design of two piece masts.

Here is a Laser mast and an Aero mast. The 1970 aluminium technology has the top section sliding inside the bottom section with plastic sleeves to control the fit.  The plastic sleeves are attached with rivets. Top sections eventually break at the rivet and need to be replaced or "end to ended" each year.  The masts become bent in strong winds and when super vanged, especially radial masts.

The plastic sleeves have to be individually fitted, that is with sand paper, as new the extruded aluminium sections are all slightly different sizes and often do not fit at all. The weight and stiffness of the Laser top sections vary.  The heavier and stiffer sections bend less and are favoured by top sailors.  The lighter bendier masts are sold to inexperienced Laser sailors.

The Aero's composite carbon mast is lighter and stronger, it fits together perfectly and automatically aligns the sail track.

The stainless steel Laser fitting is riveted to the front of the mast with six rivets.  The Aero carbon composite goose neck is larger and  robust wrapping around the mast with no possibility of bimetallic corrosion.

Aero's robust carbon composite goose neck


  1. Nick, how do you know that the Aero mast "has no variation in weight and stiffness"? What tests were done?

    The carbon Olympic windsurfer masts have tests or tolerance for 8-20% bend tolerance. Why is the Aero allegedly superior?

  2. Chris, fair comment, I have not tested the mast Aero mast, I have edited the text to remove the claim that the mast has no variation in weight and stiffness. Clearly in any manufacturing process there will be some variation, although I suspect not as extreme as the Laser masts. Cheers.