|broken spars pile up in Laser clubs|
This is typical for club sailors. Spars become unreliable after about three years depending on use. The elite sailors replace their spars, indeed their boats every year which club sailors cannot afford to.
The problem has been exacerbated by the modern approach to Laser racing in strong winds. The story goes that on his way to the top, Tom Slingsby obtained funding for a stack of sails and decided to test their limits by super tensioning the cunningham and vang in strong winds. It worked well, the boat became more manageable and the technique became standard practice.
|typical corrosion at a stress point|
Unfortunately the 1970's designed aluminium sections are not up to the task and with the increased stresses they break. Only recently has a carbon top section been introduced but the class is still stuck with outdated aluminium bottom sections and booms.
Metal fatigue is not the only problem. Laser spars corrode, especially in salt water. There are two kinds of metal are in contact with the aluminium in the form of the rivets and the fittings. New bottom sections and booms start to show signs of bimetallic corrosion within months of purchase with tell tale corrosion grooves fanning out from stress points.
The super vang approach is also tough on other fittings which are now not reliable either. Vang tangs break as does the bolt holding the goose neck.
The Laser class seems unable to adapt to these problems. It is not only a cost issue, it puts extra responsibility on club race management and makes the boat unsafe in strong winds.