Boom vang required?

pugwash

New member
Joined
30 May 2001
Messages
985
Location
SW London
Visit site
I bought a 1969 Holman Sovereign ketch last year and discovered the boom vang (kicking strap?) was missing. I have been wondering how best to replace it, and posted on the subject a few weeks back.

These winter nights I have been perusing Hiscock's two classic books, Cruising & Voyaging Under Sail, and it suddenly struck me that not one of the boats in the pictures (all pretty much the same vintage as mine) has a boom vang. I have not sailed my own boat enough to determine whether it needs one, just assumed it did.

What's the score: is a boom-vang just a fashion item? Why do newer boats invariably have vangs or struts (as my Swallow-type dinghy did when I was a kid), but the older and more traditional long-keel cruising boats don't? Is it the weight of the gear, the cut of the cloth, or what?
 
G

Guest

Guest
The traditional method of controlling boom lift was a barber hauler. This was a tackle rigged between boom and sidedeck. I does the same as akicking strap but because it is attached further along the boom and straight down to the side deck it imposes much less strain. The disadvantage is that it must be rerriged when jibing and so is slower. Still has merrit for cruising though, cheap, simple, low stress?

I have sucessfully use (on a 26ft boat) an arngement of 2 ropes lead from the boom to a point foward of the mast on each side deck. When running the leeward side rope is made fast first with the boom well forward. The mainsheet is then tensioned. The resultant forces both hold the boom down and act as preventers in much the same way as the more traditional barber hauler but can be worked from the cockpit. This arrangement also allows total control when jibing. Works very well but relies on having a good mainsheet traveller capable of controlling the boom to about 45 deg.

Roly, Voya Con Dios, Glasson, Lancaster
 

davidhand

New member
Joined
30 May 2001
Messages
319
Location
San Francisco CA
Visit site
A 'Barber Hauler' is a jib control, used mainly on racing boats to pull the clew of the jib out to change the sheeting angle. A 'Boom Vang' or as I believe it is more commonly known everywhere except the States and Canada a 'Kicking Strap' is a tackle to prevent the boom lifting up when sailing off the wind. Neither will prevent an accidental gybe, for this you need a preventer or a boom brake. I would say that a Vang/Kicker is highly desirable if not essential; they don't cost a lot anyway.
 

AndyL

Member
Joined
15 Dec 2001
Messages
263
Location
In transit
www.marinechandlery.com
Boom vang not required

Well not one that goes from the boom to the foot of the mast, especially if you have a long and heavy (solid) wooden boom. More especially if you have the old worm drive roller reefing on an old boat, the vang is the first thing that has to go when you reef.

My old boat has both of those, so on a longish reach or run when the wind is fresh enough, it's the strap and pulley system down to the gun'l. When it gets too windy, I reef and fit a preventer which also keeps the boom down. If I have to change course. . . . . . . actually all you need to do is REMEMBER it is rigged, it doesn't take long to release it. Forget and usually you would break something.

Having said that for a fully battened over-roached more powerful main, a vang and a traveller are essential and simple sail controls.

One thing I don't understand is why they fitted the gooseneck on a sliding track on the mast with no locking device. There is a downhaul to the foot of the mast for adjustment and an uphaul (the halyard). When the vang is rigged to the gun'l the gooseneck slides down and the luff of the main is stretched. I'd be interested to hear if anybody knows why it would be arranged this way. Could it be something to do with having roller boom reefing?
 

Jeremy_W

New member
Joined
23 Jun 2001
Messages
1,122
Location
Liverpool, UK
Visit site
Boom vang

What Roland has described is a boom vang. It takes a little time to set up after each tack/gybe, so what most coastal sailors and all dinghy sailors have is a kicking strap - an adjustable line from the base of the mast to a point on the boom perhaps a quarter of the way back from the mast.

A kicker acting against the pressure of wind in the sails generates two forces - downwards and for'ard. So sailing offwind with the boom well out generates sheer force on the gooseneck - bad news, and you have to rig a separate preventer in any case! The vang is more benign. Far more of the force on the boom is straight downwards.

To confuse matters, the Americanism "vang" for kicking strap is gaining currency in the UK especially among racers. It sounds more urgent, hi-tech and dynamic
 
G

Guest

Guest
Is it not funny how names of boat equipment have changed and often there are 2 or more words for the same thing.
A boom vang is what Roland described but Americans now use it to describe what we call a kicking strap. Barber haulers are also called twining lines on dinghies.
It all gets a bit confusing sometimes.
Anyway, on alot of traditional yachts kickers were not fitted as there was not enough clearance between the boom and the coachroof. A Hilliard 9 ton is a good example. So a barber hauler system is used.
My friend has a 9 tonner and uses neither system. The boom does lift when down wind but he's not racing. And this boat sails very well!
At the end of the day fit one if you think it real matters.
 

AndrewB

Well-known member
Joined
7 Jun 2001
Messages
5,856
Location
Dover/Corfu
Visit site
Older cruising boats often didn't fit a boom vang because they used roller-reefing. Obviously the vang would get in the way when reefing and would have to be detached. It is possible to fit a claw to overcome this, but it is not an ideal solution as the claw tends to twist and tangle during reefing, also wears hard on the sail.

A lifting boom matters on broad reaches and runs. The sail becomes inefficient as it twists and billows forward, and this encourages rolling on a run. There is also a risk of a "Chinese Gibe" where the boom comes over but the top part of the sail does not - pretty much guaranteed to destruct the sail and/or the goose neck.

With a heavy solid wooden boom in older boats, and later on in the 60's with the fashion for a small high-aspect main and large mast-head genoa, a lifting boom was less of a problem. though it did encourage people to reef rather early.

If you are going with a modern reefing system, and the boom shows signs of lifting in strongish winds, then I would definitely fit a boom vang.
 

Mirelle

N/A
Joined
30 Nov 2002
Messages
4,532
Visit site
Roller reefing

We have roller reefing; we don't have a kicking strap. Mind you, one wonders just what a tiddly little kicking strap would be trying to achieve, with our 22ft x 5" of pitchpine!

Which leads on to a related point. As has been pointed out by a jolly eminent expert who writes for YM, working gaff cutters (and sensible cruising ones!) have their mainsail cut so that the main boom is very decidedly higher at the outboard end, because this prevents it dragging in the sea when you roll downwind. But I suspect that this geometry also reduces the need for a kicker .
 
Top