In this second part of our 'The Importance Of' series we look at windsurfing booms with Victor Fernandez. Check out part one where we checked in with Francisco Goya to find out what is so important about windsurf boards. You can read PART ONE HERE.
Windsurfing booms are perhaps one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment on the market, very little in terms of testing has been done on them and yet they play a crucial role in connecting us to our sail. A scientific study undertaken by yours truly a few years ago revealed much of the myth behind windsurfing booms was indeed scientifically correct, for example a thicker boom (32mm) gives us a wider grip with our fingers and thus causes the onset of fatigue much earlier than a thinner boom of 28mm or less. Further to this if you have a thicker boom combined with full fingered gloves the rate of fatigue is staggeringly higher than wearing palmless mits or no gloves at all.
With two main types of boom on the market the choices are perhaps a little limited. On the one side we have the cheap multi-purpose aluminium boom and on the other we have the full blown carbon boom, normally 100% carbon (but not always), the carbon boom is by far the superior but the big question is, are they all they are cracked up to be? We caught up with PWA Superstar Victor Fernandez for his top 5 reasons why the carbon boom is better.
Carbon booms are known for being much stiffer than their Aluminium counterparts, this gives you a greater feel for you sail and a much more direct and quicker response. Yes, I think the carbon booms were a big step up in windsurfing. Stiffer booms gave me a lighter feeling on the sail. I think the aluminium booms are ok for lighter people because they probably like a bit more the softer feeling on their small rig, so they get more control when overpowered, but for heavier people it is way better to use a carbon boom, stiffness gives you a lighter feeling and also the carbon booms holds more when landing jumps.
Obviously we all know carbon is stronger than aluminium (pound for pound), but unlike aluminium carbon does not bend when it gets weak, it remains strong and holds its shape throughout its entire life. Which means no more stuck boom ends (you can leave the hammer at home). Yes, carbon is stronger but it is not always best, if you are travelling to a rocky place like Cape Verde for example, an aluminium boom is a good option because if you end up on the rocks the aluminium will probably bend but not snap if you are lucky and you can keep sailing even if it bends a bit. The carbon boom will for sure snap if it hits the rocks very bad.
Carbon is for sure lighter and the stiffness of the carbon can give you a lighter feeling compared to the aluminium, together with the RDM masts it makes the whole rig lighter and easier to sail.
I prefer carbon to aluminium as carbon is more responsive when doing tricks, the sail respond much quicker and almost makes it feel like you have more power in your hands but with the same control. You essentially get more from your sail by having a carbon boom.
I think for carrying on planes there is not really much difference, maybe a little bit on the weight when you have to travel with the exact weight luggage, then carbon is lighter, allowing you to take more spares.