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Black Tips 3# Boom Height

Are you 190 tall? Place your boom at 150. Are you 180 tall? Place your boom at 140.

This would be excessively easy!

The boom height is a very personal setting according to your ability, body structure, power, wind intensity, waves and of course if we plan to go more upwind or downwind, but not only. The way your gear is developed or tuned, also makes a difference to where the boom needs to be placed.

If a board rides high the boom has to go lower. If you board rides low, you need to higher the boom position.

The height varies according to the control and power you want to obtain while sailing on your gear. With the height of the boom, you can adjust these characteristics. It’s one of the three components together with the track position on the board, and with the harness lines length, which helps us trim our equipment to get the maximum efficiency between power and control.

According to our body height and weight, the boom height can change by few cm, but the concept is the same for everyone. Stand on your board and the range for the boom height is from your mouth to your lower chest. Therefore, we can easy have adjustments up to over 20cm.

The rule is simple: High boom= power.  Low boom= control.

Why does the boom offer more power? It allows us to stay upright, and automatically the board rails more on the downwind rail.  This allow pressing more on the fin and getting the max power out of these two components.  This allows the board to fly more and be faster in lighter winds or to have better upwind.

Why does the lower boom offer less power? Lowering the boom is a bit like moving the track more forward. We move our weight more to the front leg, giving less pressure to the back leg, therefore to the fin and to the downwind rail. The board sits more flat, we sit more on the centre of the board depowering our gear. Therefore, if we lower the boom when we feel over powered it will be ideal for gaining extra control.

Normally on the light wind sails, so for the sails over 7.5 the best positioning is between shoulders to chin height. Between 7 to 8m sails, a good position around shoulder height going 2cm lower in case the wind gets very strong. From 6.5m to smaller sails, we tend to go around chest area, especially if the wind and water condition get tough. Even with a 10m sail, you can put your lower then shoulder height if you are being caught in a lot of wind, and on a 6.3, you can put the boom at mouth height if you are very underpowered.

ITA-1-14

Boom height varies more on wind intensity rather than wave conditions. For wave conditions, you will need to play more with the harness lines, but this we will take care next time.

Take a look at his photo of Anders Bringdal and Andrea Cucchi at the Defi wind. Both in over 40 knots of wind on 5.6 sails. Both are having very low booms. Under the midpoint of the boom opening and both are over 190 tall! (Harness lines are short as the water is flat so they don’t need more length to absorb the waves. Remember this for next time.)

Therefore, if these two big boys are sailing around on low booms, it does not mean that if you use a low boom you are a looser! The boom height is an important fact to play between power and control.

Some windsurfing boards are staying with their nose very high over the water and feeling very free, some with the nose lower and are feeling easier to control.  On the board riding higher, it’s automatic that you will need to keep the boom lower, then a board which is more sticky and needs more lift from our trim.

When you think about it again, the boom height, the track positioning, the harness lines length are all instruments that we have to increase or decrease the power and control of our gear. So which component needs to be adjusted first? If you had read the second issue of our Black Team Tips, you can get a quick idea. Today we have learned that with the boom height you adjust your comfort and power according if the wind increases or decreases. In the next articles, we will go more in details to the harness lines and track positioning. All very important facts that allow you to balance the trim of your gear over the water surface and into the different wind strength which are making a difference between being fast as a real pro, to be the slowest and wasting a lot of strength on the water. The difference of the settings are centimetres, so it’s a matter of understanding why you are not comfortable, and without being lazy, getting back to the beach and adjusting the components.

Here a quick short list summary to be prepared for next issues before we go into details for those as well:
Strong wind: mast foot more forward than usual, boom lower. Harness lines long in case of waves or hard chop.  Short in case of flat water.
Light wind: mast foot further back than usual, higher boom. Harness lines short in flat water, medium to short length in waves or chop.

While sailing you are feeling tired or have no control? Lower your boom.
Are you feeling slow and everything feels not reactive? Higher the boom.
You want to go upwind with more efficiency? Higher your boom.

  • Pierre Du Plessis

    “When you think about it again, the boom height, the track positioning, the harness lines length are all instruments that we have to increase or decrease the power and control of our gear” – Don’t forget distance between your feet. A wider stance is more comfortable with shorter harness lines than with longer harness lines.

    • Chr

      why a wider stance is more confortable with shorter harness lines? Please explain reason…thank you

      • Maciek Rutko

        not really more comfortable. its a question of balance… again. wider stance gives you more control, so you compensate that with shorter harnesslines. still when you’re fully overpowered even with a wider stance its easier to go with longer lines…

        • Chr

          So there is no notable direct relation between stance and harnessline-length.

  • Pierre Du Plessis

    “When you think about it again, the boom height, the track positioning, the harness lines length are all instruments that we have to increase or decrease the power and control of our gear” – Don’t forget distance between your feet. A wider stance is more comfortable with shorter harness lines than with longer harness lines.

    • Chr

      why a wider stance is more confortable with shorter harness lines? Please explain reason…thank you

      • Maciek Rutko

        not really more comfortable. its a question of balance… again. wider stance gives you more control, so you compensate that with shorter harnesslines. still when you’re fully overpowered even with a wider stance its easier to go with longer lines…

        • Chr

          So there is no notable direct relation between stance and harnessline-length.

  • Jeroenvw

    Great tips, thanks! Maybe next time an article on tuning cambers?

  • Jeroenvw

    Great tips, thanks! Maybe next time an article on tuning cambers?

  • Chr

    why the harnessline-length has something to do with the waves? The harnessline-length is chosen so adjust the distance from the body to the sail and therefore to regulate the power which the bodyweight developes. More power in the sail longer harness lines. (Just works out if you let the harness work and use not the arms)……

    • Maciek Rutko

      coz you need more control in wavier conditions and thats what long harnesslines give you. also in waves you keep moving your knees and hips which is easier in long lines. in shorter lines you’re more locked in so in flat water thats probably more what you’re looking for. anyways “short” doesnt mean 22 in this case. slalom sailor rarely go shorter than 28 and even as long as 36….

      • Chr

        So what is the reason to take shorter harness lines anyway in flat water? You are not slower with longer ones are you?

        • Maciek Rutko

          if the wind is light you are, as you have not enough power with long lines. speed is just a matter of setting the power to control ratio perfect

          • Chr

            why you have less power with longer harness lines? the opposite is true.

          • Maciek Rutko

            no its not 😉 me and Andrea and the whole PWA will tell you the same. short lines more power, long lines more control.

          • Chr

            ok i will believe you if you give me the explanation for that shorter harness lines is more power, meanwhile i know that the opposie is true. 😉

          • Maciek Rutko

            how is that possible if with shorter harnesslines you’re creating less force against the sail??? the longer the lines the more you lean out, hence you lean against the sail more and can hold more energy from the sail, having a low centre of gravity as well. simple physics.

            what you might be talking about is planning. if you’re harnesslines are too short and you’re standing on the board without planning you’re gonna find it difficult to pump yourself onto the plane and your sail will not be vertical=will be inefficient. whereas in longer lines you can put your sail more vert and operate it further away from your body a little better. but thats just a mistake of getting on the plane hooked in!

            trust me i’ve windsurfed over 70% of my lifetime (17 of 23 years) and spent 300 days on the water for the past 3 years. simple things as harnesslines lenghth im pretty sure of :)))

          • Chr

            Hello Maciek, so now you are telling exaclty what I sail from the beginning: As longer the lines, as more force creates your bodyweight to the sail (just physics) as more upright can the sail go…so we agree totally: longer harness lines more control and more power for the sail (more upright) and much more power for the pilot (better lever for the bodyweight)

          • Maciek Rutko

            its only your body that should change position the sail should always stay upright to make the foil as efficient as possible. if the sail doesnt move and the only thing that changes is your body angle, its obvious that when your weight is further away from the sail it will create more force against it = less power = more control. draw vectors how the forces work if you still dont believe 😉 the force of the sail goes one way and the force of the sail the other.
            at the moment you are simply contradicting yourself because more power is always less control and vice versa. so simple vector physics AND years and years of experience tell you that longer lines = less power = less control. you can ask whichever pro you want, as I ran out of arguments to give you hehe 🙂

          • Chr

            Hello Maciek, i still believe that we just say very similar things even if we not always take out the same conclusions. (I do it also for many years, lots of days, competing and analysing vectors)
            I would really like to interchange views with you, maybe you are in Pozo this summer so there you can experience why longer harness lines is more control, hehehe… 🙂

  • Chr

    why the harnessline-length has something to do with the waves? The harnessline-length is chosen so adjust the distance from the body to the sail and therefore to regulate the power which the bodyweight developes. More power in the sail longer harness lines. (Just works out if you let the harness work and use not the arms)……

    • Maciek Rutko

      coz you need more control in wavier conditions and thats what long harnesslines give you. also in waves you keep moving your knees and hips which is easier in long lines. in shorter lines you’re more locked in so in flat water thats probably more what you’re looking for. anyways “short” doesnt mean 22 in this case. slalom sailor rarely go shorter than 28 and even as long as 36….

      • Chr

        So what is the reason to take shorter harness lines anyway in flat water? You are not slower with longer ones are you?

        • Maciek Rutko

          if the wind is light you are, as you have not enough power with long lines. speed is just a matter of setting the power to control ratio perfect

          • Chr

            why you have less power with longer harness lines? the opposite is true.

          • Maciek Rutko

            no its not 😉 me and Andrea and the whole PWA will tell you the same. short lines more power, long lines more control.

          • Chr

            ok i will believe you if you give me the explanation for that shorter harness lines is more power, meanwhile i know that the opposie is true. 😉

          • Maciek Rutko

            how is that possible if with shorter harnesslines you’re creating less force against the sail??? the longer the lines the more you lean out, hence you lean against the sail more and can hold more energy from the sail, having a low centre of gravity as well. simple physics.

            what you might be talking about is planning. if you’re harnesslines are too short and you’re standing on the board without planning you’re gonna find it difficult to pump yourself onto the plane and your sail will not be vertical=will be inefficient. whereas in longer lines you can put your sail more vert and operate it further away from your body a little better. but thats just a mistake of getting on the plane hooked in!

            trust me i’ve windsurfed over 70% of my lifetime (17 of 23 years) and spent 300 days on the water for the past 3 years. simple things as harnesslines lenghth im pretty sure of :)))

          • Chr

            Hello Maciek, so now you are telling exaclty what I sail from the beginning: As longer the lines, as more force creates your bodyweight to the sail (just physics) as more upright can the sail go…so we agree totally: longer harness lines more control and more power for the sail (more upright) and much more power for the pilot (better lever for the bodyweight)

          • Maciek Rutko

            its only your body that should change position the sail should always stay upright to make the foil as efficient as possible. if the sail doesnt move and the only thing that changes is your body angle, its obvious that when your weight is further away from the sail it will create more force against it = less power = more control. draw vectors how the forces work if you still dont believe 😉 the force of the sail goes one way and the force of the sail the other.
            at the moment you are simply contradicting yourself because more power is always less control and vice versa. so simple vector physics AND years and years of experience tell you that longer lines = less power = less control. you can ask whichever pro you want, as I ran out of arguments to give you hehe 🙂

          • Chr

            Hello Maciek, i still believe that we just say very similar things even if we not always take out the same conclusions. (I do it also for many years, lots of days, competing and analysing vectors)
            I would really like to interchange views with you, maybe you are in Pozo this summer so there you can experience why longer harness lines is more control, hehehe… 🙂

  • Ollivier

    Great tips, thanks a lot for sharing !!! My question: I see nowhere any reference to harness type (seat vs waist) related to boom height… does it have an impact ? I would argue that a seat harness having the hook much lower, pulls the sail more downwards, therefore applies more pressure onto mast foot. Therefore to obtain similar “perpendicular” traction to boom, one would need to significantly lower the boom when using a seat harness. Right or wrong ?

  • Ollivier

    Great tips, thanks a lot for sharing !!! My question: I see nowhere any reference to harness type (seat vs waist) related to boom height… does it have an impact ? I would argue that a seat harness having the hook much lower, pulls the sail more downwards, therefore applies more pressure onto mast foot. Therefore to obtain similar “perpendicular” traction to boom, one would need to significantly lower the boom when using a seat harness. Right or wrong ?

  • Peter

    Hello,
    thanks for the interesting tipps.
    Where can I find the first zwo parts? (It is stated in the title that is is part #3)

  • Peter

    Hello,
    thanks for the interesting tipps.
    Where can I find the first zwo parts? (It is stated in the title that is is part #3)

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