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Jib Boom Extender

September 18, 2012

From the log of Jack Detweiler’s Skimmer:

Marti and I have Alerion Express 28, hull number 160, built in 2001. It has the Hoyt Jib Boom but the factory-fitted Light Air Jib Boom Extender was not available at that time. This made it necessary for us to go forward with a whisker pole if we wanted to sail in anything less than steady heavy air when sailing wing and wing. Also, in light air on a reach it was hard to get the jib boom to go out on the leeward side. “Light Air” Jib Boom Extender is probably a misnomer as it is hard to make the boom behave in many conditions. 

A lengthy e-mail from an AE-28 owner on San Francisco Bay that describes various issues with the boat and the remedies for those issues is posted in this section of our website. One item covered was the installation of an aftermarket Jib Boom Extender. See here for the description of the Jib Boom Extender and photos of my installation.

I contacted Rick Palachi of Shanty Irish Marine and asked him if he could install one for us. He did some research and contacted Ralf Morgan, a member of the San Francisco Bay AE28 Fleet. Ralf works for Keefe Kaplan Maritime, Inc (KKMI) in Point Richmond, CA. We ordered the Jib Boom Extender Kit from him. The kit comes with all of the parts and detailed instructions and costs about $840 including shipping. Ralf can be reached at 501-307-7905 or morgan@kkmi.com. Rick at Shanty Irish Marine (shantyirish@comcast.net) installed it for us and he tells me that now that he has done it once, he can do it for $1,250 including the cost of the kit, his labor and taxes.

The operation of the Jib Boom Extender is exceptional and allows us to control the jib boom in various wind conditions without ever leaving the cockpit. We can wing out the jib boom forward of 90 degrees and we can even sail on a broad reach with the boat in a wing and wing configuration (jib boom to windward). The piston has a pressure of 150 lbs. and seems to do the trick without causing excessive pressure on the sheet.

The only concern that we had initially was tacking in extremely light air. The factory-installed extender has trouble allowing the boom to cross when tacking to windward. Ralf assured me that it was not a problem and if it was slow to come across to just give the jib sheet a quick snap and that it would come right over. When going wing and wing or on a reach in lighter air, it helps to ease the jib outhaul a tad so that the tension on the boom end doesn't restrict it from going out.

The first time out with it, Marti and I sailed in Spa Creek in just a few knots of air. In drifting conditions, it seemed a little cranky, but as soon as you got a little more wind, like 4 or 5 knots, it was not a problem. I have more trouble getting the full length battens to invert in the really light stuff than we have getting the jib to cross. This installation was reported to work better than the factory installation and Paul Rohrkemper, who has now sailed on boats with both set ups, agrees that the extender from KKMI is superior.

If anyone has any questions or would like to go sailing and see it, please give me a call. It works better than a whisker pole and is faster racing, because you don't have to set the pole after rounding the windward mark and then take it down before rounding the leeward mark. It is also less dangerous as no one has to go forward on our narrow side deck boats, most of which don't have life lines and set a pole. Marti didn't like it with us as I would put her on the helm when I went forward. She would get nervous sailing by the lee that she would have an accidental jibe, and in fact did it on one occasion. Fortunately, I stayed aboard. This is a great set up whether racing, cruising or day sailing and is the reason that the San Francisco Fleet has made it a One Design Rule that you can't leave the cockpit.