The boom vang, also called a kicking strap, is a piston system responsible for boom control. It prevents skying or the twisting of the mainsail. It flattens the sail to improve efficiency, making it possible to sail closer to the wind. The vang applies downward force to the boom.
Using the boom vang is one of the most important for those who are learning to sail as a beginner. It may seem useless at first, but in reality, it assumes a critical function when you are sailing. Not using this properly will compromise performance and safety.
If you want to learn the right way to use a boom vang, read on and we’ll let you know the basics.
Uses of a Boom Vang
As mentioned in the introduction, the most important function of the boom vang is boom control. It controls the leech tension. In turn, it is instrumental in preventing the mainsail from twisting, especially when it is windy. It corrects the shape of the sail, which allows ease of control. This is also effective in increasing the speed of the boat.
Improved jibing is another reason to use a kicking strap. It helps you to easily shift from one side to another when the boat is running. To do this properly, read this quick guide on how to tack and jibe a sailboat.
As the boat sails, the boom leans towards the leeward side at an angle of 50 to 80 degrees. This angle results in minimal downward pull to the boom. This also allows rising and falling as the wind changes and as it rolls through the waves. The rise of the boom causes the mainsail to billow out. This lessens the efficiency of the sail. The kicking strap prevents this from happening. It pulls the boom downwards.
The conventional design of the boom vang is a block and tackle that is connected to the boom with the use of a claw, bail, or strap. It is positioned at a 45-degree angle to the boom all the way to the rail.
How to Use a Boom Vang Properly
At this point, you should already know that a boom vang should be a non-negotiable when you are sailing, especially with regards to how it improves control. It may not be a huge as sailing anchors or sailing winches, but a kicking strap is important.
Now, the next thing you need to learn is how to use it properly to maximize its full benefits. Otherwise, it ends up being useless.
First, you need to learn when there is a need to tighten the boom vang. One of the instances when you need to do this is when you are sailing downwind. By tightening the vang, you will end up keeping the boom down. In turn, this minimizes the likelihood that the mainsail will twist.
Tightening the boom vang is also a must when your boat is not equipped with a traveler. The latter pulls the boom down when the wind is directly over on one side of the boat.
On the other hand, if you want the boom to rise, you need to release or loosen the kicking strap. One of the situations when this is necessary is when you are sailing downwind and when there is light air. The shape of the mainsail will be better if the vang is loose.
If you are sailing downwind and the wind is powerful, this is another instance when you need to loosen the boom vang. This will minimize the power of the mainsail and prevent twisting.
You can also use the boom vang as a preventer, especially when you are sailing downwind. Basically, the preventer is a line that prevents the boom from making an abrupt swing across your sailboat. It can generate a strong force, which can damage the boat and cause an accident. Using the vang is one of the best things to ensure boating safety.
To use the vang as a preventer, release the bottom part of the kicking strap from the mast, provided that it is not permanently connected to the latter. Attach the vang to the stanchion. This will result in the limitation of the forces that pushes the mast and will be crucial in preventing abrupt broach.
Whether you are racing or cruising, a boom vang can prove to be beneficial in more ways than one. Best of all, it is cheap while being able to yield exceptional benefits. If your boat is small, the boom vang can be as cheap as $20. For a complete system, the average cost is only $90, which is already inclusive of high-quality components to complete the set-up. If you have larger boats, the cost can be as much as $200. If you really want to enjoy the best performance, look for high-end rigid vangs, especially if you will use your sailboat for a race.
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Sailing is fun and exciting, especially when you are complete with the gears needed and you know the fundamentals of operating a sailboat, such as the use of a boom vang. As noted above, the kicking strap is important in improving sailing efficiency, which makes it crucial to learn how to use it properly.
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