WINDSURF BOOM KNOWLEDGE BY UNIFIBER
Reliable aluminium and carbon windsurfing booms for comfortable, efficient sailing across all windsurf disciplines
From the performance Elite range of carbon booms to the budget-friendly Essentials aluminium booms, from slalom booms with outside tails to kids’ booms: Unifiber have booms to suit all budgets and preferences.
Aluminium vs carbon, boom body shape, grip diameter, tail width - There are many points to consider when purchasing a new boom, whether it’s a replacement or your very first one!
Let's discuss the key factors to consider when choosing a boom...
Aluminium Versus Carbon Booms
The choice between aluminium and carbon is mostly budget related. Aluminium booms generally retail between 100€ and 300€, a big saving over carbon booms. Carbon booms range between 500€ and 1000€. So why would you pay the extra for a carbon boom?
First of all, carbon booms are much stiffer than aluminium booms. Boom stiffness directly influences the performance of your rig. The stiffer the boom, the less deformation of the sail profile. Especially in overpowered conditions stiffer booms provide better top-end control and responsiveness. A stiffer boom will also provide a more direct interaction with your sail. When a sail is pumped with an aluminium boom, a lot of energy is wasted in the flex of the boom tube. With a carbon boom there is more direct power transfer to drive the board forward: acceleration and top speed are improved.
Also to consider is durability. The most common failure of aluminium booms is due to a bent boom body tube. This can happen with catapult crashes or when landing a high jump hooked in. Carbon booms do not bend (at least, not permanently). This makes carbon booms much stronger and more durable. A note of caution about carbon is that it is more vulnerable to point loads and impacts. For example, if you drop your carbon boom on the street, this might cause hair fractures in the material, creating weak points that can lead to a broken boom and a long swim. Most carbon booms are protected by the grip and rubber patches. If you take good care of your carbon boom, it will last for many years.
Finally, there is the difference in weight. Carbon booms are lighter. Lighter gear has better handling and is easier to set into motion (better acceleration and more speed). However, because there are also other boom components to consider, the weight difference between aluminium and carbon booms is relatively small.
In conclusion: carbon booms are much more expensive, but they deliver in performance and durability. For those who are new to windsurfing an aluminium boom will do the job just fine. But when you’re stoked and ready to get serious, a carbon boom is an excellent investment that will last for many years.
ESSENTIALS, HD, ELITE
Unifiber offer three ranges of booms:
- ESSENTIALS: budget friendly aluminium booms
- HEAVY DUTY (HD): aluminium and carbon booms built for durability
- ELITE: carbon booms built for uncompromised performance
The aluminium tubes that we use for the HD booms have increased wall thickness. This makes the HD booms stronger and stiffer than the ESSENTIALS. The HD carbon booms use a different carbon lay-up, with added glass fibre. This makes the HD booms less vulnerable to point loads and impact.
Modular Boom Concept: CONFIGURE ME
Unifiber launched the modular boom concept in 2019. The idea is simple: see a boom not as just a single product, but as an assembly of three products: boomhead, body and tail. These parts can be exchanged and combined. This gives a number of unique advantages:
- When a part breaks, you don’t have to buy a new complete boom. Just replace the broken part. This saves money for the customer and reduces the environmental impact of our products.
- If you need two booms, you only have to buy one and a half. For example, if you have a 190-240 ELITE boom and you bought a bigger sail, you only have to buy a 220-270 tail to extend the range of your boom. Or you can use the same boomhead for all your booms.
- Combine parts to create a boom that perfectly matches your preferences. For example, combine the durability of an HD boom body with the stiffness and lightweight performance of an ELITE tail.
- Reduce cost and environmental impact of shipping. The shape of old style booms makes them very inefficient to ship: they are placed in boxes that contain mostly empty space. By taking the boomhead, body and tail apart that space is used more efficiently. This is good for your wallet and for the environment.
The boomhead is a critical component of every boom. All the forces that act on your rig: the wind in your sail, the shocks received through the surface of the water, your own movements - they are all transmitted through this connection. Even the best boom tubes will perform sub-standard if the link between boom and mast is insecure.
This is why Unifiber spent hundreds of R&D hours in developing the best possible boomhead.
So what makes the perfect boomhead?
A stiff connection with the mast is important for a sense of direct interaction with your gear. But using the stiffest materials does not lead to the best boomhead. A stiff boomhead will direct the forces towards its edges, resulting in point loads on the mast. Eventually the mast will break.
A better boomhead will form itself to the shape of the mast. There is no play, so you'll precisely feel the forces that are acting on your gear, and your gear will follow your movements perfectly. When you sail on choppy water, or land a high jump, the forces between mast and boom are equally distributed over the contact area of the boomhead. Your mast will live to surf many more days.
Boom Grip Diameter
The diameter of the boom tubes impacts upon comfort and stiffness. Larger diameter booms are typically stiffer, and this delivers improved performance. But a large diameter grip is more difficult to hold and is more tiring on the forearms, and may sometimes result in forearm muscle cramp. So most windsurfers prefer a small grip diameter.
The shape of the grip cross-section also influences both comfort and stiffness. A round grip is equally stiff in all directions. A V-grip is stiffer in the horizontal direction. The horizontal stiffness has the most effect on performance - since both the driving force in the sail as your own pumping action work horizontally. So V-grip is a nice way to have great stiffness while sparing your forearms. But this is a matter of preference. Some windsurfers find the V-grip 'too sharp'. That is why the Oval/V-grip is most commonly applied in modern carbon booms. It's the optimal combination between stiffness and comfort.
Narrow or Wide Tail
When using bigger sail sizes, typically around 6.8 and larger, it is sensible to consider a boom with a wider tail. Wide tail booms ensure the sail profile will not be disturbed when sailing with low outhaul tension, as is often the case in lighter wind conditions. In contrast, narrow tail booms - particularly if used with bigger sails - can restrict and deform the sail profile, resulting in sub-optimal performance and potentially compromising sail durability.
Modern wave sails are also designed to have quite a deep profile, so it is wise to consider tail width on smaller booms too.
Boom Body Shape
The traditional 'regular' boom shape has its origin in the time when booms were made from two separate arms. It has the advantage of a minimal bend radius for the aluminium (or even wood). A disadvantage is that they require the front arm (the mast hand) to have a slightly bent wrist. Since the monocoque boom became the standard (that's already a long time ago), the 'C' shape became popular. ‘C’ shape booms have ergonomic advantages since they allow the lead arm to take a more natural wrist position. This applies to straight line blasting, but can also make for more comfortable gybing and other manoeuvres.
The regular shape is outdated and almost every boom has a 'C' shape nowadays. However, there are many variations. Large booms often have a shape that is in between 'C' and regular shape, because the natural hand position is further away from the mast.
The differences are often small, but it's important to have a comfortable hand position. So we advise to grab a couple of booms when you visit your local dealer, so you can feel the difference.
Boom Head Mast Diameter Compatibility
When buying a new boom check for mast diameter compatibility. Most booms will work on both SDM and RDM masts. Often this is achieved with a separate adapter for RDM masts.
There are also boomheads that are dedicated for use with RDM or SDM masts only. For SDM only booms there are universal adaptors or mast shims that allow for use with RDM masts.
Boom Adjustment Settings
Most windsurf sails quote an outhaul setting range that corresponds to the required boom length setting.
But do consider that there is slight variation in how the different sail manufacturers arrive at their recommended measurements, and the actual setting required will depends on conditions, boom height and other factors.
When using a boom at the minimum or close to the minimum length setting it will be more stiff and improve the performance of your rig.
When a boom is used near the limit of its extension range it will be less stiff. For this reason most Unifiber aluminium booms extend a maximum of 50cm, while the - inherently stiffer - Unifiber carbon booms can be extended up to 60cm.
Inside tail or outside tail
There are two main options for the boom tail: a larger diameter tail that goes outside the boom body, or a smaller diameter tail that goes inside.
The tail inside option allows for the length adjustment lock to be fixed at the end of the boom body - which allows for simple operation. A disadvantage is that the tail itself - being of narrower diameter - is less stiff.
The tail outside option requires a wider diameter boom tail, which adds to stiffness. A disadvantage of this system is that locating the holes for the length adjustment lock can sometimes be difficult.
For shorter sized booms the tail outside option is not offered, as the tail would interfere with the back hand during normal sailing.
Boom Tail System
For quick rigging, the loop-loop-go (loop-to-loop) option is most convenient. This is the best option for medium-sized and smaller sails, and will help get you rigged and out on the water quickly!
The pulley-option provides a solution for use on booms fitted with an adjustable outhaul system. This is a great feature for bigger sails and racing.
Why Choose Unifiber Booms?
Because none of us have unlimited budgets but we are still demanding of our equipment!
Unifiber booms are available in multiple combinations of outline, tail width, grip diameter, tube shape and more. Our range is the widest available and represents excellent value. We won't be beaten on our balance of price, quality and performance - all of which help deliver the most fun and enjoyable windsurf experiences.
All our booms are offered with a comprehensive 1-year unconditional warranty and with 2-year cover for manufacturing faults, and we maintain a reliable stock of spare component parts. Unifiber are committed to supplying our customers with quality products that deliver peace of mind and excellent value.
More info about windsurf booms:
- WHY YOU CANNOT BLINDLY FOLLOW EQUIPMENT SPECS
- VIDEO BOOM SHAPE COMPARISON
- VIDEO WINDSURFING BOOM GRIP SHAPES
- ADVICE ON BUYING A WINDSURFING BOOM
- WHAT IS A C-SHAPE BOOM?
- CARBON VS. ALUMINIUM BOOMS - WHICH ARE BEST?
- CORRECT WINDSURFING BOOM-HEIGHT POSITIONING
- WHAT IS A MONOCOQUE BOOM?
- BOOM TAILS - WHY GO WIDE?
- REDUCE DIAMETER GRIP VS STANDARD DIAMETER GRIP BOOMS