While they are one of the most critical parts during a regatta, many people don't bother too much with the options they have. Read the below article to find your best bang for the buck you have
|*length ignoring joint|
- Things your tiller is exposed to
- Bamboo extensions
- Typical Carbon extensions
- Kevlar reenforced extensions
- Choosing your joint
Exposure to the elements, boat and sailor
Your tillers are exposed to many different forces. Some are intentional, some are unintentional and others are extremely unintentional.
Starting off with the most common force:
Compression and Expansion
occurring when you steer the boat through waves, during tacks or just before broach.
The main place to worry about here is the bottom, where the joint is attached. This area has the most strain because of the short distance to the edge, the holes, holding the joint, and the inertia of the extention when you switch extentions during tacks and gybes. The extreme case is you holding on to it after going overboard.
Very flexible extentions can also experience bending as a consequence of compression.
Bending is more of an unintentional force, that happens as a byproduct of mainly intertial but also leverage through your hand and accidents.
Less bend is desirable in order to have a more direct control over the rudder and thus, the boat.
There are extreme cases, where the tiller extensions experience a lot more forces than usual.
When you lose traction on the deck or capsize while your tiller extention is caught in equipment, this can crack or break the extention of completely.
Sun, Salt and UV
Sun and UV rays are your tillers' major natural enemies.
Heat (IR Rays)
At about 75°C, most epoxy resins soften, dramatically reducing strength and stiffness, increasing chances warpage and permanent damage.
Note, that it is not unlikely for a carbon mast, lying in the sun on a windless day to reach temperatures of 65°C. So keep your carbon pieces protected from the sun's IR radiation.
Ultra Violet Rays
Epoxy resins are degraded by UV light. Excessive exposure top UV light in the long term can cause epoxy resins to become brittle and wear away quicker or even fall off on its own.
Water and salt
If your carbon parts have been penetrated with either the forces of nature or punctured by you or your boat, chances are that you are experiencing wicking.
Water seeping into the laminate, greatly reducing strength. Salt also plays a minor role in this kind of degratation. when the water dries, salt is left to crystalise within the fibres, damaging them and making them succeptable to further penetration of water.
If you are starting out on the 49er, you are most likely running a set of biodegradable bamboo tiller extensions. - Such natural
Bamboo is the cheapest material you can get in the necessary length, diamether and strength and usually allows the joint to fit in place very snugg.
It is very light and flexible and the ideal matierial for beginners because a single extention runs you at 3-10€ and, depending on the quality, can last you for season. If it breaks you can visit virtually any nearby contruction store and buy replacements, reusing your old joint.
However, because it is a natural material, it will not be uniform most of the time. You will have the bamboo-typical bumps and often a slight bend. The cane will also warp over time because of resaturation with water. It will also become even more flexible in water and heavier too! Becasue of the repeated saturation in water, it is also very likely for the bamboo to split after some time, especially if you are sailing in a very hot and dry climate. Bamboo is also succeptable to the joint breaking out after some time.
If you are going full bamboo, make sure you always carry a replacement on your boom everytime you get out on the water.
Going full Carbon
Red: Directly from CST Australia
Blue: Ovington UK
dotted: price per unit at an order of x units