Which Boom Furler is the Best?

Carbon Fiber Leisure Furl

When it comes to mainsail management systems, in-mast furlers appear to be losing popularity with cruisers while boom furlers keep popping up on more boats. We are noticing a huge increase in customers upgrading their conventional or even their in-mast units (yes, you read that right, read more below) to in-boom furling. I may even go as far as to say that in-boom furling will soon become standard equipment for the production boat market.

Oyster 880 with carbon boom furler and mast

in-boom furling on the royal huismann

 

 

 

 

 

Like many other things in sailing, boom furlers owe their origins to custom designed solutions for mega and super sailing yacht customers, where pricing is of little significance. While I wouldn’t call the current production systems down right affordable to the cost conscious cruiser, there are now plenty of choices for furling your mainsail horizontally. However, most of these furling boom manufacturers only have a carbon fiber option for their spar material, which makes for one very expensive boom. So what are some more cost effective alternatives?

Carbon fiber boom furlers the rigging company

Aluminum extrusions seem to be the answer here. So, for the sake of cost and to narrow down our discussion a bit, let us take a look at who’s building aluminum boom furlers:

As each of us here at TRC has had experience with all of these systems at one point or another, allow us to give you our thoughts on these seemingly similar, but yet ‘oh so’ different boom furlers. For more carbon fiber options please take a look at the links provided at the bottom of the article.

 

PRO FURL MKR 

Pro Furl In-Boom The Rigging Company

Pro Furl In-Boom

Coming in at a tie for 3rd place is the Pro Furl MKR. Pro Furl boasts of a very sturdy double gooseneck assembly, and it does appear quite sturdy. This is a good feature when considering the concerns of boom weight with these systems, especially while gybing.

TIP: TRC always recommends the addition of a good boom brake system to help control the effects of an unruly gybe.

Pro Furl’s overall spar design is sleek and attractive. They also have the furling drum mounted on the inboard end, which we like because it keeps the weight inboard. The Pro Furl in-boom furling system is only available in painted aluminum. The system uses a proprietary vang which is a must, as it is with most of the manufacturers. Pro Furl’s vang is essentially a hard vang (with no adjustment) that kicks the boom up to its ideal furling position. This is a very good concept, the user just eases the main sheet, the sail flogs, and the boom returns to its proper position for furling. There have been problems reported with the vang however, users have stated issues about vang leaks and parts failure.

 

If you look at Pro Furl’s behind the mast track, it is very far stood-off behind the mast. This is likely for a clean lead into the sail track as the drum occupies the front of the boom and requires the sail roll to start pretty far aft. This, if nothing else makes for a very unsightly track system. The only real plus I see to this track system is it makes climbing the mast very convenient, it offers almost a ladder of sorts to the top of the mast ;-0). How does this system do in off wind hoisting and dousing situations?? Pro Furl In-Boom customers are encouraged to leave us a few thoughts below.

 

FURLBOOM

Furlboom by The Rigging Company. In-boom furler

Furlboom

This brings me to the other tie for 3rd (a close 2nd). Furlboom has changed hands recently to a new owner and hopefully they can take this seemingly promising design to the next level of refinement. Available in anodized or painted aluminum only, Furlboom’s spar is a square/rectangular style section that is tapered and can look at home on almost any modern day sailboat. Their biggest niche within the market, IMO, is pricing. Furlboom comes in as the least expensive of all of the options. This is a very appealing perk as these systems are known to cost a small fortune. Furlboom does not offer a manufacturer specific vang, instead recommends the use of Selden’s Rodkicker Vangs. Selden’s vangs are perhaps not the top of the heap when it comes to rigid vangs, but it is already a better option than what Pro Furl attempted. Leave the vangs to the guys that make…vangs. Furlboom has a lot going for it: low weight (relative to boom furlers), a manual override feature,  a solidly mounted behind the mast track, a low profile tapered spar design, and it is very well priced (comparatively).

 

Some of the downsides of this system are found at the top of the track; they utilize a sheave to extend the halyard out to the aft face of the track. This in conjunction with a non-hinging track, can make for some pretty severe halyard chafe, especially when off the wind or when the halyard is just sitting static for long periods of time in the stowed position. Although the boom material and construction seem to be a very nice quality, it seems that some of the track parts were cheaply cast and painted, instead of extruded/machined and anodized. The last part that is questionable is the chain drive which links the furling drum (mounted below the gooseneck on the aft side of the mast) to the mandrel. Regular maintenance and inspection of this chain is highly recommended. If the chain drive fails, the manual override feature cannot be used. When considering a boom furler for a smaller boat, the Furlboom is and has been always our first choice due to weight, size, and price.

NOTE: Only Furlboom and Leisure Furl offer manual override features!!!

 

SCHAEFER GAMMA AND BETA BOOM

Schaefer Boom Furler The Rigging Company

Schaefer Boom Furler

Schaefer makes the podium at 2nd place, living up to their reputation for being robust and high quality. This boom is rock solid. It is made of high quality machined and extruded aluminum with a deep anodized finish. The Schaefer system lacks only in four departments: looks (no taper and just plain big), a loosely mounted behind-the-mast main sail track (must be noisy and is not attractive), the vang is a fixed length rod, and lastly Schaefer utilizes a furling drum that is mounted at the very outboard end of the boom; not an ideal place for added weight especially when considering the already big size of this boom. This can make gybing an already heavy boom even more interesting, especially if it is accidental. Although I am not in love the with their behind the mast track, it does seem to offer very good off the wind hoisting and furling due to the hinged design of the track. Schaefer’s proprietary vang is mandatory. The vang is really more of a strut as it is set at a fixed length. Although this guarantees an optimal boom height for furling and hoisting at all times, it restricts the users sail trim options.

 

LEISURE FURL

Leisure Furl The Rigging Company

Leisure Furl}

This leads us to the winner………the Forespar Leisure Furl {LF} System. This system has been around a long time. LF has had many years of R & D which usually means they have worked out most of the kinks. Leisure Furls are available in many sizes, configurations, and finishes: anodized, painted, as well as carbon fiber. There are also two smaller, entry level, models called the Leisure Furl Coastal and the ALL NEW LF Coastal Plus; which focus more on the small to medium size boat market. Here are some of the big pluses of the LF system:

  • A sleek solidly mounted behind the mast track
  • A fully functional (and required) Forespar Yacht Rod (one of the best rigid vangs on the market)
  • A tapered attractive spar design
  • An inboard mounted furling drum
  • A manual override (excluding coastal and coastal plus)

Over the years Forespar has only simplified, instead of adding to, or over-complicating their original design. We like that concept as it is in line with our company motto. They have also eliminated most of the plastic pieces except for the bottom feeder track, they call this the ‘Flexy Feeder’. This piece, which has been duplicated by many in-boom furling manufacturers, is crucial for better off the wind furling and hoisting. Another great feature of the boom is that it keeps a majority of the weight inboard by mounting the furling drum on the forward face of the mast. Initially, I was a bit skeptical (as I am sure most of you are) not just of the drum hanging off of the front of the mast, but also of the 1″+ hole that needs to be drilled at the gooseneck for the furling mandrel to connect to the drum.  It turns out that by putting a solid stainless steel rod through it, along with the massive gooseneck bracket that accompanies it, this typically weak and highly loaded area of the mast, is actually strengthened.  Keep up the good work Leisure Furl!

 

Looking to Ditch Your In-Mast Furler for an In-Boom Furler???

Forespar, who have been building masts for many years, and is one of the most respected names in the industry, has developed and tested a custom made kit for converting in-mast furling masts, to conventional masts. The long and the short of it is, they have a specially designed tool which bends aluminum plates to the exact shape of your mast section. These plates are then installed so that the two mast walls, port and starboard, are tied together and the long slot that once served as the entrance for the sail housing is eliminated. Once this is installed the existing mast can be used to facilitate the Leisure Furl In-Boom Furling System. Want to know more? Please ask our experienced sales staff about details and pricing.

leisure furl

To wrap things up (pun intended)…

…. these booms are all priced very comparably and offer similar but different design features. I recommend checking each one out in detail for yourself by clicking on the images to link to the manufacturers website and find out for yourself. Keep in mind, all furling systems are convenience items and thus can become the opposite of convenient (a problem) if not properly installed, used, and maintained.  The big plus with horizontal furling systems is the halyard can always be released and the sail just comes down….just like in the old days.

Additionally, before you pull the trigger, keep in mind that there are some other final cost considerations that are required but not included…all of these manufacturers will most likely require replacing the mainsail, a specific vang, an electric winch, and something to ‘snub’ with (i.e. snubber winch or polished stainless cleat).

 

Wondering who else makes in-boom furling systems?

The companies mentioned below only offer carbon fiber (even possibly only powered drive units). Here is a list of all of the ones that we know of, that we did not discuss, but are worth checking out:

Be sure to ask us about any of these products or manufacturers. We’d be glad to help.

Thanks for the read and see you on the water.

~T.R.C.

About The Rigging Company, LLP

We provide complete and professional rigging products and services!
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20 Responses to Which Boom Furler is the Best?

  1. Mustafa gülçubuk says:

    Merhaba benim kılasik yelkenli leopard 45 catamaranım var furlin boom sistemi taktırmak istiyorum yardımcı olurmusunuz
    Türkiyeden yazıyorum

  2. Hi, I have the older version of the Profurl boom furler on both my main and mizzen.
    The mizzen has worked well, yet the main boom, has had lots of issues as it is much larger and thus heavier.
    Agree 100% that it has an ugly extrusion behind the mast, yet I do see in your picture above that they now cover this up, so maybe I can retro fit one of these.
    I have had vang issues on both booms as you suggest, yet an upgrade of parts has fixed all of the problems, I only get 3 years out of the gas struts though.
    The main problem I have had is the nuts hold everything together coming loose, so I would recommend changing them regularly with new ones. As they come loose the components work themselves to death which has led to most of my issues.
    I use boom brakes on both booms, and I would use them even if I didn’t have a boom furler, they are much better than a preventer.
    Considering my furlers are now close to 20 years old and how easy they make sail handling, I thank the previous owner that forked out the $ and installed them.
    Rgds
    Mark Hunter.
    SV. Evening Star, Hinckley 49

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Hi Kirsty,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Yes, I would have to do a little research but I am sure that these ProFurl systems can be upgraded…track or anything else for that matter.

      Sounds like you are doing all of the right things to ensure that this system keeps working for you. Nice to see. Also ‘good on ya’ for using the boom brakes, they’re great!

      Let us know if you need us to find about more ie ProFurl.

      Thanks,
      ~T.R.C.

  3. Rob Casden says:

    I am about to order a new Lagoon 52F cat which has a Leisure Furl in boom option. With a ‘senior’ crew of two, it seemed like a no-brainier. What would be your main positive and negative considerations? We will be sailing the lesser Antilles chain primarily. Will servicing or maintenance be problematic? (base in St. Maarten) Thanks so much!

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for using us for your questions. These systems, as long as they are installed and operated correctly, will offer many years of trouble free and maintenance free service. Definitely, take the time to have someone show you the system…a customer sail so to speak, with someone who knows boom furlers. Also call Leisure Furl directly and speak with Alan Massey for specific tips and tricks. He will be a good contact should you ever have any questions or problems. Also take plenty of time to practice hoisting and reefing in light air conditions before setting off on any major trips.

      This may have been a shorter answer than what you are looking for, but the negatives once set up correctly are relatively small. Clearly the closer you are to the wind the better the system will work for in terms of hoisting and dousing. Heavy air runs may require you to come up a few ticks to help unload things. The positives are quite a long list as stated in the article.

      Thanks for the read and for commenting.

      ~T.R.C.

  4. Barry Jagolinzer says:

    I have a Swan 47 with a carbon fiber mast and boom.
    Have you had any experience with a similar installation?

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Hi Barry, we do. We do have experience in all aspects ….commissioning, repair, construction, stepping, assembly, refinishing? Even with Swan yachts in particular and/or carbon fiber spars in general.

      Let us know how we can be of service further. Thanks.

      ~T.R.C.

  5. carl schwersinske says:

    Is there a boom fuler for a Victoria 18 ?

  6. massimiliano says:

    What about in boom furling system for a 80 feet blue cruiser?
    Better fiber carbon boom or aluminium?
    Thanks for any suggestion and an idea of costs.
    Massimiliano

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      I would likely recommend a carbon boom for something that size. It is very likely that any aluminum boom manufacturer may not have a boom big enough to fit your boat…80 foot is kind of on the edge. The manufacturers I would recommend are Leisure Furl (especially alu.) or GMT. For price you can expect to spend almost double for carbon, but as I said that may be your only option.
      Pricing installed can range from $35k (if we can get alu.) to $60k, not including the sail (which will also need to be replaced). The boat will require a hydraulic vang and an electric main halyard winch as well.
      I can generate a quote for you if you like…
      I will need the boat’s P dimension (mainsail max hoist), E dimension (mainsail max outhaul), and the boats displacement. Also the more info the better; what kind of boat is it, who is the manufacturer, etc…?

      Thanks and I hope that helps.

      ~T.R.C

      • Carl Kramer says:

        I have a Jon Meri 40 (1988). What would Leisure Furl cost. My main is 10%!linger than standard main. Is Leisurefurl the best choice?

        Carl

        • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

          Hi Carl,

          Thanks for taking the time. I would need some specific info, but can give you rough pricing. The system for this boat can run anywhere between $15-$19k (in aluminum, carbon and faired options available at additional costs) depending on what size boom is required. This is the system only price and not installed. Complete with install the $15k version could end up running around $20k installed. This does not include the new mainsail that would be required. A unit specific vang or hydraulic vang will also be a requirement. The boat will need a low stretch main halyard and an electric main halyard winch, which would also be utilized for the main furling line (electric drive versions also available, eliminating the furling line). Lastly we always recommend the use of a boom brake to help ease the forces of jibes.

          Yes, Leisure Furl is the way to go here. Pricing is roughly the same throughout the various manufacturers, but LF’s product is superior.

          I hope this helps answer some of your questions. Please let us know how we can help further, when you are ready.

          ~Jim

  7. Carl M Kramer says:

    I have a Jon Meri 40 sloop., 1988. It has a larger than standard Jon Meri main, +10% along the foot.

    I am interested in a boom furling mostly because I am now 81 and still actively cruise. I sail almost exclusively in New England. I want the ease of putting the main away at the end of the day and the safety of reefing more simply.

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Hi Carl,

      Thanks for commenting, and yes a properly set up boom furling system can make for years of easier mainsail handling.

      Feel free to contact us via email or telephone with any questions and more product information on the various Systems.

      We’d be glad to help.

      ~T.R.C.

  8. Stephen Scaring says:

    I have a Sabre 452 looking for approximate price for new boom curling system liesure furl and Schaefer . I have an electric winch which I currently use to raise the mainsail. Also looking for quality instillation. Will be replacing main. Boat is in Greenport Long Island . Thanks Steve Scaring

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Hi Steve,

      We hope you had a good holiday weekend. Thanks for commenting. The Sabre 452 is perfect candidate for a boom furling system. You can expect to pay around the $20k mark for either of these systems. The presence of an electric winch is a big plus and would have likely added around $5k to the project. We are an authorized installer for either the Schaefer or the Leisure Furl system. Although we are located in Annapolis Maryland, we travel all over the country as well as abroad to provide our unique services. Please contact us via <a href="https://theriggingco.com/contacts/">email</a> or our <a href="https://theriggingco.com/fill-out-our-online-work-request-form/">Work Request Form</a> for a more detailed look into this project if it interests you.
      

      Thanks,
      ~T.R.C.

  9. Tony Donnelly says:

    Good morning,
    I’m trying to sell my Moody 46 1998, she’s sloop rigged and have had an enquiry asking if the in mast furling (Selden) can be changed to in boom furling. Please can you give me some advice and ball park numbers for the conversion.
    Many thanks Tony Donnelly

    • The Rigging Company, LLP says:

      Thanks for asking Tony. Leisure Furl just started OFFERING IN-MAST conversion kits. Essentially 6′ plates that are painted (or anodized) and riveted across the span of the opening tying the two sides of the mast together. This is a fairly new product so there is very little owner feedback other than what LF has done with field testing on customer boats. That conversation is better had with Alan Massey of Forespar.

      This conversion, with new boom furling system, all said and done could run approx. $30k. Overall we think it would be best to purchase a new conventional mast (custom TRC or Selden). This would make the total more in the $50k range. PLEASE NOTE! These are very loose numbers, (and can vary as much as $5-10k up or down) so please don’t hold us to it. A proper detailed estimate can be provided upon request.

      However, this should give the new owner a feel for anticipated costs. Hope this helps…

      ~T.R.C.

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