The Vang offers this defintion of the word vang.

Vang sailing. The rigging company

Although the etymology is all very interesting. The latter is the one we are the most interested in. Below is a good video describing the benefits of the boom vang and when to use it.

The Boom Vang, in its simplest form, is a block and tackle arranged in such a fashion that it applies downward force (also upward force, see rigid vang) to the boom. This will allow the sailor to control the tension of the leech at all points of sail, regardless of the boom’s sheet tension.

Lewmar Handy Billy. Soft Vang
Although more purchase may be necessary, typically provided through cascades, this should give anyone the gist of the basic ‘soft’ boom vang. For more information on soft vang configurations check out these diagrams.

RIGID VANGS – Most modern day cruisers and racers alike will use a version of this called a rigid vang. A rigid vang, a.k.a. hard vang, or boom kicker, gets its name because it not only is able to haul the boom down but also pushes it up. This is very handy for a few reasons. The ‘main’ reason (pun intended) is it allows the user a quick way to de-power the booms sail if needed and also helps to support the boom much like a boom topping lift. The last part makes reefing, dousing and storing of the boom all a bit easier.

In taking a look at who’s making these rigid vang systems we find no shortage in manufacturers: Boom Kicker, Barton Boom Strut, Bamar Rigid Vang, US Spars/Z Spar Vang, Selden Rod Kicker, Hall Spars Quick Vang, Vang Master, Forespar Yacht Rod, and Sparcraft Vang. Those are just the mechanical vang makers of the world (and I’m sure I’ve missed some).

On the hydraulic end of things, there are far less manufacturers. If your boat is already equipped with a hydraulic system of any kind you’ll likely recognize one of these brands: Navtec, Sailtec, Selden, and Harken, which are all makers of high quality hydraulic systems…including vangs.

Let us just focus on the ones that we know best and sell the most of here at The Rigging Company!

The Rigging Company

Forespar Yacht Rod is a tried and true system and our most popular model yet. It may not be the lightest or sleekest out there, but this vang has earned it’s rank among one of the most dependable in the rigid vang market. It is well suited for just about any racer/cruiser or dedicated cruising boat out there. The yacht rod uses a dependable coil spring as the return. Forespar vangs are adjustable, utilizing a very coarse adjustment (about every 4″) via a fast pin which allows the user a tool-less way to adjust the spring pre-load or boom kick height. The vang is constructed of one smaller anodized aluminum tube and one larger painted aluminum tube with cast anodized ends. Pricing is around the $870 – $1600 range, and they are available in just 3 different sizes. Mast brackets, block and tackles, boom lugs, all sold separately.

NEW! Hall Spars Quick Vang

Hall Spars Quick Vang has also been around for a long time. Although Hall USA has recently announced its closing of business, I think shoppers will still find an inventory of these super high quality vangs with various distributors throughout the US. The Hall Spars Quick Vang has always had a great reputation, and their most recent iteration is even better. Typically, this vang is found on racer/cruisers and dedicated racing boats. Although there is no reason this couldn’t be found on a cruising boat in my opinion. This vang also offers a coil spring as the return mechanism. The springs pre-load can be finely adjusted to set the boom’s kick height (hex keys required). It consists of completely anodized aircraft grade aluminum tubing with solid aluminum machined ends. These systems can vary in price from $1000 to $2800 and are available in 7 different sizes/configurations. Purchase block and tackles are always included, varying from 8:1 to 60:1 depending on boat size and sail requirements. As with all of these systems, mast brackets and boom lugs are purchased separately.

Selden Rod Kicker. Rigid Vang

Selden Rodkicker vangs have also been around a very long time and are rigged on many different styles of boats. It is likely they are equipped on more boats than any of the other manufacturers, from the club racer/cruiser, to the dedicated match racer, to the varying ranges of production cruising boats found in today’s sailboat market. Selden’s approach is slightly different in that it uses a gas spring (much like your gas strut on your hatchback) as the return. They also use a very attractive rectangular extrusion instead round tubing like Forespar and Hall. Selden’s Rodkicker vang does not offer any spring height adjustment. The ends are made of cast anodized aluminum (like Forespar). Price wise these are some of the most affordable systems on the market, ranging from just under $300 up to $1600 (hence their popularity). The Selden vangs come in 4 different sizes, and offer a soft and hard spring option within each size (they also offer the no spring option, but what’s the point?). Purchase block and tackles, mast and boom brackets must be bought separately.

Hydraulic vang service done the right way. The Rigging Company

Hydraulic Vangs – Amongst the various hydraulic vang manufacturers you will see very similar design, functionality, and construction. It seems that Navtec, who also recently closed their doors, was the grandfather of all sailboat hydraulic system and cylinder design. The three big players left (see links at the top of this article) all have their own unique features and benefits, but are for the most part based on the same (Navtec) design. Whether we are talking about a double acting push pull vangs (reserved primarily for larger yachts with heavy booms) or gas return vangs, the gist is the same. There is a stainless steel piston rod with an aluminum piston that rides inside of an anodized aluminum cylinder/body. This is all accompanied by a series of seals that will need to be serviced/replaced once in while to keep things….sealed. The big deal is that all of these hydraulic vangs require the boat to be plumbed with hoses, a reservoir and a control panel that houses the pressure gauge and pump at a minimum. Besides just a basic vang cylinder (no plumbing, brackets, lugs or panels) costing as much as the most expensive mechanical vang mentioned above, these systems HAVE to be professionally installed thus making them the most expensive, but also the most robust option, by far.

~Some Final Thoughts~

All rigid vangs especially when properly installed and maintained will last a very (very) long time. Keep in mind, typically anything using fluid (and or gas) and seals will require service/ repair over time. One thing that all vangs require, regardless of whether choosing a simple block and tackle, mechanical, or hydraulic system, is for them to be installed properly; ensuring a properly mounted mast bracket and boom lug, rigging the vang in the correct orientation (not upside down), all the while achieving the appropriate boom to vang angle (approximately 30-45 degrees). This will ensure functionality, longevity and ease of use.

Have a question about which system might be right for you? Need your hydraulic vang serviced? Talk to our experienced sales staff for more information.

Thanks for the read. See you next time.


16 thoughts on “The Vang

  1. I have a 1987 Beneteau First 305. The Forespar Rigid Boom Vang extension just buckled this weekend in high wind/seas. Forespar says the no longer make or support this particular product. Looking for a replacement and hoping I can use the same mast/boom hardware.

    1. Hi Micahel,

      I think I saw your email. Replies are real slow these days due to work load. The short answer, in case no has responeded yet from our office, is that we can likely source a new stainless tube and modify it to fit your existing vang. The cost of this may come close to full vang replacement. The question to ask yourself is: did it buckle because it is undersized? Did Forespar quit making this model due sizing/design issues?

      Let us know and hope that helps.


  2. HI TRC,

    We broke the vang strong point on the underside of the boom and would like to replace it with some form of dyneema strop (or similar).

    I’ve seen booms with a stainless tube running through it to accommodate such a strop, but aside from drilling an inch-wide hole through our aluminium boom, I’m hoping you may have a decent alternative.

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Daniel,

      Ultimately putting a strop around the entire boom will be a stronger solution. Perhaps drilling and tapping a pad eye, bullseye, or eye strap into the spar to keep it in place.

      Drilling a hole into the boom at that location is not a great idea IMO. A stainless tube through an aluminum boom is even a worse idea for this application, perhaps welding and fairing-in and aluminum tube.

      But rather….

      …I recommend emailing us some images of what you are dealing with and our team can make a more appropriate suggestion. Email


  3. Hello, I am completing a refit of a LITTLE HARBOR ‘62 and require a used or new Boom Vang. The boat was built by Ted Hood and named originally Blue Robin. Could you suggest the recommendable vang ?
    Thank you.

  4. hi, I’m a selden dealer from abroad. Ended up in this page searching about some old french masts and I realized i can partially answer your question about the spring-less rodkickers. If we’ve got to blame someone for those vangs it’s Hunter. They were the ones who requested selden the spring-less rodkickers in their masts. Then it sticked and now we can’t get rid of them and the obnoxious question from every client when we sell them a rodkicker

    1. Hey Sancho!

      Definitely Hunter! We’re adding gas springs, replacing the crushed accordion spacer bushing at the top (because they don’t have a gas spring), then replacing the control line or pendant with Dyneema if needed, and then moving the boom lug aft to accommodate the new pin to pin. #damnhunter.

      Don’t even get me started on the small Hunter daysailer with Horizontally mounted Sailtec integral for lifting the centerboard. 213 I think it is. #damnhunter

      Thanks for the comment and the read.


  5. Hi, I am chasing a vang for my Cape 35 that supports the boom. Eye to eye for the band is 1700mm.
    Cheers, John.

    1. Hi John,

      We’d be glad to help. Any vang from any of the manufacturers listed in the article should work. Although some have different pin to pin measurements, most are adjustable, and are about the same for the given size unit. Can you send us pictures of what you have now for a boom and a mast attachment? Email Is there a specific manufacturer that you might prefer based on the article? Let us know in an email and we can set you up a complete DIY solution with instructions after we answer a few questions.

      Thanks for Choosing…


  6. Greetings, looking for a Hall Spars cast aluminum vang boom lug to replace mine which deformed and failed. It attaches to the underside of the boom with eight 5/16″ machine screws. Older model which came with a 1988 Sabre 38 MkII. Thank you.

    1. Hey Carter,
      Thanks for contacting us, it took me a while and we’re super busy, but I have some info….

      For the boom portion there are still parts available. Pricing is coming your way, but first let me know which on you need the externally mounted one one internally mounted one.

      Use to let us know which you would like and we’ll will get pricing and ship one out to you.

      Thanks and We Hope that Helps,

  7. I am trouble shooting a Navtec boom vang. Vang does not pressurize. Trying to determine if the cylinder seals need replacing or the actual vang seals.

    1. Hi Les,

      My advice is that if the cylinder is not holding pressure, you just re-build the entire unit and re-charge the return. Then we test the unit overnight. There are complete seal kits available for this. We recommend professional certified service to do this. Please let us know if we can help further.


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