2 piece bermudian mast?

Anyone any experience with the Trident 2-piece bermudian mast? Sadly my gaff has split :( so I was looking into fixing or replacing when I came across this.

It appears to be telescopic. Seems like a great idea at a glance - all the benefits of the gunter/gaff rig (trailering, storage, low bridges, etc) but without the hassle of that fiddly lacing line (it's the bane of my life that thing!).
Anyone know what it's like for reefing? I imagine pretty easy as you don't need to compensate for the angle of the gaff.

But just because it looks a good idea at a glance doesn't mean it's without it's drawbacks, so wondered if anyone has any experience with them or can think of any potential issues.


In performance terms, it'll only be slightly less good then a single-piece mast (due to extra weight and different bending characteristics), but it'll be better than mast+gaff and it has the same transportation advantage, making it a very good option (even for people who race). Reefing is much easier and the danger of a gaff falling on someone's head if the halyard comes loose is removed. The only disadvantages apply when you want to be able to go under a low bridge or power lines without having to lower the mast. It's also less aesthetically pleasing in that it changes some of the visual character of the boat when the sail is down or being lowered or hoisted. From my point of view, I'd want to retain the mast+gaff option and also have a 2-piece Bermudan mast and switch between them whenever I feel that the advantages and disadvantages for a particular situation give one system the edge. I wouldn't buy a single-piece Bermudan mast unless I was taking part in the world championships, simply because of the transportation complication.

However, I'd still want to check with people who actually use a 2-piece Bermudan mast that it's designed properly and works fine. If it does, it's probably a good route to go down, but I'd hold onto the old mast and try to pick up a replacement gaff, because there may be occasions when it's preferable due to overhead hazards between you and the water at a particular location, or across the water.

curlew's picture

I do not race the boat and for cruising purposes I do not bother with the lacing with no apparent ill effect.

beermatt's picture

Thanks for the replies both, sorry for the delayed response. I did try replying a while ago but the site was down, and since then I've descended into a ridicously busy and hectic few weeks.

David Cooper - Echoes a lot of my own thoughts really - retains the transportation advantage which is the main thing, but you lose the ability to drop it under bridges. I only realised the latter recently, originally for some reason I imagined the 2 piece was kind of telescopic and could be adjusted from the cockpit. It's very rare that I have the need to drop it for going under a bridge, I'm almost always on the sea or estuaries; I do rivers now and again, but don't usually have the sails up so not sure whether it wouldn't been too tall or not had the gaff been up. Never thought of keeping both really, that's worth some consideration.

David "Curlew" - Very interesting idea, I know it helps keep a good sail shape for better performance but never really questioned how much difference it acutally makes. Years ago I set off in a hurry without the lacing line done up, and seem to remember the sail being a bit baggy and losing performance to windward. But that was quite a while ago now so can't remember very well and I was less experienced back then, it may have been just an assumption, I didn't have much of a benchmark to compare it against at the time either. I only cruise so I'm not bothered about shaving 0.2 seconds off getting to the next buoy, but I do find that being able to make good progress against the wind is important. I might expermient with not using it again in future and see how it handles. Or maybe just fasten 2 of the cringles round the mast and not bother with the rest, maybe that would make rigging/raising/lowering significantly easer, yet still prevent the sail getting too baggy.

Some people suggest that you need a new mainsail if you get a bermudan mast, but it's supposed to be able to take old sails too, so maybe some sails don't fit the track properly due to age and shrinkage of the hidden rope sewn inside the luff. I'd want to check my existing sail before buying a bermudan mast for that reason to see if they will actually fit together. As for the lacing, a couple of links to the lower part of the sail are probably all it needs for normal conditions (if they're needed at all) - it's probably only in strong winds that it really matters because you don't want excess stress being put on the point where the sail enters the gaff. The lacing may be there primarily to spread the loading away from that point, so it's likely that it has little impact on good sail shape in light to moderate winds, and when the wind really blows, you don't have to use all of it unless you're going downwind as you can spill most of it, and when going downwind the forces are reduced a fair bit.