Pictures of Americas Cup-class boat hulls breaking in half and their masts, supported by a plethora of rigging and spreaders, collapsing in relatively benign conditions, have given structures built of carbon fibre an undeserved reputation for fragility. But it should be remembered that Americas Cup boats are designed on the ragged edge of structural engineering where the motto is “if it does not break occasionally, we built it too heavy”.
The facts are that a cruising mast properly engineered and built in carbon is stronger, stiffer and less susceptible to fatigue than a mast built in aluminum could ever be. And all this at about half the tube weight of an aluminum mast.
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