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Is my Aero top mast damaged (see picture)?


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Dear Aero Sailors,

I just noticed this seemingly "missing" piece of the sail track at the tip of my Aero top past. I don't recall seeing this "cutout" before. But it's so symmetric, that I thought that there's some tiny chance that it was built this way and I simply never noticed. Gulp.

Photo of potentially damaged top mast

Thank you,

David

 

 

 

 

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Argh -- Spoke to my RS Aero dealer who said "Nope -- not supposed to there. You'll need a new upper mast for $741." 

Has anyone else experienced a problem with delicate spars on the RS Aero? I have not capsized, crashed, or even trailered the boat. I believe that the sail track simply broke under load. :-{

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I don't sail an Aero but I would not call that "damage" as much as an intentional modification made by someone else. Did you buy the boat used? I had a Weta trimaran with a cheap plastic sail track (not the nice track on the Aero mast) that became worn at the top few centimeters. Instead of purchasing a new mast, the Weta dealer sold me a length of sail track (few dollars) and a tube of 3M 5200. Easy repair. For the Aero, recommend consulting some experienced Aero sailers (paging @tillerman for example) and get their opinion before going the expensive dealer route.

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2 hours ago, Dex Sawash said:

For top-down sail feeding? (Dunno if it even has enough full battens to need that option)

 

@tillerman

Only the top two battens on the RS Aero are full length.

Never heard of "top-down sail feeding" on an RS Aero.

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2 minutes ago, Alan Crawford said:

I don't sail an Aero but I would not call that "damage" as much as an intentional modification made by someone else. Did you buy the boat used? I had a Weta trimaran with a cheap plastic sail track (not the nice track on the Aero mast) that became worn at the top few centimeters. Instead of purchasing a new mast, the Weta dealer sold me a length of sail track (few dollars) and a tube of 3M 5200. Easy repair. For the Aero, recommend consulting some experienced Aero sailers (paging @tillerman for example) and get their opinion before going the expensive dealer route.

Sorry, I have no experience with RS Aero top mast breakages. modifications or repairs.

A good source of knowledge on RS Aero technical issues is the forum on the class website, and I see that this particular issue has already been posted and answered over there, https://www.rsaerosailing.org/index.asp?p=forum&fid=2&tid=9478

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Thanks everyone for your help!

It's an eight-month old boat and I definitely did not modify it. I agree that the "cutout" looks too uniform to be breakage, and I have no idea why the break is so clean (although the surface is indeed rough, though you can't see that in the photo). But my RS dealer confirms that this "cutout" is not supposed to be there -- so it is indeed a broken part.

As Tillerman noted, I have also posted this issue to the RS Aero Forum.

 

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Obviously I wasn't there, but it appears to me that the halyard was down while sailing. The tighter the sail is to the top, the more it moves the load to the turning bullseye and off the sail track. 

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hit the track on something and broke out a piece. plastic track if that was aluminum it would not have broken  and the edge would be silver aluminum color . her is a video showing a good mast 

 

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1 hour ago, MysteriousTrousers said:

Argh -- Spoke to my RS Aero dealer who said "Nope -- not supposed to there. You'll need a new upper mast for $741." 

Yikes! Expensive. Couldn't they sell just the track. Looks like pop-rivets that a careful craftsperson could replace.

Maybe the track got damaged for some reason and a careful cleanup was made. Does it affect anything other than the OD rules?

Or some too clever (very common) sailor had some misguided idea about loading the sail from the top.

Is is a manufacturing error - a bottom track with loading slot was used?

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5 hours ago, ScowLover said:

Obviously I wasn't there, but it appears to me that the halyard was down while sailing. The tighter the sail is to the top, the more it moves the load to the turning bullseye and off the sail track. 

That would be my opinion as well, the track can’t handle too much load pulling aft, so if the sail is not as far up as it can go the haliard is only taking vertical and not horizontal load.

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5 hours ago, ScowLover said:

Obviously I wasn't there, but it appears to me that the halyard was down while sailing. The tighter the sail is to the top, the more it moves the load to the turning bullseye and off the sail track. 

Oh darn -- that makes sense. I'm not aware that this happened, but it sounds plausible. Argh. 

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Just replace that section of the track. This is a common problem and I have come across it on the RS800, 600 and Musto Skiff. Get RS to sell you a section of the track and then use Plexus to bond your new track back on. 

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Great idea on the track replacement. I'll investigate that! Even if it takes a few hours, that's still a good deal relative to $741 for the upper mast, plus either a roundtrip to Newport, RI (100 miles ea way) or $150 oversized shipping

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4 hours ago, MysteriousTrousers said:

Great idea on the track replacement. I'll investigate that! Even if it takes a few hours, that's still a good deal relative to $741 for the upper mast, plus either a roundtrip to Newport, RI (100 miles ea way) or $150 oversized shipping

if the boat / mast are only 8 months old, it seems that RS should be pulling out all of the stops to send you a new mast free of charge as someone definitely made a mistake. The small section of track replacement is an easy job if that is what you are forced to do. Someone mentioned rivets - NO WAY.

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That scallop looks awfully uniform and clean, even under zoom.  No idea what high cycle fatigue looks like in plastic, but low cycle fatigue would probably leave Luder lines.  Although other suggestions are quite good, I'd consider it a warranty issue for such a young boat unless shown otherwise by the manufacturer.  Hopefully RS or their subs have reliability engineers to investigate failure modes and effects.

You need to contact Todd Riccardi at RS Sailing North America.   Message thru SA RSsailingNA or email Todd@rssailing.com

 

How long is the warranty on our Aeros, anyway?

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Seriously, that cut out is man made. Pure and simple. The question is who did it. Was the boat supplied like that? Did you buy it new? If not, have you spoken to the person you bought it from?

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I bought the boat new in October from an excellent RS dealer in Newport, RI, Zim's sailing. The boat was delivered to me in its Tyvek wrapper, unassembled. The cutout was not there when I took delivery. I'm the only person who has sailed it. I think it's a broken bit. Someone sent me a picture on the RS Aero Forum showing a similar cutout on the lower mast of his/her Aero (see below). This cutout is also not supposed to be there!

 

Lower.jpg

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Is there a cutout anywhere else on the mast, to help feeding the sail? It's possible the mast was manufactured incorrectly and a piece of scalloped track was installed where it should have been straight.

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both those pics look to have the same scallop, looks like it's a manufacturing stuff up with a scallop'd track section glued on randomly.  The aero track doesn't use a scallop anywhere, but it's a safe bet some of the other RS's that use the same track do

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The original poster indicates that it is a broken scallop out of the track, based on the appearance of the edges that can't be seen in the photos.   These tracks are more fragile than they seem, and can crack when lowering or trailering the mast if the track hits something hard.   The track and mast look very similar to the carbon mast and track on the UFO mast.  I've had experience replacing two sections of the UFO sail track when they cracked due to rigging malfunctions.   

Per instructions from the manufacturer, I replaced about 3" of track by cutting the track cleanly at 90 degrees , sanding/grinding away the old track and adhesive, cutting a new section of track to fit the gap, roughing up both the mast and the back of the track with 60 grit sandpaper, and bonding the track to the mast with plexus.   

I was concerned that the gap in the track would snag the luff of the main when being raised and lowered, but this has not been a problem.  The plexus is nasty stuff to work with, but the repair itself was pretty straightforward, and has proved long lasting.    You can see the repair if you look closely (the cut lines in the mast track and the plexus buildup on the outside, but that was not a concern for me.

One question I have is if the track needs to be repaired at all.   Its a small opening, close to the halyard fairlead.   Is the top of the mainsail boltrope  pushing out of it on Starboard tack?   If not, I'd simply leave it alone.   Enjoy the weight savings up there :-)    

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Enjoy the weight savings up there :-)    

That's hilarious! I've sailed it once since discovering the breakage, and things held together otherwise and the sail did not blow out of the track. So, "enjoying the weight savings" is my default plan for now. Still, I hope that RS provides a warranty replacement, in which case, I'll keep my "custom" top mast in storage as a spare in case of catastrophe.
 
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I have replaced a number of tracks on 29er and 49er top masts with very similar looking damage, which was probably caused during capsizing and the main being completely eased, the resultant batten poke caused the damage in those instances, it is interesting how similar the damage to the track was in those instances compared to the OPs photo

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Maybe it's a manufacturing fault in the track. Could the machine that the track is extruded on leave a score mark?

A bit like when cutting glass, score & then clean break at the mark.

I think i'd check the rest of the track for similar size/style of marking.

It seems strange that the photos you showed of your mast & someone else's mast, have almost identical size/shape pieces missing.

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So we have been using plastic track now since 1998 maybe.   Initially we had alloy track riveted on at 100mm spacing, but if the mast had a moment, it was not un-common to have a zig-zag alloy track.    Tried gluing it on, but same effect, so we went plastic.

I'm talking 49er, FX, 29er, 18teen, 12ves, 16teens, I14's and the occasional F11.

What has happened in the last few years, particularly WRT the FX and the large-ish head board, is the the load from the batten pockets in a "extreme" gybe can break the track particularly if your north of Copenhagen (we have 29er's in Iceland).

The other problem we have is in Adelaide (AUS) and the worst place of all is Singapore (because it's so close to the equator), had the issue in HK, in Perth and also in Dubai, is that the mast (& Track) can get so hot, that it looses structural tenacity and allows the bolt rope to dis-engage.

The fix is to ensure that the mast can vent, so holes in the bottom, either lots of them or they need to be big (m8) and similar hole in the top.   That way the mast dose not get near TGi, it's not just the track, it's also the laminate (& the plexus).

We are now trialing a new track, first thing is it's grey, not black so it is about 1/2 the heat coefficient, and we upped the spec on the track.   Time will tell but initial response out of China is that it takes a much higher level of abuse.   You will see this on the new 49er/FX masts.

WRT repairs, track represents less than 1% in-terms of stiffness, and as soon as it gets to 40-50c it re-sets anyway so multiple cuts and multiple "bits" is not a issue.

The shape and size of the "scallop" looks very much like batten pocket damage, you can also defend against that with Carbon plates plexus-ed on the outside, just were the batten pocket is.     Works a treat!

                      jB

 

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Could it B that the cut out was a mistake and repair was made at the factory and the repair failed without U noticing? Just askin?

If so, dealer should b in your corner gettin a fix.

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This seems like the type of situation that the Spar Maker (engineer) could instantly know what was up....might be that this extreme engineering has gone a kg too far! 

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On 6/8/2021 at 6:51 AM, MysteriousTrousers said:

Great idea on the track replacement. I'll investigate that! Even if it takes a few hours, that's still a good deal relative to $741 for the upper mast, plus either a roundtrip to Newport, RI (100 miles ea way) or $150 oversized shipping

I've got a lot of track and could cut off a piece for you if you want to go that route.  I bought it for a classic I14 mast before I realized that the mast had a beautiful groove cut into it so I'm not using the track.  I bought it from Forte last year I think it was.  

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Hi there,

I've seen this particular damage twice before on Aeros, all recently oddly. It can be done by tying the mast track down too tight or similar.

However, there should be some good will warranty consideration for an issue like this on an 8 month old boat, if you could it's best to request the dealer you purchased the boat from to make warranty request.  And as mentioned above, you can change the track.

Feel free to shoot me a message if I can help, Todd@rssailing.com

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Thanks to both WCB and RSsailingNA for generous offers of help! I'm waiting to hear on my RS dealer, who I imagine is waiting to hear from RS. I'm hoping that RS will provision a replacement top mast for me!

 

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On 6/10/2021 at 3:31 PM, ARNOLD said:

Could it B that the cut out was a mistake and repair was made at the factory and the repair failed without U noticing? Just askin?

If so, dealer should b in your corner gettin a fix.

Most stupid post of the week!

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Seems like a reasonable question to me (and no need for hostility)! 

I get the sense that these sail tracks fail by breaking off a scallop. It's weird. Perhaps something about carbon fiber. I'm hoping that the dealer will help RS to do the right thing!

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Not carbon fiber and yes it is a weird way that all the PVC awing and sail tracks break from impact. has to due with the internal stress from being extruded. have had Tuff Luff foil racks break this way from impact with the spinnaker pole.

looks like the Seldom glue on sail track which breaks very easy if hit on the side 

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2 hours ago, MysteriousTrousers said:

Seems like a reasonable question to me (and no need for hostility)! 

I get the sense that these sail tracks fail by breaking off a scallop. It's weird. Perhaps something about carbon fiber. I'm hoping that the dealer will help RS to do the right thing!

When an expert like JulianB gives his opinion and the next poster comes up with a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory idea then  it is not a reasonable question. Plastic tracks have been failing this way for years, and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future until the material of the tracks is improved. 

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The breakout is just too clean and symmetrical. No jagged or sharp edges along the break line. Don't be too quick to drink the coolaid. Iv'e got extruded poly carbonate track on my mast with several repairs made. No fractures or breaks were ever so clean and defined.

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Some of the replies above are a perfect example of conspiracy theories and how they spread. Those if you who do not know who Julian Bethwaite is probably shouldn’t be posting in dinghy anarchy, I have been building dinghies  professionally for 30 plus years, including 29ers  a while ago, and many other other posters have experienced the same issues but still there are those who insist that what they are seeing is not what it actually is.

 

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On 6/12/2021 at 11:39 AM, Overbored said:

Not carbon fiber and yes it is a weird way that all the PVC awing and sail tracks break from impact. has to due with the internal stress from being extruded. have had Tuff Luff foil racks break this way from impact with the spinnaker pole.

looks like the Seldom glue on sail track which breaks very easy if hit on the side 

I would assume that someone with good CFD skills coupled with knowledge of the polymer being used and specific extruder design could do a nice analysis showing the areas of high stress in these long, extruded plastic tracks. 

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12 hours ago, Major Tom said:

Some of the replies above are a perfect example of conspiracy theories and how they spread. Those if you who do not know who Julian Bethwaite is probably shouldn’t be posting in dinghy anarchy, I have been building dinghies  professionally for 30 plus years, including 29ers  a while ago, and many other other posters have experienced the same issues but still there are those who insist that what they are seeing is not what it actually is.

 

Your making me sound like a ogre.

Been very interesting WRT polymers, and we have done a lot of research, putting a bit of this in and getting this and that result.   We have tried a lot of material.

Biggest factor is the design of the track, so it's actual shape, so you give it 1/2 a chance of withstanding abuse.

2nd factor is keeping it in a suitable temperature range, that includes colour, &

3rd is the actual material, it tends to be all PVC.

Carbon track for instance completely alters the bend characteristics of the tube, and unfortunately the wrong way.   Requires you to design "lumpy tubes" and they are not only expensive to make but expensive to assemble and very open to abuse.

By far the best is to use symmetrical tubes, and tweak the formula and design a track to try and overcome the few weaknesses there are (in plastic track).

As commented way back, the new 49er and FX masts will sport, I think a pretty significant increase in the technology, but time will tell, got a bit sitting right in-front of me as I type this.

We may still have to defend against a wild gybe in a FX, but from what I have seen of a Aero (which is not much, there are not that many here) it has nothing approaching the batten issue that the FX suffers from, and we can locally carbon plate that area.

We did the carbon plate on the initial C-Rigs, and it worked amazingly well WRT the vang slug.   That was the old style track, the new style simply dose not have the issue.   So we stopped (carbon) plating it.

                          jB

 

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As long as you're careful to get lots of halyard tension, it should still be fine to use with no drop in performance, may as well wait until the rest of the shitty not fit for purpose track fails, and for the class action lawsuit gets going properly, before you splash the cash on another just as poor quality topmast section?

Never noticed any problem across our local Dzero fleet, they are probably just lucky.

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On 6/11/2021 at 10:15 PM, RSsailingNA said:

Hi there,

I've seen this particular damage twice before on Aeros, all recently oddly. It can be done by tying the mast track down too tight or similar.

However, there should be some good will warranty consideration for an issue like this on an 8 month old boat, if you could it's best to request the dealer you purchased the boat from to make warranty request.  And as mentioned above, you can change the track.

Feel free to shoot me a message if I can help, Todd@rssailing.com

Do you know if they were transported in the padded storage bags?

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Stuff breaks. Part of this is our fault.  We keep wanting higher performance boats.   Usually, in dinghys at least, light equals fast.   With rigs, flexible is often fast too.   The loads we put on modern rigs get pretty high.   Just the static loads to prebend the masts.  Battens have lots of pressure in them.   Look at modern windsurfer and moth rigs....lots and lots of tension built in before you even consider wind loads.   Modern materials are amazing!   The engineers are always balancing a robust safety factor with cutting weight.  Durability versus performance.  If there is a weak component, it will likely fail.   The good news is that repairs are usually do-able, and in this case, the boat is pretty new and built by a large, respected builder.   Hopefully the builder and dealer will repair or replace it, or take other steps to keep the owner satisfied.   And by all appearances, this owner can continue to sail his boat without any apparent performance impact while its sorted out.

 

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7 hours ago, JulianB said:

Your making me sound like a ogre.

Hardly!   One of the things I love about the SA forums is that we have industry experts, like Julian Bethwaite, Steve & Dave Clark, and many others reading and posting regularly.   They are not always right per say, but they always can clear up speculation on why their boats were or were not designed in a certain way.   More than anything, it shows that many of these builders and designers are just as passionate (and usually much more so) as we, the regular sailors are.  I've observed minimal, if any, ego, and a great willingness to help sailors get the most out of their boats and help push the sport forward.  So thanks to the designers and manufacturers to monitor and weigh in on these forums, its a really valued part of the dialogue, to me at least.

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11 hours ago, JulianB said:

Your making me sound like a ogre.

Been very interesting WRT polymers, and we have done a lot of research, putting a bit of this in and getting this and that result.   We have tried a lot of material.

Biggest factor is the design of the track, so it's actual shape, so you give it 1/2 a chance of withstanding abuse.

2nd factor is keeping it in a suitable temperature range, that includes colour, &

3rd is the actual material, it tends to be all PVC.

Carbon track for instance completely alters the bend characteristics of the tube, and unfortunately the wrong way.   Requires you to design "lumpy tubes" and they are not only expensive to make but expensive to assemble and very open to abuse.

By far the best is to use symmetrical tubes, and tweak the formula and design a track to try and overcome the few weaknesses there are (in plastic track).

As commented way back, the new 49er and FX masts will sport, I think a pretty significant increase in the technology, but time will tell, got a bit sitting right in-front of me as I type this.

We may still have to defend against a wild gybe in a FX, but from what I have seen of a Aero (which is not much, there are not that many here) it has nothing approaching the batten issue that the FX suffers from, and we can locally carbon plate that area.

We did the carbon plate on the initial C-Rigs, and it worked amazingly well WRT the vang slug.   That was the old style track, the new style simply dose not have the issue.   So we stopped (carbon) plating it.

                          jB

 

Not trying to do anything like that, simply trying to get people to think before typing, and to do a bit of research as well!!

We all appreciate your well thought out relies to all sorts of issues close to your heart often with the history behind the development involved with the problem solving being presented as well.

Thanks for everything you and your father have done for dinghy sailing.

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Just to keep you folks on your toes, I'm about to post another RS Aero mystery: the (prior) function of a lovely chrome plated pin found rolling freely in my cockpit during a sail today. Stay tuned...

 

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21 hours ago, Champlain Sailor said:

Stuff breaks. Part of this is our fault.  We keep wanting higher performance boats.   Usually, in dinghys at least, light equals fast.   With rigs, flexible is often fast too.   The loads we put on modern rigs get pretty high.   Just the static loads to prebend the masts.  Battens have lots of pressure in them.   Look at modern windsurfer and moth rigs....lots and lots of tension built in before you even consider wind loads.   Modern materials are amazing!   The engineers are always balancing a robust safety factor with cutting weight.  Durability versus performance.  

 

+1

I was going through the frankenboat / proto supply pile out in the shed the other day, and was contemplating  getting rid of the aluminum Force 5 spars and (Dacron :rolleyes:) sail I had made for it because they’re heavy. In good shape but heavy. After reading this thread I’m holding on to them.  Frankenboats break enough as it is.  
 

(Besides, the center of gravity is lower than one of the Carbon logs out there he rationalized)
 

Thanks all for your help in this matter.  

Are sleeved sails obsolete?

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1 hour ago, Alan Crawford said:

Better take that question to one of the Laser / ILCA tomes.....:lol:

Or the fabulous windsurfer thread :rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, Dex Sawash said:

It's all shower rings these days 

Back to the future!  Hoops!

AAABC03C-E048-45A8-AA92-E249D3AAEB3D.jpeg

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On 6/14/2021 at 8:50 PM, MysteriousTrousers said:

Just to keep you folks on your toes, I'm about to post another RS Aero mystery: the (prior) function of a lovely chrome plated pin found rolling freely in my cockpit during a sail today. Stay tuned...

 

Clevis pin from main ratchet to kicker?  Would SS rather than chrome though. 

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On 6/15/2021 at 11:00 PM, Xeon said:

Sleeved sails have always been obsolete lol lol lol :D

Moths use sleeved sails .

Albeit on a different level .:rolleyes:

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On 6/14/2021 at 10:13 AM, Spokey Doke said:

WTF - RS Sailing should both clear up what explains this, and what is to be done about.

+1 !! How can RS avoid assisting? 

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On 6/12/2021 at 8:15 AM, MysteriousTrousers said:

Thanks to both WCB and RSsailingNA for generous offers of help! I'm waiting to hear on my RS dealer, who I imagine is waiting to hear from RS. I'm hoping that RS will provision a replacement top mast for me!

 

How's your warranty request going?  Well, I hope. 

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Thank you for asking @RedTuna. My super-helpful and motivated, RS dealer, Bo of Zim's sailing, is working to convince RS to replace the part. RS' first response was: "The owner can repair the track." Bo's response was, "Are you kidding me? Even I would not feel comfortable doing that." So, Bo is trying again. He believes that RS' mind can be changed. If that proves true, I will post that here!

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As commented way back, a repair done well wont affect the viability of the mast or the track.   It's not hard to do it well, go ask any 9er sailor, and at some stage you are going to have learn anyway.

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@JulianB You are certainly in a position to know! I'm hoping that RS will provide a new top mast, then I will teach myself the repair skills on the old one, i.e. when the stakes are a bit lower. One way or another, however, I'm going to attempt it. Just a question of sequencing. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Roy166808 said:

I know this sounds dumb but could it be that they put the track the wrong way around?

No.

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On 6/23/2021 at 1:41 PM, MysteriousTrousers said:

RS' first response was: "The owner can repair the track."

Marketing genius.

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Hey All,

Just a follow-up on my query on the broken top-mast. (I'm the person who posted the photo and posed the question.)

I just learned yesterday that RS is replacing the top-mast under warranty :)

A big shout out to Bo at Zim Sailing who helped RS to see that this was the right thing to do. Bo is awesome. (He even coached by the phone while I was assembling the boat after purchase.)

Thanks to everyone on this forum for the many insights and offers of assistance. 

 

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1 hour ago, MysteriousTrousers said:

Hey All,

Just a follow-up on my query on the broken top-mast. (I'm the person who posted the photo and posed the question.)

I just learned yesterday that RS is replacing the top-mast under warranty :)

A big shout out to Bo at Zim Sailing who helped RS to see that this was the right thing to do. Bo is awesome. (He even coached by the phone while I was assembling the boat after purchase.)

Thanks to everyone on this forum for the many insights and offers of assistance. 

 

Great news. One thing I have been very pleased with since buying an Aero is the support from RS Sailing and their dealers, especially Zim Sailing.

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Thats great news, glad they didn't leave you hanging too long, and stepped up for a replacement, also happy to learn that replacing bits of the luff groove is no big problem, (and don't strap the spars down too tightly) thanks corum.

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