Is my Aero top mast damaged (see picture)?


Super Anarchist
Sydney ex London
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?

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!




Super Anarchist
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.



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

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 :)    

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.


Major Tom

Super Anarchist
Darkest Africa
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

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.



Super Anarchist
Sydney mostly
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!




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.



Super Anarchist
Sarasota - W. MA.
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! 



Super Anarchist
Park City, UT
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.  



Boston, MA
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, [email protected]

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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