Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Video Blog: Holmatro Wire/Rod Cutters

If you race sailboats long enough, you'll probably drop or break a mast. There's nothing fun about a rig coming down either -- in fact, an incident where the boat I was on snapped its rig ranks among the scarier experiences of my life (topped only by the time I was t-boned in my car by an eighteen wheeler and shattering my elbow in like three places).

During the pre-start, we had an issue with the vang and I was working on it with one of the other crew members, Nick. Another boat came in behind us and hooked our backstay with their bow, tearing it off the boat and breaking the mast at the fractional point. Nick and I looked up just in time to see the top of the mast taking a gravity-induced ride straight at our faces -- luckily, the halyards caught the suddenly rouge mast section, stopping it about 10-12 feet above our heads.

In my case, the rig didn't come all the way down because the lower shrouds kept everything below the breaking point upright. After getting back to the marina (and quickly changing my underwear), we cut away the mainsail and safely lowered broken portion of the rig to the deck.

But what if the whole rig had come down? What if we weren't a few miles from home, but 1,000 miles from anything? What if it wasn't blowing 10kts - 12kts with light chop, but 35kts - 40kts with angry seas?

When your rig comes down, you need to be ready to immediately deal with it -- your mast can pull an Incredible Hulk-esqe transformation from mild mannered upright stick to a raging mess of wire and carbon/aluminum, flopping around in the water with every intention of punching a hole in your boat if it can... and it can.

And while the decision to cut the rig away isn't always an easy one, when it's time to cut through the standing rigging, it needs to happen fast. We haven't found anything better for reliably cutting through standing rigging than Holmatro's Wire or Rod Cutters.

Now, I'll be the first one to admit that there are slightly faster options out there like a battery operated grinder or some other electronic doo-dad. But that requires you to have a charged battery ready to go, all the time -- additionally, anything that's electronic like a drill or grinder is going to be at a higher risk of shorting out or failing if you catch a wave or water with them.

Anyways, we gave a Holmatro Rod Cutter to James with the hope that he'd hurt himself put together a solid demonstration of how quickly and easily the Holmatro cutter works. Take a look -- as always, let us know if you have any questions.

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