I have had the boat 3 years (20 year old custom boat) and just used the whisker pole for the first time in a race this past weekend. Only my 3rd race ever, so I bribed (wine and dinner) an experienced crew to help out. We all fumbled over using the whisker pole as no one was familiar with the one on my boat and knew exactly the best procedure for setting it up (and of course we did not practice, we just went to the race!). We did fine, finished second, but came back asking ourselves how to make it better next time.
First a motivational picture, our boat rounding a mark.
The whisker pole is all aluminum and big, 3 1/2 inch outer diameter and starts at 13'6" long and extends to 20' or more. It sits on the deck in appropriate mounting hardware.
The fwd end has the jaw and a place to attach a topping lift.
The aft end mounts onto a pin on a track on the front of the mast.
We did manage to get it all set up and use it, but it is too long to swing between the mast and the head stay, so we had to be sure we were first on the right side. The topping lift attach's too far forward as it was difficult to guide the pole out and set the pole into the mast pin. And there was no way to provide down haul on the pole. Naturally, we did not have a second set of jib sheets, so we struggled using the ones attached and did not have time to lead them thru outside track cars or reposition them.
So aside from some of the obvious improvements (another set of jib sheets) what can I do to make this easier to set up? The boat is 35' (Model Clearwater 1990 built by Holby Marine).
Does anyone have any suggestions for modifications to improve ease of set up and provide for down haul? It seems like this whisker/Spinnaker Pole is really massive, certainly better than too weak, but should I consider getting a shorter one that will swing between the mast and jib, but that also telescopes out? I do like the mast track and pin attachment, so I am reluctant to replace this setup.