Centerboard Tradeoffs - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 1 Old 12-02-2001 Thread Starter
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Centerboard Tradeoffs

What do you consider the negative aspects of a centerboard?

Mark Matthews responds:
Thanks for your question. The main drawback of a centerboard is maintenance. The worst thing that can happen with a centerboard is that it can become jammed in its trunk, whether because an overzealous crew member winched the board up too far and it got stuck, or because the wire pennant corroded or jumped the sheave, jamming the board in a halfway-up and halfway-down position. Also, weeds and other marine growth can also foul a centerboard, causing it to get stuck up in the trunk, and barnacles and other bottom growth can take a liking to the centerboard controls, which often requires that you use a pressure washer to remove them. Also, a life spent immersed in salt water can be hard for the cables or lines that lift the board, so these can also fail leaving the centerboard permanently in the down position.

Another drawback to centerboards is that some can clunk around in their trunks in a seaway or at a rough anchorage keeping you from a good night's rest or any peace and quiet during the day.

Also, if a centerboard is sufficiently large, it may require extra care when raising and lowering it. I once witnessed someone raising the centerboard on a 45-foot aluminum boat. The board was so large that the process required a two-handed winch handle. While I was watching, the crew lost control of the line, the centerboard fell, and the spinning winch handle whacked him several times before he knew what happened.

On the brighter side, centerboards can offer increased windward performance while still allowing a boat to enter shallower waters. Like so many other elements of sailing, centerboards offer a trade-off between sailing performance and potential maintenance headaches. Here's hoping this information is useful to you.

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