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Your mainsheet is probably attached to the middle of the BOOM, not the sail. A boom vang is generally not attached at the end of the boom, but about a third of the way back from the gooseneck. The end of the boom doesn't need to be held down if the boom is held down further forward, since it doesn't really bend. The purpose of a boom vang is to help keep the boom from rising when the boat is sailing on a beam reach or deeper. When sailing a close reach or close hauled, the mainsheet acts to keep the boom down, so a vang isn't really necessary for those points of sail. As the mainsheet is eased, it has less ability to affect the boom's height, and the boom vang becomes a useful tool.
The reason boom vangs are made up of a block-and-tackle setup is to give you decent leverage while allowing the boom vang to be adjusted quickly. A turnbuckle and solid rod would not have the adjustment range or speed of adjustment to be usable safely. It would also not be adjustable from the cockpit. There are solid vangs, but most incorporate a block-and-tackle of some sort into them.
It would help if you said what boat you're considering putting a boom vang on, since that would help people figure out what size boom vang you need. Garhauer makes both rigid and soft boom vangs that are reasonably priced.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-22-2010 at 03:07 PM.