That’s the opinion of marine consultant David Barrow who carries out surveys for MS Amlin and was director of Sparcraft for 20 years. “I’ve seen many bent and broken masts over the years. There’s no real regulation of masts and rigging in the leisure sector,” he said. “There’s no specific rule to change a boat’s rigging after ten years.”
And he pointed out that while superyachts are regulated under MCA regs and boats that have done a circumnavigation usually have a survey carried out, when it comes to other boats, owners often don’t see the need. If a boat had suffered a knock, this could affect the rigging without the owner knowing. If a boat was inspected very few years, there would be more chances to look at the mast. “It’s not the insurers’ job to regulate the rigging business; the insurer’s job is to behave according to the results of their surveys,” David says.
“There can be a mass of different reasons as to why masts fall down, but quite a few are because of maintenance issues.
“I’ve seen other masts where there have been technical issues with the masts themselves.”
This is particularly the case with carbon masts – a relatively new product when it comes to masts – where there could be gremlins within the manufacture and possible delamination.
“It’s pretty hard to get insurance for a carbon mast, especially in a race boat as insurers are not going to pay for their development any longer.
“Some insurers are calling for NDT inspections before the masts leave the factory.
“Regulations probably do need to come in.”