Firefly Hints and Upgrades - Gunwale Protection

31.10.18 07:00 PM Comment(s) By kSailKeith

There will always be bumps and scrapes in Team Racing, while we are committed to being a non-contact sport it is inevitable that there will be contact at times. As a fleet manager or owner, you will want to ensure that your boats are able to deal with the every day wear and tear with minimal damage as well as minimising the damage that may be caused by a training or event impact. There are lots of ways to help with protection - we are going to be writing more articles soon; however in recent weeks and months, gunwale protection has been a recurring topic of discussion. There are currently three main types of firefly gunwale protection in general with a fourth being introduced by Rondar on some new boats in 2018.
Rubber MouldingUsually white rubber in a "U" or "D" shaped profile; usually secured with bolts or rivets.
  • Cheap; easy to install
  • Good protection in gunwale to gunwale impact
  • Little maintenance.
  • rarely tears or breaks
  • Bolts or rivets easily pull through
  • Little protection from point impact (Bow/Gunwale); does not spread loads.
  • Stretches and sags; looks shabby after a short time
  • Hard to repair if damaged
Hardwood Moulding"L" shaped moulded hardwood; standard Rondar wooden gunwale fit; often secured with rivets.
  • Easily Installed; particularly when riveted
  • Looks great!
  • Comfortable to hike
  • Reasonably easy to repair; unless riveted.
  • Impact protection very limited; does not spread loads
  • can crack and splinter easily
  • repairs reduce effectiveness
  • Expensive to replace the full length.
  • requires maintenance.
Laminated HardwoodDouble thickness of hardwood; glued and bolted around gunwale radius.
  • Very strong, spreads impact load
  • Looks great
  • Can be repaired without reducing overall strength.
  • expensive and challenging to install
  • can be uncomfortable to hike over
  • can splinter in gunwale to gunwale rubs.
Plastic Extrusion (New 2018)Solid plastic D shaped extrusion; first introduced in 2018.A little to early to make any conclusive observations however first impressions:
  • Looks good
  • Cost effective
  • easy to install
  • appears strong in all types of impact
  • will not splinter
  • Not yet tested or proven in significant use
  • May be subject to some stretch and sag?
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