Boom brakes should help you to control the boom downwind. Duncan Kent finds out if they work
Video: Boom brakes and preventers tested
If you plan on sailing downwind for more than a short distance then you’ll most likely want to set a preventer to eliminate the risk of an accidental gybe. Without one, should the wind get behind the mainsail at any point causing a gybe, it could cause damage to the yacht or injury to her crew.
A proper preventer requires a long line from the end of the boom, forward to a turning block and then back to a clutch or jammer in the cockpit. If you plan to gybe intentionally, then it’s likely you won’t want to bother going forward to re-rig the preventer, so you’ll need to rig two preventers, one for each side; a cumbersome solution which encourages lines to get caught if gybing at night or in a hurry.
Alternatively, you could install a boom brake. As the name suggests, it’s primarily a device that slows the movement of the boom down when you’re gybing, but most, if set up correctly, can be used as a preventer as well.
We tested three on the market:
See how they performed here: