Oceanracer Tiller Extension by Forespar

This trigger action tiller extension extends to any length between 31" to 41", and the handle rotates 360 degrees. "Gear Up" from our May 22, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

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Forespar

The first hint that Forespar's latest edition of the Oceanracer tiller extension was a pretty sweet piece of keelboat equipment came while sitting around the living room of a rental house in Key West. I'd arrived in town for the 2007 Acura Key West Race Week just a few hours earlier. Hoping to ingratiate myself to my new crewmates, I pulled the extension out of my bag and passed it around. "I came bearing gifts," I wanted to say. "Please like me."Now with most every other adjustable-length tiller extension I've seen, it's been pretty easy to work out exactly how it works. But this one had us all-a pro sailor, an engineer, a boat captain, and a journalist-confounded. What makes Forespar's extension so intriguing is its ability to lock itself at any length from 31" to 41", and I mean any length. We spent more than a little bit of time trying to find a particular length the extension didn't like. Extending or shrinking the extension is a simple process. You simply pull on the trigger, which is mounted on the handle and can be operated with the same hand that's steering the boat, and then adjust the length of the extension. Releasing the trigger locks the handle in place. The handle can rotate 360 degrees. This only added to our confusion. However, I still wasn't sure the extension would be a hit with the owner of the Mumm 30 on which I was sailing. Bodo von der Wense had become quite fond of his straight stick, similar to what you'd find on a dinghy.After a day of sailing, he quickly changed his tune."I thought I had a better feel for the boat with the dinghy stick," he says. "I always steered with two fingers, my thumb and my middle finder. You get a lot of feedback that way. This particular one is quite different in a positive way because there are times when you don't have control over the stick. Because it is beefier, the Forespar extension gives you more confidence to control the boat, especially when you have a lot of pressure on the rudder. In strong wind, going downwind, you're better connected to the rudder."Von der Wense also liked how he was able to tack the boat and switch sides all without every changing his grip on the extension. The ability to adjust the extension to just the right length allowed von der Wense to find the most comfortable position for his arm. "So," I said in a recent phone conversation. "I guess that means you like it."He chuckled. "Well, if you were calling to take it back I was going to say I lost it."The Forespar Oceanracer Tiller extension is available in three models: with an aluminum shaft and either the quick-release or StaFAST connector, or with a carbon outer shaft and a quick-release connector. The aluminum versions retail for $220, the carbon one for $246, though all seemed to be available for less online. For more information, www.forespar.com