Long mast extensions 2019: There is no perfect one?

Friday 31 May 2019

My 7 year old Neil Pryde UXT 48cm is broken, first version, with no lockable release button. Button no longer works well, lock no longer good, comes loose from the baseplate during sailing.

Base of the Neil Pryde UXT with the no longer functioning knob
Time to take a look at what is currently on the market.

I use this extender especially for sails that need more than 36cm extension, like my Warp F2010 8.0 for which I need 40 a 42cm extension.
All other sailings I sail on the North Power XT(R), but which is only 42cm long, and when used on 42cm, only 11cm is inside the mast. For me, that does not feel safe, specially with the downhaul force of a slalom sail, I'm afraid I'm going to break my mast. I have used the F2/Arrows XTension for years, but that was even only 40cm long.

Why not buy a Neil Pryde UXT again? It inserts 19cm into the mast when used at 42cm. The UXT is no longer produced, Pryde now only makes the MXT in 48cm, but I don't want that, it requires the special MXT base, and does don't work with my Power XTR extensions.

There are currently still new, UXT 48cm extensions for sale in several stores, but the UXT has a few drawbacks:

  • Button for unlocking is on the side of the extension, which is awkward when the sail is wrong side up, you have to loosen the mast with your finger instead of thumb, and with your finger you cannot press strong enough.
  • It has nothing to fix tack-strap against, so that needs to be around the base, or around the extender, but then it sits too high and over the release button, far from perfect.

These are the 2019 extensions of the major brands, I have found on the internet:
Too short:
  • AL360 SDM Ergal 42cm
  • Duotone Power XT 2.0 42cm
  • Duotone Uni XT 42cm
  • Neil Pryde Alu UXT SDM Evo 36cm
Side button:
  • GA-SailsTeam Extension 48cm
  • Loft TO Extension 46cm
  • Point-7 Extension 2.0 48cm
  • Simmer SX6 48cm
  • Streamlined Alu 46cm
  • Unifiber Pro Stainless steel/aluminum 45cm
Apart from the Unifiber Pro and Streamlined extenders, these are all comparable extenders, all seem very similar to the Neil Pryde UXT. Tube to almost on the base, with a cast stainless steel part for the pulleys and cleat.
But also all the knob on the side, and even worse, the button sits flat with the tube, and is therefore even harder to press.
Difference to this and the Neil Pryde is that most do have an edge to fasten the Tack-Strap behind!
The Unifiber Pro and Streamlined are also vegelijkbare extensions, with a button that protrudes a lot, with a plastic part to vergendelen the knob. And that plastideel I do not trust again, that becomes tough and can break off.

Base of the Loft, button flush with the tube, difficult to press Unifiber Pro Aluminium: That plastic part to lock seems fragile, especially when it gets older and tougher.

No tack-Strap Holder:
  • Chinook Aluminum Extension Euro Pin EX 48cm
The Chinook is a long, solid build, very good reputation, good button on the right spot, but has nothing to put the tack-strap around.

Chinook does not have something to wrap the tack-strap around.

Meets my requirements:
  • Unifiber HD Aluminium 46cm
  • Unifiber Elite Stainless Steel 46cm
The Elite? I have doubts about it, it has a rope for releasing the base, what if the rope breaks?
It also has a pin/ring system for the adjustment, which I find really awkward, Adding 2cm more extension when sail is have rigged is really tricky with this system.
In addition: I find the price: 145 euro very high, it is almost as expensive as the North Power XT 2.0, and that is really a much better extender, just a couple of centimeter too short.

The HD Aluminium? Might be the best extension for me, but I think the price is a bit high for a Unifiber branded OEM extension, and have my doubts about the quality.

Unifiber Elite Stainless Steel. I have my doubts about the string to loosen the extender. Unifiber Elite Stainless Steel. Pin-ring system, not really easy to adjust.
I find a carbon extension exaggerated, much more expensive, and in my eyes does not bring anything extra

Chinook 48cm
The ultimate for the Chinook, he doesn't have the possibility to fix the tack-strap, but I'll make it up myself.
Why not the Unifiber HD Alu? Unifber still comes to me as a cheaper OEM brand, since this HD Alu definitely falls below.
The Chinook has proven itself to be a very solid extender for many years.