DIY Spinnaker Pole

By Christian Lamp:
My SJ21 is the first boat I've owned that could be rigged to fly a spinnaker, so you bet I was going to fly a spinnaker. Unfortunately my boat didn't come with a Spinnaker, a pole, halyard, or basically anything else. It had obviously been set up to run one at some point as it had the right cleats, and other assorted hardware installed. I picked up a use Spinnaker and Chris Popich was nice enough to give me an old ligthweight pole he was using to collect dust with in his garage.
The pole Chris gave me worked pretty well for a while, but the pole ends were fragile Forespar Whisker Pole ends, the Tube was so lightweight it had a small bend in it, and I just figured that I needed something more stout for racing.
I generally prefer to DIY with most things, and I noticed the pole Chris loaned me was probably a DIY pole as well, so I decided to make a new pole that was heavier weight tubing, and set about gathering the items I'd need. I figured it would be cheaper than buying an off the shelf pole.
I found some RWO Pole Ends that would work well. They are model # RWO R4230 and they are meant for a 1.25" outside diameter Pole. They are only about 25$ a piece at Fisheries Supply in Seattle so I picked up two of these.
I took some measurements and found that if I "cut" the nubs that run the length of the end that would fit inside the pole I could use a 1.25" outside diameter tube with .083" wall thickness which was quite a bit thicker than the Pole I had been using. I ordered an 8' section of 6061-T6 tubing from and since they are local to Seattle didn't have to pay shipping.
The tube was 45$ so at this point I have about 80$ into the parts.
I used a Dremel tool to sand off the nubs of the pole ends, and then using a single sheet of Sand Paper I just wrapped it around the pole end and twisted the fitting with my other hand untill it was smooth and just fit inside the end of the tubing.
At this point I had one pole end in the tubing and remembering that class rules require it to be 8' long inside dimensions I had to cut off 1.5" of the tube. The black portions that you can see sticking out from the tube in the above and below picture are 3/4". I have a chop saw that makes a perfectly square cut, but you could probably use a hack saw or a jig saw. If you're careful the ends should be squared up nicely.
The ends are pressed in fairly tight so I wasn't too worried they would pop out under normal wear and tear. But, just to be safe I put a couple of 1/8" pop rivets in each side of the Pole end. You can see these in the picture below. There is one in each side. If the end ever gets ruined or needs to be fixed, you just have to drill the rivet out, hook the end onto your mast ring, and Pull.
All that is really left to do at this point is rig up a way to attach your Control lines. I just used a pair of stainless saddles riveted to both sides of the pole. I think they were about 1-2$ a piece. I measured for the center point of the Tube and put a saddle on the pole and marked it to be drilled for the rivets.
I driled straight through in one shot so that both sides would be almost identical. I didn't use a jig so it's slightly off but not enough to matter for this purpose.
At this point your pole is basically done. Some things to note, the Tubing is not protected so it is susceptible to corrosion. Fleet 1 is mostly freshwater sailors so I wasn't too worried about this. You could clear coat the pole if you are worried though. The lightweight pole I had was clearcoated.
After that, the only thing left to do is rig up whatever kind of release mechanism you want for the pole ends.
Total cost as of Winter 2010 was about 85$ including Tax.