The architecture for Project Cedrus was concieved in 2016. At the time, Liquid Force had just replaced their original orange “foil fish” mast with the long chord blue extrusion which weighed about 10lbs. It was simply too heavy to teach my wife on, and it made my long walk from the parking lot to the launch at 3rd Ave. in San Mateo even more painful. Carbon masts at the time were very expensive, optimized for racing with long lengths, and mated to tiny wings. To top it off, they weren’t even that much lighter or stiffer. I knew I could do better, and set out to offer an alternative to people like me who didn’t want to race, but wanted a lightweight and stiff mast that was easier to maneuver on and off the water. After a successful prototype, I spent 2017 performing detailed design, structural optimization, testing, and manufacturing process development. Making one foil mast in a garage is easy. Developing a process to make hundreds, or thousands, is orders of magnitude more difficult. In 2018, I offered “Launch Customers” a complete package including Stringy wings and a carbon fuselage, developed later that summer. Again, I owe these first 20 customers a huge thank you for taking a gamble with me. I honestly don’t know if I would have given some random guy advertising on a kite forum $1,500 to build me a foil.

A stronger Axis Carbon Mast

The architecture for Project Cedrus and composite layups defining the strength and stiffness of the mast have been the same for 3 years, however my business and the industry have changed signficantly. Liquid Force is no longer the king, in fact they don’t even have a kite-focused brand anymore. Moses, Lift, Axis, Takuma, and Armstrong seem to be battling it out for a variety of new forms of foiling from wing to surf to prone. While the carbon masts have improved, many still lack stiffness and strength, and remain overweight, especially when used with these modern large wings and high volume boards. This is why so many people riding these amazing new wings are demanding more from the mast, and replacing their carbon masts with a better carbon mast. Not the business model I had planned on when I launched to offer those with aluminum masts a lighter alternative. Project Cedrus is finally hitting its stride in the market, 3 years after introduction. I think it’s fair to say I was ahead of the game with this mast.

I can’t rely on being ahead of the game three years ago to push my business along the technology adoption curve into mainstream market adoption of this relatively tiny industry. Fortunately, with growing sales I can finally invest in some marketing but more imporantly, R&D to get me across “The Chasm,” where many companies experience a slow and painful death. My launch customers are the innovators, and as far as I know all of them continue to ride the mast 3 years later with wings that did not even exist at the time of mast purchase. A good investement; how many of you can say that about a piece of watersports equipment? As the visionaries begin to purchase masts after seeing feedback on forums and YouTube reviews, I know it’s going to take a lot more work to get to the late majority and laggards, which account for half the total market size. I can’t ignore these potential customers, and for that reason I am excited to launch “The Clydesdale,” the stiffest, strongest, and lightest carbon mast on the market for the next 3 years.

As discussed over here, carbon doesn’t like out-of-plane loads, bearing forces, or interlaminar tension stress. This is why the top of Project Cedrus is not carbon. It mounts to a board using aluminum and steel components, which reduce cost and weight, and increase strength. This joint is stiff, strong, and predictable. I have received a number of pictures of broken carbon masts from all the major brands, yet the same people still ask why I don’t offer a carbon mount for Project Cedrus. It can be done, but it will be heavier and more expensive than my current design. I know some people would buy it, but I cannot morally offer it. As wing foiling has taken off, and windsurfers have begun adopting the mast, I did recently launch a new mount with twice the strength of the original lightweight plate. However to those hesitant to ride a foil with a primary joint design they’ve never seen before, The Clydesdale will most certainly alleviate any concerns with a belt and suspenders approach for the most discerning customer.

What you see here is quite common for aluminum designs, however unseen on a composite mast. The machined aluminum collar precisely interfaces with an extended aluminum plug bonded into the hollow cavity of Project Cedrus. In over 100 masts sold over the last few years, and a couple years of testing before that, I have not had a single failure of this adhesive joint. This patented joint design is the heart of Project Cedrus, enabling the hollow architecture and compatibility with various boards and wings. To further increase strength and stiffness at the interface to the plate mount, an additional M8 fastener has been added. Yet three stainless fasteners are unnecessary, as the collar becomes the primary loadpath when the mast is overloaded. But don’t expect to see any buckling or cracking of the aluminum insert as you see in many hollow extruded aluminum masts when overloaded; the extended plug in Project Cedrus is solid (aside from the stainless steel helicoils). The collar bears down on the aluminum only, never impacting the composite material with out-of-plane bearing loads. The carbon is doing what it does best: managing in-plane tension and compression stresses only.

I also used this opportunity to address a common request from potential customers: longer masts. In addition to the 65-90cm range, The Clydesdale is available in 93cm (pictured assembled above) and 96cm options, the latter exceeding 100cm when fully assembled. A thin layer of TeXtreme fabric has been added to the OML, providing a slight increase in both bending and torsional stiffness and a differentiating look from the Classic. All of this comes with only a minor weight penalty of 120 grams in the mast, and another ~200grams at the mount, bringing the total assembled weight with Axis adapter to about 2kg. Assembled and finished by hand in Oregon using carbon fiber cured in Washington, the first 10 Clydesdale masts will ship with limited edition gold mount plates machined and anodized in Califorinia. The Clydesdale is now available to order for $1,050 mast only, while the Classic (recommended for most riders) is $950.

Like all of my masts, The Clydesdale is made to order at custom lengths and currently at a 6+ week leadtime. The 96cm length may have a longer lead time while we await the new leading/trailing edge extrusions from the supplier in Ohio, but I encourage you to get your order in now if you are interested in this length. Have questions about this new mast, and don’t know which version is right for you? Check out the FAQ and message me if you still need help deciding. Thank you to all of my customers who have supported this product development, and I hope to gain the trust of many more!