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The "piece" that holds the sail together and from which the windsurfer/boardsailor hangs or hooks onto.

I am somewhat surprised there are not more variations on the current booms. They come in various materials like aluminum or carbon, regular diameter or thinner, have various adjustable lengths, some have larger tail pieces like for formula and some booms are a little narrower. The most important piece seems to be mast head - where the boom attaches to the mast. Here some companies like MauiSails have made a name for themselves. North Sails also have some kinda flex head that allows one to make it very stiff or soft. Apparently lighter winds require a looser connection for speed.

Whatever you do, check your equipment each time you go out and look for the non-standard as well. My HPL mast-head rope came off while I was planing with a MauiSails TR-4 10-oh sail. Suddenly I found myself face down on the board with no idea why. Tied the mast head back on and got ready to go out again since it was such a nice day. That was when I noticed that I had punched a hole in the deck with my harness hook. Obviously by now, water had gone in @#$%^&*( Was I supposed to cry at this point ? Brought it straight to the repair-man while still in my wetsuit. When he told me he could do it for $40 no issues, I told him was my new best friend :-) He used carbon re-enforcement and it feels harder than the original board now.

There are new materials coming out now that are to be a match for the carbon booms for less money.

For larger sails and heavier individuals they say carbon booms are the way to go. (Not sure if this applies to smaller sails and lighter sailors) It seems the goal is to have a "stiffer" boom with a  tight mast head connection for the good winds. What I find helps and is documented on forums is to not have the mast tail piece too far extended ie try to keep the boom near minimum extension when possible. If you have a carbon boom and it is at maximum extension, you are not getting the full benefit of the carbon stiffness.

I purchased an HPL boom used from Ottawa for about $230 of lengths 220-280 in order to be able to purchase a used MauiSails TR 10.0 sail. Bruce Peterson of Sailworks confirmed the boom is on a CARBON boom and suggested the arms near the head get a carbon re-enforcement.This was done for about $80. Thus, I now had a strong carbon boom for about $300 which was good for my 8.5 and 10-oh. I like it very much with both sails and wonder if I can tell the difference on the 8.5 It seems better in higher winds. Articles suggest tighter booms in higher winds and that might be the difference i.e. not noticeable in lighter winds ...

So, people attach harness lines on the boom and some use adjustable outhaul. This adjustable allows the sailor to change the shape of the sail on the fly. The uphaul cord attaches to the boom as well. Basically to me, it feels like the boom holds it all together and has the most cord attachments ...

If you get hit with a boom or mast - boom , boom, out go the lights = wear a helmet in bigger winds.

This fellow made his own boom: How-to-make-a-carbon-windsurf-boom

Originally booms used to attach to the boom with a rope looped :

This got a little better with one clamp and some rope:

Finally as can be seen in the picture of the next paragraph, the attachment used two moving parts to make the clamp work !!!

This HPL carbon boom had some carbon added to it at the masthead. This was done based on Sailworks Bruce Peterson's recommendation.  He stated this will give this great boom a really long and healthy life !!

clique to enlarge
Carbon booms are NOT cheap and can break. There are still aluminum booms and now they are making booms that rival the carbon booms. A carbon boom can cost $800 +. They say it may not be required unless one is using larger sails than 8.5 and/or one is a heavyweight - in that case you will probably be using 8.5+ sails anyway !!!

In case someone needs to know how to rig a boom that has no clamp - here are some instructions:
Thought the following one was the same or similiar, but someone said it was original WindSurfer material and showed this hitch setup ...

In case anyone has an HPL boom and wants to change the red clamps near and for the tail - i found a post on iwindsurf on the subject with the following details: 

Some years back before HPL stopped making booms, I picked up a replacement set of adjustment pin assemblies from Derrick Ho. You may want to contact Maclean Quality Composites in Utah to find out whether Derrick or some other representative can help you out.

In 2014 George of OKA shared this video with me. It shows how to replace the boom grip. Georgy says it is Philip Koster standing at the side making a guest appearance :-)

Boom Re-Grip from Severne Sails on Vimeo.

In 2016 I read a post onSB forum where a fellow /JM suggested that uphaul lines be MUCH longer so as NOT to give us back problems...  He says he adds 30 cm at the top and 54 at the bottom - feel like that is a bit much, but he says that way he can uphaul with a straight back at all times:

for speed racing in places like the Luderitz Canal people are going down the canal and getting a ride back to the start. this means they have asymmetrical fins, two foots straps and asymmetrical booms !!

It is now January 2020 and it is the FIRST time I am hearing about somthing called a Z-boom/zboom. It seems it was popular in Australia - back in the day, never in the US of A and there seem to have been some in Canada ... Here is a pic I got off the facebook forum called Old School WIndsurfers: