Hey there RichandPat-
The “Admiral” and I sailed and raced 16's when we were much younger - like 30+ years ago. We were skinny little weaklings - like the "before" pictures in a Schwarznegger weight lifting ad.
We weighed in at about 100lbs and 120lbs respectively. Having both of us raise the mast was easier than raising it myself, but I often sailed on my own and set up the boat myself. If we could do it, anyone can do it - especially if I could do it myself.
Here's the main trick: let leverage work for you
. Make sure that the bow is lower than the stern and the side stays are in the TOP hole of the adjuster. With the bow down and the stays loose the mast leans forward enough so that it's own weight against the stays keeps it in place while you walk up and attach the bridle. No hurry. The more angle the better.
You angle the boat "bow down" in a number of ways. Here are a couple tried and true.
1) If your approach to the launch ramp is downhill: park on the hill and set up the mast. Watch for power lines of course
2) If the launch is level: disconnect the hitch and set the tongue on the ground. This happens to give you optimum angle by the way. Caution - Be sure to block your trailer tires – there is nothing more embarrassing than trying to set up a mast on a runaway trailer. Don’t ask how I know.
3) If you have a beach to work from: lay the mast on the and launch the boat with the mast laying on the boat. A bungee around the mast and front crossbar helps keep the mast from slipping all over. Pull the boat to your set up area and pull it on the beach stern first. Hint: use a couple life jackets under the mast at the crossbars- helps keep pressure off he tiller connector and protects the anodized finish. I like this method best because you are working at ground level and it is easier for someone to hand the mast up to your shoulder height.
There are also a few tricks you can learn from weight lifting moves that make the mast go up easier. Note that keeping your back straight is key
If you are alone do a “squat thrust”: With a foot on the rear crossbar squat, grab the mast slightly bent-arm, back straight. Stand up quickly and use the upward momentum to continue lifting the mast to your shoulder as you step forward on the tramp. Move forward on the tramp with the mast on your shoulder until you are about halfway across then squat-thrust it upward to your hands, straighten your arms and push into place. Put your shoulder up to it just to be sure it will stay. Very little angle will keep it in place.
Handling the mast on take down is a little different. Get the boat at the bow-down angle and LOOSEN THE SIDE STAYS TO THE TOP HOLE OF THE ADJUSTER. Put your shoulder to the mast and back down with the mast on your shoulder. A little over halfway back on the tramp “roll” the mast to your waist and hang it straight arm - keeping your back straight. Set the mast down with squat move.
Yes, the mast is heavy. No it is not “easy”. But it is not that hard either. We use the same method on 18’s but those dang masts ARE heavy.
Good luck, sail fast!
PS - I agree with the carbon-fiber or kevlar mast idea. BUT a mast of that material could cost as much as half a new Hobie.