Splicing Kits

002kitNow available, comprehensive splicing kits!  For an upcoming rigging clinic, we needed to supply tools to perform a number of different splices.  In the past,  12 strand clinics have needed only a few tools tossed in a bag with some rope. This class was a bit more involved so we needed needles, twine, torches and other gear not usually in someones boat toolbox.  While figuring the kits out, several of our “regulars” said they would like one as well, so it made sense to assemble complete kits and have them available for sale.

The most complete kit is our Deluxe Splicing Kit with Selma Fids This is a CYR tool roll, with a set of 5 Selma fids (4-13mm, a Swedish fid, the D Splice splicing puller, the BEST shears for cutting rope available, whipping twine, needles, splicing tape, a butane torch, a little soft tape measure and even a permanent marker.  Selling now for $19520161018_090156

The kit _I_ actually use in the field, is the Splicing Kit: Deluxe with Single Fid. It’s the same as the above kit, but with a single Selma fid (5.5mm) instead of the full set.  That is because I don’t use Selma fids for much besides pulling core into cover, and instead use the D Splicer puller for nearly all my splicing.  I do expect the full set of Selma fids to be more popular, but if you’re willing to learn to splice without fids-instead using measurements based on diameter-this is the way to go!0kitsinglefid

If you already have lots of the gear above in your kit, and all you want is an upgrade in the key tools,  try out the Basic Kit. This is just the Clauss shears, a Swedish fid, and the D Splicer puller. Comes in a bag instead of the tool roll, but again, this assumes you have things like twine and neeldes on hand.01basickit

Order online, or the old fashioned way, and as always, feel free to ask anything about these or other rigging products. Kristian@chicagoyachtrigging.com


Beneteau 36.7 Backstay Update

IMG_20160407_095336We have a new material for making 36.7 backstays, a heat set Dyneema double braid made with SK99 that meets the one design specs (breaks at 4727kg or 10421lbs) but comes in smaller and lighter than any other available option, at 6.1mm and weighing a mere 12oz with thimbles.


There are several options for finishing the bottom end of this stay

-Eye Splice With Thimble (shown) this is for use with the stock Lewmar backstay block
-Harken Lead Ring: this is a low friction ring, that adds 1.3oz to the weight and $20 to the cost. Lightweight and strong, but does make pulling the backstay harder
-Harken Black Magic Block: A roller bearing block that gets spliced to the end of the backstay, adds 3.23 oz and $195 to the cost
-Karver High Load KBO Block: A plain bearing block that gets spliced to the end of the backstay, adds 3.2oz and $240 to the cost

Beneteau 36.7 GP Halyards

For Beneteau 36.7’s racing with high carbon sails, we offer upwind halyards to match.

Our best halyard uses a heat set Dyneema core with a Technora/Polyester cover. The heat set Dyneema is a durable lightweight core with very low stretch. The Technora in the cover gives improved abrasion resistance and clutch holding which is imperative with ultra low stretch sails. To further improve holding in clutches, we add an internal bulk to stiffen and enlarge the halyard where it is loaded in the clutch.

Our genoa halyard has a color matched chafe tip to protect the core where it exits the mast aloft.


J/109 Bobstay and Inhauler Upgrades


The J/109 class association recently amended the rules to allow for 2 significant upgrades. The first of which is a Dyneema bobstay.  This is a rope stay that suppors the spinnaker tack fitting, and prevents the carbon sprit from bending and losing luff tension-or much worse-snapping.   I’ve adapted the self retracting bobstay that was originally worked up for the J/111, and made some tweaks.  The retractor pulls the bobstay out of the way and keeps it from dragging in the water. Without a retractor, crew need to go forward and lasso the bobstay and hitch it to the bow cleat.  The bobstay is available as a plain kit, a retracting kit, or installed.

The second upgrade is for inhauling the class jib.  Our version has 8:1 purchase, and some really nice lead rings for doing the actual inhauling.  These are a huge upgrade over stainless rings in terms of friction and wear on sheets.  This is available as a kit that comes with the inhauler rings, control line blocks, cleats with extreme angle fairleads, control line, purchase line,  all fasteners and backing plates.  The kit itself is discounted from the total price of the individual items and will be $615.  For an installed inhauler system, with all hardware throughbolted with epoxy plugs and G10 backing, $1100. If self installing it is critical that epoxy plugs and good backing be used for all hardware, but especially for the deck lead as the loads are considerable.

Please contact me if you have any questions,  having done this project I’ve picked up a few really important tricks.
Inhauler kit $615

Inhaulers installed $1100

Basic Bobstay Kit $75

Retracting Bobstay Kit $105

Retracting Bobstay Installed $350


CYR Boat Show Display Details

Our new mast display has been a great tool at the boat show for showing people different systems, cordage and hardware. Also a huge hit in the 2-6 year old demographic, as apparently little kids really like hoisting mains on a Battcar system: I think there’s an untapped opportunity in lightweight highly energetic crew out there that I just learned about…

For those at home, here are some of the neeat little tricks and bits from our display that you can use on your own boat.

Rope Treatments on J/111 Cordage

Cordage is available from riggers, stores and online, but what sets CYR’s rigging apart is the special treatments.  Quality materials are only part of the story, and we can improve performance and longevity with a few special touches.  Here is what we like for the J/111

Custom covers have moved from the GP boats into club race boats.  For the part of the line that gets handled, we have great options to improve performance. Fibers like Technora, Cordura and Vectran can be blended with standard polyester to improve grip on winches and clutches, as well as improving abrasion resistance.  They can be left natural (tan in the case of Technora and Vectran) or dyed black. I like tan for halyards since the lighter color takes marks better, and black for sheets.

This picture best illustrates what we can add to halyards to make them hold in the clutches better.  A good blended cover (here it’s Technora, Polyester  and Cordura) increases grip and reistance, but key is the size increase. A stiff core added to the inside of the existing ropes core makes the line larger-in this case right up the max size for the clutch cams-as well as stiffer.  The stiffness is actually more important than the size increase, as the line doesn’t flatten under load.  I have very good data on what the proper bulks and stiffness’ are for all the clutches used on race boats.

On the other end of the line,  chafe protection is another place we can upgrade a halyard.  Here is a Dyneema chafe tip on top of New England HSR core.  This saves the halyard tips from chafe and failure. A good way to determine if this will be beneficial is to look at the old halyards.  On the J/111 we’ve noticed that the jib and spin halyards show lots of wear on the stock Crystalyne halyards.  The jib halyard seems to get some forestay/foil chafe, and the spin halyards seem to get articulation chafe.

For the mainsheet gross tune, I really like a short tapered area for where the line runs when the fine tune is trimmed.  In addition to having a good clean block (the broken double in this picture was replaced with a Harken 57mm fiddle with a nice round forged shackle) the taper is extra low friction to make trimming and easing the fine tune mainsheet even easier.  The line is Alpha Ropes SSC which I think is a wonderful mainsheet as it’s light, taperable and has incredible handling due to it’s knobby cover and blend of Dyneema, Cordura and poly in the cover. Great line and I recommend it over much more expensive braids. 

For spinnaker sheets on assymetric spin boats, and jib sheets with inhaulers,  a tough cover is a must.  Here is a 9mm spin sheet with a blended Technora/Polyester cover.  The Technora is a very tough fiber that grips winches well. Depending on your winches we can also use fiber blends like Vectran, PBO and Dyneema, but the Technora/Polyester blend is going to great for most applications.

Stretch Test!

On my “Good Ideas To Do At Some Point In The Future Maybe When Things Quiet Down” (GITDASPITFMWTQ) list there has been an item that’s been hovering near the top of the list (above “Right grate American novel” but below “Close the door you’re letting all the heat out” ) has been a bench test to see how the different materials, treatments and brands of rope we use here at CYR perform in one of the most important metrics we have: stretch.

As cordage evolves, it almost always trends in 2 positive directions: lower stretch and higher strength.  In the last couple years strength has become less relevant as the finished size of the rope becomes the limiting factor.  If we really wanted to, we could have 4mm cores on 35′ racing boats and not be worried about it blowing up.  Stretch has become more important. If you look at the “flavors” that Dyneema generations come in,  the most recent iterations have become more and more stretch focused.

Dyneema SK60 (most similar to Spectra 750) was strong and light, but stretched, crept and wasn’t significantly stronger than the aramid fibers it was compared to. SK75  (Spectra 1000) was lower creep and much stronger. SK78 was lower creep, but not stronger (this is now the “standard” Dyneema from most marques). SK90 was stronger but no better on creep than 75, so has been supplanted by SK99 (better in creep and stronger).  DM20 is… weird and I’ve never used it.

In the past year,  I’ve made halyards with each of the ropes shown below.  All of these are 3/16 or 5mm so comparable in size and would yield a ~5/16″ halyard.  From the top:

MARLOW SK78 MAX The MAX line of Marlows Dyneema cores is their version of heat setting.

Defining characteristics: It’s black!  The black comes off on your hands. Second stiffest rope in test.  Looks cool. The braid angle is exactly average in this sample set.

Sizing:  The 5mm core measured 4.4mm after being loaded.  Round? Not really,  unloaded it measures 5.3 one way and 3.69mm the other

Dumb observation:  If this were a car, it would be an Audi A3.


Defining characteristics: Silver. Not as stiff as HSR or Max, but stiffer than STS78.  Longest braid angle.  Smells nice.

Sizing:  The 5mm measures 4.6mm loaded. Round? Meh.  It measures 4.73mm one way and 4.2 the other.

Dumb observation: If this were a football player, it would be Odell Beckham Jr.  Never heard of XTM either, but it’s good.


Defining Characteristics It’s white (comes in 7 colors too) it’s floppy compared to the Vectran and the Heat Sets. Very shallow braid angle. Gets super stiff once loaded.

Sizing 4.9mm under load Round? Round!

Dumb Oberservation While typing this up, I dropped all the samples on the floor. I could tell the STS78 just by feel. I bet if I were to total up all the STS78 (aka STS75 aka Endura 12) I’ve spliced, it could go to Belmont harbor from the shop and back.  Lets put that on the GITDASPITFMWTQ list!


Defining characteristics Gold! Much more abrasive than any of the Dyneemas.

Sizing 4.2 under load. Round? NO.  2.9mm one way, 4.6 the other.

Dumb Observation I totally forgot I had any Vectran in stock.  It’s gone from about 40% of my high tech cordage to exactly .8% ( I have sold one Vectran rope all year) If this were a car it would be a Pontiac, because in a few years people will be all “Pon-Tee-Yak? What’s that?”


Defining Characteristics It’s stiff! Really stiff. When you put a cover on it properly the crew all hates you for the first race because it only gets stiffer when covered.

Sizing: 5.1mm under load Round WOAH, they make round rope! 5.2mm one way, 5.3 the other. About as round as it gets.

Dumb Observation If this were a car it would be a WRX.  Not exactly pretty, some people don’t like how they feel but does everything really well. And I sometimes cover it with orange cover, and WRX’s are often covered in tacky aftermarket gear as well.


So how did they do?  Well, nothing broke and no one got hurt, which is good.  Before I share any results though, lets talk methodology.  Before we talk methodology, lets make a bunch of disclaimers for how rudimentary my testing methods are. Before we do that,  have you listened to Astronautalis? He’s great, and I think it’s a damn shame that the yanswer to the previous question is always “who?”

METHODOLOGY I spliced all the samples into 10′ lengths. Then loaded everything to 1000lbs with a dwell of 30 seconds.  The samples were length checked, and respliced to 10′.  Why respliced?  The construction stretch on new rope is huge.  Even heat set ropes lose some of their “set” when coiled and handled.  Splicing takes up a long length of rope, but then releases some of that once it’s under tension. Everything was loaded again and checked again.

To test stretch,  I loaded all the samples to 200lbs, did the CYR Load Distribution Procedure (hit rope with mallet, kick hydraulic cylinder) then then loaded everything to 100lbs.  A clamp was made off at the dogbone holding one end of the sample. Then the tension was added slowly until 1000lbs was reached and stable. The distance between the clamp and dogbone was then measured using a digital mic. The samples were then tested in reverse order after being left flat on the bench to minimize bending the rope.  After that test, all the samples were taken to 2000lbs with a dwell of 1 minute, then retensioned to 1000lbs.

ROPE Stretch @1000lb Stretch @ 1000lb 2 Stretch @ 1000lb after 2000lb load
Yale Vectrus 55.25 31.37 26.99
Marlow MAX SK78 21.64 19.52 11.64
Alpha Ropes D Core XTM 78 24.32 17.53 9.78
New England STS78 29.9 22.93 14.33
New England HSR 20.35 14.42 8.84

There is lots of interesting information here.  All the ropes developed less stretch after being loaded, with the benefits increasing with the amount of load applied.  This fits with what conventional but often ignored wisdom, as most riggers recommend preloading your halyards before use.  For mains I like to load the main halyard around the boom at the mainsheet strop, then tension the mainsheet as hard as possible. For genoas, jibs and code sails I use the tack fitting, tension with a winch, then “banjo” the halyard from the foredeck by pulling aft on the line.  For spinnakers I go get coffee and think about the weather.

The vectran stretched more, significantly more, than all the flavors of Dyneema.  This is not a surprise, but keep in mind that Vectran should in theory have less creep than Dyneema SK75 and below over time, although SK78 and Vectran are supposed to be comparable.  I will be modeling this, but since creep takes a long time to develop, I’ll be loaded the samples over a weekend and checking on Mondays.

The non heat set STS78 showed the next most stretch, but comes with a caveat.  When setting the lengths to 10′ on the samples, I took nearly 100mm  of initial set out of the STS78, whereas every other sample was more like 5-60mm after the splices were set.  This means that if using regular Dyneema for length critical applications like strops or pennants, it needs to be set under tension. For best results I usually exceed the working load by 3x and have had good results with regular Dyneema after that.

The Heat Set Dyneemas all performed very well.  The Alpha XTM stretch a lot initially but settled down after hitting our target load, and did particularly well after getting tensioned to 2x the test load. The Marlow MAX started better than the XTM but was overtaken after it was tensioned to 2000lbs.  If you’ve got lots of experience with rope, this is very intuitive after handling the lines; the XTM starts out being much less stiff so it stands to reason that it would stretch more initially. The XTM braid angle however, is much more parallel to the rope, so once all the stretch is removed, it makes sense that it would show less load stretch.

The New England HSR did the best, especially once tensioned.  This again fits with the “feel” one gets from the rope, as the HSR is the stiffest running rope I have ever used.

This was a fun test and will be updated as the creep results come in.  The good news is that all the Dyneema lines performed really well compared to the state-of-the-art-circa-2005 Vectran.  If we accept these numbers, and assume a boat like a T10 has these ropes on the main halyard.  The T10 sailors, being good preppers and not tired from the party, preload their halyards before sailing.  It’s windy out, but the ropes only stretch: Vectrus 130mm,  MAX78 56mm, XTM78 47mm, STS78 69mm, and HSR 42mm.

As always, let me know if you have any rigging related bits for the GITDASPITFMWTQ list.


The overnight time on the bench has been surprisingly tied up, first with a steering cable and now with loops over the weekend, so I’ve decided to do some shorter term testing.  Figuring that on a bad day, a windward leg of a race takes 30 minutes,  I let each sample dwell on the bench for 45 minutes at 1000lbs after a 1500lb set.  As it turns out, not much at all happens in 45 minutes.

Yale Vectrus 0 978
Marlow MAX SK78 0 982
Alpha Ropes D Core XTM 78 0 982
New England STS78 0 980
New England HSR 0 986

The ropes didn’t move. Even a little. Testing was done with a metal square clamped to the bench even with the dogbone, and after the first sample I kind of knew the score, and that this  test wouldn’t be very exciting.  The most interesting thing is that the load numbers at 45minutes were down off of 1000lbs, but I’m willing to chalk this up to the bench itself, as there is always some movement and it’s not particularly exact as a dedicated testing rig would be.  An interesting proof to this is that once the ropes were taken to 1500lbs, and then tension released to below 1000, then brought back up to 1000lbs, the numbers actually went UP before they went down.  Could be the load cell itself, the loops, the winch, the tensioning rope (1/2″ vectran)

Here are some videos of the best and worst stretch from the test.  This was done after the actual testing, so the clamp zero is a bit off, and the camera isn’t in line, but even so you can see the huge difference in stretch

With no change in dimension and negligible change in load, it seems like creep in the context of something like a windward/leeward race is not a significant factor. My understanding on creep is that it takes a combination of load/time and temperature to occur, and that it happens on the order of days and not minutes or hours. If I ever end up going upwind with the same tension on a halyard for days, please send help, as not only MIGHT creep be a factor but that sounds like an absolutely boring race and I don’t want to do it.

The interesting observation from the setup for this test was how much all the ropes initially moved when being spliced and set to 10′ lengths. So, for kicks,  I also took a 6′ piece of STS78 and did the same test. This piece of rope only had a quick 1500 set, then was taken to 1000lbs.  This one did grow, by about 28mm, and dropped tension to 658lbs.  This fits my own experience in that prestretching any halyard on the bench makes it perform better once on the bench.  Heat Set Dyneemas only really needs the ends stretched after splicing, and Vectran doesn’t seem to either (Dr. Bam Miller of Oyster Bay Boat shop thinks this is due to the higher coefficient of friction with vectran, but he’s not a real doctor and I don’t think Bam is even his real name.) Regular Dyneema does grow by quite a lot,  the splices set as well as the rope itself elongating with load. The good news is that this settles down with a decent prestretch or lots of use.

My news for customers is this:  get a Dyneema halyard. If you want more performance get a Heat Set Dyneema halyard.  If you really want to come in and talk about creep for a boat that does buoy racing, please excuse me while I bang my head on the test bench.

Creep Update 1 HSR heat set Dyneema

The HSR sample was left on the bench at 1000lbs from Friday afternoon through Monday morning,  the length was unchanged and the load was at 960lbs.  Over 60hrs with no dimension change is pretty good!  Assuming you were on a J105, and this was your main halyard, and the ENTIRE Mac race was upwind on the same tack in the same amount of breeze, you still don’t have to worry about creep in a halyard.  So far this testing just reinforces my recommendation for heat set Dyneema halyards, aft standing rigging and critical control lines.

Creep Update 2 STS78 Dyneema

On Monday I loaded the STS78 sample to 1000lbs and planned to leave it there through Wednesday. As it turned out,  it was left until this morning, so about 60 hours just like the HSR.  In theory, this would be the most creep prone sample.  Heat setting as a process removes the constructional stretch, but in theory also reduces creep since it accelerates it during production and aligns both the fibers and the molecuslar structure of the rope.  Regular Dyneema should show considerably more constructional stretch, as well as more dynamic strech and definitely more creep.  The constructional stretch on this sample should have been mitigated by all the cycling (multiple times to 1000, 1500lbs, once to 2000lbs) but I was still expecting to see some creep as compared to the Heat Set.

Instead,  the sample is exactly where it was left on Monday, showing no dimension change.  We’re at about 16% of break load.  Although normal working loads for racing/cruising running rigging are about 20%, I feel that 1000lbs in this case is pretty indicative of a typical max-normal halyard load on a boat that would use 5mm Dyneema core.


Over the weekend (OH THE BEARS…) I decided to continue the creep testing by going with a higher-than-recommended working load on the STS78 sample.  So far, the loads  tested for creep have been loads you would likely see on the water with a 5mm piece of rope. No creep has been observed in any of the Dyneema lines, even in STS78 which is non heat set Dyneema and should in theory show creep.  The fact that this piece has been prestretched by being cycled to 1000 (many times with long dwell), 1500 and 2000lbs has made stretch pretty minimal, but I was a bit surprised we couldn’t generate any creep (OR ANY PASS RUSH, BEARS).

To try and generate creep, I loaded the line to 40% of the breaking load (2440lbs). This is well above any SWL for running rigging, and would not likely be encountered on the water. After round 55 hrs the rope had elongated by just under 1mm (UNLIKE THE BEARS SECONDARY WHICH ELONGATED ENOUGH FOR 48 POINTS).

This is still really good!  There was no prestretch beyond getting the rope to tension, so you’re likely seeing construction stretch as much as anything.  Getting <1mm over 3048mm at this % of break load is incredible. You could debate whether we’re seeing construction stretch (probably) or creep (unlikely) but it’s nice to have this data (AND THE INEVITABLE TOP FIVE DRAFT PICK IN 2016).

If you’re curious about the angry parentheses…. 

Rope Tails for Clutches

Many control lines and sheets on race boats get led through clutches and other passages daily before racing. Jokes aside, pushing rope is never easy, so people have come up with lots of tricks for this like tape to keep the rope straight, messenger lines, cable ties and lots of other tricks.

These big boat sheets go through clutches and blocks every day they’re used, so a more elegant solution was needed. A piece of Nylon stitched into the tail of the rope makes a stiff but small section of rope that should run through any clutch.

Here’s an exciting video of rope!

Lifeline Lashings

T10 Backstay Update

The Tartan Ten is a staple of life at CYR. At this moment I have a T10 boom on the bench, and another strapped to the ceiling; there are 2 T10 backstays in boxes on my desk, a forestay just came off the swager, and there are 2 boxes of halyards and sheets on their way out the door UPS. T10s are the alpha and the omega around here! For every cool big boat project, there’s a dozen T10 bits, so I take them pretty seriously even when their owners come in looking for innovative blender solutions, or a shade of rope that matches their favorite beer can (both true)

Anyway, one of the specialty T10 products has been the fiber backstay. Proud to say that if you see a fiber backstay on a Ten it’s probably one of ours. One of the original pre-2010 backstays came in from the cold the other day, so I took the chance to see how it’s held up. This has 5 seasons of use including regattas, beercans and distance races. Pull test results will post shortly, but for now lets look at the condition.

The top eye is covered in chafe sleeve to keep it safe near the masthead crane. You can see this thimble is too large, as the eye has been crushed a bit by the top of the masthead crane. We started using smaller thimbles or no thimbles after 2011. The loads on this are light enough that a smaller thimble won’t distort under load, and even the pin alone would offer plenty of bend radius.

Here you can see what 5 seasons of the backstay flicker ring have done to the chafe sleeve on the backstay: not a lot This is a 3/16″ stock stainless ring, and it hasn’t made a dent in the backstay itself.

Here you can see where the top batten hits the backstay. The very first time we tried Dynex Dux as a backstay, the T10 top batten was fuzzing up the backstay on the first sail, so the chafe sleeve was added. The chafe sleeve is quite slick and tough, and the tight weave and stretching during splicing make it snag free. Very pleased to see how fresh this looks entering year 6.

We’ll break this soon and see how much of the rated 5T strength is left.

We broke this recently, and saw how much of the rated 5T strength was left…

The backstay broke at 5,640lbs, or approximately 53% of original rated strength after 5 years of normal/heavy use.  What’s funny is that that number is still stronger than the 1×19 wire it replaced.