Custom Built Ropes

If you’ve ever thought that a piece of running rigging was “almost perfect except for ____” you can fix it!


We can work with rope manufacturers to build the exact right product for your application. The most common request is for special colors.  If you have an aesthetic in mind, or need a unique look to identify a line, we can order pretty much any color or pattern you can imagine.  Often this has been for odd colors (Think pink! Or orange. Or purple…) or custom patterns (we once had someone ask for a very high tech heat set core, but wanted the outside to look like Crystalyne) We can also specify the technical aspects of the rope, like strands, carriers, fiber thicknesses, treatments and materials.roperack

A great example of a custom construction is our 6mm SK99 Heat Set Dyneema double braid. We wanted a very low stretch rope that met the Beneteau 36.7 class rules on backstays, but wanted to be as light and compact as possible. To do this, Alpha Ropes used SK99 core in a special braid, and covered it with an extremely thin Dyneema cover.  This make a rope that was 2 sizes smaller, and much lighter than the other options.  And just because they could, they used the new Black Dyneema to make sure this looks great for years.  backstay99

We can also do special sizes.  The 36.7 is again the inspiration here, as the mainsheet on this boat really needs to be perfect, as there is a lot of purchase and load.  The 10mm we’ve used in the past is a little big and drags when easing. We asked Alpha to make us a very true 9mm for this application, and it works great for boats from a certain Shields all the way up to the 36.7.  To make this a really special sheet, we can add core to make it a double or triple tapered sheet like our 36.7 GP Mainsheet This is where the loaded end of the sheet that sits in the blocks upwind is as thin, light and slick as possible to ensure minimum friction.  From there the line grows to a larger and firmer rope. The bigger rope is nicer to handle, and holds in the cleat better. The rope then narrows again for the tail, which is less loaded and handled, and eases faster in addition to being lighter where it hangs over the side of the boat when running. tripletaper36-7

We can also get technical with the materials in the cover.  Technora blended covers have become pretty common as sailors learn to appreciate their durability and grip.  Most of the Technora blends are 50/50, but we can request other blends. This purple Tech blend from Marlow is closer to 60% and was a special order.  The sky is the limit when it comes to materials, we have ordered up to 3 fibers in the same cover. To fit a specific application we can mix Polyester, Technora, PBO, Vectran and Dyneema to get the right wear, heat and grip characteristics.marlowtech60

If you have an idea for a custom rope, get in touch!  The lead times are usually around 2 months, and we can do cut lengths to suit your exact needs (although spools will be a better value) So if you need a special size, performance or just want your rope to look right next to your canvas, think about custom!

Dux all in a row

Dynex Dux was the first mainstream heat set Dyneema to arrive in the yachting world, and  had a huge effect on rope selection on racing boats.  Using heat and tension, it gave us higher strengths and lower stretch in a smaller package, and quickly stole ground from not just regular Dyneema, but has replaced Vectran and Zylon as well.

These days, there are quite a few varieties available in heat set prestretched rope. Stopping by this week is the most recent version, and likely the strongest,  from New England Ropes.  I thought it might be interesting to compare the available options, so below are some notes.

On the left is Gleistein’s Dyne One HS.  This is by far the easiest heat set product to work with, as it has a pretty wide angle, and is soft compared to Dux.  It’s also the roundest option, and tends not to flatten out over sheaves.  The downside is the high angle between braids should theoretically make it stretchier.  The other drawback is that it doesn’t seem to be much stronger than regular Dyneema, at least in the small sizes.  Last summer when doing some break testing I found that the 4mm Dyna One HS broke at ~3800lbs, where as plain old New England STS75 breaks well over 4000lbs.  The 9mm shown is supposed to be approx 18000lbs, which is again in line with regular Dyneema.

Second from left is Maffioli Ultra 75, actually the core from 11mm double braid. This is probably the least stretched product, and rated at 17000lbs it’s the weakest as well. It’s kind of an odd duck(x) here as it’s not targeted or made like the others, and I believe it’s just a quick prestretch to take out some of the constructional stretch.

Middle line, in dark gray, is Marlow’s D12 Max 78 product. Rated at ~23000lbs, this is much stronger than the first 2.  It has quite a long angle, partly from construction and partly from stretching.  This is the only SK78 product here, but they also offer an SK90 heatset, for max (ha) tensile.  Marlow has the widest range of fiber choices, and more importantly sizes, going all the way down to 3mm which is unique for a heat set dyneema.  The downside to Marlow is the stretching process makes for a rope that isn’t very round,  as it’s flattened out over whatever bobbin they use to stretch the product.  The Dyneema is a bit fuzzy when new, due to the fibers that fail during prestretching.  This is the choice of high tech dinghy and small cats, as the range of sizes makes for lots of options.

At the far right (I’m skipping the second right for the moment) is a piece of Dynex Dux in 7mm, as I was out of the 9.  The original, and still very good, it has a rated break of ~26000lbs, and is quite round and very stiff with less popped strands than the Marlow. The amount of prestretch is very high, which makes it a good choice for running rigging where stretch is key, as well as some standing rigging and slings.  I really like this material for backstays as it’s so light and strong you can be quite aggressive in downsizing.  Most people call any prestretch Dux, but that can be troublesome as some of the other heatset products aren’t exactly interchangeable as far as strength and stretch.

Second from the right is the newest arrival, an as-yet-unnamed product from New England Ropes.  Pretty excited about it, as it seems to have taken all the best attributes from the other brands and improved on them.  The construction is very similar to Dynex Dux, but lacks the flyaway/popped strands. The roundness of the rope is closest to Gleisteins product, and the smoothness is better than any of them.  NER hasn’t released final break numbers, but the initial tests had it all comparing very favorably with Dynex Dux, which is really saying something.  This particular spool is destined for the VO70 Il Mostro, replacing the Gleistein rope is arrived with.  I’ve got more spools arriving soon and am going to have more info soon!